There are some cars that don’t age, or at the very least bend the rules of time. The Fiat Coupé is one of them. Looking at the example above, found for sale on eBay via Motoexotica Classic Cars in St. Louis, Missouri, if I didn’t know any better I’d peg the model year as ’04 at the latest. The Coupé, penned by the designer wrong people love to hate, Chris Bangle, would’ve looked unlike anything else on the road at that time. Hell, it’d look unlike anything else on the road now. But it isn’t from 2004; it’s from 1994.
I lead with the Fiat Coupé’s exterior because while I regretfully tend to forget this car exists until I fire up Gran Turismo 3, I always, always think it’s newer than it is. I mean, do you remember what cars looked like in 1994? The Coupé launched that very same model year, and Fiat selected Bangle’s design for it over Pininfarina’s. The latter’s interpretation of the brief became the Peugeot 406 Coupe, and while the 406 is very elegant, it’s no Fiat Coupé.
Pininfarina must’ve been kicking itself for not coming to the table with a pitch as radical yet stylish as Bangle’s. You just know it was jealous, because the design house stamped its name writ large right on the dashboard, above the climate vents. Pininfarina was, in fairness, responsible for the car’s interior design — though anyone who didn’t know any better would’ve assumed that the entire car was its idea, considering that prime real estate badge placement. If you ask me, Bangle had every right to sue. Perhaps he would’ve, if he wasn’t working for Fiat at the time.
Funny thing about this particular Coupé: it also has a Pininfarina badge on the grille as well as an Abarth badge on the trunk. My brief internet sleuthing tells me Coupés were never sold with such adornments. This Coupé was also reportedly imported from Germany to Texas, and its odometer shows about 52,000 miles—just like another Fiat Coupé with Texas plates that starred in this Nice Price Or No Dice from a year and a half ago. Welcome back, old friend.
What else can we say about this Fiat? It has the two-liter, 16-valve inline four that the car launched with, producing 137 horsepower and mated to a five-speed manual. The listing tells us this example also has an aftermarket intake and exhaust manifold, though who can say what they actually contribute on the performance side of things. Later in the model’s run Fiat added an inline five developing as much as 217 horsepower with the range-topping Turbo Plus. That’s the engine you’d want of course, though sometimes you have to settle for the engine you have.
Last time this Coupé appeared on Jalopnik, it was priced at $13,000. An overwhelming majority of you said that was too high, and I don’t disagree. Today it’s being auctioned. There’s four hours of bidding left, and it’s received 19 offers. At the time of writing it sits at $5,100, still shy of reserve.
Buying a 30-year-old import by an Italian automaker is an objectively inadvisable financial decision; it’s like the timeshare of cars. But if this ultimately goes for $7,000 or maybe $8,000? Few vehicles could match that coolness-for-dollars ratio, and that might dull the inevitable pain of ownership just enough to make sense.