Live Auctions

Rarer Than You Think: 1980 Fiat X1/9

According to Xweb, the online forum for all things X1/9, there were just 1,034 registered and plated X1/9s in the United States in autumn 2018. That represented about 1 percent of the approximately 100,000 X1/9s sold in this country between 1972 and 1989. With rust’s tendency to never sleep, you can bet the number of these angular two-seaters on our roads today is probably lower. Which makes this 1980 Fiat X1/9 here on eBay, with bids at just $1,575 with about a day to go, a very seductive proposition.

The seller lays it out right up front for the prospective buyer: It’s a project car, he says, which was abandoned in his shop years ago. As you can see from the pictures, the body is good — really good actually, considering rust inhibition was not a strong suit in the Italians from this era. There is some obvious rust scale in the trunk area, behind the engine bay, but it doesn’t look to be a dealbreaker by any stretch. Clearly, the car has benefited from Texas weather.

As is obvious from the photos, the X1/9 was mid-engined and had various iterations of powerplants and transmissions in the course of its production run, including 1300cc carbureted, 1500cc carbureted and 1500cc fuel-injected engine versions, plus four-speed and five-speed manual transmissions. Our subject car has the bigger 1500cc with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, five-speed manual and a bonus go-fast K&N cone filter, the latter definitely not a factory option! Considering the car’s age, this is a tidy engine bay even though, sadly, the car is a non-runner. Thankfully, these are simple machines to work on, so getting it up and running could be something easy, obvious or overlooked.

These are not supercars by any measure. When new, engine output was just 84hp and torque just 87 lb.-ft. Still, what these cars lacked in pure muscle, they made up for with nimble, go-kart-like handling and an authentic driving experience. With just 34,165 miles on the odometer, the interior and associated wear suggest it might be accurate, too. The removable targa roof looks almost perfect and even the Fiat Blue Metallic paint looks to be in decent shape all around. It could probably use a good clay barring or some rubbing compound, but it looks to be worthy of some elbow grease and effort, for sure. A couple of faults to note, namely the front chin spoiler is missing and there’s no title. The seller suggests applying for a bonded title in order to make the car eligible for registration. Finding a classic car bargain under $5,000 is quickly disappearing so this may very well be the perfect project and sunny-day driver if the paperwork can be sorted.

Comments

  1. PairsNPaint

    Had a ’74. On a quiet night, I could go out to the garage and HEAR it rusting. I will admit it was a fun car to drive. Took a trip with my wife and 3yo from Baltimore to Boston with all our camping equipment tied down on it. Probably what caused her to divorce me.

    Like 22
  2. MATTHEW GRANT

    there is a reason only 1% remain. yes, they were cheap and people tended not to baby them. but they also dreadfully assembled and of poor quality. so, there is a reason.

    Like 6
  3. John H.

    Fix It Again Tony. Never gonna own another one. I’m sure there’s a new forever home for this car. GLWTS.

    Like 4
  4. tompdx Member

    These are an absolute hoot to drive. My future ex-brother-in-law bought one new in 1979. I got to drive it quite a bit. It felt a lot faster than its specs and handled like a slot car. Loved it! This little classic might be a bargain.

    Like 7
    • BlondeUXB Member

      Cheap, rusted quick but look back at period road test results. Check out the g’s these could pull in a corner. They were in rare company…

      Like 6
  5. James Simpson

    There is a lot of FIAT bashing out there. I know acronyms for FIAT that are not repeatable in forums. Great fun to dogpile on. HA!, However, compare the competition at the time to the English cars that were available. Take the Fiat 124/2000 for instance- Full syncro 5 speed transmission, DOHC cam Weber or Bosch FI, 4-wheel Power assisted Disk Brakes, extensive use of alloy aluminum throughout, all in all- little comparison to the English buggies available in features. I love them all, and address weaknesses as they evolve. As Enzo said- “car is broken? But a new car!”

    Like 6
  6. Troy

    My older brother had a green one when I was in high school as I recall it broke down with in a week or two of him buying it and it sat in the back yard until the repo guys showed up.

    Like 2
  7. t-bone bob

    Located in: Denton, Texas

    Like 1
  8. Bill West

    Rare if only for the fact that it actually runs.

    Like 2
  9. douglas hunt

    I bought one of these new in 1980, was a lot of fun, but a guy hounded me to sell, and that was the last fiat I ever owned ……

  10. Dave Peterson

    On paper, this should have been a hit. In reality, they proved to be un-sellable. I do not recall having one leave in a retail sale. Always packaged with other cars the wholesalers really wanted. I agree that the little convertible was the counterpoint to this car. In 124 sales, I always remember a high school or college girl, coming in with her boyfriend/parents, and leaving with the top down and smiling from ear to ear. And I never surreptitiously bought an extended warranty to protect our paper for a 124 either coupe or convert.

