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Sir Chocolate Teapot

Mk1 fiat pandas, let's talk.

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I think i have need for a mk1 panda in my life.

I am on a strict 1 in 1 out policy.

I live in italy, near the home of the panda, torino.

I have decided to try selling my kymco people S 200i. € 890. I hope to get €850. A great scooter but i just don't use it, i enjoy more the buying non runner and tinkering.

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My reasonings:

When in Rome etc.

Italians call them fiat mules.

I need a diy, gardening, good in snow, long term, bring a smile to my face, euro 2/3 min petrol toy.

I have missed the boat on panda 4x4s. They go for €3000/4000.

Fiat made the mk1 upto 2003 here in italy, final models with 1.1 fire engine and 55hp ! Euro 3.

I have never driven one.

My budget , assuming i get €850 for scooter, is €1000. Plus change ownership admin costs.

I live up steep long hill so think i need the 1.1 fire.  900 cc fire pandas are cheaper.

Anyone have any info, experience what to look for.

The fire engines are pretty bulletproof.

Any hidden rust prone areas.

Will i hate driving it, i do own a 1986 suzuki sj 410 which is interesting to drive so can not be worse, i hope.

Millions of italians can't be wrong, can they ?

Join me on my quest to live " la dolce vita"

For those that are interested i will be using 

Subito.it for my searches.

Grazie.

 

 

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I don’t know a huge amount about them, but I think they’re great.  Pre-facelift please: the later ones are probably better cars and the FIRE engines are supposed to be good but I love the utilitarian simplicity of the Giugiaro original.

This ultra-rare UK one has been winking at me for weeks:

449AD0ED-31F7-4C7A-B110-0DBAB281B7C5.thumb.jpeg.8a5141af0a8e71c785d7a9c71280ae23.jpeg

F7959DEA-C7FB-4122-9F24-80935425C3A1.thumb.jpeg.75e6591afc90ebf181740b484334868a.jpeg

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F274358783235

I’d probably have bought it by now if it weren’t for lockdown, and a brief moment of clarity of thought.

 

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No problems going up mountains either. The 1000 fire is totally fine for all circumstances 😁.

Have done Timmelsjoch, Stelvio, Grossglockner, Sustan and lord knows how many others without any bother. 

Huge boot with the seats down and will genuinely seat 4 full size adults in surprising comfort. After my first big European trip in it, I came home and sold my MX5 and V8 Jeep as they just felt pointless!

A7C29639-7C8D-4885-B50A-F06AF437FA3C.thumb.jpeg.296848b1d79f37b184570ca6ecbc8f99.jpeg

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Ian, yes here in italy pandas are much loved, the panda is worth more than its successor the seicento.

Because pandas sold upto 2003 the youngest ones are euro 3 compliant therefore still able to drive in towns, amazing for a nearly 40 year old design.

What is the realistic comfortable cruising speed, is yours a 5 speed.

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Yes, it’s a 5 speed. 70 mph is absolutely no problem whatsoever, actually amazingly refined. 80 is ok, more is noisy, I cruise between 70 and 80 happily. I had a ‘speedo indicated’ 100mph coming back through Germany but I backed straight off, very shaky above 90.

These engines are seemingly totally happy spinning way faster than most other engines. Hammer it up a mountain pass or let it spin away on a motorway and it just doesn’t complain.

My mates 900spi is less potent up the mountains but super happy under normal circumstances. He followed me up a few passes through Switzerland and struggled to keep up.

I really don’t think you can go wrong with them. Simple, great fun to drive, cheap to run and actually appreciating in value. Just make sure it isn’t rotten.... where to check? Everywhere.

Have attended the last 2 Panda shows in Italy with it and the response from the Italians is amazing

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They're ace, I almost can't imagine you not liking one, especially in its natural environment. Even a 2wd Panda is good in snow, with winter tyres. I had a Fire and a 4wd several years ago and they were both great cars, so much so that I bought another recently and recommissioned it, even on the short journeys so far it's reminded me how much fun they are to drive.

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If it wasn’t for the current issues we’d be doing another big trip in it this year but under the current circumstances it won’t be leaving the garage this year. 

The other great thing is that it uses so little fuel. I’ve clocked it quite a few times and always get 50-51mpg. 

If i’m honest, my 2006 Panda is a much better car and still loads of fun to drive and simple to maintain. Fiat REALLY got it right with the 169 Panda.

