Junkyard Find: 1980 Fiat X1/9

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Fiat-badged cars ceased to be sold in the United States during 1982, not to return until three decades later. Still, there were four Fiat models available here during the first couple of years of the 1980s, including the mid-engined X1/9. Here's one of those cars, found in a car graveyard near Denver recently.

When an American car shopper walked into a Fiat showroom in 1980, the available models on the floor were the X1/9, the Brava (aka 131) sedan, the 124 Sport Spider convertible and the Strada (aka Ritmo) hatchback (the final year for the 128 here was 1979).

The X1/9 was developed from the 1969 Autobianchi A112 Bertone concept car, and it was cheap to produce in large part due to its use of the Fiat 128's front suspension and powertrain mounted in the back.

The original engine in this one was a 1.5-liter SOHC straight-four, rated at 67 horsepower and 75.9 foot-pounds.

California-market X1/9s for 1980 got Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, but the 49-state cars got the Weber 34 carburetor you see here.

The side-mounted scoops that feed air to the X1/9's radiator look good when installed on a 1965 Chevrolet Impala sedan.

This car still had a set of 13-inch Cromodora magnesium wheels when I found it.

The X1/9 and 124 Sport Spider remained on sale in the United States after Fiat gave up on us in 1982, thanks to the efforts of Malcolm Bricklin. The X1/9 got Bertone badges and was available here through 1989, while the 124 Sport Spider became a Pininfarina.

The X1/9 was available in the United States beginning with the 1974 model year, and it sold quite well for a time. I've documented many of these cars in their final parking spots over the years.

It cost less than a fifth the price of a Ferrari 308 GTB and thousands less than a Lancia Scorpion (aka Montecarlo), yet was still a genuine Italian mid-engined sports car

For 1980, the MSRP for a new X1/9 was $7,027, or about $28,320 in 2024 dollars. That beat the price tag on the $7,365 Triumph Spitfire, then in its final model year here.

These cars were flaky daily drivers even by lenient Malaise Era standards (though they did get decent fuel economy), but an X1/9 is a great choice as a fun project car today.

Just the car for a romantic drive across the salt flats.

So much cheaper than its mid-engined competition, and looks good on the Laguna Seca track!

1980 Fiat X1/9 in Colorado wrecking yard.

1980 Fiat X1/9 in Colorado wrecking yard.

1980 Fiat X1/9 in Colorado wrecking yard.

1980 Fiat X1/9 in Colorado wrecking yard.

1980 Fiat X1/9 in Colorado wrecking yard.

1980 Fiat X1/9 in Colorado wrecking yard.

1980 Fiat X1/9 in Colorado wrecking yard.

1980 Fiat X1/9 in Colorado wrecking yard.

1980 Fiat X1/9 in Colorado wrecking yard.

[Images: The Author]

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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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2 of 24 comments
  • Spookiness Spookiness on May 28, 2024

    In my late teens I worked with a lady who had one of these, badged Bertone, who crashed it and replaced it with a fastback roof Fiero. It's kind of funny that both cars were mid-engine RWD cars with transplanted powertrains from humble front-engine FWD cars. My h.s. best friend had a 850 Spider (1970?) he and his dad restored, and the X-1/9 was a marvel of modernity and reliability by comparison.

  • SaulTigh SaulTigh on May 28, 2024

    When I was young in the late 80's one of my friends had the "cool dad." You know the guy, first to buy a Betamax and a C-band satellite dish. Couple of stand up arcade games in the den. Bought my friend an Atari 2600 as soon as they came out. He had two of these crap heaps. One that only ran half the time and one for parts in the yard. My middle school brain though he was the most awesome dad ever, buying us pizza and letting us watch R rated movies recorded on free HBO weekend. At the time I though he was much better than my boring father.

    Now with adult hindsight, I now know he was "dad who should have taken better care of his family" and not had so many toys.

  • Redapple2 H-K Styling. May not be my cup of tea but they re trying. Gripe. This would be a deal breaker. Door cut out - seat postion - 'B' pillar. I m over 6'. So the driver's seat is towards full back position. Rental Equinox last week. 1100 miles. The seat bottom to seat back point was 8 inches behind and around the 'B' pillar. I had to be contortionist to get in and out of the car. Brutal POS. Wife's Forester? Nearly equal/flush. I ve never seen 1 car review where they complain about this.
  • Lou_BC In my town the dealers are bad for marking up products, even pickups. There were multiple "mega-projects" on the go in my region so money was flowing fast and loose both by corporations and employees. All of that is coming to an end plus we've seen a pulpmill close, one pulpmill line close and a few sawmill closures. Cash is getting tight.
  • Lou_BC Branding is very powerful and effective. I always get a kick out of hardcore Harley Davidson fans. The "Jap scrap" mentality exists even in Canada. I used to get derided for riding Japanese bikes. I confused a bunch of Harley guys once when I pointed out that in Canada, Harley is just as much as a foreign import as Yamaha. They tried to argue that a Harley made in USA was not a foreign made bike. The cognitive dissonance made me laugh.
  • Ajla It's weird how surveys come to conclusions like this when about 100% of the responses then mock the results as ridiculous.
  • Jkross22 It very much depends on the dealer. Just bought a replacement for the CX9. A local dealer gave a $500 discount on a CPO car while another one gave a few thousand dollar discount but was out of the area and we had to drive 5 hours to get. The local dealer still seems to think it's 2022 and cars appreciate when sitting on the lot. I wish them luck.