Market Finds: Buy This Fiat and Turn It into Your Weekend Racer

Buy This Fiat and Turn It into Your Weekend Racer

By Petrolicious Productions
March 26, 2014

The car: 1981 Fiat X1/9

Price: $4,000

Location: Columbus, Ohio, USA

Original Ad: Click here

At one time, Fiat was one of the more popular imports in the United States. But at some point in the 1970s Americans stopped being enamored by these passionate little Italians. The dealer network was neither vast nor terribly supportive if you needed parts. Interestingly, as Fiat exited the American market in 1982, the X1/9 sports car continued to be sold in the States by a private importer, proving that Americans continued their Italian love affair, as evidenced today by Fiat’s return.

The X1/9 debuted in 1972 as a replacement for the 850 Spider, having been inspired by Bertone’s Autobianchi Runabout show car from a few years before. With its 73-horse 1.3L SOHC four and four-speed manual from the front-wheel drive Fiat 128, the X1/9 may not have been a proper roadster like the 850 Spider but its targa top faked it quite nicely. The little Italian arrived in America in 1974, perhaps low on horsepower but delivering stellar handling. By 1979, the motor was enlarged to 1.5L and was paired with a five-speed manual, eventually receiving fuel injection by 1981. But the next year, Fiat left the US market and Bertone took over production, continuing to sell the X1/9 here through a dealer network set up by the infamous Malcolm Bricklin. Both continued to update the X1/9 through 1987, although a second company handled importation through 1989 when it was put to rest.

While a decent seller in America, the X1/9 is rather uncommon today. This 1981 X1/9 on eBay is characterized as a solid, functioning daily driver that would be a good “starter X” for someone wanting to learn about them or to drive without worrying about errant shopping carts or salty roads. The seller claims the motor, transaxle, suspension, and interior are where this car shines. However, rust can be found on front vertical shock tower areas, in the fender arches, and on the leading edges of both doors, although these are cosmetic and not structural issues. The seller states, “With a little body work, a bumperless or fiberglass fender flares treatment, and a fresh coat of paint, it will be an even more enjoyable ride,” and we tend to agree.

If you know of a great, stylish car for sale and would like us to feature it, let us know!

Petrolicious makes no claim as to the accuracy of the information contained in the car’s original listing, nor will it be held responsible for any errors in said information. If you’re interested in this car, do your homework and research it extensively before you buy.

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Bill Giltzow
Bill Giltzow
10 years ago

This car is very similar to the “silver” one I bought on eBay over 9 years ago. I still have it. I drove it 70,000 miles so far. The odo says 150k….I will have about $11,000. plus lots of my time in the car the next time I drive it. The best bang for the buck sports car ever made if you fit in the driver’s compartment. 120 mph, 40 mpg…….OK, mine isn’t stock…..I kept it in preference to a very nice Lotus Elan.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle
10 years ago

I guess the price on this Fiat isnt too bad. The Fiat X1/9 was a neat little car with its wedge like shape and mid engine configuration sure give these cars alot of attention where ever they show up. Not to mention the X/19 handling more like go kart then a normal car. Im actually digging the color of it too. Its something different then usually reds and blues.

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram
10 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Rittle

Can’t go too wrong with brown-on-brown! Has a great vibe about it, particularly with those pinstripes.

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