1986 Fiat Uno 60 1.1 SOHC petrol from Australia and New Zealand
An excellent value-for-money choice
Blocked carburettor jets; didn't immobilise the car since it has a two-barrel Solex carb.
The gearbox has always had the same fault: 4th gear is sometimes hard to engage, whines in 1st and 4th.
Originally burnt lots of oil due to past overheating damage to the piston rings. This was in turn caused by a failed thermostat, which also led to a blown head gasket. I'm happy to say that none of these problems has occurred while I've had the car.
The Fiat Uno, especially in '60' form, is a superb no-nonsense small car.
I bought my car for $11, that's less than four quid. I drove it home, and set to work on the smokey engine and rusty doors.
Performance is very adequate and easily on a par with 1.3 litre Japanese cars of a similar age.
The styling is especially pleasing. The lines are simple and crisp, and there is a purity in details like the A-pillar and the rear doors (with no triangular quarterlight). The styling is also extremely functional: wind noise is very low, interior space is superb.
The '60' is a base model, the name denotes 60 bhp. This is a good state of tune from the 1116cc engine, resulting from a 9:1 compression ratio, twin-barrel progressive carburettor, twin downpipe exhaust, and electronic ignition. What this means is a good blend of economy, torque, and smooth driving. The engine noise is low and there are no 'boom' tendencies (unlike older FIAT and British Leyland models I have owned.)
One of the weaker features is the gearbox, which is only a 4-speed in the '60', and which suffers from poor synchromesh and internal wear giving loose gear shifting. Much - but not all - of this can be cured with new gearchange linkage bushes. The main design fault with the gearbox is the use of rubber driveshaft boots (on the swinging driveshafts) to keep the gearbox oil in (they don't).
The worst feature is RUST, especially in the door panel bottom edges, where the skin is folded over in an inch-deep band. The door bottom itself doesn't rust, because the factory rustproofing is excellent. But the folded-over edge will ALWAYS rust, no matter what.
Rust in front wings/bonnet/tailgate is less of a problem since those parts are easily replaced, whereas doors are expensive. The structural parts (sills, pillars) are much less likely to rust, again because of the factory rustproofing.
The interior is an excellent design, its ingenuity surpassing FIAT's later models. The trim and instruments in the '60' (or the '45') are very basic, but easily upgraded with those from a '70S' or '70SL'. The seats are very comfortable. Vision is superb, with the rear wiper/washer improving safety in wet conditions.
One fault with the Uno in general is a flimsy feeling; a characteristic shake when potholes are driven over, and a tinny feeling when closing the doors.
Electrics are not especially robust, although well-designed. I have never had any problems, but many owners have difficulties with poor earthing at lights and moisture-damaged fuseholders.
The 1116cc engine is noticeably smoother than the 1301cc, but the 999cc is more economical than either. The 1116cc, however, has a more responsive quality than the 999cc which makes it worth the extra fuel.
I have owned three Unos and driven four others, two of those drove very badly.
I would recommend the Uno to anyone contemplating a good-value hatchback, maybe as a second car. However, a test drive is essential to feel how well the car steers, brakes, and accelerates. Heavy steering, poor braking, and 'flat spots' respectively can be very time-consuming to rectify and there will be many other examples available...
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 12th October, 2001