News from New Zealand

In May 2022 Stewart Glynn contacted our club. He had emigrated to New Zealand and taken his beloved Barchetta with him. Amazingly we already knew of another Barchetta in NZ owned by Doug Cleverly. Doug wrote an article for us a year earlier about his RHD car. Now Stewart has contacted me to explain how he has managed to refurbish his car. Looking at the pictures the car really does look as though it is fresh from the factory! I hope you enjoy reading Stewart’s account of his car and of the handful of Barchettas that have made it to the other side of the world, thank you Stewart.

Martin Garrad

In August 2021, the UK Barchetta Owners Club reported that a Barchetta had been discovered in New Zealand (owned by Doug Cleverly). In May 2022 I was pleased to announce there was a second one – my 2004 UK import owned from new!

At that time, the car had a number of issues that combined to make it look very untidy. They were:

  • Scratches on the rear from a toddler scraping a stone on it!
  • A large dent and scratch on the bonnet caused by a truck flicking a rock up onto it
  • Yellowed front indicators
  • Rust around both headlights (a legacy of a poor accident repair in the past)
  • Rust in the gaps where the side sills meet the rear wing in front of the wheels

In addition to all of that, someone scraped the left front wing and bumper in a supermarket car park without leaving any details.  I submitted an insurance claim which was the catalyst for the decision to get all of the other issues addressed at the same time.

Over the years I had scoured the world for spare parts and gradually accumulated a small stockpile. This was not an easy task considering that only 1899 Mk2 Barchettas were made! I was lucky to source the following new parts for this restoration:

  • headlights
  • front indicators
  • front foglights
  • front badge
  • front bumper grill pieces (three parts)
  • wiper arms

On the 22nd of January I handed the car and parts over to a local panel and paint firm with the brief that I wanted the car to come back looking like new. Being a perfectionist, I had carefully researched who I wanted to do the work and these guys were highly recommended. Even then I was still nervous, but excited that this moment had finally arrived after several years!

While the work was going on I joined the Fiat Owners Club NZ (FOCNZ) and was stunned to be told there are more than two Barchettas here in New Zealand! I’ve made enquiries and have confirmation of four others in addition to mine! There are three from 1996 and one from 1997. Two are orange, one is red, and the other is a RHD conversion imported from the UK (colour unknown). The red ’96 and one of the orange ones are confirmed Japanese imports. The owner of the red one used to own a Fiat / Lancia parts business before retiring. In a strange coincidence, it turns out that he even supplied parts for mine when running the business before he retired!

I also found out about a British and European Car Day, due to be held on the 11th of February. My car was due back on the 2nd, so I was excited at the thought of joining the FOCNZ display.

Predictably, some additional issues were discovered during the work. This included a number of mounts and brackets breaking during disassembly, and additional rust being discovered around the inside of the rear arches. These issues were addressed but delayed the pick-up date.

The car was finally ready on Wednesday the 7th of February, and I was not disappointed! It had had almost a total respray and looked amazing – better than I could have hoped! The new parts gave it the ‘as new’ look that I had hoped for and the perfectionist in me could find nothing wrong!

On show day I got up early, washed and waxed the car, and then set off on the 35-minute drive to the showgrounds.  Despite being overcast, a little windy (it is Wellington after all!) and a few drops of rain, there was a good turnout and the weather improved through the day to become hot and sunny. There were nine cars in the FOCNZ display, including three 500s, two x19s, two 125s, and a 2100 wagon (one of only two in NZ).

I was secretly pleased to be the only Barchetta! It generated a good amount of interest which was exciting. After all those years of being ashamed by the accumulation of problems, I was finally able to be proud of my car. After 20 years I love it more than ever, and I’m so happy that it is set up for the next 10-20 years.

Best wishes,