My barchetta story

How I ended up buying a barchetta
Practical day to day experiences
Driving
Faults
Extras/modifications

How I ended up buying a barchetta

The barchetta was introduced in 1995 and this beautiful Fiat immediately caught my attention. Surprisingly the car found its way into the Finnish Fiat importer price list in 1996. Although the price was reasonable the car was just a distant dream for a poor student. However I ordered a barchetta brochure from the importer in 1997. After that I have thought about buying a barchetta every once in a while but due to the fact that the car is very rare in Finland it has been almost impossible to buy one.

Things changed in autumn 2002 when Finnish government had to change the taxation of imported used cars.  A ruling from an EU court forced the government to cut taxes on imported cars and this opened up the possibility to import barchetta from some other EU country.

Even though the EU ruling forced the government to change the taxation it still tried to make importing cars as difficult as possible. This influenced especially those individuals who wanted to import cars that are rare in Finland - like barchetta is. The biggest difficulty for the importer was that it was very difficult to know beforehand how much tax they would have to pay. 

Despite all this I started to investigate how to import a car from Germany and also what kind of car to import. I was considering the following options: Fiat Coupe Turbo, Alfa GTV and Alfa Spider...and barchetta of course. After careful consideration I decided to go for the barchetta.

I was not very keen on importing an open top car just before winter so I decided that I would import the car in spring 2003. I was planning to have a holiday in April 2003 and I changed my holiday plans so that I would fly back home from my holiday via Frankfurt. That way I could get out of the plane in Frankfurt, buy the car from there and drive it to the German-Finland ferry.

I looked at used barchettas from different sources including www.mobile.de and I also checked out what kind of documents would be needed to import a car to Finland. After a lot of investigation the practicalities of importing a car were pretty much clear. However the plans changed when I heard a rumor in an internet discussion group in February 2003. The rumor was that the Finnish Fiat importer was planning to import a used barchetta to Finland. The next day I called their dealer in Helsinki to verify the rumor and the dealer told me that indeed they were planning to import a few barchettas to Finland later in the spring. That was just about everything they told me at the time.

After that I checked their website often and one day I noticed that a new barchetta had found its way to the price list. It was a surprise since it had been a few years since the barchetta had an official price in Finland. After the EU court ruling the Finnish government was also forced to decrease the taxation on new cars too. That had made the new cars cheaper and the price of the new barchetta was pretty tempting. All this was pretty exciting news to me and I started negotiating a deal on the new barchetta. In the end buying a new barchetta turned out to be impossible because the production of the car was temporarily stopped due to the model change. 

During my second visit to the Fiat dealer I was told that two used barchettas had arrived to Finland and they would arrive to the dealer very soon. I had already started to drive back home when the salesman called and told me that the cars had arrived. Immediately I made a u-turn and drove back to the dealer. 

The other imported car was red 1999 model which had 22 thousand kilometres on the clock. The other one was black 1999 Limited Edition which had 30 thousand kilometres on the clock. I was so thrilled on the black car that I bought it as soon as the dealer knew how much money they wanted. 

The Fiat importer had bought the car from an official Fiat dealer in Germany. The car looked and felt like a new car and the only signs of use were slightly worn out tyres and small signs of use on the roof. The price of the car was so low that it would have cost me almost as much to import similar car myself from Germany. An extra bonus was a 12-month warranty offered by the dealer. The car fever had been medicated!

At the moment there are probably two Limited Editions in Finland so my car is quite rare. I'm planning to keep the car in good condition but nevertheless I can't afford more than one car and this means that I have to drive the car year-round. Finnish winter conditions are pretty harsh and you have to have a suitable attitude to be a cabriolet owner in Finland.

How I ended up buying a barchetta
Practical day to day experiences
Driving
Faults
Extras/modifications