Practical day to day experiences

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

Driving

NOTE! I SOLD MY BARCHETTA IN MARCH 2006 AND THESE PAGES WILL NOT BE UPDATED ANYMORE!

I got the car on 19 May 2003 ie. immediately after I had returned to Finland from my secondment to London. I managed to drive approximately 10 thousand kilometres until December 2003. From December 2003 to the end of April 2004 the car was not used due to the fact that I was working in London again during that time. All this meant that I didn't get much chances to get experiences on how the car manages the Finnish winter. During the next two winters I used the car almost daily and it didn't have any major difficulties in the Finnish winter conditions.

Driving enjoyment and performance

The experiences so far with the car are very positive. Barchetta is a tiny and nimble car in city traffic and quite nice to drive on an open highway. The performance of the car is reasonable (0-100 km/h 8.9 sec), but since my previous car was faster I would like to have a little more power especially when overtaking.

Reliability and practicality

During the first ten thousand kilometres I have not had any major reliability problems with the car. Some minor niggles have appeared and more detailed expression of those can be found on the faults section. I owned the car for three years during which time I drove approx. 30.000 km. During that time the car didn't have any major faults.

Barchetta is certainly not a family car and it is not intended to be anything like that. For two persons there is plenty of room inside and even a tall person like me (191 cm) can sit comfortably inside. The boot space is 165 litres and the boot has been used to accommodate luggage for two person one week holiday. Naturally the boot space is not luxurious but with careful packing you can get quite enough of luggage with you.

The biggest problem with the space has been the fact that it has not been possible to transport my mountain bike in the car. I was hoping to carry my bike in a bike transport bag on the passenger seat but even after removing tyres, lowering the seat and adjusting handlebar I have not been able to fit the bike inside the car. Other options for transporting the bike would be installing a tow bar and a bike transport rack or installing a transport rack on top of the boot. 

Another problem with the space has been a lack of space for small stuff. This is something that is pretty annoying sometimes. The lack of storage space is even bigger problem when a passenger airbag is installed.

Summer 2003 was very good for open-top motoring and most of the driving during the summer took place top down. The open-top driving is made more comfortable since the Limited Edition has a windstop behind seats. This reduces the amount of disturbing wind around the back of the head but still it is wise to use a hat while driving top down.  

Barchetta and Finnish winter

So far I don't have a lot of experience on winter driving. The lowest temperature when my barchetta was used has been minus 10 degrees Celsius. At these temperatures the car was still warm. Some problems however have occurred and most of them are typical for barchetta's used in cold conditions. These problems have included frozen handbrake and frozen door handles. More detailed explanations of these can be found on the faults section.

In spring 2005 I will hopefully have a lot more experience on how barchetta can handle Finnish winter conditions.

By the time I sold my car in March 2006 I had used it as my daily transport during two winters. During that time I hadn't experienced any major difficulties.

Faults

No serious faults have occurred during my first year with barchetta and I have not visited a garage once during that time. However some minor niggles have occurred:

Fault Fault description Fault repair
Stuck bonnet opening cable The opening cable of the bonnet was stuck during summer and two persons were needed in order to open the bonnet. My friend Pekka fixed the cable by applying grease into it.
The amount of the coolant fluid was decreasing The amount of coolant fluid was clearly lower at one point compared to previous times. At the same time as fixing the stuck bonnet opening cable we had to remove some plastic covers under the bonnet and we noticed that the radiator plug was loose. Apparently it had been left loose by the dealer. After tightening the plug and adding more fluid the problem was fixed.
Frozen door handles This is typical for barchetta. The looks aspect has apparently been more important than practicality when designing the handles - it seems like the fact that the car might be used in below zero temperatures has not crossed anybody's mind during the design process.  The handles are at the same level as the door skin and when there is ice on the car the handles get stuck underneath the ice. This problem is easy to avoid by installing something small under the handles which causes the handles to become little bit raised. There are several ways to do this and some people have used rubber bands or condoms, I used small pieces of cork.
Frozen hand brake cable This is also typical for barchetta. The hand brake cable does indeed freeze quite easily. I am not aware how to fix this problem.
Scratching of the windscreen This is a pretty annoying niggle. When I bought the car there were small scratches on the left top hand corner of the windscreen. After a short while more scracthes appeared on the same place in the windscreen. It seems like the windshield wiper blade model which is equipped with a small spoiler scratches the windscreen when it changes direction. This is also something that has occurred on many barchetta's. The scratching stopped when I changed the windshield wiper blade to a model which doesn't have a spoiler. However the scratches are still very visible on the windscreen. One suggested repair for this has been the use of jewellers rouge. Apparently jewellers rouge is used by the watchmakers to polish the watch faces. Maybe I'll try this sometimes.
Water on the roof storage bay. Also this is typical for barchetta. The space where the roof is stored when not in use can have some water inside. This is caused by the leaking seal of the storage bay. This has happened to me once after the car was parked on a hill with the front of the car pointing downwards. After heavy rain I found water inside the storage bay.  It is very easy to remove the water from the storage bay but naturally this doesn't solve the actual problem. The leaking seal can be changed or some plastic tape and/or silicone can be applied to the seal to fix it.
Rear wheel bearings Rear wheel bearings on both rear wheels started making noises in 2005. Both of the bearings were changed in 2005.

Extras/modifications

I've acquired the following on my barchetta since I bought the car:

Equipment Additional information
The engine heater and wiring for additional interior heater. These were installed when I bought the car.
Cobra alarm A proper car alarm was also installed when I bought the car.
Sony CD-radio The original RDS-cassette player of the car is manufactured by Clarion and it is of reasonable quality. However since it doesn't have a CD-player I installed a Sony RDS-radio/CD-player. A subwoofer is included in the Limited Edition package so with a good quality CD-played the sounds are pretty nice - especially when driving top down.
Hardtop I bought a Wiesmann-hardtop from Holland. The Wiesmann hardtop is not manufactured anymore and one company in Holland had acquired all the remaining hardtops from the manufacturer. I bought the last remaining black hardtop. My hardtop is made from plastic and it has a rear window made of glass and it is equipped with a window heater. The rear window is a lot larger than the one in the soft top which improves the visibility and makes the interior lighter.

When using the hardtop you often should adjust the side windows a little bit but so far I have not managed to do it. One other problem with the hardtop was the fact that the connector for the window heater was different type in the hardtop and in the car. This has to be changed in the future to make the heater work.

The hardtop has reduced the noise levels considerably and during the winter it makes the car warmer inside. Naturally in the fall I drive with the soft top as long as possible and start using the soft top as early as possible in the spring. My friend Heikki constructed a useful storage stand for the roof.

An original Fiat hardtop is also available for barchetta.

Barchetta interior carpets I bought these interior carpets from Germany. These match car colors perfectly and they also have barchetta logos.
Winter tyres The winter tyres were installed on the original alloy wheels. I didn't have much chance to gain experiences on these during the first winter. The tyres are Continental tyres size 195/55-15".
7x17" RH AE-Tecnic wheels + Conti Sport Contact 2 205/40-17 tyres New 7x17" RH AE-Tecnic wheels and the Continental Conti Sport Contact 2 205/40-17" tyres were installed in June 2004. Originally I wanted Oz Vela wheels but this model was not included in the Oz 2004 program anymore so I had to find a different alternative. Finally I ended up choosing these RH wheels.
Eibach suspension kit An Eibach Pro Kit suspension lowering kit was installed in June 2004. This makes the car approx. 30 mm lower on both ends.