News stories on this page:
...Barchetta comes home (February 2018)
...First new member of 2018 (January 2018)
...Barchetta owner sells but goes out on a high (January 2018)
...200 Club update - you have to be in it to win it! (January 2018)
...Honorary member (October 2017)
...Barchetta values (October 2017)
...Article featured in AutoItalia magazine (Sept 2017)
...Lee's travels - road trip brilliance (Aug 2017) and road trip stupidity? (July 2017)
...The barchetta wedding car and cake! (July 2017)
...Modern Classics Magazine article (June 2017)
...The oldest car in the club? (April 2017)
...Replacement exhaust manifold (February 2017)
...First new member of 2017 (January 2017)
...List of member recommended garages
...Latest and earliest cars (October 2016)
...Charentaise Classic adventure (October 2016)
...UK recommended garages database - can you help? (October 2016)
...First new member of 2016 (January 2016)
...The prettiest soft top - road test from Classic Car Weekly (April 2015)
Whilst most of us are suffering an especially cold snap in the UK; look what Michael Dutto, a member who has moved from Kent. has done to transform his life. A brave move Michael which sounds as though it will offer great rewards. Very best wishes for your adventure. I wonder if any of our other members will be temped to take up your invitation to visit.
We have had our lovely Barchetta for nearly 14 years now. I bought it new from Northgate Garage in Canterbury, where I have worked as sales manager since 2000.
We holiday in Italy every year and in all that time the Barchetta has not put tyre out of England as three people into two seats does not go! Last July we thought we would check out a few properties in the area. We drive each year to Piedmont, in the province of Biella where I rediscovered lake Viverone. This holds a special place in me heart as I learned to swim there as a child. My father
came from Turin and we would spend all our summer holidays there.
We viewed a property near Asti, in the beautiful Monferrato hills. We fell in love instantly and put in an offer when we returned home. This was a huge step as it would mean moving from a safe house and job in England. Taking advantage of (silly) high property prices in the UK and (silly) low properties in Italy we decided to take a chance. We swapped a three bedroom semi in Folkestone for a four bedroom detached piedmont farmhouse with 5 acres of adjoining woodland with enough equity left over (I hope) to keep going until I can draw my pension in 5 years time. It was a big gamble but worth it every time I look out of the window.
Our offer was accepted, we sold our house and moved here at the end of November.
So the Barchetta has come home! He seems very happy now and resides some 60 kilometres from his birth place. He is looking forward to spring when the hood can be retracted and he can ride around the beautiful Italian countryside. I must say the Barchetta has been a good choice. When I first mentioned the idea to Julie she was not keen. I said I had seen a lovely car, actually one which tormented me every day at work in the showroom. It would mean swapping her Punto for a left hand drive car. No way she said, I wont be able to drive that! then I showed her a picture of a Barchetta...... I suppose I could get used to it she said. Who could not be charmed by the Barchetta’s beautiful lines. In all the time we have owned the car we have only covered 38,000 miles. She has had a new hood recently and I had the mirrors resprayed as the lacquer was starting to fade. Reliable otherwise, helped by working at a main dealer. I inherited a stainless steel exhaust and strut brace from a customer who found the exhaust too noisy for his taste.
By summer we should have accommodation here as we are setting up a small B & B. If you would like your Barchetta to visit the area you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org you would be most welcome. The adventure is just beginning for us and I am so looking forward to the better weather. Having said that, although cold at night the days have mostly been lovely. as soon as the sun comes out it has some real strength to it. There are truffles in the woods too so I may need to get a dog.
Michael and Julie Dutto
For three years running I have been fortunate in persuading our first new member of the year to jot a piece about themselves and their cars. Here is Mike Emmett’s contribution for 2018. Mike wonders whether the Barchetta will prove reliable. Judging by many other members’ experiences I think this is an unnecessary concern. Welcome to our Club Mike and Tracy.
“First of all I would like to thank the Fiat Barchetta Club UK for accepting me as a member of the club. My wife Tracy and I have a bit of a love affair with Fiats. Our first Fiat was a Fiat Panda Mk1 in red with a double vinyl sunroof. That was nearly 30 years ago and we loved that car. Eventually corrosion got the better of it and sadly it had to go. Since then we have had various Fiats including Cinquecento’s, and Punto’s. Both of our daughters had Fiats when they passed their driving tests and they also loved them. We now have a small collection of Fiats. We have a Fiat Punto HGT which is a very rare car now. We have a Fiat Stilo Abarth (manual gearbox) which is also very rare. The other Fiat we own is a Fiat Coupe 20V Turbo which I adore. We have had the Coupe for approximately 5 years and maintaining it is not easy. Luckily I’m a mechanic and MOT tester so I do all the maintenance myself, it is definitely worth it, this car has opened up touring holidays in Europe for us. For the last 5 years our holidays have taken us to France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain all in the Fiat Coupe and we have had some fantastic times and seen things from the car that you would never see if you fly. So this is where the Barchetta comes in.
