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Fiat Panda saved from scrap

I'm a sucker for Italian things, so when, 3 years ago, a local Fiat Panda came available, I had to buy it.

This car was destined for a scrap yard crusher, so we bought it, and towed the Panda home.

The first Fiat Panda was introduced in 1980 as a cheap utility vehicle, easy to run, and simple to maintain.

The Panda was deigned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, our hero motor industry figure who penned the Lancia Delta and

VW Golf, among his many other fantastic projects.

Giugiaro was rightly proud of his Panda, he enjoyed developing it, and bringing the spirit of simplicity and lightness to make a really useful vehicle.

The basic box design and the simple interior fittings made the Panda a true multi-purpose vehicle, carrying tools or a family cheaply and efficiently. Using the innovative thinking that Italian engineers are so good at.

Fiat Panda mk1

Original 1980 Fiat Panda

Fiat Panda mk2

1982 update, slight style changes with a plastic grille, before the rear wheel arches were made like the fronts in 1986

We towed the little car back from the scrap yard, it didn't start and had no brakes, the body work was rust free (later Pandas were galvanised), and the interior was almost complete. There were a few dings on the car and the paintwork was very dull.

Due to Delta commitments, I had put the little Panda away under a cover and left it in a corner for a few years. We recently pulled the car out to bring it back to life. After dipping the oil and giving the engine a visual check, I put a battery on it and tried to start the car, but it wouldn't go. I checked for a spark,

it had one, but the fuel pipes were dry.

Our Panda has a Fiat 1000cc FIRE engine, Fiat Integrated Robotised Engine. The FIRE modular engine series was designed by engineering contractor Rodolfo Bonetto. As the name suggests, the engine was designed for construction by robots.

It's a good little single overhead cam engine.

Our car has the later single point fuel injection, with fuel pump relays that any Integrale owner would recognise. So I ran the same tests as on a Delta, and the problem seemed to be with the fuel pump itself.

The fuel pump is accessed easily by tipping the rear seat and removing a big round plastic cover in the floor. The pipes, big ring and seal are all the same as a Delta's, so I undid it all and lifted the pump out. There's a fuel level measuring tube which can be easily removed, then the swirl pot and pump can be lifted out of the tank exactly as an Integrale.

Fiat Panda fuel pump replace

Fuel pump access through tailgate entrance

Checking the fuel pump relay

Fiat FIRE engine

The Fiat FIRE engine was developed by the Italian design and engineering house established by Rodolfo Bonetto.

Bonetto was a self taught stylist and engineer who started Bonetto design in 1958.

He worked on hundreds of industrial and automotive design projects, for Vignale, Fiat and Olivetti. It turns out the Bonetto company was responsible for the restyling of the Fiat Multipla's new nose,

referred to here on this site, hmmm!

As Italian car owners, we understand the relationship between style and engineering, power is nothing without style.

Fiat Panda fuel pump problem

Bunged up pump

As described, the fuel pump assembly is exactly like a Delta's, but modern high solvent fuel had turned our car's rubber pump support to jelly! This black, lumpy, sticky, black tar had penetrated the whole pump assembly, blocking the gauze filter, and I suppose the pump itself.

I cleaned it all out with the only substance that would shift the mess, cellulose thinners, then I set about finding a new pump.

I had a few false internet starts, but a local motor factors could supply one, this was a make I hadn't heard of before. I bought this Cambiare pump and fitted it using a left over Integrale rubber pump support.

The car started first time after connecting all the pipes up.

Fiat Panda engine bay

I went back a week later to do the brakes, and the little car wouldn't start. Of course I suspected everything except the fuel pump, but running all the tests again meant only the fuel pump could be at fault. I fished it out again and tested the pump on the bench, it had indeed stopped working.

The motor factors would replace it, but I didn't want another of the same make. Bosch pumps were available, but were on the shelf in Germany, and would take 2 weeks to arrive here. I rang Eddie at AECar, he was unable to help, but he had seen a Bosch pump on Ebay. I checked, and Eddie was right, so I bought-it-now and the genuine, boxed, Bosch pump arrived in 2 days.

I fitted this new pump and it worked fine, and continues to work! Here's a link to the Ebay seller, he has loads of old stock Fiat parts..

I was disappointed that the replacement Cambiare fuel pump didn't work, it looked exactly like the Bosch item.

The Cambiare English language website is also a good resource.


However I'll avoid their products in the future!

CAMBIARE fuel pump part

We'll keep you posted about our Panda,

I've a few more jobs to do, 

then I'll get an MOT and do some budget motoring!

Fiat Panda van
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