When I bought the car I had to do quite a bit of work to get it into shape.
Plugs, air filter, rocker cover gasket (during oil change) at 35000.
Two of three engine mounts changed at 35000. The rubbers had disintegrated so under acceleration the engine came into contact with the metal part of the mounting, filling the car with chainsaw noises. Not as serious as the noise suggested, and the mountings were changed (by me, using a friends ramp) in about an hour. First one to check is the rear one in the "transmission" tunnel.
Also the exhaust centre box, which is square, had been fitted badly so that one corner of the box was touching the bodywork, causing more noise. Fixed with a 13mm spanner and Special Tool no. 1 (lump hammer).
The paintwork chips and dents very easily, but then the car only cost £1500 so who gives a monkey's? The car has factory mudflaps which have actually caused rust traps under their mounting brackets. bad.
I bought new brake pads (£10 halfords) and went to change them, but they don't seem to have worn down despite 15,000 miles of very enthusiastic driving. The front brakes seem to pick up stones leading to squealing, which made me think the pads were down.
Other than that the car is remarkably reliable despite of constant abuse. I change the oil every 5,000 miles or if the oil gets very dark, even earlier. The long interval service schedule in the book should be ignored. The brakes should feel rock solid, so if yours doesn't, change the fluid. I bought a timing belt (£10 local factors) to change at 50k, but it has been pointed out to me that this is a "safe" head, meaning that if the belt breaks, valves cannot touch the piston crowns. All that happens is the engine stops. I might change the belt soon just for peace of mind to avoid being stranded if the belt broke.
I have replaced the pricey Pirelli p700z tyres with cheaper Goodyear NCT3s which give a more compliant ride, last well, look better and are great in the wet. Steering is also lighter when parking on the Goodyears. When choosing tyres avoid cheap brands, they will not last. Get the cheapest version of a well-known brand is my advice, and keep on top of tracking which can be knocked out easily.
All parts are available from local motor factors and/or Halfords. Trim and bodywork parts can be sourced from breakers' yards easily and cheaply, so the only need to use the main dealer is for model-specific rubber consumables, things like engine mounts or suspension bushes, maybe also cat's, cooling/heating parts, anything you wouldn't want to buy second hand, but can't get from a motor factors.
Despite thrashing the nuts off this little black car, I cannot break it, and Trust Me I'm an expert at breaking things.
Once I got it into shape, nothing has failed for 15,000 hard miles.
I can only recommend the Cinquecento Sporting as a cheap fast car. It gives 110% around town and makes me smile every time I fire it up.
Grip, brakes, noise, quick steering; everything makes me compare it to a modern Mini Cooper, only comfortable and reliable too. Like a mini, however, I wouldn't like to have a big accident in one, as the whole thing is made of thin glass and much thinner steel.
It does 100 mph all day long, hardly uses any petrol, can be parked anywhere without trouble, or worry, and is an unpretentious social leveler.
The only downside is that people are constantly pulling out in front of me at roundabouts, as they assume I am going much more slowly that I actually am. To combat this I have started driving with my lights on and have fitted 3-tone air horns to reprimand BMWs and Volvos.
My advice to buyers is to buy the very lowest mileage one avilable. There are plenty to choose from, so be picky. Cheap tyres, kerbed alloys, skimped on service all add up to a negligent owner - walk away and keep looking until you find a pampered example, which will be poles apart.