I was looking for a cheap runabout, and bought this last year for £400 taxed and tested! I had a Punto in '96, and it gave me no trouble in 36000 miles. So I thought I would revisit the old marque.
It has been reliable and economical, and just as nippy as I remembered, so I have decided to keep it for another year, at least!
No major faults, with the exception of the alternator bearings dying, but replaced with a used one at £20.
The old girl is getting a bit tatty, and there is some oil around in the engine bay, but it still runs well and starts first time every time in all weathers (I will get round to sorting it soon).
Cheap insurance, cheap parts, very easy to maintain for the home mechanic, which is partly why I like it. I do all my own repairs and maintenance, and the Punto is very straightforward to repair.
Will need some welding in the rear floor for the MoT in June, which I will do myself, but other than this, the body is in fine shape. Fiats were galvanised from the early nineties, so no major problems from the tin worm! This said, Punto's have very thin skins and dent easily. All part of the weight saving.
If you find a rusty one, walk away. Rust on the rear arches will only be indicative of a deeper problem. Some colours seem to be worse than others!
Find an early example with history and without troublesome power steering, and it will be a nice little car to use.
Comfortable inside, if a bit plasticky, with a decent sized boot and room for four or five smaller folks at a push!
Some electrical gremlins such as wiper motors and wiring. Buy a cheap test meter and a Haynes manual, and check out the wiring... Not as difficult as it first appears!
The 1.2 motor was always willing, and is still fun, even on the open road.
Poor road holding and handling will be down to rear suspension and bushes getting tired. Cheap and straightforward to fix.
Head gasket will go if it hasn't already; spend a bit on a decent gasket, and it will last until the engine needs a rebuild.
Use a good quality coolant to preserve the heater matrix and/or the water pump.
Engines can be long lived (with the exception of the head gasket) if they get regular servicing.
I have owned many Fiat's over the years, and none have ever let me down.
Change the cam belt at 50k, regardless of what Fiat say, and change the water pump at the same time!
It's always a risk buying an old car, but I have been more than happy with this little old Fiat, and it has already paid for itself.
Find a cheap one, and have a go at fixing it yourself. It's not that hard, and will save you a fortune.