Target model year for a used Abarth 500?

fiatmonkey

Tim Hoover
IMO - buy a 13 or later to ensure you get the proper exhaust (not the suite case muffler, but the dual muffler-less pipes). Forget the "locked ECU" stuff. Unless you plan to swap it out of the car for some reason, the after market ECU piggy backs out there will net you 30-40 more HP which is plenty.

I am 5'10" and the sunroof model is fine. I also happen to have shorter legs (so more torso) which means I sit taller than most. My brother for example and I are same height, and I sit about an 1" taller.

I like the cabriolet, but if you are the kind of driver who likes to see out the back and not just side mirrors, you will find your view is a little obstructed with the top down. I don't know if later models are better, but the 13 c and 14 c I test drove, the view was def less than I was comfortable with.

Unless you like a cold bum on a brisk day or morning drive, don't get leather seats without seat warmer.

And make sure you drive the snot out of it and have fun :)
 

fiatmonkey

Tim Hoover
Congrats Myron! You will absolutely love the car.

One more comment about the sunroof: For those of you that have sat in a car with the sunroof, the driver's seat has a height adjustment. Make sure the seat is all of the way down when you try the car out.
The 13's can sometimes squeak with the seat adjustor all the way down. The fix is to raise till you no longer hear it - greasing the rails, etc., will fix it for like a day.
 

JimD

Waiting for Godot...
Moderator
IMO - buy a 13 or later to ensure you get the proper exhaust (not the suite case muffler, but the dual muffler-less pipes). Forget the "locked ECU" stuff. Unless you plan to swap it out of the car for some reason, the after market ECU piggy backs out there will net you 30-40 more HP which is plenty.

I am 5'10" and the sunroof model is fine. I also happen to have shorter legs (so more torso) which means I sit taller than most. My brother for example and I are same height, and I sit about an 1" taller.

I like the cabriolet, but if you are the kind of driver who likes to see out the back and not just side mirrors, you will find your view is a little obstructed with the top down. I don't know if later models are better, but the 13 c and 14 c I test drove, the view was def less than I was comfortable with.

Unless you like a cold bum on a brisk day or morning drive, don't get leather seats without seat warmer.

And make sure you drive the snot out of it and have fun :)

Thanks for the advice Tim. I did notice that the top doesn't really go "all the way down". I will have to drive one before I can see how I feel about the situation.
 

zonker

Just Another FIAT Freak
+1 on the Cabrio, the top down on a cool day with the windows up and seat heaters on makes for a perfect drive. There's just no better way to listen to that intoxicating exhaust note.
16601629_1665848196764949_783857073612982889_o.jpg


As for the year choice... all years are fairly reliable, '14 up has a better (lower) passenger seat base height, and '15 up have some nicer color choices plus the more modern TFT dashboards and infotainment.
 
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kmead

Glutton for punishment
Looks great! So those are Mark Allison's new wheels. I didn't know you could go down to 15" rims on an Abarth. Seeing as you can is really great to see as the roads in my neck of the woods would make 17's pretty insufferable and expensive with thos thin rubber bands stretched around them.

Sweet!

+1 on the Cabrio, the top down on a cool day with the windows up and seat heaters on makes for a perfect drive. There's just no better way to listen to that intoxicating exhaust note.
16601629_1665848196764949_783857073612982889_o.jpg


As for the year choice... all years are fairly reliable, '14 up has a better (lower) passenger seat base height, and '15 up have some nicer color choices plus the more modern TFT dashboards and infotainment.
 

rocco79/138

True Classic
Looks great! So those are Mark Allison's new wheels. I didn't know you could go down to 15" rims on an Abarth. Seeing as you can is really great to see as the roads in my neck of the woods would make 17's pretty insufferable and expensive with thos thin rubber bands stretched around them.

Sweet!
Karl,
That part of the state is referred to as wilderness when I read stories about the turn of the last century but I remember being there twenties some years ago for a wedding... It was rather developed if memory serves. Do you live in an unincorporated area or just suffer poorly maintained roadways? We have some pretty rough roads in the Carolinas but we get a break in not having to deal with severe winter conditions.
Just put my daughter in a 2013 hatch and that seems to be a very good car. The 15" wheels, as Karl stated, look much better to me(age related! Ha!) And I would bet it softens the ride just enough.
I think for me the target year was not the first but beyond that it is more a location thing. Search about 300 miles out and find one in a place where none ever see the road. The price for those is much more favorable.
Regards
 

zonker

Just Another FIAT Freak
Thanks for the compliment - the tires do make the ride more compliant, I've already run over a median divider (Doh!) with no damage to the tire or wheel. The lower suspension tie bar might be another story though... had to get a big f'n bar and pry it away from the exhaust.

