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Italian Roadster Collection: Fiat 850 Spiders

The seller of this collection of Fiat 850 Spiders clearly has a thing for this cheap and cheer rear-engined convertible, with three cars up for grabs as part of a wind-down of his hobby. The listing notes that the red car in the middle is a driver; the maroon Fiat needs some carburetor work; and the blue roadster is a restoration project. The seller is open to offers, as he is trying to get the cars re-homed so his daughter doesn’t someday have to deal with it. In addition to the Fiats, there’s also a very clean 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280SE up for grabs. Find the fleet here on craigslist and located in Coon Rapids, MN.

The 850 was by no means a rocketship but it was a cheap entry point to open-air, Italian motoring. When introduced, it came with a rear-mounted 843 cc four-cylinder that pushed out just under 50 horsepower, so this was certainly a case of the sense of speed being enhanced by your proximity to the ground and the engine noise behind your head. The seller’s cars are all later models, which got a bump to 903 cc and a robust 52 horsepower. The original MSRP was quite affordable, so any trade-off in horsepower was mitigated by being able to enjoy the wind in your hair in and convince yourself you were simply in the Ferrari farm leagues.

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Fun fact: the earlier 850s shared their headlight lenses with the Lamborghini Miura, so it’s not entirely off-base to cite shared heritage with Italy’s foremost sports car brands. Regardless of the car’s charms, the 850 faced some negative headwinds in the U.S., with reliability issues plaguing the car’s reputation, along with a propensity for rust, which was extensive enough that a formal recall notice was issued to address. Fortunately, despite being located in Minnesota, the seller’s cars all appear to be cosmetically sound, and the maroon car looks like it could be a driver fairly easily once the carb issues are sorted out.

However, the surprise here is the seller’s gorgeous Mercedes-Benz 280SE, offered with a price tag of $20,000. The 4.5L V8 under the hood is one of the best engines Mercedes has ever built, and this is actually more compelling to me than the three Fiats. The W108 chassis was produced in fairly high numbers so you don’t buy a car like this for the rarity; instead, you simply buy the best one you can find, as the cost of entry is still fairly reasonable and you’ll end up with a car that will gobbles up highway miles all the while holding its value as it sits in your garage. Given the choice, would you try to be all three Fiats or the solitary Mercedes? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Tony Primo for the find.

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Fahrvergnugen Member

    Agreed. Skip the cannoli, take the Benz.

    Like 9
  2. Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

    Take the Merc, FIAT means, Fix IT Again Tony.
    Sorry couldn’t resist.
    Now a 124S? Yes please.

    Like 3
  3. Avatar photo CCFisher

    They look like escapees from an amusement park “Turnpike” ride.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Aussie Dave Member

      Didn’t notice that until now, and yep they do.

      Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Iron Mistress

    First new car the wife and i bought 1 year after we were married. Fired up my love for Italian cars, 13 Alfas later and they still have a place in my heart.

    Like 6
  5. Avatar photo luckless pedestrian

    The 850 experience is some of the most fun one can have behind a wheel… durable?, nope… practical?, not really… fast?, hardly… but an absolute hoot to point and squirt…

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo leadbetter

      I know someone who has owned several AMG Mercedes coupes and convertibles. He insists his Fiat 850 spider was more fun to drive. Though the Fiat’s engine did grenade just past 45k miles.

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Blyndgesser

        Mine only made it to 37k. I still loved it.

        Like 1
  6. Avatar photo Greg

    First car I had 1968, three head gaskets, plugged carbs, rear tires chewed to heck, both front seat welds broken off tracks, noisy, on the road, paint was terrible on the other hand could be moved into very very small parking spots, was a gas to drive- especially when the right rear wheel lifted off ground when cornering… evidently coeds liked convertibles.. and I could get everything I owned in that little bomb. The last issue – got t boned on way to turn in on my tr6 … god laughing

    Like 3

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