Sporty Italian Fastback! 1968 Fiat 850 Sport Coupe

This sporty little fastback is a 1968 Fiat 850 Sport Coupe. 1 of 340,000 made from 1965 to 1971, this 1968 Series II sport coupe can be found here on craigslist for $2,500.00.  It’s located in Seattle, Washington.

Introduced in 1965 at the Geneva Car exhibition, the 850 Sport Coupe was Fiat’s successor to the 600.  The 850 Sport Coupe was designed by Felice Mario Boano who was also credited with the design for the Lancia Aurelia GT Coupe.  Boano founded his own design house in 1954, Carrozzeria Boano, but three years later closed the doors and moved to Fiat to work with Dante Giacosa.

This 850 Sport Coupe is likely paint code 419 Bleu Turchese (Turquoise Blue), one of two shades of blue offered during the 1968 model year.  Shown wearing non-original Abarth Cromodora magnesium CD-30 rims on the driver’s side and original steelies on the passenger side, this Fiat can be had with either set at the request of the buyer.

According to the seller, this 850 has an 843cc powerplant good for 34hp.  In March 1968, the Sport Coupe was offered with a 903cc engine good for 52hp. The seller makes no mention of engine condition or whether any efforts were made to turn the motor.  As pictured, the engine looks original and undisturbed. Assume that the motor will need a full rebuild. No mention is made of the condition of the 5-speed transmission.

Fiats are often plagued by rust problems and close examination of this car indicates areas that will require attention. Corrosion is present on the driver’s front fender and the left rear quarter behind the wheel.  Rust can also be seen on the front of the hood and the rear tail panel. No mention is made of the condition of the rockers or floors. The seller is offering a NOS tail panel with the car.

The interior will need a full re-trim.  Seats, door cards, and the rubber floor mats show signs of deterioration. The door cards appear water damaged. While shown missing the dash and instrument cluster, the seller is including a clean dash and two clusters with the Fiat.

Because details are scant in the listing, you are basing condition on the pictures.  This 850 Sport Coupe will need an engine rebuild, and perhaps a transmission rebuild, and an interior, and rust repair and paint. So is it worth it? Initially, perhaps not.  But look at it for a moment, the color, the lines, the Italian pedigree, a strong aftermarket with parts support, and you might just find yourself thinking about finding a spot for this sporty little 850 Sport Coupe in your garage.

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Comments

  1. sir_mike

    The coupe looks better to me.Keep the Abarth wheels.Plenty of Abarth motor parts avaible to make it go faster.Don’t think they had a 5sp…might be wrong.

    Like 1
  2. Todd Fitch Staff

    Sweet find, Dave! My Mom bought one of these new when I was 5? in a BRG-like color. I remember piling about (no joke) eight neighborhood kids into it for an evening at the roller rink. Another time some members of my Mom’s Sunday School class pranked her by lifting it up and setting it on the porch of a retreat center. I believe it had rust-through after one NW Pennsylvania winter, and was replaced by a VW Beetle. I’ll hijack the famous quote about the Vega and apply it to this car. As near as we can tell it was made from compressed rust. Otherwise neat little car! Thanks for the memories and a good write-up!

    Like 3
  3. SMS

    In the early 80’s a friend had one. Was an Abarth. At that time is was just seen as an old souped up FIAT, fun but no longer competitive.

    Would love to have this and get it up to Abarth spec. Not too difficult to do. They are good looking cars, if a bit small. As mentioned, rust is a huge issue with these. Have not seen anyone able to stop them from rusting.

    One of the cars that you can literally rebuild the motor or trans on a kitchen table. Small, simple, and light.

    As to price. When I see these for sale, which is rare, price is in line with what this one is on offer for.

    Like 1
  4. Paul

    Dad snd I rented one of these in Italy in ‘68, and drove around the middle of the country. It was quite a fun little car. It had a 4-speed, and I’m not aware of any 5-speeds in these.
    Poor quality steel and paint at Fiat led to rust problems, including for suspension mountings. So buyer beware. This car needs everything and will be very, very expensive to put right unless you have mechanical and bodywork skills and don’t mind the time. Once you get it done, you could probably have bought a 912 Porsche in good driver condition.

    Like 1
  5. Paul

    Dad and I rented one of these in Italy in ‘68, and drove around the middle of the country. It was quite a fun little car. It had a 4-speed, and I’m not aware of any 5-speeds in these.
    Poor quality steel and paint at Fiat led to rust problems, including for suspension mountings. So buyer beware. This car needs everything and will be very, very expensive to put right unless you have mechanical and bodywork skills and don’t mind the time. Once you get it done, you could probably have bought a 912 Porsche in good driver condition.

