Article featured in AutoItalia magazine

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.

Martin Garrad

(Membership Secretary)

September 2017


Barchetta Buying Guide (AutoItalia 04-20[…] 
Adobe Acrobat document [3.1 MB]

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.

John WhiteheadSeptember 2017