1969 Fiat 850 Spider: Gone Green


This Fiat has been in the family since new and was passed around after the seller’s great grandfather died, first stored in a garage then in a barn. It’s said to be rust free because it’s always been in the San Francisco area (It looks more like it’s been in the bay). The mechanicals are completely unknown. It’s listed here on craigslist and initially they were asking an optimistic $4000, but have since lowered their price to $2500. These little spiders were certainly fun to drive and the Abarth parts made them even more fun. If this Spider is not too far gone, perhaps it could be fun again, especially if you have a tolerance for that shade of green. It might be cheaper and easier to start with an already running car, but if this one is truly rust free, it might be worth buying!


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  1. jim s

    if a PI shows that it is rust free this might be a deal.

  2. Doug M

    perhaps since Cali cars typically don’t rust, the owner doesn’t know how to recognize it…..the steering wheel spoke looks badly corroded

  3. paul

    Ha pretty funny seeing this, I owned one in the same color & the same add on glass roof for winter, 40 odd years ago. Mine had Abarth wheels,Abarth engine mods, Stebrow exhaust, short throw shift kit, free flow air filter kit, rollbar & Konis. It handled like a go-kart . I wonder if you could even find any Abarth parts for these today. I think it had about a 7 grand red line, little screamer.

  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    I can’t understand why they didn’t wash the car and vacuum out the interior. I mean, if you’re going to sell anything, isn’t it better to make the thing look as good as is possible?

    OK, I get the barnfind thing, but that should only apply to 57 Chevys and Split-windows and Shelbys and 300SLs etc…interesting or desirable cars that is….not to some tin-can Italian job that frankly can barely be considered a real automobile. This thing is an ugly version of the Renault Caravelle, with a worse rust problem. There. I’ve said it.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Rex, I agree. It probably wouldn’t look any different clean. I, and people I knew, never had any good luck with Fiats. The Renault Caravelle however, was a pretty good car, but like you say, terrible rusters. My old man had one that bent in half with the doors open. Unless you have a special tie to a Fiat like this, like Paul, they have pretty limited appeal.

  5. John

    If it doesn’t have any rust, it will. These little cars had a tendency to rust under the paint. A panel could look solid till you touched it and found that the metal below it was gone. They were amazing little cars to drive even if they did have the dreaded swing axle. You could turn up about a million RPM and feel like Mario Andretti (until you noticed that the speedo said 35 mph). But they are best remembered as great driving little cars that are now all gone. I had two Spyders and an 850 coupe. I loved the coupe to death, but it dissolved. My Dad used to say that if I dropped it in a glass of water it would fizz.

  6. MacVaugh

    These cars rusted so badly FIAT was forced to buy back most of them, decades before lemon laws.

    I have never seen a rust free example that has more than 20K miles on it.

    Beginning in 1978, however, the US government issued a recall for the 850 going back 10 years related to rust problems. By the early Seventies the entire 850 lineup was replaced by the 127 and 133 but Fiat’s reputation in the US was already falling fast. In other words, the damage had been done due to that rust issue and other reliability problems.

  7. Rex Rice

    My brother had one. The battery box rusted through, allowing the battery to fall through to the garage floor. He refused the recall, sold it to my wife who drove it for many trouble free years. After the rust repair, it turned out to be a fun car. She wishes she had it now.

  8. Tony

    Fantastic cars! Nice examples are fetching over 10K. Concours 20K +. Worth restoring and enjoying.

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