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.
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 :)