1987 Fiat X1/9 Bertone 1.5 from North America




When I first got the car the brakes were mushy due to a failed caliper(s). I had both rears replaced, new brake lines all around, including from the master cylinder. Also, new brake pads and rotors. Brakes are now working very well.

An air induction hose collapsed and strangled the intake, which prevented the car from running. This was replaced and the car has since run well.

Clutch cable went out of adjustment, relatively easy fix.

The transmission had been rebuilt before I bought the car. I have not had any problems in the 7-8k miles of driving I've done over 4 years.

General Comments:

The car is virtually rust free. If a paint chip shows up, it is addressed immediately because the car WILL rust if left unchecked. This car has original paint and none of the trouble spots have rust. Rust is probably the biggest thing to look for, on these cars. They will rot away quickly if left unchecked, so if you find a clean example, chances are it's been well looked after.

Performance: It is not fast, with only about 75 horsepower. But, it's light weight and low to the ground so, as long as you aren't trying to drag race someone, you won't notice. It is still able to keep up with traffic, merge on the highway, and get up to speed for some spirited driving. It is a lot of fun on the back roads and twisties. It's a "momentum" car that you need to keep going if you want to keep pace. If you brake for a turn and there is an immediate uphill, you are going to lose time.

The ride is super comfortable; very soft and compliant suspension. Not at all what you would expect. It is a very smooth highway cruiser. It is low to the ground and a little difficult to get into/out of, but that's also part of its charm. I am 6-feet tall and 185 pounds and fit in nicely. However, my 6-3, 235 pound friend sat in the car and closed the door and got his leg stuck between the steering wheel and the door panel! Impossible for him to drive. It has that classic Italian driving position with splayed legs and stretched arms, but you get used to it.

Looks: my wife hates the sharp edge styling. Everyone else seems to love it. This car never seems to fail to draw attention and admiring looks. It's probably rarer than a Lamborghini on the road these days and it can get as much attention. As a result, it has a HUGE "WOW!" factor. With the Bertone badging (no Fiat markings outside the car) most do not know what it is or have even seen one before. I happen to really like its looks, especially with the Forza-Faza ducktail spoiler I put on to replace the cheesy 80's Trans-Am style one that came original to the car. It's a pocket-exotic for sure.

My car even has an aftermarket CD stereo with navigation! LOL. It's very fun to drive on sunny days with the top off. The heater works amazingly well and there is less buffeting with the targa design. It gets great gas mileage (in the 30 MPG range) and is cheap to run and insure.

I imagine these will go up in value, but they are still affordable. My super clean car is probably worth about $6-8k these days. Very affordable fun that won't lose value and is a great occasional toy to have for sunny days.

The main downsides for me are that I don't drive in the rain or take it on overnight trips when it could rain, to try to avoid rust (I also only need to wash it 1-2 times a year), and some parts are not easy to find.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th October, 2018

10th Oct 2018, 08:31

I've always loved the X1/9. It's got that sharp Ferrari styling, and in its day (introduced I think 1972) it was pretty sophisticated. I hope you aren't having problems finding parts for it though. If Fiat re-created it the way they did the 500 (not the ugly 500L derivatives), faithful to proportions (we know they now have to pass crash tests, etc), with modern mechanicals, I reckon it would've been fairly popular, as long as they priced it right.

14th Oct 2018, 03:20

Great review - tells it like it is - Good and Bad - for a very underrated vehicle :)

1987 Fiat X1/9 1.5 from North America


Totally awesome and fun!


Well, we bought it not running, even though the previous owner laid out a few problems (the fuel and water pumps were bad. Some rust around the windshield, i.e. the usual problems of X1/9's). This will be the third one I have owned, one being a 1981, another a 1987, so I was well acquainted with the problems of these cars.

To be sure, buying a not running X1/9 was probably very stupid (I warned others against this sort of thing but...) but I wanted one again, and so I drove about 300 miles and purchased this one.

It had a lot of rust around the windshield, and I have since purchased a whole new frame. The radiator bleed screw was ripped out and epoxied in place. The belts were all destroyed and the tank had massive quantities of rust in it. The injectors were clogged an the clutch master and slave cylinders in poor shape. There were more little problems, mostly due from neglect, very poor mechanics, and just plain age and sitting.

On the plus side, the body itself was virtually rust free, and the other mechanicals excellent.

General Comments:

I listed the bad. Luckily most of the problems were bolt on replacements and really didn't cost too much to fix as I am a mechanic by trade. Just time.

I always replace all of the hoses and belts on the cars I buy, so I did the same on this machine. Luckily the transmission is nearly perfect along with the suspension. After replacing most of the items I listed in the above section, I have been running it all over the place when I can't pry my wife out of the driver's seat. I only really get it when I need to upgrade something.

I have noticed that it seems smaller and lower than I remember (I am a lot older too), but it is still comfortable and it handles like it was on rails even without factory anti-sway bars.

My wife loves the ride and states that it is not harsh like she expected for a short wheelbase sports car. Tracks very straight and brakes well, even though the master is about to be replaced for a little sponginess.

The injectors unclogged on their own, and it is running very, very well. In fact, I don't even care about the money I have already spent or I am about to spend. This thing rocks!!! I feel like it is twenty+ years ago after I got the first one. Free revs to 7000 rpm at will. With a free flow air filter and exhaust, it is a blast to drive. The intake and exhaust notes are marvelous.

My last one got 35MPG. Don't know about this one as the gas sender is bad, and I just put in about 3 to 4 gallons of gas every time I drive about 100 miles. I smile all of the time while I am driving this thing, and virtually every time I take it out, I get massive amounts of attention and offers to buy it. Even a bad day is a good day when I'm driving this car.

I just bought an Alfa Romeo Spider so I can let my wife drive it, so I can get this one back.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th December, 2009