By on January 20, 2015

07 - 1978 Fiat X1_9 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe Fiat X1/9, like the Fiat 124 Sport Spider, is one of those old European cars that hasn’t held its value so well, which means you’ll see plenty of them in the sort of self-service wrecking yards that I frequent. We’ve seen this ’78, this ’78, this ’80 and this ’86 so far in this series, and now I’ve got another ’78 to show you.
05 - 1978 Fiat X1_9 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinBertone did the design on these things, and Malcolm Bricklin kept bringing Bertone-badged X1/9s in after Fiat retreated from the United States market.
01 - 1978 Fiat X1_9 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe running gear was Fiat 128 stuff, swapped from the front of the 128 to just behind the driver in the X1/9. Power wasn’t much, but the car was quite agile.
02 - 1978 Fiat X1_9 Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThis one will go to The Crusher with the steering wheel lock still in place.


The incomparable, dynamic Fiat X1/9!

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

42 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1978 Fiat X1/9...”


  • avatar

    I guess people used to bother with steering wheel locks (THE CLUBtm) because they offered a visual theft deterrent like today’s blinky, red LEDs do, even if you don’t have Ford’s PATSkey system or the hilariously fail-prone GM resistor-chip in key shaft version.

    But all you had to do was cut the steering wheel in one place with a hacksaw or bolt-cutters to remove The Club, and whatever other alternatives were out there. I guess it would be helpful to have one in one of the areas you have to leave your car unlocked to keep your windows from being smashed by people looking for loose change and laptops.

    Actually, I can think of one segment of the population that could use these today: Owners of the GMT-8000 or whatever previous platform SUV the YukonTahBurbAlade rode on, because of GM cheaping out on an internally-locking steering wheel, this meant thieves could break into the vehicle, knock it out of park and push it (by hand or with another SUV/truck) to a quiet place to strip the vehicle without being caught. That’s why those were on some of the most stolen lists for however many years, and one of the most recovered vehicles with high repair parts costs and insurance. I read about that here on TTAC though I’m too lazy at the moment to look up the post.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Most cars nowadays don’t have steering column locking mechanisms, not just those GM SUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        What do they have now? My 09 does, can’t turn the wheel more than a couple inches and it locks tight until you put it the ignition in ON mode.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Most now rely on passive electronic theft deterrant systems. Since a large amount of cars don’t even have lock cylinders on the column anymore, most automakers have foregone adding a solenoid or other mechanisms to lock/unlock the column.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Sure the Club was easy to defeat, but the point *was* that it was a deterrent, not a preventative device. A thief would have to be equipped with a hacksaw to defeat it *and* be determined to steal your car by hacking through the steering wheel as opposed to someone else’s car without the deterrent.

      Most of life’s obstacles deter action rather than prevent action, deterrents are effective because people seek paths of least resistance, like many other natural phenomena.

    • 0 avatar
      hudson

      In Europe I saw a device which locked a manual car in a certain gear. I’m assuming something like reverse.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        I’m working on a similar style of lock for my Haflinger, which I tend to use with the summer doors year-round. It will be a long shaft which locks to the forward differential engagement pull and holds the shift lever in 1st gear, which has a top speed governed to 1.5 mph.

        A system which should be much more effective than a steering wheel bar was a set of adjustable locking shafts pushing up on a locking bar encompassing the throttle, brake and clutch pedals.

        • 0 avatar
          hudson

          Maybe I’m naive.. but I don’t think any of my classics are all that desirable to a thief. I could see a haflinger being a desirable joy ride vehicle though.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Can’t a group of guys just carry your Haflinger away? Doesn’t it only weight like 1200 lbs? I suppose car thieves aren’t going to carry cars around anyway.

          Also, more information about your awesome Austrian automobile, please.

          • 0 avatar
            Felis Concolor

            It’s easy enough to perform that stunt as long as there aren’t any retaining walls in the way, which makes it safe once it’s on my grounds, but I’m not too worried about that sort of activity going unnoticed in public. It’s more a case of crippling any ability for a quick departure, as the ignition cylinder is of the dashboard mounted variety and far too easy to bypass.