As for fitment, the fronts are plenty fine, they clear the larger calipers just fine. The rear suspension is the touchy area, specifically the lower torsion bar mounting arm (Abarth specific). If the wheel weights are stuck close to the inner rim lip, when the tire rotates the torsion arm will shoot them off like tiddly winks.
 

pro4art

Frm Tech Midwest-Bayless
Just checking on here for Abarth problems. Haven't seen anything scary, and bought a $600 scan tool, that makes me more comfortable. I have heard early 500's, not Abarths, have had engine problems, but were covered under warranty. Happened across a 2013 Abarth, White with leather seats, Roof. 67,000 miles 5 speed. The wife will scream as I'm near 100 cars in my life. I want to replace my Chevy HHR SS that I love, but it is a bigger package than an Abarth. The SS 260HP at my age is just slightly awkward for me, and a smaller, more nimble car would suit me better, and so would the wife, with more room for her Mazda3. The Abarth asking price is average, $12,495, but it seems few are under 80-90K miles. I do fear the "heck", but want can she do? Leave, after 61 years? If I do the deal, I'll post pics later.
 

myronx19

True Classic
Welcome to the club.

Bah - in the end, the car was horrible. I had a LOT of problems. The car had a huge list of under warranty repairs (everything from rear main seal to a new oil pan) - 3 times for shifter cables (they rust badly and break, leaving you with only 3rd and 4th) - The driver side axle seal leaked quite badly, two weeks to get the right seal from the dealer (no stock) - then the input shaft seal started leaking, while pulling off the transmission - I noticed that the wire harness above the engine was falling apart from the heat. Broken door handles (rust belt issue) - control arm failures (ball joints on a very expensive control arm) -strut top mounts. The dealer history had 30 warranty records for service :(

Servicing the Abarth is brutal too (limited access to anything - want to change the fog lamp bulbs? - entire front fascia needs to come off)

The car is poorly engineered - I was quite disappointed. And to be honest, it wasn't that fun in the end. My X1/9 is far more fun. My daily driver is a 2006 5spd Pontiac Vibe that I bought new - still have that. 340K kms, nothing breaks on it. It's actually kinda fun to drive too - super reliable.

Modern cars shouldn't be this bad. The Abarth was not an inexpensive model. No wonder Fiat is done in North America - again. I'm huge Fiat fan, even stayed at the hotel in Lingotto on a work trip to Torino/Grugliasco (stopped by the old Bertone factory too!) - sheesh... Never again.


I sold my Abarth in 2019 for $6000 Canadian - I just wanted out. The very next day after I sold it, the window regulator broke on the guy (they're problematic (I paid $10K with tax) and bought a 1976 Chrysler Cordoba for $5500 - :)

1638882542912.png
 

tvmaster

True Classic
Bah - in the end, the car was horrible. I had a LOT of problems. The car had a huge list of under warranty repairs (everything from rear main seal to a new oil pan) - 3 times for shifter cables (they rust badly and break, leaving you with only 3rd and 4th) - The driver side axle seal leaked quite badly, two weeks to get the right seal from the dealer (no stock) - then the input shaft seal started leaking, while pulling off the transmission - I noticed that the wire harness above the engine was falling apart from the heat. Broken door handles (rust belt issue) - control arm failures (ball joints on a very expensive control arm) -strut top mounts. The dealer history had 30 warranty records for service :(

Servicing the Abarth is brutal too (limited access to anything - want to change the fog lamp bulbs? - entire front fascia needs to come off)

The car is poorly engineered - I was quite disappointed. And to be honest, it wasn't that fun in the end. My X1/9 is far more fun. My daily driver is a 2006 5spd Pontiac Vibe that I bought new - still have that. 340K kms, nothing breaks on it. It's actually kinda fun to drive too - super reliable.

