Slow & sporty – 1966 Fiat 850 coupe

Inspired by a Fiat 128 SL I saw street-parked in San Francisco Friday night, I decided to look for one of the more unusual Fiats we got here in the US market. In fact, I’ve never featured a Fiat 850 of any type, even though the spiders are still pretty available, because they mostly come in restored (and pricey) or basket-case form. While these might not be the best daily-driver vintage car (unlike their bigger brothers in the 124 series), they are certainly a fine choice for the multi-marque vintage car rallies gaining in popularity recently.

The 850 coupe, with its 843cc engine putting out 47hp, will not tear up the tarmac, but if you consider some comparable cars (engine-size-wise), making it slightly less powerful (but not necessarily slower) than a Spitfire or a Midget, and much more powerful than a bugeye Sprite. In spite of its elegant styling and sporty engine, the 850 is valued lower by the market than its British competitors, so you’re getting more car for the money. As you can see on this 850 coupe, listed in Deforest, WI (near Madison) for $2500, the Italians designed some of the best-looking small cars of their time.

1966 Fiat 850 coupe left

So you can see the paint’s a bit faded, but that’s a good indication this is actually a California car as the seller says. Mostly I prefer to feature running, driving cars, but this one looks like it’s close enough, assuming the seller’s “restoration” efforts haven’t gone too far. I would rather put the car on the road as it is, work out its bugs, and then splash out on the cosmetics if the car proves itself worthy. Notice the front fenders look a little bumpy, so some work may be needed there.

1966 Fiat 850 coupe right

Looks smoother/more straight on this side. The car dollies suggest it’s been off the road for a while, although the tires are still holding air. You have to love the small Italian side marker lights the cars of this era have. Apparently it’s never seen a winter, by which I suppose he means a Wisconsin winter.

1966 Fiat 850 coupe engine

Engine compartment looks pretty complete, barring the radiator fan and probably some other bits I can’t see. However, the engine looks like it’s all there, including a carb and distributor, so if the car really ran well before the restoration was started, this shouldn’t be too hard to get back on the road.

Given the slow demand and small market for old Fiats, you might be able to show up with a lower amount if you come with cash. This is assuming, just as on some online dating sites, the seller has posted current pictures of the car, and not pictures from 10 years ago before it got a paunch and lost its hair. Oh, and if you want to be immediately underwater, check out this nearly-done 850 in Atascadero, CA for $15,000!! Have you owned & driven an 850? Let me know what it’s like in the comments.


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2 Responses to “Slow & sporty – 1966 Fiat 850 coupe”

  1. Roger Says:

    I see the CA car has reality being applied in $5,000 increments.

    A buddy of mine in high school (way too many years ago, 25, I think) had a spider, seemed like a fun car. He T-boned a fence post and drove for the remainder of the year with a 1′ deep dent dead center in the front…one advantage of a rear engine, I guess.

  2. Dan Says:

    Cool web site! My first car when I was 16 was a 1971 Fiat 850 Spider. This was in ’75 and it was already showing rust. It was part of a recall in about ’79 – I drove it into the Fiat delear and got about 500 bucks for it. I still have the recall notice. They were recalled for extensive rusting in nothern climates. Even thoiugh the car sagged terribly due to a cracked unibody / X-member, it ran great. In the four years I owned it it was dead reliable, albeit slow. My running buddies drove a Bugeye, an MG Midget, an MGB and an MGA and I could definitely keep up. Great in the snow too with rear engine / rear drive.

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