I started looking for a Barchetta a couple of years ago. I had never driven one nor sat in one and until a couple of years ago I’d never seen one. We went to an Italian sports car show at Stanford Hall near Lutterworth and that was the first time I saw one. I liked the look of it and I did a bit of research on the internet to find out more about them and then the hunt to find and buy one was on. I was looking for the right one though, I nearly bought a limited edition one over a year ago but I couldn’t make my mind up so I didn’t buy it.
The hunt for the right car continued and then last October a Riviera Edition in black was for sale in the Autotrader, I didn’t know at the time but it was also advertised on the UK Fiat Barchetta Club’s website. The car was in Devon, 200 miles from us but we decided it was worth a trip to have a look. We are so glad we did, we came back to Leicestershire with it and we love it. It had everything we wanted, full service history, hardtop, new mohair soft top, wind deflector and an unused original boot rack. The only problem was the hardtop headlining was sagging. I have now had that re-trimmed in matching red vinyl and it looks stunning.
The original plan for the Barchetta was to use it for our holidays. With it being left hand drive it will be perfect for continental driving. This year’s holiday was planned and booked before we bought the car and we would have gone in the Coupe if we hadn’t found a Barchetta, now we have one we’ll be using it. We are going to Anguillara Sabazia which is just North of Rome, approximately 1200 miles over 3 days. We are really looking forward to the drive and touring with the roof off in this beautiful sporty car. The preparation of the car for the holiday has already started; we have never had a problem with the Coupe on holidays so hopefully the Barchetta will perform as well.
Unfortunately our holiday clashes with the Barchetta Club’s holiday to Derbyshire but we will certainly aim to make it to other meetings when we can. We are looking forward to meeting other Barchetta owners to swap stories and experiences.”
Mike and Tracy Emmett
I am always sad to delete members' details from our club register when cars are sold on. This week Tim Hope-Frost from Powys thoughtfully advised me that he has sold his car and sent the following message and photograph. What a beautiful picture! I cannot help but suspect that Tim will have some niggling doubts about the wisdom of parting with his obviously much loved Barchetta. Very best wishes to you Tim.
After a bout of sudden decision making, I have sold my Barchetta. Having owned it for more than 5 years it was a bit of a wrench.
However it went out in a blaze of glory, having taken us to Italy at the end of September and Lake Como in particular via the Stelvio pass. We did the thick end of 2000 miles with no faults whatsoever and fairly full throttle, averaging 38mpg! The hood came down on the drive before leaving and did not go up again until on the M4 on the way home!
I attach a photo of the old girl at the bottom of the Stelvio, waiting for a clear run to the top
With best wishes
Pit Stop – the numbers game!
The start – well nearly – of a New Year is always a good time to plan ahead and make a few financial decisions. Hence this timely reminder about the 200 Club and a brief update on the uptake so far.
We now have 147 (shades of Alfa Romeo!) registered club members of whom 33 (again Alfa Romeo!) have bought one or more tickets, making a total of 41 tickets sold. For those of you haven’t yet joined there is still time to pay the first year’s (actually only nine months) subscription of £22.50 to enjoy the potential of a full ‘year’s’ win. Equally for those of you who have elected to pay monthly and may have not joined the line up in October 2017 – you can still top-up to make a complete ‘year’.
The total prize money would currently stand at £455.00 by the June meeting – could we make it £500.00? That’s just another four full ‘year’s’ subscriptions. To apply simply complete the application form (see below) and follow the instructions on the form.
Is there a winner still sitting in the Pit Lane?
I am delighted to report that the president of the Barchetta Club Deutschland, Jorg Elswyk, has joined the UK Barchetta Owners' Club as an honorary member.
Jorg has been an excellent friend to our membership assisting those of us who have joined continental meetings. He has always been willing to offer advice and assistance and I welcome him as our one hundred and forty-fifth member.
Member Neil Mead has been keeping an eye on current prices paid at auction for various Barchettas and has kindly shared his research with us in the following article.
“Appreciating Modern Classic” and “Already Going Up In Value” are phrases often used in classified ads and articles regarding the Fiat Barchetta but it can be hard to get a real idea of true values and demand for the “Little Boat”.
Some classified ads do appear to stay online for a long time and prices do seem to vary to say the least! Although the auctions can have some very interesting estimates sometimes they do at least show what somebody was willing to pay for a car on the day whether it be for selling on or to keep and enjoy.
Over the last few months I have spotted three Barchettas at different auctions which came in different price brackets so thought a quick run-down of the prices paid might be interesting to current and potential new owners.
Firstly at the Essex Classic Car Auction on the 7th May a 1997 red car (chassis no:23937) was up for no reserve and in terms of condition; I think a description of “Basket Case” wasn’t too unkind! With no MOT history and not having been taxed since 2007 the car needed front & rear bumpers, the exhaust had gone and the paint work had peeled badly. Possibly could have forgiven all of this but when I put my hand under the sills and heard a nice crunching sound on both sides then it’s time to walk away but somebody paid £630 inc fees so maybe it will be broken for the engine which apparently was all OK. .I did feel quite sorry for this car and would have loved to give it a home but a lack of space meant otherwise.