Modern cars shouldn't be this bad. The Abarth was not an inexpensive model. No wonder Fiat is done in North America - again. I'm huge Fiat fan, even stayed at the hotel in Lingotto on a work trip to Torino/Grugliasco (stopped by the old Bertone factory too!) - sheesh... Never again.


I sold my Abarth in 2019 for $6000 Canadian - I just wanted out. The very next day after I sold it, the window regulator broke on the guy (they're problematic (I paid $10K with tax) and bought a 1976 Chrysler Cordoba for $5500 - :)

View attachment 55685
lol. Like I said, find one that’s under warranty. And then extend it four more years. But yes, FCA never seemed to understand how to set up a service network in North America. They charged dealerships for a tech license I believe? And if you’ve ever been to ANY dealership service centre in N.A., they don’t do quality, they do profit. I should have read the date on your entry. Mine, on the other hand, has been great since the ECU was replaced. Fingers crossed :) But it’s a 2017. I believe they did get better as the years progressed.
 

Dave80GTSi

Original Owner 1978 X1/9 (now sold)
I bought my 2013 Abarth Cabrio new, and I used it as my all-weather daily work driver for 6 years. Traded it in on an Alfa Giulia once I retired only because I needed something larger.

I put 27,000 miles on the Abarth and loved every minute. Total costs to me were a new battery, 4 new tires (both during the final year of my ownership), and gas / oil. I had -ZERO- problems with the car. Period. Very highly recommended!

The cabrio top was the best feature of the car. Without fail, it was the part of the car which everyone commented about, upon seeing the car for the first time.

Driveway pics of my 3 Italian cars during this time period:
 

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SuperTopo

True Classic
I LOVED mine and miss it so. Sold it when I got my Alfa Giulia QF and regret doing so. I put nearly 40k miles on it and many, many, track days. Never had a single issue. Had a leaking CV boot changed at around 30k miles. That's it. It was a 2012.

1638913582067.png


Here's the car at Laguna Seca:

1638913619468.png
 

tvmaster

True Classic
I LOVED mine and miss it so. Sold it when I got my Alfa Giulia QF and regret doing so. I put nearly 40k miles on it and many, many, track days. Never had a single issue. Had a leaking CV boot changed at around 30k miles. That's it. It was a 2012.

View attachment 55698

Here's the car at Laguna Seca:

View attachment 55699
It really does seem to be a classic case of “Wednesday car-itis” with this model, as so many people have so many different problems, or none at all. I discount those who heavily mod the engine, exhaust, etc. There’s no rhyme or reason as to who has Abarth problems and who doesn’t. I’d love to run the numbers of people with automatic 500 Abarth’s and see how they compare to manuals.
 

Dino55

Daily Driver
I traded my 2013 for an Alfa Giulia just before used car prices went crazy. I really liked the Abarth. I did have to replace the clutch at 50k miles. Makes me wonder what the first owner did with the car. I didn’t have any other real issues. The interior always felt cheap but that didn’t bother me.
On small back roads here in New England, it was just the best.
 

Janis

True Classic
I bought my 2013 Abarth Cabrio new, and I used it as my all-weather daily work driver for 6 years. Traded it in on an Alfa Giulia once I retired only because I needed something larger.

I put 27,000 miles on the Abarth and loved every minute. Total costs to me were a new battery, 4 new tires (both during the final year of my ownership), and gas / oil. I had -ZERO- problems with the car. Period. Very highly recommended!

The cabrio top was the best feature of the car. Without fail, it was the part of the car which everyone commented about, upon seeing the car for the first time.

Driveway pics of my 3 Italian cars during this time period:
might be the only pictures where 500 seems a big car
 

myronx19

True Classic
I think when the cars are new-ish, and you don't live in the salt-belt and you're below 60K miles - things are great! Over 70K miles... and rust belt? Rolling the dice. My car only went through three winters, and it looked like an 8 year old car underneath.

My experience wasn't unique - many of my local 500 friends had the same issues. Most common being broken door handles and non-functioning hatch harness (they get mangled - poor articulation), door glass, sunroof, and a few serious issues like the Multi-air failing and leaving them stranded with a $2500 repair bill to get it running again :(
 

tvmaster

True Classic
I think when the cars are new-ish, and you don't live in the salt-belt and you're below 60K miles - things are great! Over 70K miles... and rust belt? Rolling the dice. My car only went through three winters, and it looked like an 8 year old car underneath.

