First Year X: 1974 Fiat X1/9

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

Some cars are really hard to let go of. Whether they are rare, or they hold some other sentimental reason for making it difficult. The seller of this first year X1/9 is looking to let his prized Italian leave as he has been plagued with illness, and this X hasn’t stretched its legs much in the past few years. First year cars have the desirable “Euro” style bumpers that really make the car look excellent. Extremely solid, and in a very desirable color, this early Italian has a lot going for it. With prices fluctuating all over the place the past few years, this ’74 model is priced at a moderate $6,500. Take a look at it here on craigslist out of Henderson, Nevada.

The simple 1300 cc engine is mated to a 4 speed transmission. While the power isn’t as strong as you may desire, the driving characteristics are great, and the 1300 is a fun and willing little engine to have some fun with on winding roads. Although we are looking at a close up of the engine, it is easy to see how clean the bay is. The seller mentions that a polished valve cover has been installed along with a few chrome items. The factory overflow jug is in nice condition with no apparent cracking or dry rot. An aftermarket stainless unit it now available to prevent over heating issues from a failing overflow jug. These engines can be hopped up, and they respond well to a cam and carburation. With this being a ’74 car in a desirable color, I personally appreciate that the car is mostly original in appearance, and performance.

Simple and clean, the interior of this X is in very nice shape but there are a few typical issues that plague these cars. Anyone will be hard pressed to find an early style dashboard that isn’t cracked. Fortunately there are only two cracks to speak of on this dash according to the seller. Looking absolutely inviting, the seats have been recovered fabulously, and appear incredibly comfortable. A modern CD player has been installed, but aside from that this Fiat is like a time capsule inside.

Small in stature, the X1/9 offers great looks and styling by Bertone, and offered one of the earliest mid-ship configurations. The “X” chassis is actually a stiff and worthwhile unit, but like any classic Italian can be susceptible to rust. The “frunk” floor, rockers, quarters, and engine bay corners can all be problem areas on these cars. The most common areas of concern will often be around the windshield and in the trunk floor. The windshield frame on this car has some rust developing around the lower corners of the windshield, which can often lead to the end of a cool car. The rust looks early enough to possibly be neutralized, leaving the car to be garaged and enjoyed as is for years to come. Lacking some quality, the imagines are a bit deceptive as the paint almost appears to be a few different shades. The mini-lite style wheels look the part, and really dress the car up nicely over the stock steels wheels. With a few minor rust concerns, this is a nice example of a first year car that will still put a grin on your face with only double digit horsepower. With loads of character, fun, and desirable features, would you jump on this moderately priced Italian classic?

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Comments

  1. jimbunte jimbunte Member

    “If you do not like this post and you scrapped the ad, Many Blessings and please seek professional help.”

    um, wut?

    2+
    • dan

      that is craigs list speak for,, you flagged my add and I don’t like that,lol

      2+
  2. Chebby

    1974 means good to go in California!

    1+
  3. Robbie R.

    2nd car this week that I had same exact year back in the day. I had this one in ’79 for only a few months. I’ve had at least 20 diff cars as daily drivers in my time. Without question, this one was dead last. Looks are deceiving.

    3+
  4. ccrvtt

    Gotta love those rims.

    0
  5. BradL

    “There is some surface rust spots….but no cancer anywhere!

    That’s definitely not “surface rust” below the windshield, and it’ll be hell to repair correctly without lots of disassembly.

    1+
  6. TechnoHippie

    IF the rust isn’t too bad this could be a neat car. I’ve had a bunch of X1/9’s – but all were the newer 1.5 liter engine 5 speed ones. These older ones had 1.3 liter 4 speeds in them and were quite a bit slower. Buuuut these older ones are the best ones to do a Honda K20 engine swap. Put a nice 250hp reliable Honda power plant in this thing and you got yourself a giant killer that will leave most every other car on the road in the dust.

    0
  7. Howard A Member

    We used to laugh,,where’s the other 8/9th’s of it? IDK, I think the wedge concept was ok ( TR7 went too far) but horror stories of Fiat’s mechanicals would keep me away. Fiero was 10 times the car. Just that it’s here at all, probably justifies the price. It is pretty clean.

    1+
  8. jwinters

    Fix It Again, Tony!