On the 28th August at Anglia Auctions a late facelift dark blue model from 2005 (chassis no: 57612) with 80,283 miles fetched £3675 inc fees which looked good value and soon appeared on a dealers website for £5495. It will be interesting to see how long it stays advertised. The car had reasonable history and apparently the variator had recently been replaced. Looking at the most recent figures from the “How Many Left” website at the start of this year there was just 87 facelift models on the road with 38 SORN making this appear to be a rare spot now, however, there always seem to be a few facelift models available via the usual websites with them being the last of the line.
At the Classic Car Auction Everyman Classics on the 23rd September a 1998 silver Barchetta (chassis no: 35451) achieved £6050 inc fees but this was certainly helped by the mileage of just 16,700 and a decent history file. This was at the bottom estimate of £6-£8k though which always seemed a little optimistic but this put the car at the higher end of values I have recently seen. Also the car wasn’t totally original with non standard wheels fitted and also an aftermarket rear spoiler which, if the Barchetta follows the path of other classic cars, originality will be a key point as time passes.
With the early cars now over 20 years old finding examples with comparable mileage and condition is always going to be hard but keeping an eye on these results and seeing how the values change as the number of cars on the road reduce should make for interesting viewing.
Club member John Whitehead has forwarded an article from AutoItalia Magazine to me. We were expecting to see this article as we arranged for another member, Aldo Diana, to make his car available for a photo-shoot. They asked for an orange car as that was the original launch colour.
Just as interesting as the article are John's comments about his own experience of Barchetta ownership. John joined the club in September 2016 and lives in Leicestershire. I suspect that many of you will find yourselves nodding in agreement with John's ups and downs. Incidentally, Research Garage, Nuneaton, is on our list of trusted garages (see Technical pages for the list) following John's recommendation. Thank you John (and Aldo) for your contributions.
My wife and I bought our 2000 car in 2003 from a Fiat main dealer (Research Garage, Nuneaton) with 15,000 miles on the clock. We paid top dollar, but the dealer installed a CD player and did a considerable amount of mechanical work on the car, including cam-belt change, as part of the deal. Subsequently servicing etc has been performed by the same dealer.
In our ownership the car has always been garaged and not used during the winter (except for approximately monthly runs on dry days to keep all moving parts moving). We have attempted to use the car during dry weather only, but as we have used it mainly for extended trips (during the summer) in Europe, avoiding rain hasn't always been possible! The car has now done about 54,000 miles.
The Fiat servicing schedule calls for cam-belt change every five years (if not mileage limited) and oil change every 12,000 miles or 18 months (the latter in my case). The oil specified is SAE 10W-40 semi-synthetic. I have always used Castrol Magnatec because the Magnatec additive really does greatly reduce engine wear on cold start-up (as a previous employee of Horiba-MIRA, which does test work for Castrol, I know this to be true and not just advertising hype). In addition, our car never does very short journeys, so that the number of cold starts per 1000 miles is small.
In the Auto Italia article, DTR recommends changing the valve variator every second cam-belt change and changing the engine oil twice per year! I have never changed oil more frequently than every 18 months, and in recent years, in deference to our usage pattern and the fact that the oil doesn't begin to discolour until well over 1000 miles following an oil change, I have extended this to every two years. The variator has never been replaced during the car's lifetime. As far as I can tell, the car continues to perform just as well as ever and the fuel consumption remains much the same.
The car has been reliable;apart from servicing and maintenance, the only repairs or replacements have been: the two water pipes to the oil filter (early in our ownership), replacement of the heat shield at the front of the engine (twice), replacement of the steering rack (2006) following leaks, replacement of the hood (2014) essentially to replace the disintegrating rear screen and replacement of the alternator (2017). Bodily, apart from the patina of age, it looks completely original, with no rust apparent.
I hope this may be of interest to other owners.
(also see 'Road trip stupidity article below)
So, in answer to my own question of whether planning to undertake a 1,500 mile, 11-day road-trip in a 1999 Barchetta was sheer stupidity, I’d have to say my experience, in late July/early August, was quite the opposite.
In the first four days, and taking in Fort William and a summit of Ben Nevis en-route from Hampshire to Aberdeen for the overnight ferry to Shetland, the Fiat behaved impeccably, achieving a remarkable 42.34 mpg over the first 700 miles of the trip.
True, I was in little hurry, setting out on a Saturday morning, and arriving at a rain-swept Fort William on the Sunday afternoon. However, the detour I took after Loch Lomond – taking the cross-country A85 route toward Oban – was a real early-trip highlight. All newly-laid ‘pink’ asphalt, with ice-bright markings, the Barchetta and I had the road to ourselves for a full 20 miles, each enjoying every twist and turn. I’d pay money to drive that route again, and if you ever get the chance to do likewise, westward toward the coast, just take it. Every time.