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10 minutes ago, Ian_Fearn said:

If it wasn’t for the current issues we’d be doing another big trip in it this year but under the current circumstances it won’t be leaving the garage this year. 

Yes it's not happening this year is it.  I'm already thinking of road trip ideas for 2021, just to give us something to look forward to.  Fancy doing a big one like Norway or Finland.

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If you think you need a 5 Speed FIRE engine then you do.  They're tough and the 5 speed makes them useable on motorways/autostrada. I put about 100,000 on mine and the only reason I'm under it in that picture is I broke the exhaust offroading.  Huge inside, economical, boisterous handling and a lovely minimalist design. The steering is accurate and precise and if your willing to push through the initial lean they are grippy on 155 section tyres. 

The bad news is that they are extremely rust prone everywhere and they are old enough now that even Italian examples will showing the strain.  Gear selection starts to go south as they age as does third gear synchro.  The ride even with coil springs all round is ropey and the front suspension is prone to wear which makes the already ropey ride bone shattering. The FIRE engines are prone to HG failure, if the inner CV joint gaiters fail because its a wet shaft design they spill their gearbox oil everywhere which makes for a noisy gearbox. Electrics are prone to earth faults and tend to send the dashboard gauges insane if they are left standing for any length of time.  Interior plastics are prone to getting broken.   NVH is not their strong suite but it doesn't really get worse with speed. They start off loud and stay about the same so the crusing speed can be 70 or 80 as it all sounds the same. I never found them scary at speed. I think its just fashionable to say so because its a small light town car.

To sum them up it's a 70s Fiat with an 80s engine if you go for the FIRE engine. 

Kris_fixing_car_whilst_Emily_changes_at_castle_1_.jpg.b14fc0a60485cc0ca4bc76f98d8c75b0.jpg

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8 minutes ago, TheDoctor said:

Believe it or not, my first love is actually Fiat Pandas, I've owned quite a few. By far my favourite combo is the Mk2 with the 903cc engine. Just incredibly simple, old school tech, in a utilitarian shell. 

This was one of mine 

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I love white wellar 8 spokes, they look top notch on a panda!

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Nothing to add really!

We had a 1993 1000 with the single point injection, and it was a cracking little car.  The performance defies all logic if you look at the raw numbers, but once you get your head around the fact that these engines have a taste for revs that makes a Honda V-Tec look serene, they're astonishingly nippy.

My father had ours showing off scale on the speedometer on several occasions.

Being a later one with injection and fully electronic ignition meant that you could just twist the key and go, irrespective of whether it's -20C or +40C.  Also meant that aside from the occasional oil change and fluid level check we never needed to open the bonnet...it just worked.

To drive...I know it sounds like a cliché, but they're so much more than the sum of their parts.  I still very much remember the first time I took our one out.  I looked at it, found it had a kind of utilitarian charm.  Sat down in the driver's seat and shut the door with a terrifyingly tinny sounding clank, and found myself wondering why on earth my father agreed to this after the Sierra. 

Then I pulled away, and suddenly everything changed and it all made sense.  It's a car which really feels alive in a lot of ways.  Despite looking like it will tip over in a stiff breeze they handle surprisingly well, and with the 50+bhp on tap it's nippy enough that you can have some proper old school small car fun with it.

Nice purposeful noise up front, nice throaty exhaust note, lively steering, brakes which are more up to the task, stupid amounts of space, and a very cool dashboard.  I don't think we ever saw less than 50mpg out of it.

Only blot on the copybook I can recall was the gearchange being less than stellar.  Ours also had no synchromesh on third gear...but you quickly learned to drive around that!  Oh...and it ejected the windscreen wiper one day at about 90mph halfway up the A96 just outside Aberdeen (my father driving before you point accusingly at me!).

I'd absolutely love another one.

Ours was a lovely metallic green too, with green trim, and green seatbelts.  It was very green indeed.

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Mamma Volks had a fetish for small Fiat's, que 500, 126, 127, Panda 45 etc. 

I followed suit with a brace of the same after a mini.. 😉 

Do try a Seat Marbella, cheaper and more like a Mk1 panda. 

Ironically when I lived in Italy, I had a 903cc Marbella. Slightly sneered at by the locals, but more akin to the 45 my Mum had. 

Yes rust, everywhere, doors where going at five years old. But they are marvelous. 

