13th Sep 2004, 18:37
When I was a young man a girl friend lend me her 850 spyder in Paris and I felt like driving a sports car. The car was quick, handled well and when you know how to drive a all rear weight car, you could outperform most of the cars on the road.
Today I bought a Seat 850 Spyder to rebuild it totally. I love it and the niece of my girl friend (6 years old) seriously thought, this car was for her to play with, so small and cute it is. The design is still very elegant and Bertones handwriting will make this car a classic. It is one, without any doubt.
14th Nov 2005, 23:57
The 850 spider experience was more feeling than performance. It had a nice race car look. Driving it felt much more exhilarating than other cars (at the same pace). This car with the stock bias ply tires was a fantastic for learning to drift through turns. Not an open class winner at club races, but had good potential to compete against some more expensive machines. The goal of this was design was an INEXPENSIVE sporty car WITH most of the comforts of the day. My top leaked on rainy highway trips. Almost rattle free. Good brakes. Like most fiat motors, it loves to rev high. Tiny sychromesh couldn't take it for long and then shifting would get slow. Steering wheel was too close to windshield (fingers could hit glass). Thrills can be had within the legal speed limit with these things. It was like a convertible Honda CRX in it's time.
12th Jan 2006, 10:27
I had a 1967 850 Spider and finally sold it here last year. It was a fun little car, but, at 7500 ft. above sea level with two big 200lb+ guys in it, it does lack some power. Big surprise, right? It cornered on rails and had great braking. Fiat was not bought by GM. This guy is so off base, I have to wonder if he ever even owned one of these.
15th Jan 2006, 21:43
In the late 1970s when I lived in San Diego, California I had a 1970 Fiat 850 sport coupe that I loved and miss to this day. It was the first car I ever purchased. A professor of mine in college took me for a drive in his 1968 model 850 once. After that I knew I had to have one.
The 850 handled impeccably, even for a rear engined car. It did have mechanical problems which I knew about when I bought the car. These problems were likely caused by improper driving habits. Americans needed to relearn their driving style to get reliability and performance out of the 850. Most importantly that meant no lugging the motor. One had to wind it up before shifting. Also, it was necessary to frequently clean the centrifugal oil filter and change the oil. 850s were as reliable as any other car if you took these precautions. I didn't do this often enough which caused its demise (totally my fault).
The car was very sporty in stock form. It looked beautiful thanks to Bertone and clung to the road like a go-kart once you replaced the bias-ply tires with radials. But it could be modified to make it even quicker. I didn't know it at the time, and couldn't have afforded them anyway, but PBS Engineering was very close by in Garden Grove, California. They are famous in the US for building competition 850 engines.
Knowing all this now, I'd really like to own an 850 again - preferably an open car. I've owned several Porsches and now I'm in the middle of restoring an original 914-6 and a Pre-A 356 cabriolet. When I'm done with these I'm going to look for another Fiat 850. They are inexpensive to find. The only trouble is that Fiat is no longer doing business in the US and replacement parts would likely be difficult to find.
20th Jul 2006, 12:46
I purchased my 850 spider from an uncle in 1982, and drove it daily until 1987. Yes this little car had it's problems (fuel pump, rusty gas tank, plugged jets, cracked ballast resistors, and a leaky rag top), but who cares. Friends loved this car. It wasn't the fastest, but the tank was always full, and it was always a 'top down day'!
Dave from Vancouver B.C.
12th Aug 2006, 20:08
The very first car I owned after graduating from borrowing my dad's car was a 1968 Fiat 850 Spider. I bought it for $500 in 1974. The convertible top leaked at the front corners when it rained. I went through three clutches and three exhaust systems and a couple of sets of spark plug wires in the 5 years or so I owned it, and it cost me $200 every time I pulled into the dealer. At 850 cc's it wasn't exactly a Chevelle Super Sport off the line. The previous owner had embedded a radio through the glove box door. The luggage compartment was almost non-existent. And I absolutely loved that car, and wish I still had it.
The Italian sports car styling was very definitely a babe magnet, which to a then-19-year-old is the only reason to own a car, yes? The top could be operated while sitting in the driver seat, and none of these cheap vinyl tonneau covers that had to be buttoned over the drop-top when it was down, the car body had a section about 18x48, hinged at the back, that unlatched and swung up, then the top went down, and the cover was closed to conceal the accordion top inside the body. And what I thought one of the absolute best features for driving in our Midwest US winters was it had an ELECTRIC HEATER. Get in the car on a bitter morning, start it up (and it never failed the start for me) and hit the heater button... instant heat...no driving ten miles down the road with teeth chattering waiting for some warm air to flow.
The clutches.. My girlfriends burned them up trying to learn to drive it. Exhaust... the reason it was so expensive was it was rear engine... manifold to muffler to tailpipe was all one piece. Was it racy? I challenged someone to race me once and they just laughed... knowing I had an 850cc engine. I insisted I could beat him as long as I picked the road. He called me on it and I chose a road that had eight 90 degree turns in a one-mile stretch. I was taking corners at 30 MPH and that rear engine over the drive wheels kept me firmly under control. By the time he got to the end of the road I was leaning on the back bumper waiting for him.
In 1979 I sold it for $300 and bought a Buick Regal that was more sensible and cheaper to keep, and had air conditioning, but never gave me the pure driving pleasure that Fiat did -- I still wish I had it in my driveway.
18th Aug 2006, 05:07
I owned one for less than a year when I lived in Roselle NJ. I drove it during the winter, spring of '74. It was a bright yellow and got the girl's attention. I worked on the CNJRR railroad at the time, and had to drive to off the wall places, dirt and/or unkempt roads, etc.
The car drove and handled wonderfully. I didn't have any problems when I had it. I sold it when I moved to Calif, I didn't want to drive it cross country, it was too small even then when I was smaller and younger. mikemcdonnell.com.