Nevis was summited on Monday, with Tuesday spent steadily zig-zagging across Scotland, and the mighty Cairngorms, toward Aberdeen harbour for the early evening boat to the Northern Isles. Rather a shame it poured the entire route but, thankfully, the sometimes-leaky Fiat chose to play fair in the rain.
Dawn rose on Wednesday just as the ship passed Fair Isle (population, 55), south of Shetland. When docking at Lerwick a couple of hours later, a beautiful day had developed, so it was hood-down, and onto another ferry, this one bound for the island of Bressay, en-route to the nature reserve on the Isle of Noss (population, nil) for bird-spotting and whale-watching. A day spent on an uninhabited island was a truly glorious introduction to Shetland, with its huge sky, sea like a mill-pond and some unexpected sunburn…
The rest of the week on Shetland was spent driving to the western side, to spend time on the North Atlantic coastline, near Walls, then heading northwards, taking in the Sullom Voe oil terminal, and onto to the very end of the British road network, at Skaw beach, via the windswept islands of Yell and Unst.
When I finally navigated the car to Skaw, I calculated this was the furthest north I had ever been on the planet and, less than 400 miles from the Arctic Circle, I suspect the furthest north any Fiat Barchetta has ever been too…unless you know otherwise, of course.
In between, I spent some fascinating days, including coastal-trekking – seeing puffins and gannets hovering above the sea-cliffs at Hermaness in a force 10 gale was special – and people-watching on Norwick beach, where the entire local community turned-out, in the wind and rain, to surf, or watch the competitive sea-angling. The winners – and watchers – of ‘Norik Eela’ were feted with a sea-side barbeque, traditional fiddle music, Orkney whisky and the inevitable Irn Bru.
As I finally turned southbound, on another glorious Shetland summer day, the hood was down all the way as I island-hopped down to Scalloway, the old Norse capital. The quaintest of tiny towns, I enjoyed its excellent sea-food, wonderful nearby cliff-top walks and even more deserted beaches for my planned Atlantic dip (brrrrr!!!) before Lerwick and the return ship south to mainland Scotland.
Spotting some Killer whales in the twilight en-route from Shetland to the Orkney Islands was one final, but unexpected, bonus, and somehow emblematic of my unforgettable few days in the northernmost part of Great Britain.
In all, the Fiat Barchetta covered 1,735 miles in 11 days, and produced an overall 40.23 mpg figure, which I thought was outstanding. I got to drive some of the very best roads in the UK – you can see where Shetland has spent some of its oil money – but even better than that, I met fascinating people, reported rare bird sightings, walked amazing landscapes and encountered a way of life I simply didn’t know existed in the country in which I was born.
To anyone contemplating such a road-trip, wherever you decide to go, I would say just do it. Sure, you’ll need to know how to pack (and re-pack!) a pared-down kit list to suit the tiny boot and cabin, plus undertake a little pre-trip preparation – I took the precaution of giving the Barchetta a service and four new tyres, and I carried a few simple spares – but the ‘little boat’ didn’t miss a beat in almost 3,000km and was a willing workhorse, despite everything the wind, rain, motorways, moors and mountains threw at her.
I am fascinated to learn that Lee Richardson, a member from Hampshire is about to embark on the most amazing trip in his Barchetta. I have yet to learn whether this journey will take Lee even further north than the recent international meeting in Norway ventured. It is obviously an extremely bold enterprise and I am sure our membership wish Lee very best wishes for his adventure north. You are a brave man Sir!!
Lee has promised to write us an account of his travels upon his return.
Preparing for a 1,500 mile, 11-day road-trip in a 1999 Barchetta…foolhardy or fun? We shall see….
From Hampshire to Shetland – via Fort William and Aberdeen for the boat to the northernmost isles of Britain – the trip will include a summit of Ben Nevis en-route, coastal-path trekking, bird-watching and wild camping. Plus taking the Barchetta to the very tip of the British road network, and the settlement of Skaw on the wild, windswept island of Unst.
Choosing kit for all eventualities – the weather can certainly do anything that far north, and probably will – has been a challenge, as has the packing, to ensure it can all go inside the Barchetta’s tiny boot. It does…just!
Set-off date is July 29th, so wish me luck…
Some of us are just back from the 2017 UK Owners Club meeting in the West Country. We had a record eighteen cars attend plus two fairly local members called in to see us. One of our visiting members was Allan Bullock who has very recently joined us. Allan met us on the Saturday morning at our Exeter hotel and joined us for much of our day drive across Devon. His car is a red Riviera version in beautiful condition. During conversation with Allan he revealed that he had actually used his car as a wedding car. Well if that doesn’t beg more information what does? Allan has kindly supplied the following information and pictures which I hope you enjoy viewing.
