The Fiat Barchetta ([ˈfiat barˈketta]) (Type 183) is a roadster produced by the Italian manufacturer Fiat from 1995 to 2005 (though production was paused between May 2002 and 2004). "Barchetta" in Italian means "little boat", and also denotes a type of open-top sports car body style.
The Barchetta was developed between 1990 and 1994 under the project name Tipo B Spider 176. It was designed by Andreas Zapatinas and Alessandro Cavazza under the supervision of Peter Barrett Davis and other car designers at the Fiat Centro Stile, and prototyping was carried out by Stola.
Production began in February 1995 and lasted until June 2005, with a brief pause due to the bankruptcy of coachbuilder Maggiora. The Barchetta was based on the chassis of the Mark 1 Fiat Punto. The Barchetta has 1,747 cc DOHC petrol engine fitted with variable camshaft timing, used for the first time in a Fiat production car, after being patented in 1970. The engine has 132 PS (97 kW; 130 hp) and 164 N·m (121 lb·ft) of torque. The Barchetta weighs 1056 kg (2328 lb) without air conditioning and can accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.9 seconds and has a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph). It came in various trim levels which offered different features, for example, diamond cross stitch - patterned red leather instead of the standard black leather or fabric seats, alloy wheels instead of steel wheels, or fog-lights as an option. Arguably one of the biggest external cosmetic changes was made by the addition of the third brake light, first introduced by Fiat on the Lido and Riviera in 2000, and on sub models thereafter.
The Barchetta was revised in 2003, for its relaunch the following year, with some alterations inside and out. The most notable changes were the revised front spoiler and rear bumper. Production of the car eventually stopped in June 2005.
Car bodies were welded at ILCAS in Sparone Canavese, and final assembly was done in Chivasso by the coachbuilder Maggiora.
After Maggiora's bankruptcy in 2002, Fiat relocated production of the Barchetta to its Mirafiori plant and resumed production two years later. Around 57,700 cars were built up to 2005.
Production of the Barchetta was limited to LHD cars only, even though the car was marketed and sold in two RHD markets, the United Kingdom and Japan.
The Italian styling house of Bertone created a one-off roadster show car for Fiat called the Barchetta in 2007.
Perhaps the most well known 'review' of a Barchetta was one which featured in a Top Gear special which aired in December 2010. In the episode, the three presenters (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May) attempted to follow the path of the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem. Hammond drove the Fiat Barchetta (specifically a Riviera Special Edition featuring a black paint job and red quilted leather), compared to Clarkson's Mazda MX-5 and May's BMW Z3.
At the end of the episode, the Barchetta was declared the most desirable, and most reliable of the three cars.