    6+
    • Steve Eldredge

      There’s always at least one…

      2+
  9. Tom Hall

    Always had a moderate interest in these UNTIL I read above that the “Fiero was 10 times the car”.
    Fiero’s were/are kinda neat but if the X 1/9 is 1/10 of a Fiero, I don’t know…..you’re looking at some small numbers

    1+
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Tom, I’ll have to take your word on that. Never had a Fiero ( came real close until I checked the coolant tank. Was full of oil) Never owned a Fiat either, it was one of the cars my old man wouldn’t let in his driveway. I knew so many people that had poor luck with Fiats. I bet this is a blast to drive,,,while it does, that is.

      0
    • Doc

      The only people who would say that are those who have never driven an X1/9.

      The “icsunonove” is a true pleasure to drive, and is both easy to maintain and reliable provided you take care of issues as they arise. I’ve had mine for almost 20 years, and the only non-maintenance item I’ve ever had to deal with was when the AFM failed.

      The Fiero? A blank, bulky, poor handling, generic offering from GM that happens to have 2 seats instead of the usual 4.

      4+
      • Keith

        A mid-engine car from The General is hardly generic. Handling was great (Lotus) by the 1988 models.

        0
    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greeting All,

      I’ve owned several of both plus a few Lancaster.

      The Fiat was not as bad as most would make it. It suffered “Lotus Syndrome”.
      The chassis/unibody would suffer from tin worm but that was manageable.

      The biggest issue seem to be that Fiat engineers designed engine and chassis with a modicum of quality, but then everything else, electrics and switches, interior upholstery, carpets, etc seemed to be made as cheap as possible like funding dried up. Window mechanisms were like second grade science projects out of breakable plastics.

      Yes, the smaller engine was a pain, but the 4 speed was worse.

      Mine, used to sound the horn because the harness grounded on the column until I chased that one.

      The Fiero’s, owned all variants, except the turbo. GM did many things right as the scoured the parts bin for cars they made rather than make special. This usually led to something being a little too big rather than failing because it was too weak. The four cylinder, went faster than the Fiat, about as quick. The six handled better and went faster, no issue there.

      Still have one with a Grand National engine, it’s in a last year Lotus designed suspension car, with a 5-speed and a Kevlar clutch.

      GM never crunched the sales numbers on a two seater car. Production ceased a year after the demand did.

      Fiats have always been about being “one with the car”. You plan your shifts and flinging that car around was almost as fun as my 900S Spider. It had 50cc more of asphalt shredding horsepower than the 850!. Looking back, I’m amazed I didn’t die in that car, there was little to it and as rust reclaimed the steel, it was even lighter in the front.

      1+
      • Keith

        There was no turbo Fiero, unless you are talking about engine swapped Fieros?
        The 1988 Fiero Formulas were the best of the bunch, followed by the 86-88 GTs, and the 86-88 SE models. I’ve owned one of each and liked all of them quite a bit.
        Yours Fiero with a GN engine must be awesome, kudos on that! We had one with the Northstar 4.9 transplant….definitely livened the car up a bit!

        0
  10. MRE2ME

    Talked to the owner of one of these when they were new. I told him about the one which was sold from under me during my test drive. He said were are so lucky.

    1+
  11. Pete

    FIAT = Fix It Again Tony 😉

    1+
    • Mark-A

      Can also be “Fecked It Again Trevor!” lol Friend had a 1.5ltr one & it wasn’t really quick but handled well in the bends

      0
  12. Bill

    Had a mid ’70’s Fiat, and it was awesome. very few issues in spite of the wags all “ha ha fix it again Tony” It was a great car, perhaps because I maintained it and looked after it. Co-incidentally, There is a ’75 X-19 for sale here I am trying to get a look at… I’m even more interested, and grateful for the info on key rust spots. (yeah My old 128 was rusty too, I think they rusted in the showroom, but well worth fixing I think.

    0
  13. Pete

    Hi
    My buddy had a 1975 Fiat X/19. Metallic Root beer brown with tan interior. We were always fixing things on that car. This was the early 80’s. It had already started rusting on the bottom fender and bottom of doors. (Even though it was Ziebarted) It had brake issues and constantly leaked oil. My buddy only owned it for a year and sold it st a loss to get rid of it. Yes I spent some cold winter days underneath that car and was wondering where the f😆ck Tony was at?