It was great to see so many Barchettas last weekend at Exeter and to join in the drive. It is a shame that we didn’t know about it earlier as we could have planned to do the whole trip. My wife was very jealous to have missed out.
My Barchetta was originally purchased for a trip around The Alps to Italy visiting France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Italy. We also had a Barchetta inspired cake based on our road trip around The Alps
For that trip we wanted a convertible and I had always longed to undertake a European trip using a Barchetta. About a month before we were due to leave a one owner Riviera model came up for sale in Surrey. It was available with a full history and stacks of paperwork starting from the original DTR invoice right up to present day, all work by DTR. It only had a month’s MOT left so I took a little gamble on a few potential issues but this was reflected in the price I paid. Anyway all turned out ok, and my Italian specialist gave it a full service here in Devon, giving me an assurance that the car was ok for us to make the long trip!!! A good cleaning and a polish and we were off to Europe!!!
Since returning the car comes out on the odd sunny weekend and that’s about it, we do some trips around Devon and take it to car shows around the area, along with the Fiat Coupe 20v Turbos we have, both of which have just been restored.
It was great to use the Barchetta as a wedding car, some great memories. We did have a “Plan B” for inclement weather! If rain had threatened to spoil the fun we had two hired classic Jaguars as wedding cars in reserve.
Members might like to look out for the forthcoming article in Modern Classics Magazine, described below, which will star our member Chris Pearce and his lovely red Barchetta.
Thanks Chris for stepping forward, so glad you enjoyed it
When Martin Garrad circulated the request, at short notice, from Modern Classics Magazine for a member willing to avail him or herself, plus their car, for a road test and photo-shoot in Wales I had no idea that it would turn out to be a mad couple of days; and then there was the weather!
As you know, the original theme was an article based around a selection of affordable 'rag tops' under £3k. Unfortunately, John-Joe Vollans was let down by so many of his promised owners that first, they scrapped the project, then had a re-think and amended the concept to a comparison between two cars in three price bands - budget, mid range and luxury. This turned out to be : Barchetta and Toyota MR2 Mk3 (nice it wasn't the ubiquitous Mazda MX5); Nissan 350Z and Lotus Elise; BMW Z4 'M' Sport and Porsche 911 - an eclectic and interesting bunch. We duly met up on Sunday morning in Criccieth in North Wales and went off in search of locations in the mountains nearby selected by the photographer Dean Smith.
Fortunately, the weather cooperated (there were some interesting sun tans - pure air and altitude I guess) - with all cars doing a mixture of 'action' and 'static' poses demanded by the 'snapper' who was very thorough and great fun and I think will have produced some great results. 'J-J' drove all the cars to experience them for his editorial and was very complimentary about the Barchetta, all agreed it was probably the prettiest car there. Monday dawned with rain of biblical proportions, but Dean was determined to obtain his final shots and worked in appalling conditions - we all felt sorry for him, but he's a very committed individual. We all then 'squelched' off in our respective directions. The magazine staff were all brilliant, fun and with infectious enthusiasm. I've had an email from 'J-J' to say he's seen the pictures, which he says are 'remarkable', so we'll see . It's the cover story for the August issue, comes out early July. Not sure we'll have it for the Devon meet, which would be nice, but I'll ask the question.
Thanks for the opportunity, it was fascinating and great fun (and very,very wet !) - the 'Little Boat' could not be better named.
See you in Devon.
Since I have been membership secretary I have endeavoured to complete the club register with details that were missing. In particular the chassis or VIN number seems an interesting fact to hold on record. This enabled the recent articles of newest and earliest cars which included an account by Matt Jackson about his 1995 car ZFA-18300000001305.
Another member that I have nagged away to supply his VIN is Gerry Mann who lives in Glasgow but keeps his car in France. Gerry was finally able to supply his chassis number of ZFA-18300000001137 making it a tad older than Matt’s car. So a good reason to have another article from a member who obviously loves his car. Thank you Gerry for this contribution.
by Gerry Mann
Some considerable time ago, Martin Garrad emailed me to enquire about my vehicle’s chassis number. As my Barchetta was in France, along with all its papers, and I was in Glasgow, I was unable to reply. This applied to subsequent requests as for over a year I was unable to travel. Last month, when I returned to France, I looked out the information and sent it on. You can imagine how thrilled I was when Martin replied advising me that my Barchetta was the oldest registered listing within the club. (Prior to my submission, Matt Jackson was listed as owning the oldest vehicle in the Club - sorry Matt).
I consider my Barchetta to be a truly European car. Manufactured in Italy, it was first registered in Germany. Some years later a buyer brought it to England and subsequently it was sold to an enthusiast in Scotland. I purchased her some six years ago from a man in Fife and brought her back to Glasgow before taking her across to my home in French Catalonia.
I’ve now been driving for close on forty years but until recently I wouldn’t consider myself to have been a car enthusiast. I did buy and maintain a Triumph Herald for some time about fifteen years ago but that aside, I’ve always considered driving a chore and cars merely a tool.
