Archive for June, 2010

Miura Light – 1967 Fiat 850 spider

June 25, 2010

No, I don’t have any intentions of comparing this car to a Miura, but for those of you who haven’t heard this before, the Fiat 850 spider (specifically the 1967 model) and Lamborghini Miura share headlights. Come to think of it, they were also both designed by Bertone. And they’re both mid-engined, and Italian. So like I said, no intention of comparing these cars at all. If nothing else, you could probably have the world’s remaining population of Fiat 850 spiders for the cost of one Miura (I’m guessing a couple thousand or so).

Anyway, like most funky older cars with which I have no experience, these Fiats do appeal. While not exactly spoiled for power, they aren’t terribly heavy either. And while there was some poetic license in saying they’re mid-engine, they do seem to be known for good handling. Engine access should also be fairly straightforward – it appears the rear panel (grill and valance) comes right off, allowing you to sit on the ground or a stool while working on the car. So yes, it’s a cool little car – problem is, it’s pretty hard to find one in good nick. Even in good shape, they’re pretty affordable, as you can see with this one, listed in Denver, CO for $3250.

1967 Fiat 850 spider left



More like 600 – 2010 Motherlode 400

June 23, 2010

Rarely but rarely, I get the urge to torture myself by actually driving one of the old jalopies in the RustyButTrusty fleet. This time, it was the spider’s turn to do the dirty work (and it was actually quite dirty) and be the ride for my father and me on the 2010 Motherlode 400. Now, you’d think something called the Motherlode 400 would be 400 miles long… but it’s not. It was actually about 300 miles a day, Saturday and Sunday, plus another 300 to get to the start/finish in Jackson/Sonora, CA, respectively.

These weekend drives are actually surprisingly strenuous, on driver, passenger, and car. By the time we reached the top of the 9624-ft. Sonora pass (highly recommend it, it’s like if they put great driving roads in Yosemite – not that I’m suggesting that, but the roads are narrow and the views are tremendous) on the 108, the car was panting and we were doing mostly second gear to keep the power on tap.

motherlode 2010 5


Almost there – Italian Fiat Spider and Alfa Berlina Projects

June 14, 2010

Since I’ve been writing fewer posts, I seem to have cut back to featuring my favorites. Looks like they’re mostly Italian cars that are affordable enough, yet modern enough in spec to be used as daily drivers. And I’ve mentioned it before, but they almost all seem to use the same formula – rear wheel drive, twincam fours, 5-speed manual transmissions. Mostly I also try to feature cars that are running, but recently I’ve spotted a couple that I still think are worth mentioning in quickie format.

The first one is a Fiat Spider. All Fiat Spiders get cool points in my book, even though they’re still fairly common in northern California, but I’m a bigger fan of the early models (AS and BS) with their delicate chrome bumpers, hubcaps, and (sometimes) flat hoods. They have a much more delicate look about them that is probably closest to how Tjaarda intended them to be. And since they were often kept as second cars, you can still find them in pretty decent shape for short money. That brings us to our first example, a 1972 spider in Campbell, CA (near San Jose) for $1606.

1972 Fiat Spider