A Decade in Storage: 1968 Fiat 850 Coupe

Are there any rear-engine vehicle fans out there? No, not cars like a Pantera or Porsche, but like this 1968 Fiat 850 Coupe? I sure am a fan, although this looks like quite a project, maybe too much for me. This poor-man’s-project-Porsche-wannabe is here on craigslist, or here on the CL archive. It’s located in Stacy, Minnesota with an asking price of $3,500.

Ok, it’s not exactly a Porsche wannabe, my apologies to the Fiat fans out there. And, to the Porsche fans. Since the seller didn’t include any front 3/4 photos, here’s another photo showing the business end of this car. The first thing that stands out is that it basically looks like a solid car, but you can see big patches of missing paint and rust on the roof and metal patches in front of each rear wheel. Those areas may not be too scary for anyone with years of bodywork experience, but they look scary to me; mainly from wondering if there is even worse corrosion underneath. The wheels would be for sale as soon as I could find an original set.

There is one photo of the front, and I never realized how much this car looks like a VW Type III. Just like that Type III, the storage compartment is in the front under that red lid/trunk/boot. And, you can see that there is both rust and plywood under there! Neither of which I like to see on or in my cars, other than maybe the rear seat backing on a Saab 94-95-96. The seller says that this “car has been in storage for about ten years, but I drove it last summer. It needs brake work along with body work.”

It’s always nice to see a full bank of photos when a person is considering purchasing a car from an online listing. One possible saving grace for a lack of interior photos is that the seller is “73 years old. had my fun with it and time to let it go.” They do show a decent amount of photos and I’d be glad to check out this car in person for any serious buyers. The 850 Coupe debuted in 1965, long before a good portion of our Barn Finds readers debuted, and they lasted until 1972; some say 1971. The next owner should be able to spruce up this interior with new carpet and replicating that vinyl seat pattern shouldn’t be a problem. Most of the seats look great. The transaxle was designed by Porsche and they’re tough, but you’ll want to check the 2nd gear synchros as they’re the first to go, typically.

With regular, factory-recommended maintenance these 843cc four-cylinder engines with around 50hp, give or take, should last a long time. As is often the case, regular, scheduled maintenance is often overlooked and then owners blame the car for their own negligence. These engines have a strict every-6,000-miles intake and valve maintenance regimen that has to be followed religiously. It’s not rocket science, folks, it’s called regular maintenance. I thought that was why a lot of us owned old cars, to have something to tinker around with? This car already has 103,000 miles on it, a testament to the former owner/s hard work. This sale also includes a couple of spare engines and a spare transaxle. Have any of you owned a Fiat 850 Coupe?

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Actually, my father did while I was growing up. And the tool kit from the car was my first set of real tools (I was 5, it didn’t matter much that a screwdriver, two open end wrenches and a spark plug wrench didn’t fit much).

    Someday I’d like another one. But it would have to be in better shape!

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You could use another project, Jamie!.. (crickets).. I’m sure that you have at least a mental list of all the vehicles that you and your dad have owned?

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        I wrote down a list with him before we lost him in 1985. He had owned 78 cars…I come by it honestly. I’m not there yet…

  2. Jim

    The wheels are an original set, they were a USA dealer installed option (possibly installed by the importer Roosevelt Motors) called Raider. The hard part might be finding the correct center caps.

  3. Steve R

    It looks like there is a lot of rust damage hiding under the paint. What do restored cars sell for?

    Steve R

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Sorry about that, Steve, I usually try to include some sort of pricing info. Hagerty doesn’t list a value and NADA prices don’t go over too well sometimes, so I didn’t put them in there. But, NADA lists a low retail value of $6,300 and an average retail value of $11,950. There could be some financial room to restore this car and keep it under $10,000 if a person were willing to do a lot of the work rather than bring it in to a shop.

      • Steve R

        Thanks. I don’t trust NADA valuations, same with Hagerty, but less so.

        Steve R

  4. Mike LaRoche

    I had one of these, a 67, in the early 70s. It’s amazing to me that someone got 100,000+ miles out of one. It was a fun car to drive but would barely pull a hill with a couple of passengers and mine would overheat badly. That’s the gas filler on the upper left side of the engine compartment shot, right above the exhaust manifold, I held my breath every time I filled up. The plywood on the trunk is covering the spare tire well, the trunk leaked badly on mine and the well stayed full of water until I drilled holes in the bottom, this one could be completely rusted out if that was the case with this one.

  5. Todd Fitch Staff

    My Mom bought one of these new in NW PA where it began rusting into oblivion almost immediately. One time we piled about eight neighborhood kids into it for an evening at the roller rink. I think her prior car was an English Ford Cortina. We had some interesting rides in those days, almost always standard transmission. Thanks for a great find, Scotty!

  6. Rube Goldberg Member

    Thanks SG for another blast from the past. In high school ( early ’70’s) a friend had a car exactly like this. It remains one of the worst cars I’ve ever come in contact with. Not sure if he bought it new, but it was pretty new. He didn’t get to drive it much, it was a fun little car, but early on, 2nd gear began to crunch, Fiat repaired the transmission, after a lengthy wait, a short time later, 2nd gear began to grind again, and by then, many other things were wrong, broken door and window handles, gauges, a ton of little things. The dealer had it for weeks again, and he finally said, screw this, and traded it for a ’68 Barracuda they had on the lot. Can you imagine, at that time, a Fiat 850 was worth the same as a ’68 Barracuda? How someone got over 100K on a car like this is a miracle in itself.

