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My wife was pregnant, we had already made one child and the Punto was just about right to get one pushchair and some shopping in the boot, although it was a tight squeeze. So the time had come for me to venture out into the second hand car market and look for a car with a reasonable sized boot, but with all the refinments I could afford. After several visits to different garages we were just about to head home when my wife saw the FIAT dealership and said perhaps it would be a good idea to have a quick look, after all, the Punto had been a lovely little motor, in 3 years from brand new it had performed as advertised without a glitch. The forecourt was full of almost new , gleaming and rather expensive Punto's and Bravo's, nothing much here we could really afford with the imminent birth of our new baby, so as we were just leaving something caught me out of the corner of my eye. It was just sat there, looking quite sad, but quite different from the others. Closer inspection found me quite intrigued, I wanted to sit in it, press buttons, move the seats backwards and forwards and just about do everything I could think of to see if this car needed a good home. But what on earth was it? I had never heard of a FIAT TEMPRA before!! After all, its not exactly the best looking or highest selling motor in the UK, but I was somehow drawn to this one. With 35,000 miles on its clock (digital clock!!!!) , for a 5 year old car this was well below average, the interior smelt new and everything was absolutley immaculate, right down to its full service history. I must be the only man who is really happy that some cars depriciate so fast, as this car cost £11,000 in 1995 and just 5 years on I was getting it for £2995 (or rather a straight swap for my Punto, which had considerably higher milage and no service history at all). Bit of a bargain I thought! So whats it got then?? Unde
r the bonnet is nothing really special, just a 1600 petrol injection engine with a manual gearbox, it revs quite high and sounds quite nice too at about 3500 revs, or could that just by my exhaust blowing a bit?? The exterior too is nothing special, its a very 'car' shaped car, you know, with a boot at the back, 4 wheels and quite a long bonnet. Its got colour coded bumpers and wing mirrors, front fog lights are built in to the bottom of the bumper and its got a quite handsome set of alloy wheels that I had previousley seen on Fiat Uno Turbo's a few years earlier. And I was also informed that FIAT had just started to Galvanise the body panels when this car went into production (thats rust proofing to you and me!) So whats it like on the inside? Its not bad, once again I dont think that it was styled by a fashion genius or anything, but its very comfortable. The seats are fitted in Velour trim (pity its an awful tartan/checky type pattern) and the seats are full adjustable, the drivers even has one of those lumbar support things.(and should I mention a drivers seat arm rest??) Both front windows are elecrtic, the drivers one being 'one touch' which means I dont have to keep my finger on the button to trap the wifes hand as she reaches for my throat. There is a nice big sunroof fitted to this car too, fully electrical , both tilt and slide and very quick to operate (except when it starts to rain!!) The rear seats are mighty big and comfortable too, I have slept on it before so I can vouch for that!! I ahe also had adult and 2 child seats in the back at the same time! And it too has one of those arm rests in the middle. And any other special little things about my car? Yes, it took me ages to realise that when its dark and I cant see where I am going because my headlights are dirty, all I had to do was put the windscreen washer on. These things just popped out of the b
umper and blasted the muck right off the lights and I was in no danger anymore. The windscreen wipers are fully adjustable , meaning I can select the speed of the wipe depending on the heaviness of the rain, and the rear wiper is a really good help to me, because I am such a nosey git I love to stare at the folks behind me! The boot is very large compared to what I was used to, I can get a double tandem pushcahir in it and a single pushchair too, then a weeks groceries too!! The ride quality is effortless, its got power steering and a nice comfortable seating position, its just so effortless to cruise along at 70 to 75 mph and the petrol guage seems to hardly move, the wind and road noise is minimum and everyone just falls asleep (except me of course) To be really honest I never thought I would ever get a 'Pipe and Slippers car' like this one, its just so damn sensible. Its not a sports car, not even designed to be a very fast car, but once I poot my foot down in the lower gears it can shift rather rapidly, nice for overtaking mopeds and tractors! So for a mere £2995 I have got myself quite a nice motor. In the year I have had it I have done 7000 miles and all I had to replace so far was the windscreen for its MOT because a lorry flipped up BEN NEVIS into my path last summer! Oh and I had a slight bump, but that wasnt the cars fault! (and that only cost me £40 to put right as so far if I have enquired about spares the prices are always reasonable (even from the FIAT dealers) A 6000 mile service cost £75 and that included oil etc, so I was happy with that too! So there you go, not exactly a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, very much the opposite, a cracker of a car thats been very reliable to me in every weater and raod condition you could think of!
Having a father in the motor industry has its advantages.... Or not if he gives you the use of a Fiat Tempra for a week. That was slightly unfair, it was about 5 years ago when i was but a mere slip of an 18 year old. The model I tried was a 1.6, I can't remember the specification letter (LXE - god knows and lets be honest, who cares?) but it had all electrics P.A.S and VERY comfortable seats (and a lot of room in the back, wink wink)! At the time the car was not very old so the obligatory Fiat rust had not yet settled in. It was a good reliable car and it had the most fantastic Digital Dashboard readout! God knows how good these are nowadays, the Italians are not famous for their electrical expertise. OK, so now the car looks dated (i suppose it was never really 'sexy' then) but if you want a CHEAP car to get you from a 2 b you could do alot worse. The tempra was the Italian equvalent of the Orion, and i HATE orions (even though i am a Ford fan), so given the choice, I would have the Fancy Fiat any day. Please note, this is just my opinion, Please leave a comment.