Just Like a Ferrari: 1970 Fiat 850

Selling cars on craigslist does require some level of salesmanship to rise above the noise, and stating your vehicle’s shared qualities with the likes of a Ferrari is one way to do that. This rusty 1970 Fiat 850 certainly has some pedigree what with its racing success under the Abarth flag, but that’s a far cry from putting yourself behind the wheel of a 250 GTO. Still, if you want to pretend, check out this Fiat 850 here on craigslist somewhere near Atlanta, or go here if the ad disappears.

Whoa! Yes, the rot is strong with this one. It’s a shame, as the 850 really does have pretty lines and the quad taillights have always been one of my favorite design features. The seller doesn’t pretend that this is anything like driving a vintage Ferrari or Porsche, and acknowledges that the rust isn’t for the faint of heart. But as far as a complete car with a drivetrain still attached goes, it qualifies; you just have to decide if your $999 is better spent on this car or looking for a finished example.

Interior-wise, it’s much like the exterior: complete, but obviously sitting for quite some time and at the mercy of the weather. That big Fiat steering wheel would be fun to spin with the motor humming away out back, but we’re a long ways away from that sensation becoming a reality. If you want this to be a pleasant place to spend any time, at minimum you’re replacing carpets, seats and the dash; who knows what’s left of the floors. At least the door panels look good.

Since this isn’t an Abarth, power is limited. The U.S. spec models did get higher compression 817 cc motors, but that didn’t yield much in the way of performance despite Fiat’s best efforts to extract some gains while complying with domestic emissions requirements. No word on the health of the engine in this example, but upgrading to Abarth specs would be a must-do if someone were bold enough to take this project on. Call it like you see it: project or parts car?


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  1. alan

    Special light weight model.

    • john chump


  2. Fred w.

    Looks like it was recently pulled out of the Gulf of Mexico.

  3. SAM61

    Kind of looks like a cross between a VW411 and Opel Kadett with Opel GT/Vette tail lights.

    Pass…I’d rather have a knock-off Italian suit or luggage.

  4. Madmatt

    This car could be used as a giant strainer,
    for a really big bowl of pasta…..bon’ appetite..!
    Well….Fiat and Ferrari both start with an F….,
    we can all see the similarity now…!

    • ccrvtt

      Both have headlights, taillights and a windshield, too. It’s pretty remarkable.

      I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a Ferrari with as much rust, however, or any rust at all.

  5. Jeffro

    I’d be leary of sending to get media blasted. Might not get much back.

    • Rex Kahrs Member

      Yeah Jeff, it would come back in an urn you could put on your mantle!

  6. AF

    I can imagine opening the door and it falling off. Then climbing in and falling right through the floor to the ground.

  7. sir mike

    What a shame…really like the coupes…not much left to rebuild sadly..

  8. rapple

    This seller seems to like terminal rust buckets. Check out the sad MD-TD in the background of one of the photos.

  9. Beatnik Bedouin

    Sadly, it looks like it’s only good for parts, at best.

    These were fun cars to drive, not fast but very manoeuvrable – a real kick on twisty roads.

    Rust has gotten most of ’em, and not long after they were manufactured…

  10. MrF

    To paraphrase the Who: See me. Feel me. Crush me!

  11. Tim T

    Stored in lake

  12. Larry Q

    On a very quiet evening, if you listen closely, you can hear this poor vehicle. …crying

  13. Jim Marston

    I’m 75 Yrs Young , First to compare a Fiat 850 to a Ferrari is like comparing Chicken salad with Chicken Sh-t . In the late 50s Fiats were PURE JUNK ! The camshaft sprockets were not hardened and failed very early . The body had no rust protection at ALL !!! As a young man in the 50s and 60s Fiats were not well received. They left the US and Recently returned with their 500 series. After buying Chrysler. Oh My How Things change 👀

    • Jacob

      This thing isn’t from the 50’s, but 20 years later. You think not using hardened cam sprockets is bad? How about the plastic timing gear that AMC used in their first gen V8?

      I have an 850 sedan and the haynes manual, printed in 1981, has it’s very own section on removing rust. They do rot easy.

  14. Rex Rice

    Curse that Russian metal that caused these neat little cars to evaporate! I drove a ’72 850 Spyder daily for years, fighting the rust all of the way. Phosphoric acid & fiber glass helped hold it together. This was a very good car & fun to drive.

  15. Jubjub

    Probably wasn’t too bad…for one of these, when it was parked years ago! Really a beautiful shaped little car. Love the way these look lowered a tiny bit with the fat jugged steelies.

  16. chad

    we had many of the Spyders too, Rex.
    Only 1 purpose 4 the coupe – Ralley!
    but boy, lotta $ to bring this 1 back !

  17. Ben T. Spanner

    I had a 1968 850 Coupe that I traded a dead 1966 VW Fastback for in the early 1970’s . My wife adopted it and drove it every day. No rust for some reason. Replaced shot exhaust with a header and a glass pack. Did the kingpins. Someone had to have it and it was gone.

    As usual, spend more, get a better car.

  18. Jim

    A 1970 model has the 903cc engine, not the 817. You can tell by the alternator in the engine compartment instead of a generator. If this is was the early single headlight model it might be worth it. The rust issues were due to an ongoing strike at the factory in the early 70s.

  19. Pavelsvt

    I have a 1968 coupe series II in the garage. It still needs some serious fixes, but it will be back on the road this year, after 24 years in garage. Well, in garage… So when I started fixing it, it was in a much better shape than this one. Still it was a pain to get rid of the rust and fix the curvy body of this car.
    What it has in common with Ferrari?
    Easy answer, it was designed by Pininfarina as a concept of so called Ferrari Panamerica 1965, but Ferrari refused to build a cheap car, so Pininfarina sold the design to Fiat 2 years later. So here you have it…

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