Fee-yats #1 – 1979 & 1980 Fiat X1/9s

For this double-Fiat feature, here’s another model I’ve always liked, and wanted even more since my only mid-engine car experience with a first-gen Toyota MR2. The X1/9 is pretty avant-garde for its time, looking more modern (to my eyes) than, say, my Alfetta GT. From a practical perspective, the “targa” bodystyle is great in a convertible in that you still get the wind in your hair without having the safety hazard of a standard roadster, or an ugly tack-on roll bar like my Spider has. Also, the handling on these cars is supposed to be amazing, and I’ve seen accessible power plant modifications to these including a Chrysler 2.2 turbo, Honda B16, and a Lancia Beta 2000. Unfortunately, unless you’re lucky enough to score a 1974 or 1975 model, you’ll have to smog your X, but you’ll forget about that when you’re listening to your Elton John 8-track with the wind blowing through your bald patch.

Anyway, our first of two X1/9s (a double-shot inside a two-fer?) is a dark red 1979 1500-powered version for $2500 in La Mesa, CA. This car seems to have rebuilt everything, including clutch and transmission, which along with its being in San Diego should avoid some of the major issues including rust and reverse gear failure. The paint and interior look clean, and if the maintenance records are good, this looks like a strong driver. You already have the benefit of 85 raw horsepower in this car, and as mentioned above, upgrades can start with a 1300 head and go from there.

1979 Fiat X1/9

On these cars, the simplicity of the steelies is actually more attractive than alloys, spoilers, and all the stuff they added later in this model’s life. That said, the other example, also benefiting from 85 unrestrained ponies, is this 1980 X1/9 in Silverdale, WA for $2600. It only has 83,000 miles, factory alloys in a clean design, and an upgraded period steering wheel. All of it will probably look good through your pseudo-retro aviator sunglasses.

1980 Fiat X1/9 side

The seller also mentions a 5-speed transmission, which should make highway cruising a little easier, and the gears are switched using a funky shift knob with the diagram on a flat surface canted towards the driver (actually pretty similar to the knob in my beta).

1980 Fiat X1/9 interior

If you own/have owned one of these, I’d be very interested to hear your experiences with these as a driver. Are they usable? I know they have great handling and are reasonably light, but do they manage okay in regular traffic? Drop me a line in the comments.


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2 Responses to “Fee-yats #1 – 1979 & 1980 Fiat X1/9s”

  1. Jim Says:

    I am in Australia and trying to locate a picture of the dash setup and console for a 1980 X1/9. Mine is non existant. I know mine is right hand drive and yours is left but that doesn’t matter. Any chance of getting a picture so I can start sourcing dash parts for mine. I have a 1980 Bertone 1500 5 speed. Thanks


    • Chris Keen Says:

      Sorry Jim, but these are not my cars – just cars that attract my interest. Have you tried the mirafiori.com forums? They’re Fiat-specific and helpful.

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