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Parked in 2005: 1971 Fiat 850 Sport Spider

When the owner of a classic Fiat says that it has never seen a Winter, that is never a bad thing. The biggest enemy of a classic Fiat is rust, and this can consume otherwise healthy metal at an alarming rate. This Fiat 850 Sport Spider appears to have avoided the worst of these problems, and after sitting in storage since 2005, it is looking for a new home. Located in Sidney, Ohio, it is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the bidding to open at $0.99, but there have been no bids to this point.

Finished in red with a white soft-top, the 850 Sport Spider is a pretty little car. The paint has a number of blemishes on it, but the car doesn’t appear to have any major dings or dents. The photos aren’t the greatest, and there is only one showing a limited view of the underside of the vehicle. However, it does appear to be quite clean and solid underneath. My major concern is what appears to be rust that might be appearing around and below the front bumper on the driver’s side of the vehicle. If it is rust, then hopefully it hasn’t advanced too far and can be addressed before it really takes hold of the vehicle.

I get the impression from the text that the owner envisaged this little Fiat as being a father-and-son project for him. However, now that his son has reached the lofty height of 6′ 5″ tall, it probably isn’t a vehicle that is terribly practical for him anymore. This is a shame because these are a great little car, and the interior is definitely capable of seating a person up to 6′ tall. The interior of this Fiat is in remarkably good condition, and it looks like it will need little more than a really good clean to return it to its best. From behind the wheel, the driver gets a nice wheel and a good array of gauges to keep them informed of the car’s general health and well-being. Even though the original radio might appear to be in an inconvenient spot, nothing is really out of reach inside a Fiat 850.

The rear-mounted engine in the Sport Spider is a 903cc 4-cylinder engine, producing 58hp. This might not sound like much, but in a car as light (1,555lbs) as the Spider, it still provides adequate performance. While it will never be the sort of vehicle that will pose a threat to a muscle car, the Sport Spider could still be wound out to a top speed of 93mph. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. Unfortunately, the last time the Fiat fired a shot in anger was back in 2005, and the engine hasn’t been started since. However, the owner says that it shouldn’t take much to get it running again, but it would probably pay to give the car a pretty thorough check before turning the key for the first time.

If any potential rust issues in this Fiat 850 Sport Spider are not major, then this car could represent quite an interesting restoration project. The Sport Spider was something of a sales success for Fiat, and more than 140,000 vehicles rolled off the line during nearly 9-years of production. Sadly, rust claimed a great many of these little cars, and while they might not be classed as ultra-rare today, you still don’t see huge numbers of them out and about on our roads. NADA suggests around the $10,000 mark as a potential average value for a Sport Spider, and looking at recent sales results, this appears to be about right. Once this Fiat is restored and back on the road, it really has the potential to be a very enjoyable little Italian classic.


  1. Dangerous Dave

    I had an old one of these as a “beach car” when I lived in Daytona Beach, what a mistake even if it was a fun car to drive. After about a year it was rusting like crazy from driving on the beach. One day I went across some railroad tracks and as I hit the bumps the left side of my seat fell through the floor and was dragging on the ground, the floor was only attached to the car near the transmission hump. I wedged a 2 x 4 between the seat and rocker panel to hold the seat in place.

    I took the car to the local dealer auction because i didn’t want to stick some poor person with my rust bucket. It was winter and unusually cold for Daytona, about 40 degrees. It sold to a dealer in Orlando about 60 miles away. I’m watching 3 of the dealer’s drivers are fighting over who was going to drive the neat little sports car back to Orlando. Well, the winner was the loser because when he got in and slammed the door the window dropped into the door with a bang, fell off its track I guess. The two losers were laughing like crazy and so was I. I’ll bet that was a cold ride home.

    Like 3
  2. Louis Q Chen

    I can recalled back in 1971! Then a good friend of mine got this cute little Italian Cutie. We had a blast cruising down Wisc. Ave. in Georgetown on Friday and Sat. nights. It was a chix magnet then. It remembered that I had to cruise around with him in my Opel GT just to pick up chix! Both of us had the coolest non-Detroit chix magnet cars in our school. As I recalled this 850 wasn’t a “pocket rocket” but was very economical car! It handled quite good. Sad to say both of our cuties died of RUST! We lived in Bethesda, Md. which can get snowy and salty in the winter! So long the good old days! Too bad this cutie is little too far for me to relive my memories :(….

    Like 2
  3. John E. Ropelewski

    My 1972 Fiat 850 Spider didn’t have any rust because when Winter came, the car refused to run.

    Like 4
  4. t-bone Bob


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  5. Kurt K

    I had a few. Why a few? As they disintegrated you used them for parts to repair the next one. Way underpowered. The engine was small to avoid emissions requirements in the U.S. Fun, yes. Reliable and sporty, no. In our young years we were able to throw a third friend under the flip-up convertible top panel. I still have a factory service manual and a hand written diagram of how the wire for the window lift is run from the crank. Yes, pulley and crank to raise and lower the door windows.

    Like 0

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