In 2011, I decided to buy an inexpensive left hand drive car to take out and use in France. My original thinking was a plain run-a-round, maybe a Twingo or the like.
I scanned local advertisements and Gumtree and that’s when I came across the ad for my Barchetta. At that time I hadn’t previously come across the model and I was curious. I called my brother-in-law (who is a life-long car enthusiast) and he came with me to Fife to check out the car. It was love at first sight and I had to have it.
This was the first time I’d driven a left hand drive on British roads so I was somewhat precarious in bringing her back to Glasgow. On arrival, my wife was a little stunned to find I’d purchased a roadster instead of a Twingo. Although there were a lot of mutterings about ‘boys and toys’ and ‘mid life crisis’ I know that she was secretly quite delighted.
Within less than a week, we had it serviced, MOT’d and checked over, booked the Eurotunnel and were ready to embark on the marathon journey. In hindsight, it was probably much more foolhardy than brave to take on a 1250 mile journey in such a recently acquired vehicle, with me as the only driver. We did however take the precaution of purchasing temporary AA euro breakdown insurance.
Day one started badly when our car wouldn’t start and we thought the whole trip may have to be aborted. It was only after we’d wasted an hour that we discovered that one key on each set hadn’t been chipped to deactivate the immobiliser.
Not uncommonly for Scotland, the conditions were inclement requiring the roof up. Undeterred, if slightly late, we set off and made steady progress, arriving in Folkestone by early evening. We’d been pleasantly surprised at the fuel economy, achieving almost double of what we get in our Hyundai Tucson.
The following morning we rose early and made our way to take up our Chunnel booking. Once in France, the weather cleared and for the first time we had the pleasure of driving with the top down. Although we stopped regularly to check temperature and oil, we again made steady progress, other than the long delays manoeuvring our way round the Paris ring road. Late afternoon and mid way through France, I noticed the petrol gauge reading about a quarter full but by my reckoning I thought we ought to be running lower. I decided to pull in at the next services but before I was able to do so we ground to a halt. My calculations hadn’t allowed for the significant drop in fuel economy while we were circling Paris.
We made use of our yellow jackets and triangle and we tried calling the AA only to be told they were not permitted to attend breakdowns on the French motorway and we should instead call the police who would arrange for service. Over the coming hours, the police attended and then sent a breakdown vehicle which supplied us with ten litres of fuel. We restarted without a problem and refuelled properly at the next station (less than ten kilometres from where we’d stopped). We cut off at the next town seeking an overnight stay but we were already too late for most hotels to accept admissions. I sat in the car while my wife checked out our third attempt. They were about to reject our request when the owner spotted the Barchetta. She quickly arranged for her husband to open their courtyard wanting the car (if not us) to be safe and enclosed overnight.
The rest of the journey progressed without incident and we arrived the following day. This part of the world is ideal terrain for our Barchetta. It really feels at home darting about the narrow mountain and coastal roads and, as the area has its own micro-climate, it’s very rare that we require to use the soft-top.
Our next challenge was to have the car matriculated into the French system. This was when we discovered the significance of ‘bureaucracy’ being a French word. Every time we thought we had the paperwork sorted out, something else was asked for. However with a lot of perseverance, accompanied by, amongst other things, the UK registration document, insurance documentation, European certificate of conformity, tax declaration., Control Technique certificate (MOT equivalent) and registration fee, we got there and were issued with a Carte Grise making our Barchetta a French car.
To be able to legally drive in France, we had fitted headlamp beam benders, however a condition of the Control Technique was that within a reasonable period we needed to have the headlamps adjusted to suit driving on the right. To our horror we discovered that replacements would cost upwards of one thousand euros plus a fitting charge. After a lot of research online, my wife discovered a French website with instructions on how to adjust the lights. (It advised how to open the lights and cut a small piece of plastic but included a warning about how fragile it was and the exorbitant cost to replace it if we got it wrong). In due course we had a local garage carry out this work, as well as changing some fuel hoses at a combined cost which gave us change from two hundred euros. Our favourable treatment might well have been influenced as the engineer had a particular liking for the car and we witnessed his apprentice tenderly stroke the wing every time he walked past it.
One final piece of information we discovered was that French garages are not normally prepared to step beyond their normal sources of supply. We became aware of a problem with fumes escaping the exhaust and remedying the problem required a replacement part. Our garage said they would acquire it and come back to us. After chasing them several times, we discovered they were unable to find a supplier. This whole procedure was repeated at a second garage. We checked ourselves online and quickly found an English supplier who agreed to post the part to our French garage and at a quarter of the cost the French garage had estimated the part would cost - had they been able to get it.
We’ve found that driving our Barchetta in France has been great fun but as you’ll have noted from the above, it can be a bit quirky.
