1992 fiat uno 45

This was my first car, chosen mainly* on the advice of the motoring god that is Quentin Wilson. No really.

Purchase Cost - 1000.
Ran from/to - June 1999 to April 2004.
Scrapped - April 2004.

Yes, it was red (and slowly going orange, thankfully not pink like some did) and with a 999cc FIRE engine (Fully Integrated Roboticised Engine). I've heard all the jokes already, mostly at the motor factors when I went to buy parts for it: no, it didn't come with a flashing blue light.

The main appeal was its low running costs. Servicing cost the same as a few CDs, it did 40mpg no matter how I drove it, and it was only group 2 insurance. Yes, with only a 1 litre engine and 45bhp it was no rocketship, but with a 740kg kerb weight it wasn't as slow as you might think. Lets face it, out of all the cars in same insurance group, an Uno is comparatively spacious, reasonably quick, and it handles - unlike say a 2CV! Sure, I would have liked something quicker and bigger, with a better ride, and that was less noisy, but my Uno was cheap to run, cheap to insure, easy to service and I don't recall it ever letting me down.

I looked at loads of Unos before buying the one I did; most were pre-facelift rusty sheds, the one I bought was the only facelifted one I found that wasn't dodgy or priced at double what it was worth.

The pictures below were taken outside the flats where I used to live in Huntingdon, the day after the Drohans' Scatter on the 10/11/99, organised by Lindholme Motor Sports Club. The rather muddy state of the car is due to a few mad miles, in which I followed close behind another crew from Salford (SUMC) in an Escort.



Maintenance
The head gasket failed at the end of February 2001 - the car had been loosing water for about a week, and I'd been keeping a close eye on the oil and the temperature gauge. As soon as the oil went a little milky - that was it, the head gasket had to be changed. The picture below shows the stripped and cleaned head, thermostat, inlet and exhaust manifolds, head bolts and distributor in the middle of my living room floor...

Because it had been caught so early, the head was still perfectly flat, but a lot of cleaning was required - the carbon deposits and old gasket were pretty thick! The job was fairly easy (thanks to Bryan for his help) and it saved a lot of money doing it at home. Afterwards it ran a lot better, but the damn camshaft cover gasket still leaked...

Query my sanity...
Confirmation: I am mad. I took my one litre Uno Drag Racing!

Exactly How Fast?
On paper, 0-60 was a glacial 17 seconds. But in the real world the car seemed much faster than this. OK, a 21.5 second quarter mile is definitely nothing special, but it never embarassed itself doing scatters. My mates in the University motor club were often surprised by just how quick it was.

Some of my all-time favourite drives were in this car, late at night, returning along the country lanes from one of the Robot Wars meetups at Oundle Mill near Peterborough, to my home in Sawtry. It would routinely leave friends motors behind, one time abandoning a modern Golf Tdi. Another time, even when heavily loaded with batteries and the robot, it left a Punto GT (that's the turbo one) and a Xantia Activa Turbo (the quick one - the very car I later owned) minutes behind, so much that I started to wonder if my friends had ended up in a ditch.

So what was I going to replace it with?
"Good question. For the moment, nothing. My Uno is totally reliable and cheap to run, besides I can't really afford to replace it yet. I'd like either a Pulsar GTi-R (yeah right!) or an old Range Rover, but realistically, when the time comes, I think I'll be looking at a Punto, Felicia or another (newer) Uno."

So much for what I wrote above. I met a GTi-R owner who warned me that parts were almost impossible to get. But heart still ruled head and I replaced the Uno with my Range Rover!

So what killed it?
Not much actually. I'd bought (and was now running) the Range Rover. The Uno had a broken handbrake cable, some small bits of rust on the sills, a blowing exhaust, and a couple of other little faults. I did a bit of simple economics - I could fix the problems, MOT it and try to sell it, but risk not convering the cost of the MOT. Or I could just scrap it.

I chose to scrap the car. A friend wanted the engine (which to this day sits in his garage) and the scrappy only took what was left of the car because the tyres were less than 6 months old. I've always regretted doing so, and who knows, one day I might buy another Uno.



* The insurance groups, prices and fuel economy figures in Parkers Guide also had a hand in choosing an Uno, as did my university flatmate Ash who also concluded an Uno was the best option for a first car. The other realistic option of a Nova was seen as too chavvy and as you could break into one simply by staring at it for a bit, not ideal for taking to Salford.


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