Starter clas­sic: Fiat Uno 1400 Turbo (1990-’98)

Pint-sized power made this a de­fault choice

Car (South Africa) - - CREDITS - BY: Peter Palm Peter­palm12

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).


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.


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.


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.

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