    Like 1
  6. Elanguy

    I would guess this is an 817cc (1967 was 843) and put out a claimed 52HP was but less powerful than the “real” 52HP of the earlier 843 engine. The later 903cc put out 55HP, and really was a tiny bit quicker than the earlier cars.

    Rust doesn’t look too bad, and is amazing for one of these. They rusted badly, high-carbon steel and poor paint protection.

    These are so rare that the normal complaints about “wait for one in better condition” isn’t very helpful, how long are you willing to wait?

    A 1967 was my first car in high school, so yes, I like them. Mine rusted to junk as soon as I drove it in heavy salt country, but I miss it.

    A later motor or better yet a 1050 from a later series car would make it closer to how I hoped it would be at the time.

    Like 2
  7. KEVIN L HARPER

    I use to autocross one of these in the early 80s. I had to reinforce the transmission mounts and set the motor on zing and it did really well.
    I looked at a pretty nice one in Padua Italy last year and if memory serves me right it was about 13k euros. A lot of money but still probably cheaper than restoring this one.

    These only came with factory 4 speeds but 5 speeds are available in the aftermarket.
    The autobianci 1050 in Abarth guise slips in well though you have to change the ring gear as the motor spins in opposite directions, stock these are 70hp and Abarth also installed the 124 motor in push rod guise back in the day.
    Hot rod parts are available in Italy and with the internet easy to get.
    The show in Padua each year has an amazing selection of vendors catering to vintage cars and in particular Italian cars and should be visited to show what can be done to these little Fiats.

    Like 3
  8. Howard A Member

    Friend across the alley, this was his 1st car in HS. Initially, it got ooo’s and ahhs from the other kids, “4 speed, tachometer, high reving”, a little piece of Italian exotics, right here in good ol’ Beer City,,,well, that came to a screeching halt. Everything you could think of on it, broke. Window cranks, door latches, malfunctioning gauges, then the trans began to grind. 2 years old, mind you. He took it to Fiat, they replaced something in the trans, he got it back, it was okay for about 2 weeks, and began grinding. By then, it also began using oil, and he traded it for a Barracuda, with much better results. Soured my taste for Fiats forever.

    Like 3
  9. Chris Webster

    I’m not sure if this is the sports coupe version. They had four tail lights and factory driving lights. Bought one for 200 sold it for 400 bucks. A long time ago now!

    • Martin Horrocks

      That´s the later 903cc upgrade. This first series is prettier in my eyes, but both are lovely little cars.

      All parts available cheap, though trim may need to come a donor in Europe, it´s not hard. SEAT also built these.

      Like 1
    • Joop van den Einde

      Chris Webster, this in fact is called a Series 1, the Series 2 is the one with the 4 tail-lights and 4 head-lights, 2big & 2 Little ones. There is also a 3th Series.

  10. Ben T.Spanner

    I traded a dead VW for one titled as a 1968; in 1973 or so. It did not have the tiny little side lights mandated on 1968 cars. It may have been built in 1967.
    My wife adopted it and drove it daily, drag racing city busses. Sometimes she won.
    The exhaust was rusted. I bought a new, unwanted header and added a glass pack muffler. This one has a header.
    My friend had a 850 sedan, which was really rare.

  11. Elanguy

    I had my 850 Coupe for about 11 years, 1967 to 1978. Only put a little over 100k miles on it. It was pretty reliable, didn’t seem any better or worse than most cars of the era. Yes the bottom rusted out. Yes second gear synchro wore out, I replaced it and it was fine after that. Burned a valve once. All pretty routine for the era.

    Like 2
  12. James Simpson

    I own #75 of about 150 Fiat 850 based OTAS Grand Prix cars imported into the USA by Rich Motor Imports in Gardena CA. During the gas crunch of the times, an 817cc engine bypassed smog laws and was exempt officially due to displacement laws. Not so for the 843cc. The tiny difference put it into smog testing.
    Currently my car has a 1438cc 124 reverse rotation push rod motor in it- Abarth ring and pinion, and many other PBS Italian hot rod parts engineered parts. It is a real kick in the pants! only 43″ off the ground. Lots of fun.

    Like 3
    • Martin Horrocks

      OTAS is a real rarity, great that you enjoy the car and have modified it so nicely. They need the speed to match the looks!

    • SMS

      First time I saw one I was thinking it was a concept car or a kit car. The styling was too wild to be a production car. One of the best looking cars in my eyes. Congrats

      Like 1
  13. mainlymuscle

    I think these are really cute little cars.If I liked little cars,I’d like to see something like Hayabusa power in one,and lower the stance a lot.
    IF I likes little cars =;^ )

    Like 1
  14. Tom Hall

    “As near as we can tell it was made from compressed rust.”
    Laugh of the day right there!