It is beginning to look as though Yorkshire is the centre of the world for Barchetta Spares & Repairs! We seem to have a wealth of Barchetta friendly garages and spare parts suppliers in that neck of the wood. I am prompted to say that after our member Iain Menneer wrote to me about his experience with sourcing a new exhaust manifold for his red 1995 car. Iain explained that his manifold had developed a hole and that his garage had difficulty sourcing a replacement. An original equipment one was not available and Iain had doubts about paying £500 for a replacement from an unknown source. He finally decided to “bite the bullet” and have a bespoke manifold made by Len Sheene of Pipe Tech, Hunmanby, North Yorkshire http://www.pipetech1.co.uk/
Tel 07927 385368
You will see by the picture that a very high quality product was supplied. Forgive me for saying but I’m sure it will outlast most of the rest of the car!
Iain said,”It took a while to make as this was a first for Pipe Tech. They did a fantastic job and there was no problem fitting it. I was sent very clear instructions for my garage to fit and run-in the new manifold. It is made entirely from Stainless Steel whereas the original was a mix of stainless and mild steel. I would definitely recommend Len.”
Len Sheene said.”It was a time consuming job but I am delighted with the end result and very pleased that Iain is happy. Should I be asked to make another the price would be in the region of £750.”
So should anyone find themselves with a similar issue here is an account of how one member found a solution with which he is very happy.
I am pleased to be able to tell you that interest in joining our club continues. We have three new members that have joined us so far this month, bringing our membership total to 133 members.
Here is an article from our first new member of the year, Julian Strutt of Ipswich. Here he describes his trials and tribulations of Barchetta ownership over the last decade. Thank you Julian for sharing your experiences and hope we meet you soon. That reminds me that anyone wishing to join the 2017 meeting in The West Country should speak up ASAP. Ten confirmed cars so far with others almost ready to confirm their attendance!!
All good wishes for now
In truth I didn’t intend to buy a Barchetta (but I am glad that I did!) – I had owned an Alfa Romeo 146 and went to a garage near Stansted airport in April 2006 to buy an Alfa Spider – however I took one out for a road test and hated it. Luckily in the back of the garage was this car – they couldn’t move it as it was stuck in the corner so I went back with my wife the following week, test drove it and loved – even more so as it was unique– It was a one previous owner car, first registered in July 2003 and just over 25,000 miles when we bought it.
As it was still within its 3 year warranty, I took it to my local Fiat Main Dealer and it had a load of warranty work done including a new variator, new clock (!), amongst other things. Just to put things in perspective I was at my local Fiat Main Dealer a few weeks ago (my daughter has just taken delivery of a Fiat 500) and they didn’t know what my car was!
So what have I done to the car over the last 10+ years? Not a huge amount and it has been a daily driver throughout that period for both me and my wife yet we have only just passed 60,000 miles.
Within a year of having the car I did take it to DTR (their old premises in East Sheen) for a service and I had a strut brace fitted. Hoever as that is a long trip I discovered Avanti Autos in Ipswich and they have looked after the car ever since (Mario). I have only ever seen one other Barchetta in their garage at the same time as mine which I believe was owned by a former member of staff.
I very rarely see other B’s in this part of the world – again back in the early days of ownership I did meet up with some other B owners (arranged through Facebook) and I have been to an Italian car event at Brooklands but these have been one off events.
The car has been out in all weathers – only in the past 4 years has it been garaged. I have been involved in a couple of non fault claims – a neighbour reversed into my driver's door (I still need to sort out the door card fixings as they have never been right since it was repaired) and a neighbour's fence blew onto it when parked – luckily his insurance paid for nearly a whole body respray and some new headlights!
Recently I have had to replace the softop roof as the plastic window cracked and tore (age). I picked up a complete roof on ebay for £100 – when I collected it, I was pleased to find that it was a mohair roof so I was able to have a straight swap with the exisiting roof – bargain!
I have also bought a few bits and pieces from Henk at barchettaparts.com – the small door speakers, rear view mirror. I do want to replace the rubber seals on the softop at some point but the cost!!!!
The most recent purchase was my hardtop – I have been after one for a while and finally have got a Wiesmann – apparently only 270 were originally made. I had to drive to the Netherlands to get it but it was well worth the trip (It is currently on the car – see photo). The fit is excellent plus it is made of fibreglass. I did have to use Avanti to get the heated screen to work but it works fine now.
My wife and I both love driving the car and we often take it up to the top of Norfolk or to the coast – it is a car that we will always keep as it is unique and fun to drive.
I do have a passion for other Italian vehicles – this is my daily ‘driver’ to the station – I have had this from new (1986) and recently had a bare metal restoration to keep it going for another 20 years plus!
There are a few things I do need to sort on the car – front bumper needs a repair or replacement, the drivers door card needs some new fixings and I think a replacement variator / major service is due in the next few months!
Hope to see some more B’s on the road soon!
