Rare Mid-Engine 1980s Fiat X1/9 | Season 3 – Episode 81
Wheels Nov 10, 2023
Recently our video crew found a beautifully preserved blue Fiat X1/9 in Co. Leitrim. This November marks Fiat’s 124th year in Ireland. Fiat, abbreviated as Fabbrica Italiana Automobili di Torino, was founded in 1899 and established its presence in Ireland in November 1923 as Fiat Motors (Ireland) Limited in Chapelizod, Dublin.
The X1/9, initially a 1969 concept car called Autobianchi A112 Runabout, quickly became a production model due to high demand. It was Fiat’s first car designed to meet US safety standards.
The ‘Flying Wedge’ X1/9, designed by Marcello Gandini of Gruppo Bertone, showcased a sleek mid-engine GT look. With pop-up headlights and a removable Targa top, it rivalled pricier models. The elegant engineering of the mid-mounted engine and rear-wheel-drive, set a trend for other manufacturers to copy.
In preparing for the press launch the working name for the new car was the “128 Spider”, however, a savvy marketer changed the name as the car’s official development tag: “X1” denoting a passenger car and “9” being the ninth in the 1960s car series to be developed. And so, we have the FIAT X1/9.
Despite its sporty looks the car’s performance was not that great with a relatively heavy body designed to meet American crash test standards, propelled by a small 1.3L engine.
Also, with the company’s rush to bring the car to market there were some design shortcomings: a cramped engine compartment, overheating, rust and gearbox reliability problems. Claimed perfect weight distribution led to thrilling handling in dry conditions but became challenging in the rain.
Considering these flaws, the X19 enjoyed a long life with Bertone taking over manufacturing in 1982 and upping the engine size. 159.500 cars were built between 1972 – 1989.
501 Must Drive Cars – Bounty Books