            The model is a 703AP with the polyshell/fiberglass cab, so you can properly weather seal it for comfort in cold climates; a long wheelbase, giving it an additional 12″ of bed length for transporting larger objects (550kg capacity makes it one of the smallest half ton trucks in existence.); and for the trifecta of desirable factory options, a PTO for use with whatever you fancy. I haven’t picked one up yet, but I’m going to fit the output flange with a high volume pump, just in case I need to help evacuate a friend’s basement dwelling again.

            The next big modification to be made to the polyshell cab will be the recontouring of the back side of the headlight buckets to fit a pair of JW Speaker’s nifty 8630 LED units. I’m not only interested in the brighter light provided over the old filament lamps, but the overall rated power consumption is significantly lower than the original which is important when you’re tooling around with less than 30 horsepower; every erg saved helps!

      • 0 avatar
        TonyR

        Saab had this feature. Needed to have car in reverse gear to remove key. It was important to remind anyone driving the car of this fact. Ask me how I know!!!

      • 0 avatar
        andrewallen

        We have them in South Africa Google “gear locks” though too big to be cut except with king kong bolt cutters they may be defeated by 12volt mini angle grinders/dremels.

    • 0 avatar

      The idea behind the club was that while it could be defeated, it would take enough work to do so that a thief is probably just going to look for a similar car without one. Thieves tend to be kind of lazy like that, plus they would probably prefer not to stand around sawing a steering wheel lock and get caught.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Clutch comment, Bro. This wasn’t redundant at all…

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        You could saw through the steering wheel, bend it (if it was flimsy and you were a big muscle man kind of guy), or allegedly you could treat the club itself to a can of freon (refrigerant to make it temporarily very cold and brittle) and whack it with a hammer.

        Twenty years ago, these were the things of internet legend on rec.autos.tech (Does anyone remember UseNet?).

  • avatar
    ltcmgm78

    We bought one just like this used from a Toyota dealer in Lawton, OK. It always had a serious case of the leaks. Transaxle used 10w-40 just like the engine. Had a seal cut loose out on the turnpike one night and limped it home. Oil pan gasket had a major fail too the day after we brought it home from the dealer. I made the dealer pay for half the repair after he insulted my wife when she took it in. When it wasn’t leaking, it was fun to drive, particularly with the top removed. Very nimble car, but not much acceleration. Traded it for a 1977 Corvette.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The Alfa Romeo 4C ghost of Christmas future.

    As a small mid-engine car fan I am always tempted to buy one of these when I see a clean one. Very inexpensive but a strong Bertone design and targa roof. But I know keeping one running will not be inexpensive.

    I wonder how well a 1.4-liter MultiAir fits.

    • 0 avatar
      hudson

      I’m a pretty strong believer that just about any car can be fixed. I have a perfectly reliable 68 Fiat 850 Sport Coupe (after I sorted it out). What I’d like to do on one or more of my classics is to fit DCOE Throttle Bodies and pick your fuel injection computer. Get rid of the points (lots of ways to do that) and make sure the thing is in proper condition and you should have a perfectly reliable vehicle. And lets be serious, just how much driving are you going to do in a 2 seater?

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      For years, I thought an excellent swap candidate for the X1/9 would be Chrysler’s outstanding 2.2 engine and transmission unit – then 2 years ago, someone else with the same idea and a lot more motivation ended up creating it.

      http://hooniverse.com/2013/05/28/reader-submission-shelby-powered-fiat-x19/

      http://www.superiorracing.com/Gallery.html

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’m kind of amazed any of these still exist.

  • avatar
    hawox

    no rust? fiat should buy and preserve it in some museum

  • avatar
    racebeer

    I had a ’74 version of this, and it was much more attractive with the little nerf bar bumpers instead of the battering rams they tacked on when the 5mph bumpers became mandatory. Fun little car that handled great but had absolutely no horsepower (kinda like the FR86……). Abarth had numerous add-ons to alleviate the hp deficit, but that created other structural problems at the rear. In photo one of the engine compartment you can see that the structure connecting between both rear strut towers is one piece, and that the top motor torque mount (seen on the right) connects to it. Unfortunately, on the ’74 model this was actually a three piece assembly, with the metal support between the struts that has the top motor mount is tack welded in. Once you upped the horsepower a bit, which I definitely did, the top motor mount would push so hard on the crossmember that the tack welds to the strut towers would break loose. Of course that meant that the engine would rotate at obscene angles creating all kinds of problems. After welding this thing back together way too many times, I sold it to the dealer as a trade-in for an Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT. When that little X1/9 was right, I could scare the living crap out of my passenger with massive throttle-off oversteer on entrance and exit ramps ….. FUN!!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Though I often harp on how thoroughly Ford’s Sierra and Taurus killed off the origami school of folded steel style, I’ve always missed the look of those crisp creases and razor-like edges from the 70s and 80s; the federally mandated picnic table bumpers were the worst thing to happen to automobile styling during that era, and the X1/9 was the most seriously affected.

