Junkyard Find: 1986 Bertone X1/9
Now here’s a car that represents a weird little corner of automotive history— one of Malcolm Bricklin’s many moneymaking schemes. A few years before Bricklin started importing Yugos, but after he started importing Subaru 360s, he took a shot at bringing Fiats into the United States after Fiat fled the market in 1982.
So, for the 1983 through 1987 model years, you could buy X1/9s with Bertone badging ( Bertone, after all, designed the X1/9 for Fiat in the first place). At the same time, 124 Sport Spider s were sold in the United States as Pininfarinas.
Few bought these things, of course, Fiat having established a vivid reputation for unreliability in the minds of American car buyers by that point. But look— this one racked up as many miles as most Hondas and Toyotas of the era!
This car is pretty well used up, though the interior isn’t too bad.
I found this car in California, where this sort of body rust indicates that the car spent time parking within a couple of blocks of the ocean.
Look, it’s Luccio Bertone’s signature on the dash!
Power windows on an X1/9. No comment.
In spite of being miserably underpowered, the X1/9 was actually a lot of fun to drive. Even though it was hard-pressed to beat an Iron Duke-powered Chevy Citation in a drag race, the X1/9 felt quick.
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The green Fiat X1/9 in this pic was one of the earliest toy cars I remember owning: http://www.planetdiecast.com/hwdphotos/uploads/110/4978/b23b6i7a22mhhc.jpg Though it actually looked more like this by the time I was done with it: http://i173.photobucket.com/albums/w69/17703/Playart/1979FiatX1-9-greenv1-Playart.jpg It competed in a lot of races, both masking-tape-on-carpet track and Hot Wheels drag strip.
I've got one nice X1/9... (1980...) and 2 spares that will make another running car later... It's not fast... but they are cool in a dinky car way you just can't get today. I also had a dad who fell for the Citation 'Car of the Year' scam when that beast hit the US... we had a Iron Duke 4 banger... with the miserable 4speed stick! When flogged, that manual tranny Citation would actually run pretty good! It frustrated more than a few old V8 Musclecars at stop lights, especially if they peeled out. My grandfather bought one too, always respectful of my dads car savy... his Iron Duke/Automatic combo was simple miserable... I understand the slam. (Citation brakes were freaking hilarious... everyone in the family spun that car a time or two! It was like they had a hidden 'stunt mode' circuit that randomly activated!)