Is this the lowest mileage Barchetta in the UK?

Here is a tale to make most of us envious.  Member David Ullathorne has secured himself what is obviously an extremely well preserved pre face-lift Barchetta.  Well done David, I’m looking forward to seeing her in 2019.

Martin Garrad

(Membership Secretary)

October 2018

As some may have seen on the club Facebook page, I am now the very lucky owner of an ‘as new’ 1999 Racing Red Barchetta.

I caught the Barchetta bug in February ‘17 when I saw a Silver Riviera Edition on E Bay. To cut a long story short, I wasn’t expecting to spend any money on it, but ended up with a quite expensive Barchetta after I took it to DTR!

I’m a long time FIAT owner, starting with my first car in 1976, an original 500, moving to a 127 Sport in 1978 then an X 1/9 Lido shortly after. Numerous cars followed for Noelle and me, including another 127, original 1982 Panda and Uno.

On the 22nd August Martin Johnson announced on the Club’s Facebook page the E Bay listing (of what is now) my new Barchetta. He had assumed the odometer was in KM so it looked even more amazing! It turned out to be 2540 Miles. I had also spotted it on E Bay and saw it as a unique opportunity to secure what is effectively as near a ‘new’ pre face-lift Barchetta that is ever likely to be available.

I fixed an appointment to take a look at it the following Saturday, hoping no one else would beat me to it. After a long drive to a village near Ashford we arrived to a very warm welcome from the original owner, Colin and his grandson who had listed it on E Bay for him. After a cup of coffee he took Noelle and I to see the car. The roof had been folded for 19 years so the rear window was in need of some elbow grease with polishing compound or possibly a replacement. The car was clean but in need of a Hoover, leather feed, waxed paintwork and spider eviction! After a quick look around I was taken for a test drive. Even from the passenger seat I could tell it was as ‘tight’ as new. During the test drive (as passenger) I negotiated a price and collected it the following Wednesday.

The car has a full history having been delivered in July 1999 following a special order in April earlier that year, at Northgate FIAT in Canterbury. It came with what was described on the order form as the Comfort Pack and alloy wheels as a further option. The total new price in 1999 was a hefty £17,806 and no was discount given. Little wonder DTR had a thriving business importing them during the 90’s, at a somewhat more competitive price.

I was obviously curious as to why the car had covered so few miles. It transpired Colin’s circumstances had changed shortly after he bought the car, when he became the full time carer of his mother. He covered just 1,200 miles in the first year then less than 80 miles per year. The car hasn’t seen rain and was only driven after the new millennium to have its annual MOT test each July! I have every MOT certificate, all handbooks, 4 Keys, original order form, invoice, and 2 superseded V5’s. In addition Colin also included 2 spare headlights for use in Europe and the original unused steel wheels in boxes with the shorter bolts.

Following collection I took it straight to DTR as it was on my route home. Upon arrival I was greeted with amazement to see such a low mileage car and great surprise that I had driven it 60 miles. Paul was so concerned he asked his colleagues to push it into the workshop for fear the cam-belt would fail upon restarting (because of its age). A word of warning, cam-belts should be changed on a time basis, not mileage.

After a good check over, the cam-belt was changed, along with the variator, and water pump. In addition the oil was changed, the brake hoses replaced and the cavities Waxoyled. A week later it was good to go! New tyres will follow shortly due to the original rubber losing its flexibility with the passage of time.

I have now fully detailed the car and polished the rear window. It really looks as good as the day it was delivered (and maybe better after a mammoth Autoglym session – claying, cleansing, polishing and finally a top notch carnauba wax job). It was time to take it to a local Classic and Vintage show with David Davies and his equally impressive very early Garden Green Barchetta.

I’ve now sold my Silver Riviera to new member, Laurence Wright, so will hopefully see it at future meetings. 

My ‘new’ red B will be at the International meeting next August, probably to celebrate turning 3,000 Miles!

David Ullathorne

October 2018