1970 Fiat 850 Spider For Just $220!

To see a sweet little Italian convertible like this 1970 Fiat 850 Spider left to rot in the elements is a pretty sad sight. However, one person’s loss could be another’s gain. It is probably beyond salvation, but with an asking price of a mere $220, this little Fiat could be a source of plenty of good parts for any person undertaking a restoration project. For this car, we’ve had two eagle-eyed Barn Finders, so a big thank you must go to both Chuck F and to 55chevy for spotting it for us. You will find the Fiat located in Cisco, Texas, and listed for sale here on Craigslist.

The owner says that the Fiat is pretty rusty, and certainly the floors do look pretty awful. When you look around the car though, there are quite a few parts that could be saved and restored without any great drama. Panels like the trunk lid and hood look good, while the windshield also appears to be in good condition. The headlight surrounds look like they could be restored, along with the rear bumper. The tail-lights look quite good, and there are plenty of badges as well.

Forget the interior, because there really isn’t a lot here to save. The steering wheel could possibly be restored, but I would think that items like the wiring and gauges would be pretty sad given their exposure to the elements. Otherwise, there’s the floor console and a few handles, and that’s about it.

It looks complete under the hood, and you never know, the condition of the engine might just surprise you. Of course, it might not either. It would be great if the engine could be revived. The standard 843cc engine as fitted to the rest of the range only produced either 34hp or 37hp, depending on configuration. In the Spider, Fiat extracted 47hp, giving the car quite peppy performance. The 4-speed manual transmission is also quite a nice thing to use, so if that could be saved, then you would be well on the way towards recouping your costs with that item alone.

I’m under no illusions here. I would be surprised if anyone took this little Fiat on as a restoration project, but life is full of surprises. I think that it will more than likely end its days as a parts car, and at the asking price, it seems like a pretty decent deal.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    These were, withoutadoubt, the worst car you could buy in the early 70’s. Us from the MGB and BMW crowd laughed, “SUCKER!!!”, we’d say. I had a friend with a 850 coupe, in the 18 months he had it, it went through 2 transmissions ( and the 3 rd was beginning to grind, the joke was they used plastic transmission gears) lights, gauges, window cranks, you name it, it broke. He traded it on a ’68 Barracuda. Today, however, I think it would be a fun car to restore, just because 99% were junked.

    Like 6
  2. JACKinNWPA JACKinNWPA Member

    It is beyond restoration and as Howard said they were mechanical junk when new (I had an X19). Maybe it’s time to reskin an old Miata?

  3. Ralph

    I was a firm “NO” until I saw those 3 K-Mart wire caps, those are worth the $220 asking price alone.

    “One more and my collection will be complete……..like Thanos…”

    It doesn’t seem as as bad as it looks, it looks like there still is a floor in the car, so thats a good sign……

    Like 2
  4. Lonnie Cavenee

    Saw a lot of these around Cal Poly San Luis Obispo back in the day along with other clapped out MGs, Spitfires, R8s, etc. Some were nice though, with dual Webers, Abarth exhaust, alloy wheels, etc.

    Like 1
  5. h5mind

    While at school I traded a semi-functional boom box and $55 in cash for one of these. A scrap of canvas served as the roof. It was complete, ran and drove, and as I recall was very, very small.

    Like 5
    • Ralph

      Think how much that boom box would be worth today…..and it would probably still work…..

      Like 4
  6. dave smeaton

    I had one in the late 70s,it wasn’t to much better.I grey primered it and had big plans,that never came about. I used to drive it around the suburban middle class streets near my parents house and it would turn fine to the left but when you tried to turn right nothing would happen for half a turn then it would start to turn,never did figure it out,still drives me crazy to this day.probably the only problem on a car I owned that I couldn’t diagnose.It was a typical Canadian Fiat ,rusted badly underneath.I always liked the look though particuly without bumpers.This one might make a cheap vintage racer if its not too rusty underneath,price is right!!

    Like 1
    • Brakeservo

      Rust. Fiats of this era rusted if you:
      1) Painted them.
      2) Exposed them to dry air.
      3) Looked at them in direct sunlight.
      4) Breathed upon them or anywhere in their vicinity.

      Other than that they were good cars if you ignored the spaghetti wiring (was it not Magnetti-Marelli that gave Lucas a good name?) the itty bitty motors that wouldn’t go up a hill or over 25,000 miles without a valve job, and the typical rear engine/swing axle handling that so many drivers couldn’t wrap their heads around so instead they wrapped their cars around phone poles etc.

      Like 1
  7. Maestro1

    I remember these cars when they were new, sold through Chrysler – Plymouth dealers I think, wonderful design, horrible quality control and VERY SLOW. But lots of fun, which leads to weather restoring one would be worth it. You’ll never see money out of it, but if you keep it, who cares?

    Like 1
    • Chinga Trailer

      Simca, not Fiat was sold by Chrysler .. .. .. and Simca is French for “Piece of $h-t”

      Like 3
    • Fiete T.

      Simca & Hillman sold through Chrysler-Plymouth dealers…but today FIAT sells Chrysler-Dodge-Jeeps. Ironically funny, but all junk

  8. Fred H

    Fiat= Fix It Again Tony .

    Like 3
    • t-BONE BOB

      why do you have to give us that tired old cliche?

  9. lc

    I had many sport cars and yet the 850’s, coupe and spider, were just a ball of fun with a great following. They never let me down and very easy to tinker with if necessary. This example is like many left that owners have just given up on yet if you have never experienced and 850 for sure I would suggest a well sorted example – you love ’em!

    Like 1
  10. Ikey Heyman

    I worked at a scrap yard where the owner bought one of these because he thought it looked like a fun car – he drove it to work the day after buying it and had me give it a quick wax job. About six months later the novelty had worn off, he said it was too slow and a piece of crap, and he went and bought an XKE. Talk about an upgrade!

