Cheap Mid-Engines: $650 Fiero VS $700 X19

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If you’re hankering to have an engine behind your ears, we’ve dug up some cheap options: a 1986 Pontiac Fiero here on eBay for $650, and a 1985 Fiat X1-9 also here on eBay with one bid at $700 and no reserve. While neither car is particularly desirable, their low prices make them appealing as potentially cheap projects that will certainly be appreciated once the warm weather returns. 

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While the Fiero is not running at the moment, the seller thinks it’s just in need of a tune-up. Still, it’s hard to ignore that a second engine is included in the sale, potentially hinting at the lifespan of the motor that’s currently installed. The car looks sharp on mesh Formula basketweave wheels and the manual transmission is a plus. For a complete car and a spare engine, $650 seems like a risk worth taking.

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The Fiat X19 isn’t a hard car to find on eBay, but I still don’t see them on the roads too often. One buzzed by me this summer on Rt. 95, lowered on some period-correct gold-painted alloys and it looked pretty sharp. This one comes with a recent timing belt and tensioner, as well as new spark plugs and cap and rotor. The body isn’t perfect, but if bidding stays under $1,000, who cares?

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The body of this X19 does have some cosmetic repair needs, but it doesn’t appear to be rusty. The bumpers come with the car, but it will be up to the next owner to re-attach them. Both cars look like decent projects for the money, with good support networks for replacement parts. While the Fiero is firm at $650, it will be interesting to see how cheaply the Fiat sells for. Which one of these affordable mid-engined projects would you choose?

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Comments

  1. Rob

    Always thought one of the high output (190hp) Olds Quad 4’s would make the Fiero a much better car. Dropping one in couldn’t be that big a problem.

  2. RockabillyJay

    I always liked those Fiats..even though they look like a wedge of cheese..or doorstop

  3. boxdin

    I like them both. I’m a 88 Fiero Nut for years and there is something special about mid engine.

  4. Steve

    What are even rarer are the mid 80s Bertone badged X1/9’s imported by Bricklin after Fiat pulled out of the US market.

  5. Mark E

    The Fiero would be a much easier fix though I’d ditch BOTH engines and swap in a 3800 GM V-6!

    • Alan (Michigan)

      SSEi Supercharged…..

  6. jsilves1@tampabay.rr.com

    Yep.. I like the Fiero.. Like Mark said, a peppy 3800 would turn this one into a monster with loads of fun..

  7. jim s

    i think there are more in parts then the current asking price/bid. i would go with the Fiero for a daily driver after some work. both would be good for autocrossing. both would be fun cars on the cheap. nice finds.

    • Alan (Michigan)

      The Fiero of this vintage = frustrating to autocross. Understeer all day long, and halfway into the evening too. What it takes to dial that out makes one unstreetable.
      Unless…. a front suspension from the last year of production could be found and swapped in. Now you’re talking!
      Oh… they do salt the roads in Illinois, yes? That plastic body looks good, but underneath?

      • jim s

        i just remember fieros from autocrossing where they competed with miatas, including my miata, 914s and some other cars.

  8. MountainMan

    I would take either for under a grand. I never thought much of the Fiero but lately they have grown on me. Interesting engine swap possibilities. Always liked the X/19, wonder if they will stay so cheap for much longer

  9. Wayne Thomas

    Fiero + Northstar V8 = FUN

  10. Kevin Harper

    Fiat, and drop in a fiat abarth 500 engine. This gives the oomph the car has always needed to go with the already superb handling.
    The 1.4 can be tuned to well north of 200 hp and the X19 is several hundred pounds lighter than the 500.

  11. Jay

    My friend had an X-19 when we were in college during the early eightys. Even though it did not have much power, it was still fun to drive… and the girls liked it. His older sister had a Fiero.

  12. AlphaRoaming

    The Fiat is not desirable? Hmm…your credibility just took a small hit. Wonderfully low center of gravity for tracks and backroads. (The usual Fiat repair and maintenance, plus a tight engine area should not scare an enthusiast, but I would buy a better example.)

  13. John

    If memory serves, the Fiero had quite a high transmission tunnel and shifter relative to the seat. I did like the later v6 version from a looks perspective. The engine was still crap.

    • boxdin

      The trans tunnel holds the fuel tank. Right in the middle of the car for weight distribution and safety.

  14. Mark-A

    Remember that the European way to get a Quick or Scary X1/9 was to find a Kid that had wrecked their Fiat Uno Turbo & the engine was basically a drop in with 118bhp it could seriously surprise folk as there’s no weight in them, so as a European I’ll take the Fiat! 😉 Just looked up Wikipedia & twe must remember that these only weighed between 1940lbs 880KG & 2121lbs 962KG so just think what 120hp of Mid 80s Turbo power would be like?

  15. VictorAnderson

    It would depend on what you want to do with it. If you want to keep the stock engine and drive it around and have fun – the X1/9 is going to be a LOT more fun to drive. I’ve had 14 of these things and I know the cars pretty well. On paper it will look like the Fiero will perform better – but I can assure you that on a twisty road the Fiero can’t keep up with the X1/9’s. You’d think they would be faster – but in the real world, they’re just not. Plus you have the Tara top too. Now if you want to beef up the engine or do an engine swap, the Fiero is going to be a lot easier to do – there a zillions of 3.8 supercharged ones and Northstar V8 ones. As someone here pointed out – the Fiat UNO turbo motor swap in the X1/9 has been done, and it’s not overly difficult. If you REALLY want to make it go – Then you can install a Honda K20 or K24 engine http://www.midwest-bayless.com/p-1029-acura-honda-k20-engine-swap-kit-for-fiat-bertone-x19-stage-1.aspx
    I would take the X1/9 – but you want to be sure there is no rust by the shocktowers our the front windshield.

  16. boxdin

    Its true, even the lightest Fiero is still 2500 lbs and you can feel every one of them going around a road course. But it was the best front & rear impact car in 1988 simply because it has a ton of steel.

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