CLASSIC CARS TO WATCH (PART 6) FIAT X19

When you hear classic Italian sports cars, your first thought will probably be “another Ferrari, Maserati or Lamborghini article” so this month we thought we would blog about a stylish little road sniffer, a marmite car that truly divides opinions, you’ll either love them or loathe them, we welcome the Fiat X/19.

The Fiat X1/9 is a two-seater mid-engined sports car designed by Bertone and manufactured by Fiat from 1972-1982 and subsequently by Bertone from 1982-1989

The first thing you notice about the X/19 is just how really small they are, being just under four feet in height with a wheelbase that is barely 87 inches long all packed in with a mid-engine configuration.

If you’re over six foot, these cars can be a bit awkward particularly with the fibreglass Targa roof in place even though the door openings are reasonably wide. Perhaps it’s just best to use them without the roof which makes entering and exiting the car much easier but trusting the good old English weather would be a gamblers paradise.

Once in the driver’s seat, this polite little Italian design is quite spacious and you soon realise that the driving position is very comfortable and not too tight. There is plenty of legroom, the steering wheel sits in a very nice driving position that provides a good driving posture.

The seat design is of a bucket style which provides adequate support and feels strong unlike some other flimsy seats of sports cars of this era. One criticism is the foot pedals are grouped over to the right, this is because of the intrusion of the front wheel well, a compromise dictated by the short wheelbase. If you do have size 9 feet or over, perhaps leave your work boots at home.

The X/19 has a whole host of typical Italian style gauges to look at, including the counter-clockwise tachometer. The dash and dials have easy eye access and it’s a pleasure to look at when driving at night.

The early models and sometimes considered the more desirable had a 1.3-litre engine married to a 4-speed gearbox. The body style was very distinctive and had a well-balanced appearance particularly with its stylish wrap-around steel split bumpers with rubber blocks and a shallower engine compartment lid. The later models had a typical cumbersome American style rubber bumpers, a crime that was also committed on many of English classics such as the Jaguar E type and Triumph TRs.

From 1982 Fiat (or Bertone as some would argue) upgraded the engine to a fuel-injected SOHC 1.5-lite. This was a great improvement, however many enthusiasts still prefer the 1300 carburettor set up and some critics faulted the action of the five-speed gear shift.

It is generally acknowledged that the X1/9’s greatest flaw is its leisurely acceleration being 0-60 in 11 days (sorry seconds), so if urgency is your thing, perhaps you better check out the various Fiat two litre conversions that are available and whilst you’re at it, it may be prudent to call your insurance company too.

What the X1/9 has in abundance is poise. With a nearly 50/50 weight distribution, the car is very well balanced. The steering is rack-and-pinion set up and light which is a blessing for the mid-engine design, also with the car being very low, many owners liken the X1/9 to the exciting feeling a go-kart provides, being you actually feel you are going faster than you actually are.

The X1/9’s monocoque design is a stiff structure which dictates good handling and the suppleness of the upgraded 1500cc engine provides great enjoyment. You could say it’s like a Seventies British roadster that’s been modernised.

So price wise where we? Well, it was just 3-4 years ago an early X19 in good condition with a good history were between £1000 – £1300, later models (82 onward’s) between £600 – £1000, now in Aug 2018 you can safely add a whopping 400% on top of that price, yes we did say 400%!

So perhaps Ferrari is not the best Italian investment, there now could be a better option for a fraction of the cost.

Until next time

Peace & Love

Vint-tro.

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