The Barchetta was developed between 1990 and 1994 under the project name Tipo B Spider 176. It was designed by Andreas Zapatinas, Alessandro Cavazza under the supervision of Peter Barrett Davis and other car designers at the Fiat Centro Stile, and prototyping was carried out by Stola.
Production began in February 1995. The Barchetta was based on the chassis of the Mark 1 Fiat Punto. Its 131PS / 96kW engine is the 1.8L petrol engine, with twin-cam and variable camshaft timing, which is notorious for its diesel-like clattering noise when failing. The Barchetta weighs 1056kg (2328lb) without air conditioning and can accelerate to 100km/h in 8.9 seconds.
The Barchetta was revised in 2003 for its relaunch the following year, with a myriad of small alterations inside and out. One of the most notable changes was the addition of a third brake light. Production of the car finally stopped in June 2005.
Car bodies were welded at ILCAS in Sparone Canavese, and final assembly was done in Chivasso by the coachbuilder Maggiora. After Maggiora's bankruptcy in 2002, Fiat relocated production of the Barchetta to its Mirafiori plant and resumed production two years later. Production of the Barchetta was limited to left hand drive cars only, even though the car was marketed and sold in two right hand drive markets, the United Kingdom and Japan.