      • 0 avatar
        racebeer

        Agreed …. those tacked-on battering rams did the original design no favors.

      • 0 avatar
        PunksloveTrumpys

        Absolutely right there, the “Jellymoulds” unfortunately influenced everything so much that almost every car from ’92-’04 looked like a melted bar of soap. The “wedge” designs of the 70s, from the Lotus Eclat to the Rover SD1 looked both fantastic and futuristic.

        Must admit I’m hardly a fan of the “stretched-to-suggest-warp-speed-then-plastered-with-confusing-jumbles-of-creases-lines-and-random-geometric-shapes” styling of current cars, either.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I had a 74 128SL, and it’s funny that the VIN tag for this car still says “128”.

    This car was to a 128 driver what a Tesla is to a Leaf driver today.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    Right around 1990 I had a friend from school whose dad had one of these that mostly ran, and then two nearly identical parts cars in his yard that did not. I thought it was a super cool at the time, being on the cusp of getting my license. He also had a C-band satellite dish and thousands and thousands of Betamax tapes, including a complete collection of Star Trek: The Original Series. Again, I thought that was super cool.

    Looking back, I wonder what he could have done with the money if he drove say a slightly used Taurus or Pontiac 6000, just used a VHS for the occasional time shifting, and invested the rest. Probably be able to afford a crazy huge TV, Blu Rays and something very new and sporty in the car department.

  • avatar
    profk24

    Is there anything that embodies malaise better than a “Slow Down” light?

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    My dad had one of these for all of six months back in the early 80’s.

    The gentleman he purchased it from said the slush box will last about 6 months, at best.

    So, Pops bought it. Super cheap. Sure enough, the seller was smack dab, right on the money. Tranny went kaput about 6 months into it. He never said anything else about the car.

    By the way, how in the hell does one go about pronouncing the name of this car? Is it pronounced “Ex one ninth”? “Ex one nine”? Perhaps “Ex one over nine”?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Poor lil’ thing .

    they’re not expen$ive to keep running , you just have to like to tinker with it .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    oldyak

    I remember my best friend having the first one in town!
    We took it to Mid-Ohio for a race and there were crowds around it!!
    He fitted it with tri-tone Fiam air horns and The sound of the horns and the feel of the car were a very memorable experience!!
    Now THATS ILALIAN

  • avatar
    threeer

    My best buddy (a certified Mk1 MR2 nut) and I have always bantered around the idea of taking a straight X 1/9 and dropping a reliable Mr2 power plant into one (him doing most of the work, me financing…lol). I somehow just find the styling on the little Fiat to be “right” and would not mind seeing one in my garage for the proverbial weekend back road jaunt…

  • avatar
    red60r

    Years ago, I saw one of those Fiats in Denver perched high atop a jacked-up 4×4 chassis. Beyond weird!

  • avatar
    wrongwayray

    I’ve owned one of these. it was the most fun car to drive on a winding road. It was small, light, neutral handling. it would break down and I’d think to myself it was time to sell it. then I’d fix it and take it out for a test run up the coast highway and fall in love again. I’d like to get another pre-smog X1/9, do nice restoration, hotrod the engine and have some fun. I miss that car.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • jacob_coulter: Less taxes are not the same thing as a handout.
  • sgeffe: Next time, he’ll buy the damned TruCoat! “You’re darn tootin’, I gotta deal for ya!”
  • Hummer: Sporty, True about focus and fusion already built elsewhere. Though an executive car like a new Crown Vic...
  • bumpy ii: The Frontenac had maple leafs on the hubcaps.
  • NoID: [TRIGGERED] I can’t say that any of that money is specifically slated for veterans, but in 2018 FCA...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States