My experience wasn't unique - many of my local 500 friends had the same issues. Most common being broken door handles and non-functioning hatch harness (they get mangled - poor articulation), door glass, sunroof, and a few serious issues like the Multi-air failing and leaving them stranded with a $2500 repair bill to get it running again :(
Sounds like a Porsche….
 

Jonohhh

True Classic
As someone who has had an Abarth since 2017 as my first car, I have a little bit of input.

  1. 2015+ models have stronger transmissions. Pre-2015 ones get a bit upset with over 280ftb, though they are easily interchangeable.
  2. Some Abarths are rock solid. Others are absolute piles like Myron's seemingly was. Personally, the powertrain on mine has been great, and they are very durable, but little crap like oil leaks are never-ending. I am hoping this comes to an end when I replace the engine next week...it got hydro-locked in a flash flood.
  3. The ECUs are still very locked down to the consumer. Tuning companies have the needed software and definition files to tune pretty much any year Abarth by this point, but if you would like to tune it yourself as I do, you're limited to OFT and may or may not be able to get a definition file for your specific ECU. This is the situation I am in and it sucks.
  4. They feel much less Italian and temperamental (in a fun way) than our cars. There's something so distinctly quirky, odd, unorthodox, and Italian about the way our cars were designed and built- something that I did not understand until I got one. With all of the standardization in parts these days, there's a lot less "character" possible in the design.
  5. The community kind of fell apart back in 2019. There was a very close-knit group of people who were very technically minded- always looking to make our fun but flawed little cars better and better...and faster. Well, the forum owner had some...issues...and closed the forum down with absolutely zero warning, wiping all of that valuable information off of the face of the earth. Much of that group dispersed and got different cars in the end, as it's the community that holds many of us to our cars at the end of the day.
  6. With a tune and a few little parts, it'll have you smiling from ear to ear as you rip around town at 30psi and the front tires on fire. Maybe not quite as much as our little X1/9s, but pretty good for a "modern" (ish) car in a sea of boring, soft, and isolated luxobarges.
 

kmead

Glutton for punishment
“The community kind of fell apart back in 2019. There was a very close-knit group of people who were very technically minded- always looking to make our fun but flawed little cars better and better...and faster. Well, the forum owner had some...issues...and closed the forum down with absolutely zero warning, wiping all of that valuable information off of the face of the earth.”

This is exactly the worry many of us have around this or any forum we invest in.

There is so much here and other forums like MiraFiori, Fiat Spider and a few others.

There have been more than a few of these community shut downs by picayune individuals across many hobby areas.

We are tremendously lucky that although the original owner of this forum left us, he also left us with a remarkable legacy which we must work to uphold and further.


As someone who has had an Abarth since 2017 as my first car, I have a little bit of input.

  1. 2015+ models have stronger transmissions. Pre-2015 ones get a bit upset with over 280ftb, though they are easily interchangeable.
  2. Some Abarths are rock solid. Others are absolute piles like Myron's seemingly was. Personally, the powertrain on mine has been great, and they are very durable, but little crap like oil leaks are never-ending. I am hoping this comes to an end when I replace the engine next week...it got hydro-locked in a flash flood.
  3. The ECUs are still very locked down to the consumer. Tuning companies have the needed software and definition files to tune pretty much any year Abarth by this point, but if you would like to tune it yourself as I do, you're limited to OFT and may or may not be able to get a definition file for your specific ECU. This is the situation I am in and it sucks.
  4. They feel much less Italian and temperamental (in a fun way) than our cars. There's something so distinctly quirky, odd, unorthodox, and Italian about the way our cars were designed and built- something that I did not understand until I got one. With all of the standardization in parts these days, there's a lot less "character" possible in the design.
  5. The community kind of fell apart back in 2019. There was a very close-knit group of people who were very technically minded- always looking to make our fun but flawed little cars better and better...and faster. Well, the forum owner had some...issues...and closed the forum down with absolutely zero warning, wiping all of that valuable information off of the face of the earth. Much of that group dispersed and got different cars in the end, as it's the community that holds many of us to our cars at the end of the day.
  6. With a tune and a few little parts, it'll have you smiling from ear to ear as you rip around town at 30psi and the front tires on fire. Maybe not quite as much as our little X1/9s, but pretty good for a "modern" (ish) car in a sea of boring, soft, and isolated luxobarges.
 
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