    Like 3
  15. Araknid78

    These are nice and a lot of fun. But, I prefer the later model with the four headlights

    Like 3
  16. Anthony Carnell

    It has been a long time since I was on here.
    I was stuck overseas due to COVID-19 restrictions in that, and my own country: Australia. I have brought 4 cars over from the USA before; not a problem.
    I know good trustworthy people from pick up to delivery.
    My Mk. 1 FIAT coupe is really beyond hope now, after a year outdoors, uncovered, tropical conditions; no *me* to save it.
    This: I will buy. No question at all. I can build one from parts, but not a bucket full of rust, which mine truly is now 😔.
    How can I get in touch with the seller?
    Absolutely no bs; genuine collector and I have a superb contact here for tinsel and glass, electrics; two in Italy for repair panels and engine parts, another here for eg restoring starter motor, NOS steering and tranny components.
    Weld, spray, panel repair, leading, all that, myself.
    Getting old but no COVID-19 where I live and this is the *perfect* way to spend the time. My wife will be over the moon too.
    Please any help on contact details.
    I have only intermittent mobile data at the moment.
    Best regards
    AC

  17. Willowen Member

    The Fiat dealer in Anchorage was a Serbian guy called Lou. He knew I’d been waiting for these to come in, so when he let me know he had one fresh off the boat I ran over there, and he said, “Get in!”, and we took off. Though the car had just 14 miles on it, he headed to the 8-block-long mid-town park strip and proceeded to redline it in every gear … and when we came to the turnaround at the end he flung it sideways and drifted around, sawing at the wheel and continuing his commentary of how nice it was to drive! But, alas – I was making about $40 a week at a bookstore (or unemployment, I forget which) and had neither savings nor adequate credit, so even at just $1800 FOB Anchorage I couldn’t swing it.

    I’d say I’m still looking, but I’m pretty sure that’s all I really can do. I could handle the money part now, but this would need both a way to get it here (though its West Coast location helps) and the full approval of the Other Owner of our garage. So … Pass, darn it.

    Like 2
    • Paul

      They’re nice, but not nice enough to grieve over if they need as much work and $$ as this one will to put right. You’d really have to wanted it. I found these to be sweet but not “must have” little cars. And then there was the Fiat quality-of-materials issue always lurking.

      • Joop van den Einde

        Paul, Your comments show clearly, that you are not able to do any fix on a car, maybe not even topping up the oil ? The Fiat 850 is a very simple car. If you can work on a bicycle, you do the 850 with your left hand. Off course, if you want one, they are at least 40 years old, so you must learn yourself welding. As you are on the job, after welding you need to take some rustprotection, with Waxoil or ML from Valvoline, and PVC coating underneath, and of course, good Paint !.Electrics could be improved, but that’s not a big thing. They are toy-cars, and women go crazy, watching one. I have a 850 Sedan, from Seat, and after fitting disc brakes, SPAX shocks, giving it the 903 52 Din Hp engine, it runs great. In fact, it contended in some Rallies, and it drives good. Fiat mechanical parts are in my opinion very good, it revs easily up to 6500, and top speed is 135 km/u, tacho says 155. I owne it now for 12 years, and we drove it for 18000km as one of my Italian classics. We improved the gearbox-linkage, and its mountings, and the engine was polished, higher compression, polished cranks etc…. It has now even oil-cooling, and the engine is as reliable as an VW, and much more fun to drive then those Beetles, who are on any streetcorner. This 850 has not let me down, only for an 15min gap, as we had vapourlock. That can be fixed too, with a bottle of water, and then an electric pump. Did it cost more then a 912 ? Oh no, maybe 4000 euro, with all the extra engines I have… This year the 850 Sedan did 2800km, and it never failed. One headlightbulb. 850 Coupe is more expensive in panelpieces, as they are not easy to find. But the rest, trim, gearbox, mechanical parts and a lot more, can be ordered new…. As it is a second-car, maintained very well, standing dry, but driven also hard, the car stays in good condition. And a have several spare engines, so no problems at all. Driving it is fun, getting as much looks as a Porsche 912. Children and Women go on foto’s with it, FOR ITS COOLNESS. Buy one I would say, they are more then worth it….. Greetings from Netherland, Europe

  18. grouchyandugly Member

    i bought one 1968 NEW in P.R. while in the Navy on shore duty. “we” got 13 SAILORS in mine… just to see…. i later removed the front hood which in there was a perfect SEAT. sat 2 shipmates up front, and my wife inside. that was a fun car.

  19. Joop van den Einde

    Chris Webster, this in fact is called a Series 1, the Series 2 is the one with the 4 tail-lights and 4 head-lights, 2big & 2 Little ones. There is also a 3th Series.

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