Fiat Panda

Tiny Fiat helps big BMW – and sprouts an un­ex­pected new ap­pendage

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -


You know things must be bad when an old Fiat is sum­moned to help out a BMW with elec­tri­cal prob­lems. It’s akin to ask­ing Danny Dyer to do Ham­let at Strat­ford – and not the East Lon­don one, ei­ther. Nev­er­the­less, such was the call I got from my friend Kings­ley, whose 1990 BMW 735iL was hav­ing a bat­tery tantrum. On most cars, this wouldn’t have been an is­sue, but the lo­ca­tion of the E32 7-se­ries’s bat­tery is quite spec­tac­u­larly stupid – it’s un­der the rear seat. Which, on mod­els with power seats, has to be moved elec­tri­cally be­fore the dis­man­tling process to get at it can even start. Can you see the flaw in this plan yet?

There are re­mote jump-start ter­mi­nals un­der the Beemer’s bon­net, but Kings­ley’s portable power pack had proved com­pletely in­ef­fec­tual. So he asked me to pop over with jump-leads and ad­vised com­ing in some­thing small, be­cause his street is the sort of place where res­i­dents have wrestling con­tests ev­ery Satur­day just to de­cide who can park there over the com­ing week. Any­thing big­ger than the Panda just wouldn’t fit in the re­stricted road room avail­able and might cause ut­ter traf­fic chaos and grid­lock through­out town. Thus, the mighty but stricken BMW found it­self in the ig­no­min­ious po­si­tion of be­ing as­sisted by a tiny Fiat with less than a third of its en­gine size and a quar­ter of its power. It looked gen­uinely em­bar­rassed about the whole thing. Kings­ley’s neigh­bours even stopped prac­tis­ing their grap­pling holds to come out and point and snig­ger as the scene un­folded.

Even­tu­ally, af­ter a lot of revving from the petite Panda and fur­ther as­sis­tance from the long-suf­fer­ing power pack, the big Beemer grum­bled into life again. Kings­ley then took it for a long drive, both to fully recharge the bat­tery and dream up new and ex­cit­ing ways to wreak vengeance on the Ger­man engi­neer re­spon­si­ble for stick­ing it in such a ridicu­lous spot in the first place.

Mean­while, the Panda’s ex­haust de­te­ri­o­ra­tion con­tin­ues apace. It’s now taken to blow­ing out its in­ter­nal cladding af­ter long and en­thu­si­as­tic drives. Thus it of­ten ar­rives at deti­na­tions hav­ing sprouted a hairy tail en route and look­ing for all the world like an Ital­ian Trans­form­ers ver­sion of My Lit­tle Pony.

Panda’s fluffy new tail. Richard su­per­vises the jump­start­ing op­er­a­tion by star­ing long and hard at things.


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