Starter classic: Fiat Uno 1400 Turbo (1990-’98)
Pint-sized power made this a default choice
THE 1990s were great times for car enthusiasts. VW, Opel, Honda and more all had interesting and often exciting models on offer. And Fiat decided to join the fray with the Uno Turbo. The version of Uno South Africa received was the Mk2, the variant first produced in 1985. Built at the Nissan factory in Rosslyn, this was a car destined to become an icon.
To improve rigidity and reduce mass (we weighed one at just 690 kg), only the two-door bodyshell was used for the Turbo. Flared wheelarch trim and red striping were added to bolster the boy-racer looks.
Back then, there was no ABS, airbags or power steering, but electric windows were standard. The drivetrain was beefed up and the gearbox had a slick action. Shorter, stiffer springs were fitted, braking featured discs on all four wheels and quicker steering meant fewer turns lock to lock.
Bosch L-jetronic fuel injection sorted out the optimum fuel supply and Marelli took care of the electronic ignition. Using lightweight pistons with strengthened crowns, the compression ratio of the Pacer
1,4-litre engine was reduced from 9,2 to 1 to 7,2. A reprofiled camshaft allowed better breathing and the boost pressure was limited to 0,8 bar for reliability purposes.
The standard Turbo developed 85 kw with 161 N.m, up from the stock model’s 52 kw and 106 N.m. Of course, many owners wanted more power and changed the turbo, management system and injectors, plus fitted larger intercoolers and the like.
The final drive was lowered from 3,73 to 3,35 to increase the top speed to above the genuine Car-tested 200 km/h (with the speedometer reading 220).
WHICH ONE TO GET
Try to obtain one that hasn’t been modified, if at all possible. Many examples require some restoration but that’s normal for older cars. Even heavily modified units may be in reasonable condition if the owners were fastidious.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
The strain on all the vehicle’s components from the increased power would have taken a toll and it would be safe to expect the engine, gearbox and brakes will need some attention. If the engine has been heavily modified, it may be wise to detune some of the excess power to preserve the mechanicals. Inspect the CV joints for wear as they have a tough job.
AVAILABILITY AND PRICES
Because this was a bestseller, there are plenty of Mk2s around. Most are in some stage of modification or “project” status but there are a sufficient number of original cars offered for sale from time to time. Look inland for rust-free examples. Prices are generally reasonable.
clockwise from top The steering was quicker and the suspension stiffer; electric windows were standard; combination cloth/ leather upholstery; Momo wheel allowed a clear view of the detailed instrumentation.