Left High and Dry: 1979 Fiat X1/9

Looking at the listing for this Fiat X1/9, it appears to be abanoned in a vacant lot somewhere near Mesa, Arizona. While it’s missing some parts like a front bumper and its windshield wipers, the body looks quite dry and the interior isn’t as bad as you’d expect for a desert car that’s been left standing. Rust can be a fierce opponent when owning one of these, so if you’re looking for a project, best to buy one that’s lived in a dry climate. Find the dirt-cheap X1/9 here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $999.

Things I like, right off the bat: the straight body; surprisingly lustrous black plastic trim; good-looking OEM alloy wheels; no obvious body damage. The paint does appear to be faded, but I can’t help but wonder if that old single-stage would bounce back with a buff. The missing front bumper is curious and the one up / one down pop-up headlights is likely due to a simple vacuum or motor-related issue. I also dig the period-correct rear luggage rack.

As mentioned, the interior isn’t as bad as you might expect for a car stored in the sun-heavy state of Arizona. Truthfully, it wouldn’t surprise me if this Fiat lost its storage arrangement fairly recently, as any car stored outside in Arizona for more than a year would show a heavily warped dash, destroyed seating surfaces and door panels peeling off their attachment points. This Fiat does have some upholstery needs, but you could live with the tired seats for now.

1979 was a year of changes for the X1/9, with displacement increasing to 1.5L and power up to near 70 b.h.p. Bumpers and the front air dam were new for the model year as well, with this one also showing a cracked air dam, likely damaged when the bumper disappeared. Really, pretty minor stuff when you down to it and spares are plentiful enough that replacement parts are available. This seems cheap for a non-rusty example – summer’s coming, and this would work nicely.


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  1. crazyhawk

    That Fiat is winking at me. How do I tell it that it’s definitely not my type?

  2. Dolphin Member

    I could never warm up to cars that had pop-up headlights. Too much risk they would end up as 1-eyed willies, like this one. And not enough of an upside to make up for the extra complication and risk of losing the pop-up mechanism, like this car has.

    And if the headlight treatment is done skillfully, most cars with stationary headlights look better than just about any car with pop-ups.

    These are exotic, especially at a Fiat price in 1979, but tiny. And when stock, performance was underwhelming.

  3. SAM61

    Neat car..brings back memories. Various neighbors had an X 1/9, TR 7, MGB and Mercury Capri on the street back in the day.

    This would make an interesting EV conversion OR try to frankenstein a 2.8 drivetrain from a Fiero.

  4. sam

    In that first picture it looks like me peeking out from the covers to see what time it is each morning.

  5. Bruce

    I have seen one with a supercharger installed and that car was a revelation. Quick, nimble and fast. No need to adjust suspensions or anything else as it was a bolt on. Been a few year but that is the way I would make it a street terror.

    Stop the rust and you are on your way to something special.

  6. Beatnik Bedouin

    Beautiful cars, but poorly executed. My step-brother bought one new and the damned thing died on the way home from the dealership…

    …it was the first of many regular visits to the Service Dept he had with that car…

  7. Dean

    As a long time owner of one of these cars from new they were, and continue to be fantastic value for a fun to drive sports car. Mechanical parts are easily sourced and reasonably priced.

    The headlight issue is likely a diode which has failed, not a difficult repair. However, the original grill and front spoiler are going to be tough to find as many were taken out by parking curbs.

  8. David Miraglia

    Always liked the wedge shape winky mobiles of the seventies

  9. Victor Anderson

    I’ve had/have 14 of these little suckers. My first one was a 79 one, same color combo as this one. Mine was never the same after I got it out of the lake I put it in going too fast around a corner….although shockingly I did get it to run and put another 20,000 miles on it after it’d been 10 feet under water for a few hours. Kinda had a ‘lake’ smell to it though and had a few electrical issues lol lol. But I’ve gone though a pile of them sense then. Not the fastest car of course — but one of the funnest cars you can get. I’ve since moved on to Lotus Elise — which is basically just a grown up version of one of these.

  10. Doug

    I had one of these and hit a 100 foot in diameter traffic circle doing 80 MPH ! Got right around it leaving some rather dark rubber marks and must have been pulling about 3 G’s ! I had a Fiero GT with the V6 in it and it wasn’t half as good at cornering ! This car can corner like it is on rails ! Mid engine very low to the ground. As a matter of fact it hurt me to get in and out of it because it was like rolling around on the ground to get out of it ! (Bertone) designed it and he built Ferrari’s ! Not going to win any drag races with one of these but the cornering ability of the thing is legendary !

  11. T Hunter

    I had a Hot Wheel when i was a kid looked just like this car. Same color

  12. gepops58

    Think they would be better with a 5.0l coyote….. guess u could always put it up front where the trunk is and turn the engine bay into the luggage compartment……sounds like a plan to me

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