There's been a great response to the request circulated last month to club members for recommendations of their trusted garages (see article below 'UK Recommended Garages Database'). The new database can be viewed on the link below and this is updated whenever new information is received from members.
We'd love to add to the list so if you have a trusted local garage please send details to Martin Garrad, membership secretary, email@example.com.
Club members David and Kim Davies (Hertfordshire) have recently returned from a real adventure in La Belle France. During his trip David suffered a worrying hiccup with his Barchetta. This was overcome and he and Kim obviously enjoyed a fabulous trip to a classic rally. David and his wife Kim found friendly and enthusiastic French Barchetta owners and his account calls out for a future visit. Thank you David and Kim for this contribution.
I think everyone will agree about the importance of building a good relationship with a local garage, especially when you own a car now approaching some rarity. I have been prompted to consider this subject following requests from two new members seeking a garage to entrust their much loved cars to.
Our website does, if you dig deep enough, contain an out of date list going back to the late 1990’s. It is of very little use now. How sensible then to compile a list of garages we can recommend to other club members. Many of us do travel away from our local areas in our Barchettas so how comforting to carry a handy list of garages recommended by other members.
Please let us know if you have a trusting relationship with a garage that services your Barchetta and we’ll get that list on our web pages for the benefit of us all. Please include the garage name, address, contact details, and any brief comments you feel relevant.
I am pleased to tell you that our club membership has now crept up to 105. Four new members have signed up so far in 2016. The first new member of the year was John Capon from Feniton in Devon. Surprisingly John is our one and only member living in Devon or Cornwall.
John has kindly put a few words together to tell us about his cars and why he has joined our club. I hope some of us will meet him in Buckinghamshire at our annual meeting in June. Judging by the vast selection of cars that John has loved and owned he is well qualified to judge the qualities of the Barchetta.
John writes: “Since my childhood I have loved Italian cars. When I was 11 one of my Dad’s friends bought a brand new 1976 Lancia Beta Coupe. It looked so beautiful and so different to everything else. I was in love! A few years later, once I learnt to drive, my first car was a Mk. 1 Escort. It was yellow and as I remember it was a 1300 base model. However, it had enough accessories on it to make it look like it was about to enter the world rally champion competition.....Then one day, I spotted a Fiat 127 cheap in the local paper. It was a 1973 hatchback in orange, the original 903cc version. At first it was as slow as a slug, but only because the points had closed up. Following a home DIY service it went like a rocket! I never looked back, it was Italian cars for me! It was only little but loved to rev and made all the right noises. It lived and breathed.
Since then I have owned a Fiat 127, 128, 131, 126, Strada, Croma, (both shapes) Punto, Brava, Marea and Barchetta. I have also owned several Lancias, Delta, Prisma, Beta (sedan, HPE, Coupe, Spider & Trevi.) Gamma, Dedra, Thema & Kappa. Oddly enough I have not owned Alfa Romeos. The modern car I drive is a Citroen but I do also now have my lovely Barchetta, of course.
I had one when they were nearly new and missed it since I sold it 12 years ago. I always said that if I saw one in really nice condition in yellow with black leather I would buy it. Well two years ago that is exactly what happened.
The Barchetta is a great car. It is as pretty as can be imagined, cheap enough to own and run and of course it cannot depreciate. Mine is kept garaged and is much cherished. Once I discovered that there is a club especially for these cars I could not join quickly enough and look forward to meeting like minded owners together with all the little Barchettas parked together.”
PARTS FOR YOUR BARCHETTA
If you are looking for spare parts for your Barchetta you may like to try shop4parts. I have dealt with this company and have found them to be both efficient and competitive. They can supply many spares including cambelts, cambelt kits, variators, steering and suspension components many of which are original equipment.
I have, on your behalf negotiated a 10% discount exclusively for club members. You can obtain this discount by contacting me by telephone (01444 235292) or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will provide a code that will give you your discount. It is certainly worth checking prices as a comparison.
Martin Garrad (Membership Secretary)
THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXTRACT FROM shop4 parts website:
Shop4parts is a family run business, the owner and members of staff have been involved with Fiat's and Alfa Romeo's since the early 1970's. We pride ourselves in being totally independent, meaning we are able to buy our parts from the cheapest sources in Europe!
Our aim is to give you very competitive prices together with a speedy 24/48Hr door to door delivery service. We hope like most of our customers, you enjoy the ease of purchasing your parts online along with our excellent customer service.
UK barchetta Owners Club
11 Bramble Gardens
West Sussex RH15 8UQ
Find barchetta parts at barchetta parts.com visit website for full range of available parts. 10% discount on orders over 100 Euro to UK Club members
Our official club merchandise supplier. BMC Leisure have the club logo digitised for print or embroidery onto a wide range of products from their catalogue
Tough Technology Products
Tough Technology Products provide leading edge, high technology workshop repair, car maintenance and car repair products.
Parts for Alfa-Romeo and Fiat cars with a 10% discount for club members. Contact Martin Garrad for more information