Ownership Verified: 2005 Fiat Panda 1.2 UK Bangernomics Failure

Der Stig

Panda Proselytizer
DONOR
Joined
Dec 19, 2008
Messages
7,645
Location
TX/UK
Car(s)
Furrin Crap
As some of you know, I've been spending some time in the UK with my partner and I have "enjoyed" British rail travel enough, so I finally got fed up enough to navigate the UK car insurance nightmare and bought a car.

Translation: unreliable public transport (and increasingly expensive) has made the decision for me to satisfy my American need for my own car. Plus, my partner's mom and brother will be coming to visit next month and it'll be easier for us to get around.

These are all excuses for wasting many hours on Autotrader and going on a test drive of an Alfa 147 1.6 petrol that was very broken and sounded like a diesel unfortunately (thanks @public for the heads up about the NLA parts to fix that issue).

Then I went to Luton and met a man and his younger brother running their dealership out of a tent in a junkyard selling this £1000 05 plate Fiat Panda. What could possibly go wrong?

Of course intermittent CELs (ENGINE FAILURE!!!1!, pff nah, it's fine), airbag lights, etc. Not to mention cosmetic issues.

From the ad:
IMG_8810.jpeg


But! This is a 1.2 Elegenza. That's right, it's the top trim model. Rear head restraints, electric mirrors (temperamental), CD player (skips when you hit bumps just right), and automatic climate control (mostly broken, but the heater works). Of course, it is also equipped with the exciting 60 HP 1.2 liter motor. I have always wanted a 100HP model, but those cost actual money unfortunately. However, I've had a ton of fun with this 1.2 model so far after picking it up last week. Clearly I was missing a 1200cc Italian thing after selling my Ducati last year.

We have already made several journeys out of town with it and done a few hundred miles in addition to running errands in town like going to Tesco (not every day any more!) and the gym.

Back "home":
IMG_8815.jpeg


The type 169 Panda is like a modern Italian 2CV. It's light, fun to drive, rides surprisingly well and is cheap to run. I have been jonesing to road trip around the UK since I first came across this forum and Top Gear, so it's a longtime dream come true.

First short road trip to Romsey
IMG_8871.jpeg


Because I fail at bangernomics, I've already spent money on some cosmetic bits and a set of basic tools. I've also got an appointment Wednesday to ditch a leaky Chinese tire that's on it and will hopefully be sorting the airbag light (probably a broken passenger airbag deactivation switch, which I have a replacement for already, but I will need a man with a computer to clear the lights). Some time next month, I will do a basic service (oil change, spark plugs and air filter).

The replacement wheel center cap that I ordered and installed to satisfy my OCD was rewarded by the door trim on the passenger side falling off (VHB tape is in the post, but too late lol).
IMG_8919.jpeg


Spider habitat tail light housing. My attempt to replace a burned out bulb was foiled by a single nasty rusty bolt, of course (#rustbritannia)

IMG_8921.jpeg


Current plan is to sell it in April or so before we head back to the states but I would love to keep it here in the UK to come back to in the future. It's a really fun car and is practical and frugal, even with my foot to floor (still got smoked off the line by someone's grandma smoking a cigarette driving a Citroën C3).
 
Last edited:
Gut gekauft! I mean, apart from all the little bits. I love these cars and definitely want to find a funky, airconditioned one at some point as it would accompany the Corolla really well.
 
Wat?! I had no idea you were over here. Bloody miles away from me though if you're down south. Looks like a fun little blue box, sadly lacking time travel capabilities. I wish I had a barn because I'd offer to store it and rag it around drive it gently every so often, while you were away.

I've consulted my map and it seems like you aren't all that far from Shitterton, Droop or either of the Dickers (Upper or Lower) if you were looking for road trip destinations. :p
 
Last edited:
I enjoy.
 
NEAT
 
The leaky Chinese tire was summarily binned yesterday and replaced with a Kumho something or other to match the other newer tires.

I finally booked an appointment with one of the area specialists (NSB Auto) to take care of the airbag light and probably have an oil change done to save making a mess at home. Unsurprisingly, all the Fiat specialists here are a busy lot and the car won't be seen until the 13th. I'm half hoping my post on the Panda UK FB group will be seen by someone with a scanner beforehand (I really don't feel like ponying up 50 bucks for a Multi ECU Scan license and more money for a scanner, but it may happen lol).

A Fiat Panda 1.2 Eleganza in "Err..."
I've missed this reference :unsure:
 
When I said I wouldn’t try to sort the airbag light myself, I lied. My attempt was thwarted by having somehow purchased the wrong OB2 reader/USB interface. Thankfully, I didn’t spend any money on the software license.

At NSB Auto, everything was sorted. Airbag switch swapped, codes cleared. All good so far. Had them change the oil as well and reset the service reminder.

It threw a CEL on the initial drive home last month, so I had guessed oxygen sensor. A further diving in found that the coolant temp sensor had acted up. That was also cleared and the car has been running fine the whole time. Coolant level was also topped up with the proper red stuff.

IMG_9009.jpeg
IMG_9010.jpeg


Took a look underneath to satisfy my curiosity. Less scabby than I expected. All the brake pipes looked clean. A couple worn bushings of course, but nothing worrisome.

IMG_9033.jpeg


The mighty 1.2
IMG_9032.jpeg


All this work was carried out for £108 and some change. Cheap.

I still need to change some bulbs and I’d like to do the cabin and air filters later this month too.

I’m definitely not thinking of ways to bring it back to the states (costs more than the car and wouldn't be legal on the roads). It’s really been enjoyable so far. Highly recommended 😆
 
The Pandamonium is high…
 
It definitely looks tidy by 19-year old UK car standards, looks like it maybe didn't see much salt.

I’m definitely not thinking of ways to bring it back to the states (costs more than the car and wouldn't be legal on the roads). It’s really been enjoyable so far. Highly recommended 😆
I have to say, you completely missed the trick of buying an old K11 Nissan Micra here. Or a Rover 200. Even more old man spec than the Panda. :p
 
IMG_9206.jpeg


Proof pic because I’m avoiding working.

Also changed the air filter (not too bad) and cabin filter (big yuck)
IMG_9205.jpeg


Temperature readings have been low and the coolant temp sensor code I got earlier came back on the return from London.

Some sleuthing on the Fiat Forum made it seem like the rubber gasket on the thermostat has failed and isn’t letting the motor get up to temperature. Ordered a new one for like 25 bucks. It would also explain the poor fuel economy I’ve been getting (although being four up and going 80mph isn’t helping 😅)
 
View attachment 3572172

Proof pic because I’m avoiding working.

Also changed the air filter (not too bad) and cabin filter (big yuck)
View attachment 3572173

Temperature readings have been low and the coolant temp sensor code I got earlier came back on the return from London.

Some sleuthing on the Fiat Forum made it seem like the rubber gasket on the thermostat has failed and isn’t letting the motor get up to temperature. Ordered a new one for like 25 bucks. It would also explain the poor fuel economy I’ve been getting (although being four up and going 80mph isn’t helping 😅)
I am assuming the cabin air filter is in the center console, right? My 2012 500 had it there too. So weird.
 
@93Flareside Yes, center console. Buried down by the footwell. Kind of a PITA on a RHD car since the steering column shaft and pedals are in the way.

Thankfully the last person that serviced it didn’t replace the inaccessible bolt holding the cover on (it’s right where the steering column shaft is) so it was easy to pop off. Installing the new filter was a bit of a faff with everything in the way.
 
Top