BF Exclusive: 1968 Fiat 850 Spider

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Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

From Brian M. – I bought this car on a whim, as it reminded me of my first car, a 1972 model. Blame it on nostalgia but I’ve only driven it a few times and simply have too many projects on my plate. It has some needs both cosmetically and mechanically but could represent a good winter project for someone who understands these cars. The 33,250 miles on the clock are said to be original and I’m asking $2,700. 

First, let’s get to the rust issues: Apparently the driver’s side floor developed rust and at some point was repaired poorly with fiberglass. The X frame looks to be in pretty good shape, but the driver’s side outside rail however is the problem area. Also, it looks like someone tried to jack it up at one point and pushed in the rusty bits. The good news is that all the suspension points appear solid and there is no rust in the battery box. The wheel wells also appear solid.

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The car was clearly repainted at one point in time and not well. The chrome is pitted and the newer convertible top already has holes near driver’s roof and a repair in the back. It doesn’t fit “quite” right and is leaky if driving in the rain. The cable on one side of the frame is broken. Hubcaps are all present but it is missing the radio aerial. The front bumper has the up/down bumperettes removed and the rear right bumper is dented.

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Inside, the original low back seats were repaired but not to factory specs. The dash is cracked and the passenger side was cut for a cheap tape deck, as were the door cards for aftermarket speakers. The original gauges all seem to work accurately and the original rubber floor mat seems to be mostly present but ratty. I added a voltmeter for monitoring any irregular power consumption. 

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Mechanically, the “pans” that go under the engine are present. That’s rarely the case, and when missing these things tend to overheat. I just changed the plugs, due to really hard starting. Still hard to start but better – the carburetor needs to be cleaned/rebuilt and it needs points/cap/rotor/wires too, I’m sure. The car runs and drives fine once all warmed up and I also just replaced the mechanical fuel pump with a temporarily mounted electric unit. The accelerator cable is sticky and the front suspension is wet below the steering box. Brakes work well and I haven’t investigated further.

It looks to me like someone with welding skills and who isn’t turned off by the “quirks” of Italian cars would be able to return this to driver-quality condition. It supposedly was used sparingly as a sunny day driver in Connecticut for many years before being left outside, which is when the rust issues likely appeared. This Fiat 850 is located in Rhode Island and you can contact Brian by email here. If any of you have a project car at home that you are thinking about selling, please give us a chance to help you find its next owner!

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Comments

  1. L.J.

    I drove an 850 Spider for a couple weeks in 1974. It was a fun little car. It was a trade in at our dealership, so it was probably traded for a reason. When I stopped at another shop to talk to a mechanic about rebuilding a 340 I had acquired, he looked the Fiat over and declared it a nice car, save for the fact the engine was falling out. After gingerly driving it back to our lot, I switched it out for something else to drive.

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  2. Jeff Lavery Jeff Staff

    Thankfully, the engine is not falling out of this one! 😉 -Jeff

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  3. Rex Rice

    My wife drove her 850 for years with little trouble & a lot of fun. The engine is super strong and could run at the red line in 4th all day. She wishes that she still owned it.

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  4. Howard A Member

    You know, the 850 wasn’t really a bad car. Kind of the MG Midget or Spitfire in British terms. Fiat must have had quality control issues, as some folks had great luck with these, and others had just the worst luck. ( I guess that could be said for any car) I’m in the latter group. Every Fiat I came in contact with was a total POS. Quite frankly, according to the honest owners description of this particular car, I’d run screaming into the night to get away from it. The 850 did, however, provide wind in the hair( if any) motoring for not a lot of cash, just not all the time.

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