Rare Rides: A 'Clean Florida Title' Fiat Barchetta From 1997

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a 8216 clean florida title fiat barchetta from 1997

There was one prior case where a too hot to title European car appeared on these pages, and it was a boring Citroën hatchback. Today’s forbidden, ahem, “legal” fruit is a bit more zesty. Presenting an underage Fiat Barchetta from 1997.

Of course, this car at age 23 would be legal in the Northern Arctic Canadian States. But down in The America, the government says a foreign-market car must be 25 years or older before it can have a green card. And foreign this roadster is, as in 1997 Fiat had zero presence in the North American market (a state to which the brand will likely return soon).

On to Barchetta.

North America did receive the fabulous and well-made predecessor to the Barchetta, the Gandini-designed X1/9. The mid-engine, rear-drive roadster entered production in 1972, and was still made when Fiat declared it was finished selling cars in the US.

Entrepreneur Malcom Bricklin saw a continued future for the X1/9, securing the rights via his company, International Automobile Importers. The X1/9 remained in production (by Bertone) through 1989, and on sale domestically til the end.

Fiat started work on the X1/9’s successor in 1990. Related to the Punto generation that went on sale in 1993, Fiat was not ready with its new front-drive roadster until 1995. This time the design was handled in-house. Fiat’s engineers even prepared a new engine for the Barchetta: a 1.8-liter mill which used variable camshaft timing (a first for Fiat). The engine produced 129 horsepower, and all examples utilized a five-speed manual. Performance was reasonable for a Nineties roadster, as 60 miles per hour arrived in seven seconds.

The Barchetta was not built alongside its brother, the Punto. Instead, it was welded together at the ILCAS metal works in Sparone Cavanese, then shipped to Chivasso for completion at Maggiora’s coachworks. Though Fiat sold its convertible in two right-hand drive markets, all examples had left-hand drive.

Notably in the Barchetta’s timeline, a significant production issue occurred in 2002: Maggiora declared bankruptcy. Fiat needed a new production location, and chose its Mirafiori factory. But tooling up took a while. To take moderate advantage of a two-year production halt, the Barchetta was revised and refreshed, and went back on sale for the 2004 model year. Changes included revised front and rear bumpers, and some minor alterations to the interior.

By then, Fiat was about finished with the Barchetta. Its unique production requirements, age, and the waning roadster market made it a losing proposition. In June 2005 Barchetta production came to an end. In fact, Barchetta became the last Fiat roadster, unless you count today’s 124 Fiamazda MX-5pider. I don’t.

Today’s totally legal Barchetta is in Florida, where a seller has obtained it from an enterprising collector. In excellent shape, it asks $16,500.

[Images: seller]

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2 of 26 comments
  • Mrb00st Mrb00st on May 11, 2020

    I think these are incredibly cool looking, even if they're probably underwhelming to drive. that 1.8 twin cam looks positively enormous under that hood, though, doesn't it?

  • PsedonAl PsedonAl on Sep 10, 2020

    I have a 2005 Barchetta and i have to say it's super fun to drive. a little stiffer than the NB miata and the engine has reasonable torque

  • MrIcky Out of the possible Jeep recalls to bring up on this site, I'm surprised it's this one and not round 2 of the clutch recall.
  • Dukeisduke I saw a well-preserved Mark VII LSC on the road not too long ago, and I had to do a double-take. They still have a presence. Back when these were new, a cousin of mine owned an LSC with the BMW turbo diesel.
  • Dukeisduke I imagine that stud was added during the design process for something, and someone further along the process forgot to delete it after it became unnecessary.
  • Analoggrotto Knew about it all along but only now did the risk analysis tilt against leaving it there.
  • Mike Beranek Funny story about the '80 T-bird. My old man's Dart Sport had given up the ghost so he was car-shopping. He & I dropped my mom at a store and then went to the Ford dealer, where we test-drove the new T-Bird (with digital dash!)So we pull up to the store to pick mom up. She walks out and dad says "We just bought it.". Mom stares at the Mulroney- almost 13 grand- and just about fell over.Dad had not in fact bought the T-Bird, instead he got a Cordoba for only 9 grand.