    Like 3
  11. bobhess bobhess Member

    See comments on 240Z.. except I always refused to work on these. That’s not sand in the doors when you shake them.

    Like 3
  12. Gaspumpchas

    FIAT= Fix it again tonite…

    Good parts car if you are masochist enough to like one of these. Good luck to the new owner ..Like Ralph said- those 3 Kmart hubcaps are the deal maker!!

    Cheers
    GPC

  13. Derek

    That’s a decent £200-worth. A sensible price, for a change.

  14. Kenneth Carney

    Would make a great EV since it’s well past the point of doing a proper resto
    on it. With today’s electric car technology
    being what it is, my plan for it wouldn’t be
    all that far-fetched. If Mike and Edd could
    do it on Wheeler Dealers with a Maserati
    Viturbo, then someone like me could
    build this in a backyard over several years. Oh sure, it’d be as slow as it ever
    was, but you’d still have a fun little ride
    to putt around town in and not need to
    worry about stopping to fill up at your
    friendly neighborhood gas station!

    Like 2
  15. Jack Hammer

    @Fred H: Fine Integration of Art and Technology.

    Like 1
  16. Renaults Rule on Race Day

    Knew a girl in college who owned a yellow 850 like this one…she was, as they say in Texas, “As fine as frog hair”. And classy, too. Loved to watch her drive her 850 literally with her fingertips.

    Later in college I bought an X 1/9…lovely to look at, a gas to drive, but came pre-rusted from the factory. F-I-A-T is the acronym Feeble Italian Attempt at Transportation.

    As the owner of a Renault Dauphine with the powerful 845 cc water-cooled four, I can relate as my car produces a whopping 27 hp! Upside is 40 mpg. Down side is one does not go anywhere in a hurry.

  17. Bruce

    HOLY RUST BUCKET BATMAN, it lives. These are slow, and in the day cheap but it was a convertible that almost everybody could afford. For a grocery getter or around the neighborhood these are fine. On the highway not so much. They look small and in true size they are smaller than my Europa Lotus in some ways. Just as fragile if not treated properly.

    Like some Italian women sexy as hell but temperamental if not treated right or cared for all the time. I suspect that in the near future these will be becoming much more expensive just because so few survived. These are not great cars but they were never meant to be. They are basic transportation that looked good and if cared for would get you where you needed to go. They would not do so fast, but they were small, fun and cheap. STUDENT CAR and were only replaced in the Fiat line by the X1-9 which is a totally different car in so many ways.

  18. dweezilaz

    Older brother had a two year old 71. Turns out it not only had been repainted, but the sub frame holding the engine was almost rusted out.

    He wound up taking it back and the dealer swapped it with a 71 Chevy Biscayne. Chalk and cheese trade there.

    Two mid west winters had nearly destroyed it.

    I am surprised there is enough of this car left to identify after all these years.

    It’s still a beautiful design though. Makes a new Miata look like a lumpy boat in comparison.

  19. Michael Schnittker

    I had one in high school in the late 1960’s. The ones with glass covered headlights are very beautiful. They ate clutches like crazy and dripped oil. Top speed going downhill at 6500 rpm red line was 85mph, talk about high gearing! I knew nothing about cars then, didn’t even have a metric socket set. Mine had seats with no built-in headrest, bought a pair with same at a junk yard. Top went up and down effortlessly, could pull it up from the driver’s seat at a stop light, good engineering. Electrics were terrible like all Italian cars including Ferrari’s, wouldn’t start on a cold morning and that was in Atlanta! But the Bertone styling was great, had many gauges, bus tilt steering wheels like all Italian cars. I would like one to play with but the rust is huge on many Italian cars. Italy bought crappy steel from Russia to please the Italian Communist party and it would rust instantly. I’ve heard some Lancia’s arrived with rust when new rolled off the boat from Italy. They can style cars like nobody else but everything else is sub-par.

    Like 2
  20. Dave

    I owned a ton of these 850’s as well as 124’s in the 1970’s from the sedan, coupe, the hardtop racer, and the spyders. We had a Fiat dealership back then and could pick them up for cheap. Rebuilt a lot of engines and all else that broke with these puppies. Good memories.

    Like 1
  21. TinCanSailor

    I had a 72 850 Spider. It wouldn’t get out of its own way, but it sounded awesome as you revved the engine up to 8000 rpm! It will always have a fond place in my heart as it was my first convertible…

    That being said, I was in my high school parking lot one day and decided to be cool by jumping in vs opening the door. I heard a snap, and suddenly the doors were jammed and the car pulled hard to one side. We put it up on a lift and the mechanic tried to find a place to weld on some tubing to straighten/reinforce the frame, but every time the welding wire hit the frame, it just burned through.

    I gave the car to a buddy who used the engine to power a homebuilt skid steer. 30 years later, and he still uses it… so my little Fiat lives on!!

  22. Bob

    I had a girlfriend that had one of these, in the same color. I don’t remember her having any trouble with it.

    I never even sat in it.

  23. the one

    My girl friend had one of these, early 70’s. never did figure out why the car would vapor lock! To this day and 70+ cars I have owned, the only other car we had that did this was a 1971 pinto. Different girl friend, (I had lots and lots of those too, musician y’know..) This one I married! We solved it by installing an external electric fuel pump!

    Like 1
  24. chrlsful

    I’m w/ic, we liked them.
    Had 2 or 3.
    Liked the up scale 124s too (3 or 4 spyders & 1 sedan).
    Then upgraded to the Lancias (ooo, classy).

  25. Jack Hammer

    FIAT means “Fine Integration of Art and Technology”.

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