The iconic Fiat 500 was born during an age of privation yet its characterful quirkiness has established its reputation as a cult classic. Not surprisingly then, there have been many iterations of this little car and many collaborations between Fiat and other performance-based manufacturers.
The Abarth 695 ‘Rivale’ is one such collaboration, this time with the makers of luxury watercraft, Riva, another Italian brand steeped in history and with an enthusiast base of its own. Of course, Fiat used in-house performance tuners, Abarth, to really do justice to a vehicle inspired the fact that both Carlo Abarth and Carlo Riva each held multiple international records on land and sea, respectively. But there are plenty of other design touches that have lead Fiat to call the 695 Rivale ‘the most sophisticated Abarth ever’.
The Riva 56 Rivale luxury yacht was the inspiration behind the striking Riva Sera Blue and Shark Grey paintwork, a double stripe of aquamarine blue separating the two colours to represent the thin line of the sea on the horizon, separating the sky from the road. Satin chrome details including a rear moulding were nautically inspired and set off the livery perfectly. Indeed, the nautical theme is readily apparent throughout the 695 Rivale, even including the option of a customisable plate (the name of your Riva yacht can be engraved on it should you have one), fitted with the same screws used in the construction of Riva yachts. Another option is a mahogany dashboard, reminiscent of the traditional dash found on the classic Rivas.
The nautical theme continues with blue leather seats, plenty of carbon fibre touches and aluminium detailing, so even if the mahogany option is not chosen, the ‘sailing’ ambience persists, more so with the convertible which allows the wind through your hair!
Generating that wind is a 1.4 litre ‘T-Jet’ engine producing 180 bhp and 250 Nm at 3000 rpm with the help of a Garrett Turbo. The result propels the small hatchback from 0-62 mph in 6.7 seconds with a top speed of 140 mph. Fitted with an Akrapovic exhaust, the 695 Rivale sounds satisfyingly throaty – it sounds as good as it looks. Self-ventilated, perforated brake discs with aluminium Brembo brake calipers on the front and perforated brake discs at the rear ensure there’s plenty of stopping power when required. The result is an elegant and luxuriously equipped small car that’s fast, fun to drive and looks every bit as special as the heritage it’s inspired by.
Protecting your vehicle right from the start is, without question, the most effective method of preserving its aesthetic appearance and potential resale value. Whilst clear coat technology has advanced significantly over the years, it’s still relatively easy to damage, particularly during the weekly wash where poor techniques can result in swirl marks. Fine swirls reduce the gloss levels and over time, the paint becomes dull. Having a ceramic coating applied when the car is brand new preserves the clear coat. Protected surfaces stay looking ‘as new’ for longer and are much easier to maintain. – Matt Back, UF Studio
On arrival at UF’s Brands Hatch studio, the 695 Rivale required decontamination and cleaning before an inspection of the paintwork could be carried out to check its condition.
Ceramic coatings bond with the clear coat and become a new layer on the paint’s surface. They can last for years, so it’s essential to remove any swirls, scratches, stains, etc, first, else they become sealed under the coating permanently. However, the car must first be entirely free from any contamination so the true condition of the paintwork can be inspected. To this end, the preparation stages are extensive. – Matt Back, UF Studio
The wheels and arches are typically the dirtiest areas on a car. To reduce cross-contamination, the wheels and arches were first washed to remove surface dirt, a trolley jack used to increase the distance between wheel and arch to facilitate cleaning. After rinsing, the wheels and arches were treated with Gtechniq W6 Iron & General Fallout Remover. W6 contains an active ingredient that changes colour on contact with ferrous contamination, derived from brake pads. A chemical reaction causes iron particles to shrink, breaking their grip on the substrate and allowing them to be rinsed away with a pressure washer. Once rinsed, the wheels and arches were then washed again using detailing brushes and a wheel sponge to get into the crevices of the spokes, ensuring the wheels were thoroughly clean.
The bodywork was also treated for iron contamination and then with Gtechniq W5 Citrus All Purpose Cleaner to remove any greasy residue from diesel splatters and grimy roads. Following another rinse, the 695 Rivale was pre-cleaned using Ultimate Snow Foam, the thick lather lifting larger particles of dirt and grit away from the panels and allowing them to be freely rinsed away.
During the initial appraisal, the owner had pointed out areas of unwanted polish residue on the blue fabric of the cabriolet hood.
Polish contains elements that quickly stain fabrics, leaching the pigment out and causing permanent damage if not removed quickly. The surface of the hood was brushed to remove any surface dirt, and then washed with a gentle cleaner. The polish residue was eliminated with a solution of all-purpose cleaner worked into the fabric with a detailing brush, lifting the polish out of the fibres. Keeping the pressure washer wand at a distance in order to prevent the fibres from becoming distorted by the pressurised water, the hood was rinsed thoroughly to ensure it was completely free from detergent and polish remnants.
