As Mazda had amply demonstrated with the introduction of the MX-5 Miata, if it’s done right the market will always support a little roadster or convertible sports coupe. Such was the case with the 1995 Fiat Barchetta; created by Fiat‘s own in-house design department, the little roadster – whose name means ‘little boat’ in Italian – was actually built by the coachbuilder Maggiora. It featured recessed but covered headlights, little humps at the back reminiscent of budding wings Mechanically speaking, it was based on the Fiat Punto platform, which was always known to handle exceedingly well.
You weren’t going to win any drag races in a Barchetta, but that’s not to say it wasn’t fast; it just wasn’t THAT fast. Equipped with a 1.8-liter engine with variable valve timing (a first in a Fiat production car), it could reach a top speed of 190 km/h, and accelerate to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. What drivers appreciated the most from this car is that it had the right combination of power and handling that made it fun to drive, and it sold quite well, until the coachbuilder when belly-up in 2003.
In conclusion, it can be said that the Barchetta – name now indelibly associated with Fiat – was the right car at the right time for the Italian manufacturer. It didn’t last forever, of course, but then again few things ever do.