17th Jan 2009, 23:01
My first 850 Spider my dad got for me for $50 and he rebuilt the engine while I fixed the body. It was a great car to drive, but every weekend we tuned it, but was good for week. And in the snow it was a great car if you can get it started. But spring and summer in New York, it was a blast.
Now 40 years later I got a 850 Spider and I am having a great time driving it in Bakersfield CA with the top down almost every day. I love it so much with the price of gas I have another one 1969 that I am restoring. I have had Mustangs (66) Corvettes (74) and for the gas price I enjoy driving it every day.
24th Jan 2009, 17:42
I had a '72 Fiat 850 Spider (with American specs) when stationed in the Army in Italy, 1974-77. I loved that car -- its name was the "Screamin' Red Demon." On super-twisty, narrow Italian back roads, its handling was such that I could keep up with my friends' Ferrari's. On the straightaways -- fuhgeddabout it -- the car simply lacked the oomph to keep up.
I ruined the engine when I drove it to Madrid, Spain during the summer and warped the head in the heat. What a treat, to be running the heater in the desert in mid-summer around Zaragoza because the radiator couldn't cool the engine sufficiently. Plus, while I was checking the oil in Southern France with a case of C-rations on the luggage rack, the rear lid came down, jammed my face into the engine, and gave me the worst bloody nose of a lifetime.
I still loved the car, and if I could find a used one in good condition, I'd snap it up in a minute. I think of the Red Demon sometimes when I notice at the scar on my nose caused by the air cleaner.
8th Feb 2009, 00:10
When I got out of the Army in July '69 was the first time I saw the 850 Spyder. I didn't know much about Fiat, but I really loved the styling of it, and it was my chance to experience a convertible. My dad, always a Ford man, told me if I bought he would never work on it. That didn't stop me at all; it was more like a challenge. Naturally I bought it; all 817cc's.
Compared to my pre-army car, a 1965 Mustang, it was really slow, but it cornered great, and the mileage was twice as good, plus I was likely to get fewer speeding tickets with this car.
Drive-thru car washes were a problem. I always needed two large rags, one to stop the water from leaking at the driver's window, and the other to stop the leaking from the passenger's window. Luckily, the car was narrow enough so I could reach both windows at the same time, but I still got wet.
My dealer was lousy because the car usually had more problems after I got it back, than it did before I took it in. For example, my clutch was working fine, until one service visit, then it started slipping a few days later.
It was hard to carry one a conversation over the roar of the engine at speeds over 70 MPH, but who cared, not me. In 1974, while waiting at a freeway offramp for a light to change, a huge cadillac rear ended me with the tip of his bumper, then, noticing no damage to his car, he just drove away. After that the oil and radiator coolant decided to merge, but the Fiat and I knew it was time for me to split.
I missed that car, and never thought I would find anything as fun to drive. However, 40 years later, I now drive a Honda Fit, which gets better mileage, is just as much fun to drive, and a heck of a lot more reliable. I still think fondly of the Fiat. Aren't memories selective?
2nd Mar 2009, 11:49
I traded a new 1968 Pontiac LeMans for a new 1968 Fiat 850 Spyder because I hated the Pontiac so much and was looking for something that would be fun to drive.
I wasn't disappointed. It was perhaps the most fun of any in a long line of vehicles owned. At a time MGs had an erector-set convertible top, the Fiat top was slick and folded away under the metal cover.
Good fuel economy, great handling once you got the hang of it, a bit under powered, for sure, but among my favorites of all time.
14th May 2009, 22:09
In 1969 I had a blonde girlfriend with a yellow 850 Spider in Ontario. She'd let me drive it but would keep hollering "shift shift" because I loved to rev it.
I married the blonde. Today she is buying a 128 BMW. Some things stay the same. She has learned to live with high revs.
16th Aug 2009, 01:45
I am considering buying a 68 Fiat Spider and I really appreciate all the stories that people have shared on this site. I'm a little apprehensive to buy this car, but it seems like too great of an opportunity to let this car escape my grasp.
13th Sep 2009, 11:01
Just found this page and I love it.
My first car was a blue 1968 850 Spyder. I agree with the "under-powered" statements made here. However, I had many an experience of leaving German and English "technology" in my wake flying down the backroads of New Hampshire and Vermont. On these roads that little car just flew. The "twisties" is a great equalizer power-wise.
I miss that little car. Would love to have another one.
18th Sep 2009, 18:24
I still have the manual to my 1972 Spider, and it made me laugh to read my handwritten notes on the wiring diagram attempting to follow the wire colors in Italian.
The first thing I did after buying that car was to saw off the gearshift lever to about 2 inches and put a big walnut knob on it. I was Mario Andriette in my own mind, baby!
Remember that there were separate keys for the door and ignition. LOL.
14th Dec 2009, 22:44
GM never bought Fiat. Fiat owns about a 20% stake in Chrysler as of 2009.
"Bump Steering" didn't kill the Corvair. Nader's complaint was mostly in the rear suspension on uneven streets and the oversteer of the car. In reality, they were no more unstable than a Porsche or VW of the time.
Nothing "killed" the Corvair. The car went for NINE years, hardly a failure by any means. Chevrolet sold almost 1.8 MILLION units! The popularity dwindled because of the interest in the Camaro. The Corvair had run its course.
Today, the 850, as well as the Corvair, are raced in amateur autocross events across the country.
6th Mar 2010, 17:31
Two years ago we purchased a 1970 Fiat with less than 10,000 miles, Color is "Veridian Green". Looks like it came off the factory floor.. Very little flaws.
Fiat's are a fun car to drive.. I was reading comments about how fast you can go in a "Fiat", but it isn't that you are going fast, it is that you feel you are going fast. Great car to bring back old memories of your teen years. Great looking cars "Sporty".. always turns everyone's head when they see you coming.. I just wish it was more sunny days, because I refuse to drive with top up.. No fun unless your hair is blowing in the wind.
I don't think this car has ever been wet, and I am trying to keep it that way! Sponge baths only, but in the "Midwest" we have had a lot of raining days so this baby is parked a lot.. Guess there is always tomorrow!