The Good, The bad and the Ugly.
An irrelevant look at a certain car.
Fiat Cinquecento 1991 – 1998
Fiat has always been good at making small cars. Big cars, not so much so. Think of a large successful Fiat and you won’t. Think small and you have plenty to choose from.
Fiats smallest offering was the 126. This wasn’t really to British tastes and it eventually died. Actually, it didn’t die. It soldiered on until the turn of the millennium but for us in Blighty, we got the new replacement. And the replacement was a step in the right direction for a bold new Europe hell-bent on the love of the city car.
Cinqueceto or Sinkeychento or BLOODY HELL, how stupid is this cars name to spell? Cinq for short, was a great little design. Short of overhangs and large on space, it was the embodiment of using as little steel as possible. Even in places like crumple zones. And essential places around the passenger carry space. What I’m trying to say is don’t crash one.
This lack of steel was good news for those who had been around Fiats for a long time. Until a few years ago back in 1988, Fiat had what can only be described as hydroscopic steel, in as much as the hard metallic surface would retain moisture. Now as we know, water and thin grade steel don’t mix, so using as little as possible was good. And Fiat also used some galvanising during construction too.
Fiat Cink was going to be a Fiat that was going to be around for a long time. Aided by its rather cute looks, it gained a legion of fans. And for the fans that wanted their Sink with a bit of a kick, they were rewarded with the Sinq Sporting. A hotter version fitted with a FIRE engine. Not one that went ‘nee-naw nee-naw’ but one that was a Fully Integrated Robotised Engine. It sounded grand. It was just built by robots. Depressing really when you think the heart of any Italian car is its engine, built by Italians with motoring in their blood. Anyway, Robert the Robot built the engines in the Sporting.
The Sporting was a bit shit. Unlike today’s Abarth models that are quite crazy, Sporting was not deserving of the sporting title. But I’m here to tell you about the more popular and run-of-the-mill Synk 900. A marvel of modern tranquillity this overhead valve engine wasn’t. A throwback to a bygone era it was having its origins date back to 1955. Don’t let the ageing mechanicals and modern body put you off. It’s not uncommon for older bits to be put into younger models. Look at Cher. She’s simply marvellous at 103.
And it was this ageing old cast iron lump with an alloy head in the Senk that made it a hoot to drive. There had been some changes to the 1955 original engine and it now came with injection and distributor-less ignition. Grabbing hold of those 40 horses was made all the more fun with added hydraulic tappets. It really could scream in an unburstable manner.
And this crazy, drive it like a nun being chased by Lucifer on roller skates makes the Cenk all the more fun and a good car too because you just can’t really do anything wrong in it. Just don’t crash though. It’s not so good at that!
Motoring nurse or medical motorist? It’s a difficult one. By day l nurse and by night l drive.
Fingers have always been grease deep in attending the motoring of an ageing fleet. And now l write about new and old.
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Member of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers. (SGMW)