Earlier than we let you know all about Mike Brewer’s 1974 Fiat X1/9 featured within the season premiere of Wheeler Dealers on the MotorTrend App and the way a lot of a unicorn a comparatively rust-free, operating, driving, everything-electronic-working Italian automotive from the 1970s is—let’s speak automobiles and other people. Automobile individuals could be break up into two classes (with far an excessive amount of generalization, after all): spectators and drivers. Spectating could be enjoyable, however there are only a few look-only-never-drive lovers on the market.
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For almost all who get pleasure from automobiles for the driving pleasure—utilizing an excessive amount of simplification and generalization once more—there are two classes: gradual and quick. There could be a lot pleasure and leisure in taking the gradual route, cruising the highways and byways, having fun with the surroundings and adventures exterior of the rubber-shod metal field. However once more, most of us benefit from the exhilaration of motoring in earnest.
Quarter-mile, closed course (paved or in any other case), or the twisty back-road within the hills you would like much less individuals knew about—driving a automotive at or close to its restrict is the place probably the most enjoyable is had. However when phrases like “mid-engine,” “Italian,” and “sports activities automotive” are thrown round, most lovers suppose they’ll by no means get the possibility to drive a automotive described in such a manner, particularly after “traditional” is thrown into the combo. However for the driving fanatic of common means, it’s attainable, and Mike Brewer can show it. Harken again to the aforementioned attractive little 1974 Fiat X1/9.
Styled by Gandini, Engineered by Lampredi, Priced for the Plenty
Marcello Gandini and Aurelio Lampredi. Don’t sound acquainted? How about Lamborghini Miura, genesis of the fashionable supercar? Or Countach? Lancia Stratos? DeTomaso Pantera have to be a ringing a bell. Sure, the creator of the fashionable supercar design and the enduring wedge form, Marcello Gandini, penned all these fashions and so many extra whereas working for Italian design studio and coach builder, Bertone, together with the Fiat X1/9. The monocoque of the X1/9 was even constructed at Bertone’s manufacturing unit, proper alongside automobiles just like the Lamborghini Espada and Maserati Khamsin, then shipped to Fiat for remaining meeting.
The opposite man simply occurs to be the famed Ferrari engineer who designed the naturally aspirated V12s and twin-cam, four-cylinder engines used to nice success in Ferrari’s early 1950s racing efforts. In 1955, Lampredi left Ferrari to go to Fiat (Ferrari was then a subsidiary of Fiat), the place he oversaw all engine growth for Fiat and Lancia till 1977, then continued as supervisor of Abarth (suppose AMG for Fiat) till 1982. The 1.3-liter single-overhead cam engine that Lampredi designed for the Fiat 128 could have solely made 75 horsepower—manner up there at 6,000 rpm—however when it was crammed behind the seats of the 1,940-pound X1/9, it created a kind of magical mixtures that’s greater than the sum of its components.
Iconic wedge formed penned by one of the influential automotive designers in historical past. Powerplant designed by the engineer who helped construct the legend of the Prancing Horse. Engine behind the two bucket seats, four-speed guide transmission, four-wheel unbiased suspension, and disc brakes—sounds similar to the highest efficiency automobiles of the day, and even the fashionable day. Pop-up headlamps and a Targa high, even a separate storage compartment for the roof panel—cutting-edge styling for 1974. All that in a communicative and nimble bundle, priced at solely $4,167 in 1974 (about $23Okay right now) and rated for 30+ mpg mixed; it’s no surprise Fiat moved greater than 160,000 X1/9s all through the mannequin’s 17-year life cycle.
Mike Brewer Discovered a Unicorn 1974 Fiat X1/9
Previous Italian automobiles made for the plenty have a foul, however well-deserved fame. They’ll flip to a pile of rust in the course of the Sahara in a matter of minutes, however you gained’t have to fret about that as a result of greater than doubtless the electronics stopped working someday between remaining meeting and the primary oil change. When Mike Brewer heard about this 1974 X1/9 with comparatively no rust that was operating and driving with all of the gizmos working correctly for under $5,500, he needed to bounce on it.
“A Fiat X1/9 with little or no rust that’s nonetheless working nicely and drives nicely…That’s a bit unusual, innit?” —Ant Anstead
Ant Anstead was additionally in disbelief, however certain sufficient, no rust within the bulkheads, door skins, sills, or underneath the trunk lid—only a small gap within the windshield body that Ant fabricated a patch panel to restore. The stainless-steel coolant pipes operating entrance to again are nonetheless strong, the pop-up headlamps work completely, the seats have been protected by covers seemingly since new, the 46-year-old suspension bushing and radiator hoses don’t even present indicators of rot or cracking! An alignment job and a brand new rear important seal, together with the usual Wheeler Sellers paint buff later, and this might presumably be the most effective authentic Fiat X1/9 left on this planet.
And what an ideal time on this planet for this traditional Italian sports activities automotive, too! The thin tires on 13-inch wheels will lose traction nicely earlier than metropolis street-level velocity limits are damaged. The 1.3-liter four-banger is so underpowered, you’ll must wring out each final ounce simply to get anyplace. It’s factor the Italians tune an engine observe higher than anybody else. The wind speeding by way of the cab, the steering wheel transmitting each bump, the heart beat of your entire machine communicated by way of your hand by the shifter, all whereas that Italian four-part concord sings behind your ears.
A pure driving expertise, it’s a traditional, it’s Italian, it’s a mid-engine sports activities automotive, oh and it’s cheaper than respectable used Honda Civic. Acquired the COVID blues? The Fiat X1/9 is the treatment.
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