There are some cars in this world that just bring me joy. My daily-driver Mazda Miata is one, the Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet ZR2 are others, and last week I got acquainted with another joyful little runabout, the 2021 Fiat 500C Abarth.

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There’s no doubt that this exquisite little scorpion will be the car to buck Broomhall’s trend. Does he have any advice for others thinking of buying or restoring a classic car?


The tiny turbo engine can be paired with either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The manual is a pretty average unit. The shifter is well-placed, but the throws are long and ropey. The pedal position is excellent, making rev-matched downshifts easy. Only having five gears to choose from seems strange in this day and age, but the long-ish ratios work nicely with the slow, low-revving engine. And you don’t have to mess with the wriggly shifter too much.

I used heat shrink solder seal connectors for the wire connections (these work pretty well when you use a heat gun with them), then enclosed those connections in shrink tubing, and then electrical wire taped that bit. I also ran heat shrink tubing for about 3' over the wire leading from the light assembly to protect it as it enters the trunk through the passenger side rear floor grommet. Where the wire comes up through a small hole I punched in the plastic grommet, I applied a black silicone seal over the entire surface surrounding it once the wire was run through. I then ran the wiring through 3/8" slit hose conduit for a bit more protection. I'll be taking it to the dealership's service team this week to do the final wire extensions and install an illuminated switch in the dash to control it. I purchased two different ones, as they're pretty inexpensive. One is a traditional rectangular rocker switch type, and the other is a protruding flip switch.


That has now changed, and while Broomhall’s restoration made fiscal sense, it wasn’t the prime driver. Instead, it all came down to that experience of another example.

The original plaque was created by moulding, etching and laser printing. In a few words, it is a small work of art.


EDIT 2: Fixed the picture and added a couple of other pictures showing the bulb holder removed, and the bulb. It is a 'flat' headed bulb, with projection out rather than sideways.

This is where I kick myself in the arse for not doing that. I'll go out and take some photos tomorrow from underneath the car showing the back of the assembly, and of the trunk floor pan where I did my cable runs in preparation for routing into the cabin.

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I know what you’re thinking; how can a Fiat 500 Abarth be better than, say, one of the Toyobaru twins, or a Miata, or even a rambunctious WRX? It’s front-wheel drive, after all, and as we enthusiasts know, that is not the recipe defined in the hooning handbook.


The interior is also nearly unchanged. Instead of monochromatic physical gauges, a screen has been shoved into the round instrument housing. The chunky boost gauge hangs off the side, still fully functional. Instead of the shift light older models had, the light in the center of the boost gauge indicates whether you’re in Sport mode. The painted dash panel is still attractive and classy, and it distracts you from the otherwise very low rent plastics. Those are most evident on the doors, which are vast panels of scratchy plastic. The cabin can be pretty noisy, too, on the highway.

The uneducated hoonster might think a FWD Abarth cannot donut. That assumption is correct; except when it’s wet. When the heavens open, reverse donuts are in order: place the Abarth into reverse (with ESC completely off), drop the hammer, and turn the wheel (keep the wheels turned and the throttle pegged). Now bask in the luscious spoor fashioned from burning rubber.


I would have welcomed blind-spot monitoring, even in a car this small. The b-pillar is right in the driver's side blind spot, making it tough to see motorcycles or smaller vehicles. An additional small side mirror helps somewhat, but be prepared to look, then look again before changing lanes.

Basically, we tarted it up and it looked okay. I very rarely drove it with the hardtop on because the differential was so noisy.

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And you have a point, but its validity depends on your skill level. If you are the driving equivalent of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, hammering a rear-wheel drive machine might not be the smartest call. Front-wheel drive ensures a level of security, crucial for any budding hoonster with hopeless coordination and the vision of a one-eyed pensioner smoking weed.


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Put that down to Tom Tjaarda’s elegant lines, turned bad boy by the correctly reinstated two-tone paint finish and Abarth addenda. It’s one malevolently handsome little brute.


Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio

Broomhall ran it on and off for a couple of years – the engine coming out two or three times for different things – before buying “an even rougher” Lancia Beta Monte-Carlo. The Abarth went into a lock-up in ’87 and that winter, without antifreeze in the cooling system, the cylinder head cracked – so there it stayed.

The process for shaping the floors and bootlid was similarly involved. A full-body restoration on a CSA typically takes around 3-400 hours, depending on original condition, but in this case – despite the fact it wasn’t rusty – it took around 550.


As with most FWDs, if understeer becomes too prevalent, a simple lift off the gas will provide the needed grip. Be ready, however, as drop throttle oversteer may ensue. In fact, if provoked (especially when wet), the Abarth gets its tail out more readily than John Travolta.

The Ultimate Guide To Hooning: Fiat 500 Abarth

De Turris says that a common mistake is to over-lighten the flywheel, which leads to poor idling and difficulty setting up – especially with twin 44mm Weber carburettors. An uprated clutch was another addition.