1969 Fiat 850 Coupe 903 from North America


Great fun and a unique car


When living in the 29 Palms (California) desert, the engine overheated to the extreme. Drove the car home smoking badly and WAY overheated. On tear-down, there was no cracking, scoring or any other damage to the block or bearings, just a warped head. This is an aluminum head on iron block. It seems the combination of Castrol 20-40 GTX motor oil with STP additive saved the motor.

Another time, I lost a cylinder at an autocross event and drove the 100 or so miles home on three cylinders. That time, on tear-down, the only damage was a SLIGHTLY scored cylinder wall, which honed out nicely. But the rings had disintegrated and the piston was beat to death. Still have the piston as a trophy.

Only recurrent problem was the points in the distributor would migrate and cause the engine to run poorly, and eventually not at all. Seemed to be a product of insecure mounting with screws into a cast aluminum distributor housing.

General Comments:

As with all the Fiat 850's, this car is a blast to drive. Very unique being a coupe (everybody's into the spider convertibles). My dream Fiat is the 850 micro van which was never sold in the U.S.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st June, 2003

12th Jan 2007, 06:28

That's a great story, I have many Fiats and I recently purchased a 850 what I believe is called a Familiar, it is a van, not a 600 multipla, it is a 850. Is this what you are talking about and does it have any value? I am considering restoring it because it has a good floor, what do you think? John from US- PA State.

25th Apr 2008, 20:31

69 Fiat 850 Sport Coupe was my first car. Purchased for $450 in 1974. Unfortunately, it was the worst vehicle ever manufactured. Incredible amount of rust developed. Wouldn't start below 60 degrees. Only way to start it was by popping the clutch. Fortunately, my girlfriend lived at the bottom of a hill. Even the seat brackets broke. And who could forget the centrifugal oil filter? Was a blast to drive when it ran. It did teach me a fair amount of mechanic skills though. Actually had the motor out of it. Bought an Opel Manta in 77. Started the first morning I owned it at 10 below. Best car I ever owned.