The 1990s really was a high point for the humble sports coupe. Seemingly every manufacturer felt compelled to produce something low-slung and two-door; it’s hard not to look back on that period quite fondly now given how far the coupe has plummeted in popularity. Some makers even offered a choice of sizes (think Vauxhall Tigra and Calibra). From Honda Prelude to Peugeot 406, there really was a coupe for all tastes. And while some were undoubtedly better than others, it’s hard not to look back and love the variety.
The Fiat Coupe was one of the good ones. Though using underpinnings shared with the Tipo, the Type Two platform boasted independent suspension front and rear, and even with up to 220hp through the front wheels - a huge amount more than 25 years ago - the Coupe was praised for its strong traction and relatively uncorrupted steering. Obviously, the sound of the later five-cylinder cars was widely appreciated, too - must have been a nice break from all those V6s, straight sixes and screaming four-cylinders also available at the time…
It was the design, though, that really marked the Fiat out - and still does. The exterior was by Chris Bangle, and as is his calling card, the Coupe looked like nothing else. The slashes, low nose and sunken rear lights were incredibly dramatic for a car launched in Britain in 1995. The interior, too, was similarly bold, with its body-coloured strip across the dash.
Production ceased in 2000, and today the Coupe predicament is like so many other heroes from the late 20th century: scrappage schemes got plenty right as values had bottomed out, rust claimed some more, and now big money is asked for the survivors, sometimes it seems just because they’ve made it this far. So a 20V Turbo with less than 80k on the clock for £4,000 is hard to ignore, especially as the very best ones can now command £10k (or a bit more, for an LE).
Full disclosure and all that - this one isn’t perfect. The seller has written a lovely advert detailing a decade with the Coupe, buying a structurally solid car that needed some cosmetic work. As is so often the way with these things, that didn’t get seen to, so what we have is a red one that isn’t quite as vivid as it should be. But we’ve surely all seen fade far worse than this. The interior still looks smart, and there aren’t any glaring imperfections to be seen.
Having been in dry storage for a while (to make way for an Audi S8 of a similar vintage), the Fiat will require a bit of TLC to get it back in fine fettle. But the seller is open about its faults, and willing to work with a buyer on resolving some issues; there aren’t many original Coupes left - this one is complete with its factory toolkit and stereo - so it would be great to see it find a loving new home.
There’s all sorts of potential for it. Those that wanted could leave the paint and get the oily bits tiptop for a cheap throwback coupe; there’s probably some fun to be had as a track for those so inclined. Or the next owner could go all in on the rejuvenation, get the red back to its best and have a real show stopper on their hands. Or even a different colour, perhaps.
There are Coupes out there comparable in mileage for twice as much; those willing to invest some time and money could have a '90s sports car gem on their hands. A Readers Cars’ thread beckons, surely…
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