1990s / 2000s / Fiat / Future classic / Italian

Is the Fiat Coupé a future classic?

fiat-coupe-13The word from management was clear: If Fiat was to become profitable, it had to ditch its economy car image and move slightly upmarket by renewing its ties with the world of motorsports. This didn’t necessarily mean competing in racing events, but offering a leisure car or two wouldn’t hurt.  The Centro Stile fired in 1994 with the Coupé and again in 1995 with the Barchetta.

Designed by Chris Bangle, an American designer whose name became infamously associated with the rear end of a BMW, the Coupé mixed retro-inspired lines like round tail lamps and a stainless steel gas cap with the latest 90s design cues such as sharp lines that slashed through the top of the wheel arches.

In order to save money on research and development, Fiat underpinned the Coupé with the Tipo 2 platform that was also used by the Alfa 155, the Fiat Bravo and the second-gen Lancia Delta. The Alfa Romeo Spider (916-Series) used a modified version of the platform.

Throughout its six-year long production run, the Coupé was offered with a wide selection of transversally-mounted four- and, interestingly, five-cylinder engines ranging from 130 to 220 horsepower. Power was sent to the front wheels via either a five- or a six-speed manual.

The most potent Coupé earned the honor of being the fastest front-wheel drive car Fiat had ever produced. It reached 62 mph (100 km/h) from a stop in just 6.3 seconds and its top speed was electronically limited at 155 mph (250 km/h).

If history repeats itself, the Coupé is ill-fated on the collector car market. Its predecessor in spirit, the Fiat 124 Fiat Coupé, is still seen as a car for folks who can’t afford a Lancia Fulvia or an Alfa GTV and is not particularly sought after, though the trend is starting to change ever so slowly.

A look in the classifieds reveals Coupé prices vary from €1,000 for an example in need of major mechanical work to about €5,500 for a clean, one-owner example with low miles. The classifieds also show an disproportionate amount of Coupé have been ravaged by the tuning crowd, so bone-stock examples might take a little bit of patience to find.

With the oldest examples preparing to celebrate their 20th birthday, will the Fiat Coupé become sought after by collectors or will it follow the path blazed by the 124 Fiat coupe?

7 thoughts on “Is the Fiat Coupé a future classic?

  1. I will go with “not a classic”.

    My problem with many FIATs is that I think they are too “stylish” and fashionable, while lacking unique FIAT design elements. With the generation before, you had the Panda/UNO/Tipo/Cinquecento that spoke the same design language (and to an extent even the Ritmo/Regatta/Tempra and first generation Ulysse). And the Punto/Brava spoke a new but common language (albeit a design language I didn’t quite like).

    But the Coupe? It doesn’t seem to be connected to anything. Exchange the badge (and maybe mount different wheels), and you could pass this car off as an Renault, Mazda or an MG from that era.

    Maybe it is me, but additionally this car somehow struck me always as “small and chubby”. It is not actually bad looking, but somehow one wishes they would have reworked the design once more before releasing it. It might be the “bloated” area around the wheel arches, for me this car does not convey the image a coupe should have…

    Contrast this with the Alfa Spider, which – while introducing an unique design of its own – still clearly says it’s an Alfa. And while the Alfa looks a bit too “solid”, it still looks fast and fun.

    Maybe I’m a bit harsh, and as I said it is not a bad looking car, but somehow I find it a bit unmemorable.

    (And doh! I wasn’t aware that the Alfa Spider and the Fiat Coupe share the same plattform, but your article and the image make it bloody obvious.)

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  4. Definitely worth finding a good one to keep. Hand made, low volume, fast and stylish – exactly what you want in an Italian sports car. I have had four of them all completely reliable. As the UK marketing video said – ‘the boys are back in town’ with 124 and 130 coupes being appreciated more and more this has to follow them.

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  7. Anything that looked this good and performed that well at those prices deserves to be a classic and hopefully time will be kind to the Fiat Coupe – a wonderful car

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