The 695 Rivale was washed using the Two Bucket Method: a Wash Bucket is filled with warm water and Gtechniq G-Wash added. G-Wash is a pure shampoo, without gloss enhancers or additives that may leave residue on the panels. The bucket also contains a Grit Guard, a mesh that sits in the bottom. A Rinse Bucket, also containing a Grit Guard is filled with pure, clean water. A wash mitt is dunked into the Wash Bucket, loaded with soapy solution and a section of the car cleaned. The mitt is then rinsed in the Rinse Bucket, the mitt brushed across the Grit Guard to release the particles of dirt that settle to the bottom of the bucket. The mitt is wrung out before being dunked back into the Wash Bucket and the process repeated until the car is clean.
The suds were rinsed away before an Aqua Gleam De-ionising Water Filter was attached in-line to deliver a final pure water rinse.
Aqua Gleam filters contain a media that neutralises the impurities in tap water that cause white spot marks. The greater the amount of water put through the filter, the faster the media becomes exhausted. Therefore, it is not recommended that Aqua Gleam filters are used in conjunction with a pressure washer otherwise they become depleted quickly! – Matt Back, UF Studio
The 695 Rivale was brought inside the studio, placed on a hydraulic ramp and dried using a BigBoi BlowR Pro air dryer. The ramp allows the car to be raised and lowered, making it easier to access all the nooks and crannies to ensure water is entirely eliminated from all the areas such as the wheels, wheel nuts, arches, and around the suspension components. BigBoi blowers have been designed specifically for the detailing industry, so use warm filtered air to chase water away, drying a car up to eighty percent faster than conventional methods. Also, being a touchless drying system, BigBoi blowers help preserve the integrity of the clear coat.
The condition of paintwork was inspected and evaluated using high-intensity SCANGRIP lighting to reveal the tiniest of marks and blemishes. Areas of concern could then be noted on a Vehicle Appraisal Sheet for reference during the next stage.
The paintwork on the 695 Rivale was almost perfect, with just a few light wash swirls. To remedy these, a Kamikaze Collections Banzai Dynamics Black Polishing Pad was used with Menzerna Final Finish 3000, the soft foam of the pad working with the slight abrasive in the polish to remove the swirls and leaving a high gloss shine.
The surface of the 695 Rivale is highly contoured, so I selected a RUPES BigFoot LHR 12E Duetto and LHR 75E Mini dual action polishers, as the smaller heads make polishing these types of surface easier. Larger heads don’t flex sufficiently when used on curves causing them to slow or stop spinning, so the polishing action is significantly impaired. The Duetto and Mini present an ideal solution to this issue. – Matt Back, UF Studio
To protect the paintwork, the owner had specified Crystal Serum Ultra (CS Ultra), Gtechniq’s flagship ceramic coating be applied. CS Ultra cures to a hardness of 10h, providing durable protection against swirls. Being virtually impervious to extremes of pH it also protects against acid rain etching and damage from chemicals and salts found on roads, particularly during wintertime. To ensure optimum performance, CS Ultra must be applied in controlled conditions, with ambient temperature and humidity within specific parameters. Whilst curing, the coating must be maintained in this controlled environment. For these reasons, CS Ultra is available only as a service through Gtechniq-approved detailers whereby the coating is guaranteed for ten years.
Whilst CS Ultra was curing, the glass was cleaned before Gtechniq G1 ClearVision Smart Glass was applied. This provides a hydrophobic barrier to rainwater and waterborne contamination, helping to keep windows clear during bad weather conditions, as well as making such conditions less tiring for the driver.
The paintwork was protected with 3M protective film and the cabriolet hood treated with Gtechniq I1 Smart Fabric Coat V2, a hydrophobic sealant that coats each fibre individually, allowing the fabric to retain its usual feel.
Smart Fabric is sprayed liberally onto the hood and, to ensure maximum performance, massaged into the fabric. Then, for extra protection I sprayed the hood again, allowing the sealant to thoroughly soak in. – Matt Back, UF Studio
The wheels were treated with panel wipe to remove any polish residue and then coated with Gtechniq C5 Wheel Armour, a durable all-weather wheel sealant. Independently proven to outlast other rim coatings, C5 uses a unique chemical bond to become the functional surface of the rims making them dirt and brake dust repellent as well as being much easier to clean. A single application lasts up to one year.
Finally, the tyres were dressed with Gtechniq T2 Tyre Dressing to provide a long-lasting satin sheen, perfectly complimenting the finished appearance. It should all be plain sailing now for this Abarth 695 Rivale, whatever the weather.