Is this 1991 Tipo suspiciously underpriced?
It seems like only a bit of while ago that Fiat were offering the Tipo Mk1 (1988 to 1995). It is however, actually a really long time ago indeed. This car is actually quite old though it seems not to look it, to my eyes at least. When Fiat first offered the Tipo they made something of a big deal about the galvanization and general rust protection.
This one is 23 years old (and is on sale here) which is something of a testament to the resistance it has put up to the salty roads and generally abysmal winter climate of Denmark. What Fiat didn’t seem to do was put so much extra effort into putting the rest of the car together which is why there are so few of these left compared to rivals such as the Golf and the Astra.***
In all likelihood quite tidy examples of this car were scrapped because un-rusted bits fell off too quickly or un-corroded connectors failed to connect…. It’s so tempting to write that, really but some research showed that it generally was well assembled and reliable. I looked at Parker’s price guide to provide some real-world guidance on the problems.
Among those problems were “rust” and “generally falling apart” (said a 1991 1.4 Formula 5-door owner). But other owners were happy: very little gone wrong (another 1991 1.4 DGT owner who called their car “almost perfect”.) and very little (a 1990 DGT owner) and very little (1996 1.4 ie 3-door model). In fact, most of the owners reported general satisfaction with their cars. I looked at ten or twelve comments and the great majority were positive about their Tipo.
With the passage of time you can see the charms of the Tipo more clearly. For one thing it’s not a recent or new Fiat, is it? It has neat, reserved good looks and must be commended for its excellent packaging. That was all thanks to Ercole Spada at the IDEA institute. I peered closely at a parked Tipo recently and the interior was remarkably airy, bright and roomy. It would put a Focus or Golf to some shame.
For another thing, it’s not a Ritmo or a Strada which, while having a certain late 70s ID charm about the designs, were nearly as prone to reacting to water as pure sodium. The Tipo dashboard was effective and available with digital read-outs, another retro plus point. The photos here show a non-DGT interior though. This means it had conventional analogue dials for the speedo and rev-counter.
Given the rest of the car actually appears to be far from something rotten you could overlook that minor defect. But for the Tipo purist this car would have to be a DGT to make it truly worth the investment asked (in this case £1250). That said, the 1988 interior design holds up as well as anything from VW and perhaps outshines the stodge offered by Mazda, Renault and Ford at the same time.
Finally, the car isn’t a recent or new Fiat either (did I mention that?). You can probably work on the Tipo yourself though that would not very be often, it would appear. The Tipo is probably able to carry more things than whatever it is Fiat is offering in this class now (I can’t remember). According to owners and period reviews, the Tipo was also rather fun to punt around too. LJK Setright liked the very good-looking 3-door when it was finally launched, in 1993.
In all, I imagined before writing this that I’d spend most of my time smiling patronisingly at the Tipo. But on reflection, I can see that in isolation this example is probably under-priced for its condition and rarity. The seller shows little interest in selling it too, to judge by the carelessly selected images. So you could get another few hundred quid off the price easily.
Additionally, the Tipo also shines a harsh light on Fiat’s present range not one of which is as thoughtfully styled or packaged as the 1988 car nor as enjoyable to drive. Sergio Marchionne and his staff really ought to take a long, steady look at an example of this car and ask themselves what has gone so very wrong. Meanwhile, I earnestly commend this car to the readers of DTW.
***but not Escorts. Nobody seems to like the late 1980-1986 Escorts, not even me and I generally like Fords. There are very few here in Denmark whereas a Tipo isn’t that unusual a sight.