Hey guys, it’s me KevinFix, your resident glorified vacuumer curbstoner and guess what: I just STOLE a car from a guy for DIRT CHEAP? Find out how I bought THE CHEAPEST FIAT 500 ABARTH IN THE UNITED STATES! God, just typing that set me up for a wicked case of brainrot. But YouTuber bullshit aside, I really did buy the cheapest, clean-title Fiat 500 Abarth I’ve ever heard of. And it’s actually not a complete disaster.
As y’all will continually learn, flipping cars and catching that good deal is one-third persistence and two-thirds luck, which could also be boiled down to “being in the right place at the right time.” I guarantee you that there are still deals on cars in your area, you just gotta keep your eyes open.
Car Bibles is a new sister site to The Drive focusing on DIY culture, pro tips for maintenance and modifications, and fun takes on the car scene. Click here to check it out!
Whilst recently browsing FB marketplace, I came across a listing for a 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth with a “blown motor.” Technically, I still had the Hyundai Tiburon, and coincidentally, only barely started on a Fiat 500L project. But I still had extra cash burning a hole in my pocket and I did want something fun.
At first I ignored the listing. $3,000 was too rich for my blood, given the fact I still had my Tiburon at the time. Then I read the ad and saw the true price: $1,500. Wow, that’s only like $100 more than the stimulus check!
I would have been stupid to not try and get this car, even with the blown motor the advertisement said it had.
I sent a message to the seller at 12:00 midnight, then set an alarm for 7:00 am. I knew that if I wasn’t the first person to reply, I wasn’t getting the car. Lucky for me I was, and I hustled just straight away to give the guy cash. To be honest, I was so stoked to get a dirt-cheap Abarth that I barely looked the car over I was too focused on making sure I secured it.
So here are the deets: This is a 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth with 125,000 miles. It’s fairly well-equipped with a sunroof, automatic climate control, and Beats-branded audio system (which fucking bumps). The “blown engine” explaining the low price was confirmed by a Firestone Complete Auto Care. Now I’m not trying go off on a tangent about getting a second opinion when a lube shop tells you your engine’s cashed, but, you should.
Firestone’s assessment was basically “oil in cylinder four, recommend seeing an ‘engine specialist'” and I guess the car’s seller couldn’t be bothered to do that. The tires and brakes are newer, and the little car’s even got a trailer hitch that could easily accommodate a bike rack or a small watercraft (the previous owner apparently occasionally towed Jetskis with this car?). Oh, and he’d done a rear seat delete mod, but I have the brackets and rear seat that are ready to install. The previous owner had a big dog, so the whole car reeked of dog slobber and there’s long hair wafting throughout the cabin. I’m allergic to dogs, which makes this particularly unfortunate. Oh well, it’s a $1,500 Abarth.
When I went to check the car out, sure enough, cylinder four was misfiring. Engines for the 500 Abarth aren’t that hard to find, the 500L and Dodge Dart use a variant that should be a direct swap-in. Either way, it’s a goddamn Abarth with not a hell of a lot of miles. The body is clean and straight, and there’s no rust and a lot for me to be excited about.
The Abarth misfired, but it seemed to run OK enough for me to limp about 15 miles home. Even broken, the Abarth sounded and drove amazing with its signature throaty grumbly burble echoing off the North Columbus roads. Instantly, I was transported back to 2013, when I was 19, and wanting a new car. I drove the Fiesta ST and Abarth 500 on the same day, proud of myself because I conned both a Ford dealer and a Fiat dealer into giving me the keys to drive their sporty hatchbacks, alone. Looking back on it, I’m sure those salesmen knew I had nowhere near enough money to buy either of those cars. Still, I liked the Fiesta, but the Abarth felt more special—that lumpy powerband hits just right. Sure, a Fiesta ST or Civic Si would be faster but the Abarth is charming, with its console shifter and super-upright driving position. Back then I wanted to take the Abarth home, but working part-time at a Chevrolet dealership definitely wouldn’t have been enough to make that car payment.
I don’t know if I am going to resell the Abarth or hang on to it once it’s cleaned up and driving nicely. My 2012 Chevy Sonic has nearly double the miles, and goddamn it I’ve always wanted one of these. I think I’m going to keep this one for at least a little while.
I have a couple of theories of things that may be wrong with the Abarth: There is no bottom-end engine noise, no knocking or tapping, so the crankshaft and connecting rods are fine. I’m not convinced it needs an entirely new engine, I’m thinking at worst potentially a cylinder head or head gasket, due to the oil pooling in a cylinder. I’ve also been told by a Fiat friend, that the MultiAir system can sometimes cause similar problems, like oil consumption and misfiring. Weirdly, the car is only throwing one code, P0304—that’s a cylinder four misfire. No other codes, either proprietary or generic.
Or it could be something simple, and likely electrical. We will see. At the very least, the car will need a thorough detailing to remove the smell and the dog hair. That ugly aftermarket shifter’s gotta go, too.
As of right now, I’m just stoked to be in a damn cheap Fiat 500 Abarth.
Kevin Williams is a writer at Car Bibles, a new sister site to The Drive focusing on practical tips and DIY advice to help you get the most out of your car. Come see the freshly redesigned Car Bibles right now! Or check us out on Twitter, IG, and Facebook. Actually LinkedIn too, if you’re on there.