20th Nov 2007, 16:50
I have a 1973 850 spider that has been my regular driver for 8 years or so. Contrary to popular opinion, it is one of the most reliable cars I have ever owned. It always starts and goes, & there are only a handful of things that can go wrong. All of the problems it has had are typical old car issues. Things wear out & need to be replaced occasionally. Parts are cheap & easy to find, and it handles like a real sports car. I rebuilt the engine to get some more power out of it, and it keeps up with traffic just fine. It's good on gas, has sleek Italian styling, & you can park it anywhere. The only drawback is all the dumb jokes people make like you've never heard them before. If you can't keep this car running, you should go back to high school Auto Shop 101.
31st Dec 2007, 10:28
I had a red 1967 Spider when I was in university (71) and it rusted out, both the floor and parts of the front uni-body structure that the steering gear was attached to!!! Until then, though, I loved it.
Last April I bought a French Blue 1972 spider - a return to my youth perhaps. It had been in storage for some 14 years and needed a lot of minor work when I got it, but things are improving. Body and frame work has been done before I bought it, but now it's winter I have had to put it away for a while (to avoid winter salt) and spend my time on rebuilding carb, distributor, seats for next summer. I am really looking forward to getting back on the road.
For the gentleman who had trouble keeping it on the road: read the manual! It is too bad it bit you, but that is exactly the behavior you should expect if you get the tire pressures wrong. The book says 20psi on the front and 26psi in the back to allow for the unusual weight distribution. If you try to drive it with 24psi front and rear you will very probably end up in a ditch. As someone previously commented, it is not bump-steer. Just unbalanced tire pressures.
3rd Jan 2008, 21:29
This has been an interesting thread to read. I've been searching out my next commuter car option for maximum fuel efficiency and fun, and the 850 is currently at the top of my list. The gentleman who posted on 11/20/2007 said parts were easy to find. If he or anyone else can post some current suppliers, I'd appreciate it. I previously had a 74 MGB which I loved, but it only got 20 mpg - I'm looking for 40+, and don't mind sacrificing power. Anyway, MG has a great supplier source in Moss Motors - something like that for the 850 would be great to find. Anyway, I've enjoyed reading your reminiscences of the 850.
23rd Jan 2008, 15:14
I had a British racing green 1969 Fiat 850 Spider when I was going to college up in Wisconsin back in the late seventies. My father begged me not to buy this car. I bought it for 900.00 from a friend who obviously didn’t understand the concept of car maintenance. After a few minor repairs, radial tires and a decent radio I was all set. At least I thought I would be. I agree with most about the fun handling. As previously noted, this car shined when on those winding country roads. You could lose the rear, but only after cranking a lot of Gs. In fact, in the winter, it was so fun to do “donuts” in nothing more than an average intersection. The drawback from the low driving stature was realized when, at some intersections I had to routinely exit the car to check for oncoming traffic due to theose local snow piles. This car had a roll bar installed, and I really liked the “snug”, leather interior, but had to get fuzzy seat covers to take the edge off the short rides during those cold winter mornings. Rust was a problem inside and out. On one important trip, my accelerator gradually came loose from the floor and forced me to “McGiver: the engine and use the clutch to make it to my Sister’s wedding rehearsal. You should have seen the look on my Dad’s face when he heard me pull up to the parking lot with those high revs. That engine, although underpowered, had it’s moments. I had to give this baby up, when after a move I found I had towed it improperly. Someone in Muncie, Indiana got a nice little ride. I have never had so much fun in a car, when it ran!
30th Jan 2008, 01:31
I'm glad I found this page since I loved to drive my 850. I still have the gear shift knob. I got an '68 light blue 850 while in college. It held tight corners like it owned them and had great acceleration when it was well tuned. Mileage was above 40 mpg pretty much all the time on open highways, even if I was not drafting 18 wheelers (I hope my kids never find this).
It was great looking and women liked driving in it. I remember driving in Roanoke Rapids with three cousins who were all blond cheerleaders... everyone was very jealous. And my own girlfriend and I enjoyed being in it, particularly since it was actually very roomy inside.
It was well designed, but the quality and materials were poor. Thin vinyl seats. Rocker panels and body started rusting from the insides. Constantly had to set the points, replaced the rubber hose between the tank and the filler cap, the clutch cable, and belts. This is when I found out that FIAT really meant fix it again, Tony.
But I'd love to build cars with a similar design, but with good materials, new electronics, and better craftsmanship. Perhaps an electronic version similar to the Tesla?
15th Feb 2008, 10:42
I've owned two, both '71's, one red, one white back in the early 70's - so they were both pretty new. Fun little cars to drive. I bought the red one to give to my brother for his 16th b'day, for $1000. I got it a few weeks before as if it were mine - let him borrow it and he got hit and run off the road totaling the car. With the insurance money, he bought a new Capri. I shortly found the white one and kept it for a few years, rarely putting the top up. I especially liked the way the top folded underneath for a clean look. Never had any problems with it. Not a lot of power, but did what I wanted it to do, for a just-for-fun car. I now have a '97 Miata (for fun); a great car too.
28th Feb 2008, 16:13
My first car was an 850 Spyder, 1969 I believe. Yes, it was very popular to look at, no it was definitely not built well. Definitely not made for good old Ohio road salt anyway. On mine, you must have had the top up to open or close the doors, otherwise the body sag would jam them shut. The factory rubber floor mats were attached through holes in the floorboard, these probably started leaking within two years of being new. When the side window mechanism stopped working, I wasn't surprised to see a mixture of flimsy plastic pulleys and aircraft cable type mechanism, the poor design was beyond reason. But, I would still love to have one again, the girls loved it!