1980 Fiat X1/9 1.5 petrol


A work of Italian art


On a fine sunny morning with the roof off, just 1 week after purchase, it started to overheat. Then water went everywhere. Making it carefully to the shop, it was discovered that 2 coolant pipes running underneath the car had corroded. Sadly the only way to remove the pipes was to cut them out of the underside of the car. NZ$800 later...

The cable that opened the engine cover snapped, but this was easily repaired through the 'rear boot'.

Throttle jams open every now and again.

Currently the clutch doesn't work, and I suspect it's the hydraulics that are playing up, rather than the clutch itself.

General Comments:

The X1/9 really impresses on a fine, warm day when you can remove the roof panel and cruise al-fresco. It stows cleverly in the front 'boot'.

But the advantage of leaving the roof on, from a handling point of view, is improved rigidity, and reduced 'scuttle shake'. Mid-engine handling is an art to master, and proves razor sharp through the turns.

The seemingly standard FIAT 1500 loves to sing, red-lining somewhere in the sky, and gathers speed quicker than you think. Yet it can be driven quietly around town as required. Count the savings as the simplicity of the engine brings pleasant bills.

However, other repairs can be very costly indeed. Some parts are difficult to find, and labour hours can run up big time.

Many X1/9's, like many other old Italian cars, suffer terrible rust. I'm fortunate to have a rust-free car.

A tragically beautiful car, styled by Marcello Gandini - a stylist at Bertone already celebrated for the Lamborghini Miura, who went on to style the Countach, Diablo, Murcielago, every Lamborghini since 1968. He also penned the Bugatti EB110, and the Citroen BX.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th September, 2002

23rd Dec 2003, 06:19

All due respect to both Bertone and Ghandini for they are both master of car design, but the Lamborghini MurciƩlago's design was done by young belgian designer Luc Donkerwolcke (from Audi Styling Center).

Maybe less exotic, but no less talented than the Italians.

10th Jan 2004, 19:06

Another comment to say, The Diablo was an American design by Chrysler in the early 80s. The Diablo came to exist after the purchase of Lamborghini through Chrysler. Best proof example is the movie The Wraith, featuring the all American design Turbo Interceptor which if you look closer resembles the Diablo today in more ways than one.

10th Feb 2005, 06:56

Actually, Ghandini did do the Diablo (as can be researched easily), though the final design was toned down and modified by the Chrysler team. The original design for the Diablo was then slightly widened to become the Cizeta Morodor V16-T.

23rd Apr 2005, 18:31

Italian auto spares in Onehunga, Auckland can source just about all parts you will ever need for your X1/9. Cheap Gearbox overhauls too, which is good cause they constantly chew up sincro's.

1980 Fiat X1/9 1.3


Best handling car ever, otherwise average


Would stop, particularly in rain.

Wheel bearing.

Cam belt tensioner bearing.

Battery earth strap.

Handbrake cable.

Leaking calipers and clutch slave cylinder.


Carpet rotted.

General Comments:

Handles like a go cart. Really. You really can't believe a car can handle this well until you've driven one.

Front brakes lock in wet, particularly in emergency braking.

Car was laid up for about 8 years before I bought it, so most of the early problems were due to this. Repairs were cheap and now the car is reliable. Parts are cheap. Some repairs are really hard to do due to access etc.

Passenger space is severely restricted. Taller people would have trouble.

Luggage is surprisingly good, but awkward. Great for soft luggage, poor for lawn mowers and other awkward shapes.

Egress is difficult, especially when my back or knee are playing up.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd March, 2002