    Like 1
    • douglas hunt

      when I bought mine, the Fiat dealer was in the next big town, 60 miles away.
      My dad drove me over there and I must have walked around every car they had in the showroom, and the sales guy said basically I could get the spider or the X1/9 for the same price.
      I was star struck on the mid-engined X1/9 but my dad said, “If I was you I would get the spider”
      but I had to have the X 1/9, only later thinking the convertible spider may have been a more fun car, ah hindsight and dads wisdom ……

      Like 3
  11. Sebastian X1/9

    Emerson Fittipaldi said this car was the closest thing to an F1 car when he drove it. But guys who drive trucks know better than he did apparently.

    Like 5
    • B302

      Guys who drive trucks drive more miles than Mr. Fittipaldi. Do you want to drive a F1 car back and forth to work, especially one that has little reliability. Many people bought these thinking they could serve as a daily driver, but in many if not most scenarios they could not. With the above stated, I do like this car ! But I would know what I am buying, as most on this site would.

      Like 1
  12. princeofprussia

    These were out around the same time as the wedge-shaped Triumph, and whether or not they were considered to be a direct competitor or not, I don’t know. But I always felt that while similar in appearance, the X1/9 looked limber and agile, while the TR7/8 looked a little chubby and dumpy in comparison. At that point in the U.S. car market, FIAT’s reputation was at a pretty low point, while Triumph was a more highly-regarded marque. 40 years later, FIATs are on our roads again while Triumphs are but a faded memory. Given the choice, I’d opt for the X1/9 myself, despite FIAT’s reputation. The FIAT I would REALLY like to own, though, is the 850 Spyder. But then my automotive tastes are eclectic and all over the place!

    Like 4
    • Harold Daniels

      If I could have found one, ( in the same shape as the TR7, I just lucked into ) that’s what I’d be in now, but I’ll just have to deal with loving my chubby 78 Triumph lol.

  13. Ron S

    Clearly most comments not from owners of these cars. I have a few friends that STILL drive these daily. Though I can’t fit in these, (I’ve tried), I do still drive a 43 year old Spider 2000 and frankly it has less issues than either of my BMWs.

    Like 7
  14. Gerard Frederick

    In 1981 I lost my job and demo and borrowed the little Fiat from my step daughter for a couple of weeks. She had bought it new, never serviced it, never checked the oil, just drove it. I was first one to treat the little beauty to a full service at the dealer in Culver City. It was THE fun car to tool around in, even more so than the much loved Bugeye Sprite because it had a lot of creature comforts., My step daughter´s didn´t rattle, didn´t use any oil, didn´t leak and was as reliable as all get out after over 50 grand on the clock. No doubt the best Italian car I ever drove – and I owned 2 Alfas as well as a Maserati 3500 GT, all 3 disasters.

    Like 5
    • Ron S

      It also had little features like all wheel disc brakes. As I age.. I DO wish the Spider had A/C. LOL

      Like 1
  15. Mike Hawke

    When these were new, my boss at the garage called it the “X1-junk” and I didn’t know anyone who coveted these. I’ve owned hundreds of cars since and never had one of these. I’ve had the 850 Spider and many 124 Spiders, but these have proven elusive. The last time I even tried to buy one was in the late 90s when they had absolutely no value and the car needed a lot of work. Now the car seems really desirable, and I’d be very interested if it was somewhat close by. Of course, I wouldn’t have to rely on it for daily transportation.

  16. Russell

    Off on a tangent … a few years ago, at a car show, I saw a 1/9 where they squeezed a 2L Honda K-series (placard stated 250hp) into the back … no real idea how it drove (came on a trailer) … but the possibilities cloud my imagination

    Like 1
  17. Chinga-Trailer

    My little brother bought one of these new – his first ever new car and he managed to drive it 250,000 miles! What this shows that if a manufacturer builds enough of anything, occasionally they screw up and build a good one! My brother obviously was the recipient of one of those screw-ups!

    Like 1
  18. MattR Member

    Sold for $2550. I think it’s worth that for sure. Good looking example here. I’ve always been a fan of these.

    Like 1
  19. Araknid78

    Ended: Jun 03, 2022 , 12:16PM
    Winning bid:US $2,550.00 [ 26 bids ]

  20. chrlsful

    steal.
    1/9 & 850 ARE a lill different (each one to the other). Glad U use the “e” wrd for your tastes. I have just appropreated it myself.
    Local garage service manager trailers his to SCCA events 2, 3 daysa wk all spring, summer, fall. We just bought a ’92 MR2 and I restored near a dozen late ’50s – early ’80s ‘Itilians’ 30 through 50 yrs ago. 30 yrs away from it all I’m back (semi-retired) but cant find the same. This 1 would have kept me motivated thru the rest0mod.

    Like 1

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