Pair Of Arachnids: Two Fiat 850 Spiders

Fiat 850 Spiders

A very long time ago, I was given my first tools by my Dad. It was the factory toolkit from his Fiat 850 Coupe. He still had the car, which I had christened “Midge” (for Midget, cause it was so small), and I dearly loved it. Needless to say, I have had a soft spot for the rear-engined, Bertone-designed Spiders as well as the Coupes. These two are available in Caryville, Florida and are offered here on eBay where they haven’t met reserve yet.

Red 1972 Fiat 850 Spider

The owner is somewhat cryptic with their descriptions, but the red car is described as the “runner” and it includes a title. I was very surprised to see that both cars have a SnugTop aftermarket hardtop. SnugTop still exists, but they no longer make hardtops for sports cars, specializing instead in pickup covers. I’ve driven an MGB with a SnugTop and it really quieted down the car for the driver, which from my memories of the Fiat might be a good thing. The seller also states that they have the bumpers for both cars, both convertible top frames and one new “in the box” soft top.

Red Fiat 850 Spider

While the pictures aren’t comprehensive, the red car doesn’t look unsalvageable, although the driver’s side is a little worrisome. Unfortunately, a look at the NADA guide doesn’t leave a lot of room for professional restoration if you want to stay financially upright.

1972 Fiat 850 Spider Interior

The interior needs a lot of work, and what looks like my worst electrical nightmare is staring me in the face. There may be some rust in that floor as well, but I’m not sure from this picture. The iconic two-spoke steering wheel is intact and doesn’t show a lot of sun-checking.

Yellow Fiat 850 Spider

Despite the lack of a title (which the owner assures can be fixed for $55), the yellow car is said to have the best body of the two. The front valance looks a little suspect, and I’m guessing that’s body filler on the nose itself accounting for the waviness. But as a whole, it looks pretty decent, especially for a home restorer that’s not afraid of a little metalwork. With a plasma cutter and decent welder one can accomplish miracles, and I have both, although my skills aren’t the best.

Yellow Fiat 850 Interior

This picture of a largely rust-free floor is encouraging, however. The engine is out of the yellow car but is included along with a new clutch assembly. I’d want to know whether items like seats, door panels, and the like are also present, but since I found brand new dashboards for a great price on eBay I’m not as concerned as I was at first glance.

Fiat 850 Spider Parts Car

These two intrigued me enough that I did the math regarding cost and time, and they came up short on Jamie’s theoretical available time vs. topless driving fun index. Maybe you feel differently? Or feel free to convince me that I should put in a bid? For now, I’ll be watching the auction.

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Comments

  1. None

    An 850 Spider was my first car. An 817cc (French?) blue example, not the mettlesome 903cc version with its prodigious torque. I drove the hell out of it for maybe 8 months until I sold it in the depths of a midwestern winter to an immigrant laborer who didn’t seem to care that it wouldn’t start without being pushed….

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Had one of these in the late 70’s. There was one difference, mine was the fire-breathing, ground pounding 900cc version. Unfortunately it was already suffering the ravages of rust from New England winters when I purchased it, with the hardtop.
      The wiring issues are not harness or switch problems. ALL my wiring problems centered on the fact that being a negative ground car, you actually need to have metal that conducts electricity, corroded metal doesn’t do this well once rust has started.
      Once the pattern became clear, I ran a ground buss around the car and when a switch ceased to work, ran a wire to the buss and continued on my way.
      Still the car was fun and the power to weight ratio while not great made me appreciate the handling. Eventually did some work on the engine with some parts purchased out of Italy from a place called Dahlara? long time ago, but the engine was faster.

  2. Garlin

    These would make one or two great road racers. Probably too far gone to restore when you can buy decent examples relatively cheaply. But going from these cars to race ready cars wouldn’t cost much more than starting with a decent example and turning it into a racer. May actually be cheaper since the initial cost of the car would be lower.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      @Garlin–I already road race probably one of, if not the most unlikely cars ever to be turned into a race car. If I did these, at least one would be for the street. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t worry about making it “stock”!
      @None–Love the “prodigious torque” comment :-)

  3. MikeH

    What wonderful cars these were! It was a car you didn’t get into, you put it on. While all models had less than a litre displacement, they were a ball to drive. It taught you how to use that stick to keep it in its power range. You can have more fun in a Fiat 850 than in a Corvette.

  4. Tirefriar

    Although I never owned or even driven one, the general response that I hear towards these cars has been mirrored in previous comments. As these 2 sit, they are really just rolling parts cars. Bidding is at $1k which maybe quite a deal considering that the engine in one runs but more important are the hard tops.

  5. Pedro the Parrot

    If the red one is a runner I’m Steve Prefontaine.
    Cute wee machines but rust magnets to an extreme level.

  6. Rex Rice

    My wife had one years ago. Four bolts removed the soft top completely and the hard top slipped on for Winter driving. The car was trouble free and fun as her daily driver. With some corrected rust repair & a fresh paint job, she enjoyed it for years, wishing she had it now.

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