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I'd go for a late 5 speed Fire if getting another one, try looking in Switzerland as the lovely Swiss mainly avoid anything tatty as in a few scratches and faded paint, rust is not a big problem  My last one was a Swiss 4x4 5 speed Fire on winter tyres driven back to UK through snow covered Bavaria etc overtaking German reg  BMWs on autobahns.    Original cost  of nothing.

https://www.auto-online.ch/en/Car/FIAT-Panda-1000-4x4-3667702/overview.html?yrf=1974&yrt=2005&brd=26&mdl=196&ofs=10

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42 minutes ago, castros_bro said:

I'd go for a late 5 speed Fire if getting another one, try looking in Switzerland as the lovely Swiss mainly avoid anything tatty as in a few scratches and faded paint, rust is not a big problem  My last one was a Swiss 4x4 5 speed Fire on winter tyres driven back to UK through snow covered Bavaria etc overtaking German reg  BMWs on autobahns.    Original cost  of nothing.

https://www.auto-online.ch/en/Car/FIAT-Panda-1000-4x4-3667702/overview.html?yrf=1974&yrt=2005&brd=26&mdl=196&ofs=10

Thx.

Just had quick look at swiss site.

Even though Switzerland is not far, the admin bureaucracy to import a cheap car is just not worth the hassle.

Runn8ng on swiss plates would lead to being accused of financial fraud and tax evasion by italian gov . Even though a panda.

Love how they describe them as a limousine!

I should be able to find a good one here near torino, just need someone to buy my scooter first.

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2 hours ago, 1duck said:

I always preferred the Uno, I'll just leave shall I?

As a everyday car i agree, having owned an old uno diesel years ago.

Also mk1 punto is a much under rated car.

But i think the mk1 panda just has something about it design wise and usefulness wise.

And going by the number still used here in italy reliability is not a problem.

 

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34 minutes ago, sierraman said:

Are there many Pandas still on the road in Italy?

Yep, seeing a live one is pretty much a daily occurance. Especially out of the citys.

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11 hours ago, Skut said:

If you think you need a 5 Speed FIRE engine then you do.

The bad news is that they are extremely rust prone everywhere and they are old enough now that even Italian examples will showing the strain.  Gear selection starts to go south as they age as does third gear synchro.  The ride even with coil springs all round is ropey and the front suspension is prone to wear which makes the already ropey ride bone shattering. The FIRE engines are prone to HG failure, if the inner CV joint gaiters fail because its a wet shaft design they spill their gearbox oil everywhere which makes for a noisy gearbox. Electrics are prone to earth faults and tend to send the dashboard gauges insane if they are left standing.

Kris_fixing_car_whilst_Emily_changes_at_castle_1_.jpg.b14fc0a60485cc0ca4bc76f98d8c75b0.jpg

Skut has more or less written exactly what i was going to post.

I repaired these back in the 90's and would agree that if a perished/leaky driveshaft inner boot gets ignored the gearbox will quickly trash itself.

The FIRE engine has an appetite for head gaskets to the extent that i would change it on a new purchase just for added peace of mind and then keep the antifreeze spot on there after.

The rear brake shoes have the horrible friction disc self adjusting design that Fiat obviously thought was great (read crap) and so satisfactory rear foot and hand brake readings were always a struggle come MOT time.

Personally i wouldn't buy one with the old 903cc push rod engine as they wore out quickly and suffered with worn valve gear and timing chains along with black death/sludge inside them at low mileages.

I bought a white F reg Panda (5 speed/FIRE) off a customer after she kept ignoring the oil leak on the road where it parked (driveshaft gaiters) and killed the bearings in the gearbox,the car was ten years old at the time and a new gearbox was too much for her and so i bought it for £100 and she replaced it with a Suzuki Santana SJ410.

Back in the late 90's there were loads of Pandas in the scrap yards but most were the push rod engined four speeds and it took me a while to find a five speed gearbox that didn't show obvious signs of oil leakage and neglect.

I replaced the gearbox and fitted new gaiters and the Panda was back on the road although it did have a tiny bit of gearbox noise,it also needed a bit of welding to the inner rear arches where the seat belts attatched but other than that it was a good little car.

I am 100% not a Fiat fan but yes the early Panda had something pure about it,and of course an ash tray that could be shared around its occupants and slid along the dash as required.

 

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That's reminded me. Keep the front caliper sliding wedge things regularly greased or they will seize. The sliders are steel and the caliper alloy all of which is totally exposed to road dirt which has predictable galvanic implications. Then the caliper will wreak the wheel bearings. 

Selectas have better brakes and a CVT that by now will almost certainly be broken. 

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