Li’l Boaty: 1998 Fiat Barchetta

If you live in North America and didn’t get off the continent or never looked at European auto magazines, you’d (possibly) be forgiven in thinking the new Fiata is Fiat’s first convertible since the original 124 went bye-bye in the 80’s.  If that were true, this post would be really short, but it isn’t and it’s not.  Find this 1998 Fiat Barchetta for sale in Sooke, BC for $7,500 CDN (approx. $5,700 USD) via craigslist.

In between the production of the last 124 Spider as the Pininfarina Azzura in 1985, and the new MX-5 based 2017 124 Spider, there was the Barchetta (I’m leaving the 500 “convertible” out of it) in the 1990’s.  Produced from 1995 to 2005, it was a front wheel drive convertible based on the lowly Fiat Punto.  It was powered by a 1.7 litre dual overhead cam four good for 130-ish hp and good for about a 9 second 0-60.  Unfortunately the seller declined to supply any pictures, but the engine is probably covered by plastic anyway (or oil).

Barchetta is Italiano for little boat.  This little boat has seen 60,000 KM or 32,400 nautical miles under its keel.  Inside doesn’t look too bad and the wheel is on the left, so it’s not a UK or Japanese import.  Canada has much more civilized import laws – 15 years or older is welcome.  Unfortunately, Mr. U.S. Customs agent is going to make you wait another 7 years to bring this barge-lette across the border, unless we get a Johnson/Weld administration…

A few years back, Top Gear did a Christmas Special where Clackson, May and Hammond were the modern Three Wise Men and drove a Barchetta, Miata and Z3 across the Middle East to Bethlehem.  In the end, the Barchetta was the most reliable and thus the most desireable car of the three.

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Gianni is Daily Turismo’s Pacific Northwest correspondent.  He prefers wheels to fenders.