You can’t think Fiat Uno without the legendary Mk2 Turbo popping in your head. Bradley Chetty’s buy-to-sell dream is now a 259kW race-to-beat realisation!
By Joel Silva
There’s no greater sense of nostalgia than to recapture a moment from a fond memory. For me personally, the Fiat Uno Turbo gave me an opportunity to relive the experience of owning my first turbocharged car, a red one back in the late 90’s. I chose the Uno not only because it was quick, but because I also remember an old mate of mine whizzing around Secunda in one. Kobus was his name. They were incredibly fast and an inspiration to me. I mean, back then, how on earth did a little 1400 demolish most cars on the road?
The version Uno South Africa received was the Mk2, the variant first produced in 1985. Built at the Nissan factory in Rosslyn, these legendary Uno Turbos would not only introduce South Africa to the capabilities of turbocharged four-cylinders but would also elevate the brand amongst the younger crowd. Thrown into the cauldron were flared wheel arch beadings, red striping and those famous Abarth wheels sporting the famous Scorpion. Forget ride quality and poor interior, the magic lies in the 1400cc 8-valve motor develops 85kW with 161Nm, convincing many to fit larger TDO4 or T28-type turbos, 5th injectors, larger intercoolers and the like. Oh, who can forget the red turbo badge on the tailgate, and more importantly, that turbo gauge positioned right before your eyes?
Sadly though, a few are running around today. I guesstimate 90% of them are modified to the tee, and it won’t be long before they’ll also hit astronomical resale values. Over the years as the chief whip of this publication, I’ve come to understand, and at times respect the fact that too many enthusiasts choose to spend money and throw parts at their car until something good comes out of it, without doing their research and without a goal in mind. The ones who do it right, however, know where they want the car to end up. Just as Bradley Chetty did with his Uno Turbo. I caught up with him during the Abarth Club’s Challenge at Midvaal.
“Joel, you won’t believe me when I say the turbo costs more than the car!” laughs Bradley, pointing at the GTX2867 Gen 2 turbocharger that is mounted onto a Junior Welding Works manifold. The 1994 Dolphin Blue Uno Turbo was originally bought to be sold, but it somehow wormed its way into Bradley’s heart and in a matter of time was fettled, transformed and modified using a handful of tried and tested performance items. “Look, I was never an Uno fan! I was supposed to sell the damn thing but then one thing led to another, and, well here I am racing at an Uno Day!”
Under the capable tuning hands of Steven Oberholzer at JMS Motorsport, the engine produces 259kW on the wheels, at 2-bar boost using a mix of Ethanol and 95-octane fuel. The ported cylinder head is filled with bigger stainless-steel valves, a Piper high-rev kit and an Abarth camshaft which at the time cost Bradley six grand to bring in!
The essence of the build is a street and drag strip setup that can steal the eyes at events, all while being capable of racing when he decides to attack the strip. The car’s first attempt at the strip yielded a 12.9 on 1.2-bar boost at Red Star Raceway which he hopes to improve very soon. “The injectors are maxed out and we probably need to go bigger. I’m also keen to go 100% Ethanol and more boost would be great.” says Bradley, who also highlighted his intention to run stickier rubber and purchasing thicker shafts and bulletproof CVs to handle the power.
Helping to stop the little Italian are larger 300mm discs and calipers from a 2.0 Alfa 147, and the lighter Lenso wheels help to keep the weight as low as possible. The car weighs 870kg without the driver, which, according to Master Joel is still a tad heavy. Other notable additions to the drivetrain is a Quaife limited slip differential and a clutch sourced from a supercharged Toyota 4AGZE.
“I don’t think I’ll fit a 1600 just yet. I’d like to see how far I can go with this engine by adding more boost.” To get this right, Bradley uses a Spitronics Pluto engine management system which boasts a long list of tuning features.
Mounted to the centre console is a Tablet that features an App called Real Dash, which connects to the Spitronics via Bluetooth (or Wifi) to show GPS-enabled speeds and times. It even allows Bradley to clear any fault codes. And when the brains at Spitronics finish off their newly designed boost per gear feature, Bradley is gonna have a ball of a time! The rest of the carpeted interior features a set of reupholstered Subaru seats, a TNT-built roll cage, a leather Momo steering wheel and a handful of gauges.
The future remains bright for Bradley and his Uno Turbo. Although the turbocharger and management system has contributed the most to turning the stock engine into a monstrous street machine, Bradley values every part of the build down to the last nut and bolt.