    0
  14. TechnoHippie

    I’ve owned 14 X1/9’s over the years – and they will run circles around the 4 cylinder Fiero’s. And the MR’2 are better than both. However – the x1/9’s are much more fun to drive.

    1+
    • Robbie R.

      You must be TONY!!!

      1+
      • Pete

        Well if an TONY. I should have made a killing off of fixing FIAT cars. Robbie pass the pizza pie well ya Hey!

        1+
      • Robbie R.

        You got it Pete!

        0
    • Keith

      Not even us Fiero owners care about the 4cyl Fieros

      1+
  15. spoodeodee

    Potential death trap on wet or icy roads. They tend to float and drift with little warning.

    10+
    • Doc

      While mine is a summer-only car so I’ve never driven it on icy roads, it’s more than competent on wet roads. It completely lacks the want to spin that so many mid and rear engined cars have. It’s an absolute delight to drive.

      0
      • spodeeodee

        Tires today are not the same as they were in the seventies. Handling of the car then with the factory suspension was an accident waiting to happen. I wouldn’t trust the car now regardless of what has been done to it.

        8+
      • Doc

        For some reason there’s no reply next to spodeeodee’s follow up comment, but I’ll suffice it to say that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

        Handling was an accident waiting to happen? The X1/9 has EXCELLENT and very predictable handling characteristics– they are highly coveted by autocross racers.

        3+
      • spodeeodee

        Doc, I stand by my comments, but not by your personal attack.

        3+
  16. Shaun Dymond

    Typically Italian. Beautiful to behold, but a nightmare to own. Oh, how I wish Fiats were better built. This car is unbelievably rare here in the U.K. I haven’t seen one for several years.

    0
  17. Vincent

    I just commented on the Yugo write up, now I have to speak up on the X1/9. Mid engine pocket rocket… so low that you could do 60 on an expressway cloverleaf ramps. So low you could drive under trucks. Mine was bright orange with the top almost never installed. Good times. Throw in an Alpine for tunes and a sunny day, and you are close to heaven! 🙂

    2+
  18. DonC

    I owned a 1982 Fiat Spider 2000 from 1985 to last year. Yeah….that’s 31 years. Fix It Again Tony applies to the old 124 models, in my opinion. I had nothing but fun, routine maintenance, over 100,000 miles, and ate a lot of Miatas on the track. Always thought the X19 was a cool car.

    2+
  19. John

    Always liked these, never could put money in one, I had its predecessor, the 850. It left over 40 years ago. Somewhere, in the credit card bills I pay every month, I’m sure I’m still paying for Fiat repair parts. I wish I had an Italian credit card, maybe it too would rust into oblivion. But the X1/9 was sure a miniature Lambo to look at.

    1+
  20. Mark

    Bought new, my 1974

    3+
  21. KEN TILLY

    F.I.A.T. — First In All Troubles.

    1+
  22. Alan Simpson

    The boot release behind the drivers door is exactly the same component as in a 1974 Ferrari 308 gt4 …. theres a bit of useless information for you all !

    1+
    • Ross W. Lovell

      Alan, that’s not a boot release. It’s for the gas cap.

      Spent about ten minutes at a pump with an empty tank before I found it the first time.

      Eventually after much studying……..I found it easily most times after that.

      2+
      • Doc

        No, it’s not. There are two levers on that fixture in the drivers door jamb. One opens the engine compartment, the other opens the rear trunk.

        0
    • Doc

      And the door handles are the same as the Lamborghini Jalpa.

      0
      • Ross W. Lovell

        You’re right,

        0
    • KEN TILLY

      And I would suggest that it is most likely the same as the Alfa Spider boot release.

      0
  23. DonC

    Well Ken….if we want, we can start an inventory of the car sayings!

    FORD = Found On Road Dead
    “On a quiet night, you can hear the Chevy’s rusting”
    GM = Gastrointestinal Movement

    rock on!

    1+
    • Keith

      FORD = Fix Or Repair Daily
      JEEP = Just Empty Every Pocket
      JAGUAR = Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!?!?!

      2+
    • KEN TILLY

      Sure Don C.

      FORD= Found On Rubish Dumps
      A C = Always Crap

      1+
  24. John

    Well, somebody liked it — its gone. I have to admit it was growing on me. There’s not much else that looks like that available for $6500. Somebody got a nice toy car to play with.

    1+

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