  7. Nick Member

    Imagine driving and changing the radio channel.

    • jw454

      It may look like it but, that radio isn’t as far as it looks. This is a pretty small car however, it would have been a bit better to move it just a little closer to the driver.

  8. RobM

    They’re very reliable cars once put back into factory stock condition and properly maintained going forward. I’ve had mine for 15 years.

    • Jacob

      I bought an 850 about a year ago… It also came out of Minnesota and will be getting all new floors this summer. I’ve been daily driving it for a year and it is very reliable even in hot summers. I have an 45 minute commute with it every morning as well.

  9. Koen Bogaert

    I own a big, fat V8, a 6 in line and a little Fiat 850 Sport Coupe. While the first 2 cars only get some recognition from petrolheads and sometimes even a disdain from other drivers I only get thumbs up while driving the little coupe. Numerous times people stop me to take a photo of the Fiat and to be quite honest: it doesn’t drive that bad. The load in the back resembles a bit to my old 911, same feeling but at a much lower speed :-)

    Like 1
  10. Dale Member

    I restored this 69. http://www.driven.co/inventory/fiat-850-fastback-sport-coupe/ It was a fun little guy. Sold to a collector in the midwest for $15k. As seems usual for classic car buyers, he had driven one in England “back in college days” and had fond memories of the encounter.

  11. Will Owen Member

    No, but I sure as heck wanted to! Didn’t care much for the Spiders, but these guys just killed me. Lou, the mechanic/dealer in Anchorage, took me for a ride in the first one he got, fresh off the boat with 14 miles on the clock. Over to the park strip in the center of town, then redline through the gears, hard braking and pitched the car sideways around the end of the strip @ 2 jillion RPM in second and then off down the other side, Lou sawing away on that tiny steering wheel and shouting about how sweet it was to drive, lovely little car … Coulda been mine for a mere $1800, if I hadn’t been delivering the Anchorage Times to coin racks for about $50/week.

    Wish I could have this. I actually could come and pay cash for it, but then if and when I did get it home I would probably have to sleep in it … it looks like a very doable project, and I know just the guys who could help me with it. And it’s an early one, too – I don’t mind the later version at all, but these are that much less complicated. To the seller: I’m a few years older than you are, and danged if I’d let it go! Just the right kind of play-toy for a guy needing a sweet little around-towner.

  12. chad

    Have any of you ever owned an 850 coupe.
    No but 2, 3 of the spiders. Same nose but a ‘vert.

    Liked em over the comparable!

  13. Ian Sights

    My brother owned a 6 year old 850 sedan. It had trouble with half shafts stripping out. The coup de gras was it’s intermittent electrical issues. It would stop running and then not start for several hours, and then start up fine. It had to go.

  14. Ben T. Spanner

    I traded a dead 1966 VW 1600 for a low milage Fiat 850 Coupe in about 1973. It lived in a storage garage for several months. When i brought it home my Wife adopted it and drove it daily. She would drag race city busses, and sometimes she won. One day she stated that her key had broken off in the ignition, but the stub still worked. My key also worked. I replaced the king pins and installed a $25 header. It should have been cheap as the holes were too small for the studs. Easily fixed.
    Some guy just had to buy it. Two weeks later he called asking if I knew of any body parts. It had been parked on the street and sideswiped . My friend had an Fiat 850 sedan which is rarer. Don’t forget the Siata Spring a retro roadster with sidecurtains, based on the 850 pan.

  15. Russ

    Reminds me of the one my brother in law had back in the late 70’s. Same colour but steel wheels and chrome hubcaps. It was what he and my sister left their wedding reception in for their honeymoon. As a joke my father and a couple of his buddies lifted up the back of the car by its bumper so they couldn’t drive off. Have an old video of it somewhere spinning it’s wheels with bride and groom looking back laughing. They laughed even more as the back was dropped and the spinning wheels hit the gravel parking lot, covering the jokers at the back in dust and grit!

  16. John

    1968 850cc Fiat coup wow’ what a car’…. I bought mind new right after I came home from Vietnam 66-68′ boy did I get a lot of ticket’s with that little red car, I used to run Glass pack on it… and boy was it loud’… ran wider wheels so it corner on a dime… I even broke the motor once’.. cracked the block … by the time I got to the repair shop it was only running on 2 cell and 1/2 … but it was still running on its own. after I got it back and was heading up onto the FWY the Trans’ took a dump on me so I drove it off the side of the Fwy… and into a ditch’… end up selling it for $300. – I only paid $2500. New out the door. I snapped the rear end once by hitting a carb’ side ways… almost rolled it – knocked the front wheel under the front end… and drove it home that way for about 2 miles. I even drove through a river once …. with the motor in the back it was a lot like a VW…. no problem. I used the where the spare tire goes for my cooler… just at ice and your off. Often kind of wish I kept it ….

  17. THOMAS PETERSON

    I just wanted to thank you for featuring my Fiat on your web site and let you and any of your followers know the car is still available, and with everything the price is negotiable.

    Like 2
    • Dale Davis Member

      Hey Thomas,
      Yes, I’m interested. I really enjoy these little guys. Make me a deal and come visit California beaches?

      Like 1
    • Jamal Matteson

      Hi Tom. Please do shoot me a message at jamiceland@gmail.com. Maybe interested in buying. I own a 1967 850 Coupe and would love to give a second a home. I’m in Aitkin MN, so not awful far. :) Thanks!

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