First Year Find: 1974 Fiat X1/9

While America was winding down their muscle car era with gas crisis, emissions, and crash safety concerns, Italy had whipped up a unique little mid-engine sports car that handled each of those issues. 1974 was the first year America saw the X1/9 and 1974 was the only year we received the desirable “Euro style” bumper-ettes. The seller of this X knows little about it, but seems hopeful that it will run with a little elbow grease. For the $900 asking price, I think this Fiat is worth a look for sure. Check it out here on craigslist out of Salem, Virginia. Thanks to Roger for this awesome find! I would pick it up in a heartbeat if I had the space!

Here you can see the little 1300 engine in which all of its emissions mumbo jumbo has been removed. The coolant tank is still in place and hopefully hasn’t ruptured like so many have by this point in time. Spark is still controlled by a points style distributor, but the later 1500 cars did have a nice electronic distributor which would be a nice addition to this X. Timing belts are a concern, and Fiat recommends that the belts be changed every 60,000 or every two years. I took that quite seriously on my ’79 model. The engine is not currently running, but the seller feels it will be a runner with fresh gas, cleaned points, and a new battery. I would be willing to bet that all of that with a fresh tune up would wake up this engine. Since this is a 1300 car, this Fiat has a 4 speed transmission which has a noticeably crisper feeling shift action compared to the 5 speed unit.

The interior needs some attention, but the dash looks to be in fair shape. 90-93 Acura Integra seats have been added and look monstrous inside this Fiat. With these seats installed only a very short person can afford to sit in this car, unless you drive it everywhere with the targa roof off. The biggest concern with the interior is the green mold on the seats. Obviously there is a moisture issue with this X that is most likely the window seals. Also part of the ignition switch harness is dangling, which I would guess means that the seller went to check the brake master and clutch master and quickly surrendered. If you have never performed that job, anyone will tell you it is quite challenging!

Obviously repainted at some point, this X needs some paint attention for sure. Miraculously, rust looks to be a minimal concern. If the rockers aren’t rough, then usually the lower portion of the rear wheel arches are rough. Both of these areas appear to be quite nice. A 75-78 style rear bumper is on the car, and there are no front bumpers whatsoever. Personally I think these cars look fine without bumpers, but the ’74 bumper-ettes really make these cars look great. Unfortunately the “Euro style” bumpers are rare and costly, so replacing them would be a labor of love. Also the ’74 style running lights are missing. The mini-lites look great, and the car is certainly a worthwhile project as ’74 X’s are starting to gain some appreciation. This one will likely never be a concourse machine, but it could certainly be a fun and unique driver. Would you swoop up this $900 mid-engine Italian?


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  1. Mike

    It would help the seller to remove all the leaves and debris off the car. Buyers know that it was sitting outside for a long time, but why call more attention to it? Oh, it’s only $900. I guess it’s not worth cleaning up. Nevermind…

    Like 6
  2. Budzinsk

    I am not sure this is a 74…… The interior is from a 79+, there are no evidence of 74 Bumper-ettes remaining (pics are not clear enough to see the size of the bumper holes). Also, the typical chrome trim around the rear end of a 74 is not there. I believe that was there for all 74 cars.. Would be a fun project though…

    • t-bone Bob

      I agree. There are a couple of details that just don’t look quite right.

  3. Hal

    I owned a ’74 X-1/9. On a clear, still night you could go out into the garage and HEAR it rusting.

    Like 2
    • schooner

      … old joke but as a multiple Alfa owner…

      • stillrunners stillrunners Member

        old joke….but as a Studebaker owner…..

  4. DAN

    had a 78 in 1984,68k on it, loved that car,but sold & got a brand new 1985 toyota 4×4,the 4×4 bug bite me hard, still going,can’t count how many I have bought/sold now,lol

  5. Roy L Fuchs

    FIAT, Fix it again, Tony.

  6. Dean

    No worse than just about any other car of it’s vintage Roy.

    I’ve had multiple Fiats. The X1/9 has a great engine, better suspension and brakes than anything else you could buy for under $10K at the time.

    Budzinsk is correct that this is not a ’74, but it’s really hard to know what year it is given the parts it has from various years.

    Like 2
  7. CobraSteve

    Not sure where the writer secured the information about 60K timing belt change, but it is erroneous. I had a ’75 model in college and at 27K miles, the timing belt broke. My owners manual clearly stated the belt change interval was 30K miles so I towed the car home and contacted my local (Chicago) Fiat dealer. Their answer was the factory had sent out a notice to change the belt EVERY 25K miles, but since I was the second owner and never received the notice, I had no recourse. FIAT. Feeble Italian Attempt at Transportation. Sure left a bad taste in my mouth even to this day about the marque.

    On the other hand, at the urging of my buddies (fellas my senior by 10-15 years who played with late ’50’s and ’60’s Ferraris), they told me to “Quit crying in your beer and fix it!” First was the cam box removal then the cylinder head. Talk about relief when I discovered only minor scratching of the pistons where the valves touched them–and I was traveling about 60 mph when the belt broke. This is an interference engine and I was LUCKY!! Most belt failures, I was told, would result in pistons with holes punched in them.

    This provided an opportunity to de-smog the engine which did provide a bit more power. Lovely car to look at and even more fun to drive as the engine is where it belongs…in the MIDDLE!

    Sports cars such as this X1/9, before the politicians, lawyers, and environmentalists declared war on the automobile, were rolling art which the average Joe could enjoy and maintain. If there is a hell, then I wish for the aforementioned to rot there for eternity while driving their Prius’ from furnace to furnace.

    Like 7
  8. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Oh No…..bad dreams tonight fer sure ! As a college guy at the time my girlfriend at the time got one of these new for her college ride. It seemed forever I was doing the brakes – four wheel if I remember right – think it was just squealing all the time…like her….could have been the reason we broke up….but really I worked 40 hrs a week and still had classes….but that dang car….both lookers BUT high maintenance !!!! Most likely just bad rotors or calibers – but the dang thing was pretty dang new and I didn’t know it all….yet.

    Like 1
  9. Fiete T.

    Grab the cheap Beta in Cali, grab this…but in the bigger motor, see if the bigger brakes would swap on, try to improve the suspension

    Fun “Adult-sized” go-kart; just have to make sure the Soviet-era sourced steel hasn’t returned to “Mother Earth” already

  10. Mitch Ross Member

    The first issue of my first magazine subscription was March 1973 Car& Driver with a green X1/9 on the cover. It was what a 12 year old’s dreams were made of. Never got one, 5 years later my first car was a 1967 MGB.

    Like 3

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