1965-1974 Fiat 850 Coupe & Spider

The 1965-1974 Fiat 850 Coupe & Spyder were two more special-bodied Fiat sports cars based on mundane sedan components. In this case, the basis was the rear-engine 850, which donated its floorpan, drivetrain, and all-independent suspension to a neat little Fiat-designed four-seat fastback coupe and a Bertone-bodied two-seat roadster.

Not quick by any means, the Coupe & Spyder’s top speed ranged from 85-90 mph. Both vehicles were quite noisy and cramped, but great fun to drive (except perhaps in a strong crosswind) because of Lilliputian size and lightweight. Both models were popular in the U.S., at least by European sales standards, particularly the Spyder, which was seen as the Italian entry in the basic sports car market against such traditionalists as the Triumph Spitfire and A-H Sprite/MG Midget.

Engine size was increased to 903cc for 1969, partly to compensate for U.S. emissions rules, but 1968 American-spec models used an even smaller 817cc engine to get under the minimum displacement limit for desmogging. Safety laws also took their toll, particularly on the Spyder, which lost its covered headlights in favor of a more "frog-eye" look with exposed units. It also acquired heavier, more ungainly bumpers.

The Spyder continued longer than the coupe, and was eventually succeeded by the mid-engine X1/9. The Italian tuning firm Abarth offered hotted up versions of both models, some with twincam engines, but only a relative few made it to the U.S., where most were used for racing in SCCA and similar events.

1965-1974 Fiat 850 Coupe & Spyders are notable for being the last of Fiat's rear-engine sports models.

Pluses of the 1965-1974 Fiat 850 Coupe & Spyder:

  • Great character
  • Simple chassis
  • Sprightly handling
  • Styling (especially early Spyders)

Minuses of the 1965-1974 Fiat 850 Coupe & Spyder:

  • Cramped
  • Fiat's well-known tinworm propensities
  • Indifferent construction quality
  • Noisy
  • Parts now difficult to obtain, especially for body

Production of the 1965-1974 Fiat 850 Coupe:

Production of the 1965-1974 Fiat 850 Spyder:

Specifications of the 1965-1974 Fiat 850 Coupe & Spyder:
Wheelbase, inches: 80.0
Length, inches: 149.0/141.0
Weight, pounds: 1,620/1,610 (Spyder/Coupe)
Price, new
: $2,500 (U.S. POE)

Engines for the 1965-1974 Fiat 850 Coupe & Spyder:

ohv I-4
843 cc (51 cid)
ohv I-4
903 cc (55 cid)

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