1983 Fiat X1/9 1.5 EFI from North America


A fun little slot-car that'll bring a smile if it decides to work


Water pump replaced twice.

Master cylinder replaced.

Slave cylinder replaced.

Front rotors replaced.

Driver's window fell off track.

Exhaust manifold gasket blew and needed replacement.

Windshield de-laminated.

A/C not working.

General Comments:

This is a love/hate car. I bought it for $1000US, and immediately needed to put close to another $1000 into repairing stuff. It is frustrating as heck, as something went wrong at least once a month. Not too bad, considering I bought it with over 100,000 miles and at almost 20 years old. It is a california car, so there is no rust.

As frustrating as the car is, I truly love the little thing, and although it is in a state of disassembly in my back yard, I always look forward to getting it running again.

While the engine lacks power (85 hp in stock trim), it loves to rev, and because it is so light weight, the lack of power isn't as noticeable as one would think.

The handling is simply fantastic. No, it's no Porsche GT2, but for $1000 bux, it is REALLY fun to drive. I've taken 90 degree turns at 50mph and there was zero tire squeal! The tiny little thing is completely toss-able, and on warm California spring days, it's is very fun and satisfying to drive around in.

At 6'1" and a little over 200lbs, the car lacks the room that would make it a comfortable car, but I've done 3 or 4 hour drives and it was manageable. For those of smaller stature, the car is quite comfortable.

Yeah, the car has issues. Yeah, it breaks down a lot. Yeah, the anemic motor won't win any races. But, and this is a big, but, the car is just darn fun to drive and own when it decides to behave. While there aren't very many resources for info on the car, there are a few places filled with enthusiast that know how to fix things and how to make the things faster, so look around and spend some money on go-fast goodies and you'll have a great car.

I'll never get rid of mine, and as soon as I find the time to put mine back together, I'll take the top off, fill the tank, and head to the beach via the Southern California mountains. I suggest you do the same.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st January, 2004

9th May 2004, 18:06

I totally agree with your review, it really is quite insane how such a problematic car can be so much fun and so well loved by it's owners. Guess these little baby's just must have that X factor aye.

8th Dec 2009, 18:36

I just wrote a review for my 1987 Bertone. I guess I am lucky, but I don't have the problems others have after I bought mine.

The biggest problems came from having an incorrect manual. Only an original factory manual will do for these things.

Water pumps will fail if the belt is too tight, and the belts I bought lately did not work correctly (different brands from different stores could just be my current car, but the Italian belt is working whereas the others were extremely tight). I had to get Italian belts. The belts I used on the 81 and the other 87 I had previously worked very well.

The problems I have now seem to be with quality issues of some newer parts. Reliability - I used to put 1200 miles a week on my '87 every week. My work vehicle broke down and I had to use the X for service for a couple of months. No problems until it got flooded during a massive rain storm here in Florida and water entered the tranny.

My '81 went on an around the country tour. No problems. I am a mechanic so things are a little different for me. I bought only German made bearings and other high end products like KYB struts, a Faza cam, synthetic oil, water wetter, etc.) I regularly turned it 8000 rpm and went to 9000 rpm on a couple of occasions.

It only had problems after it was borrowed and put through a fence, and this was mostly transmission problems, though a head gasket problem surfaced too. It did have a little wander on the highway, so I took the anti-sway bar off of a 1981 four door Dodge Colt and modified it to use end links off of a 1972 Chrysler. This was then bolted to the chassis with a mount I made. Corrected every problem with wander and made it handle even better. Nose dive wiggle avoiding other cars disappeared.

I loved that car and it repaid me with extraordinary performance. It really was incredible. Time will tell if the latest one will repay me with the same kind of performance.

1983 Fiat X1/9 Bertone standard 1.5 from UK and Ireland


A cheap Italian practical two seater sportscar


Quite noisy compared to modern cars, but the noise for me is just part of the fun.

Generally unreliable headlight motors.

General Comments:

Mechanically I believe the x1/9 engine is excellent, however best to keep to regular servicing. No major problems to date.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th July, 2001