The Italians sure know how to style a car, the Fiat X1/9’s iconic wedge shape has definitely stood the test of time! A mid-engine, Italian, two-seater sports car is always going to be a good recipe. Our Re:Fuelers Rides contributor for today, Lance, will soon become a familiar face for you regular Re:Fuel visitors as he is in fact part of the Re:Fuel team, taking the role of a marshal on the weekends. Lance has been fortunate enough to own a range of exciting and rare cars over the years and his latest purchase is no exception, a 1989 Fiat X1/9 Bertone Gran Finale edition that was lovingly restored by Car SOS.
This isn’t really my car! Yes, my name is on the logbook and yes I paid (Or rather transferred) the money for the car. But spiritually the car belongs to a chap called Steve Bibby who sadly passed away in 2021.
Let me explain…
I would imagine most petrolheads like myself, have watched with joy and sadness in equal measure, the program CAR SOS in which Fuzz Townshend and Tim Shaw restore classic cars to deserving owners. I’m going to assume you have. Having owned F710 MTA for the best part of 30 years, Steve Bibby unfortunately never got to see his beloved X/19 restored to its former glory for reasons the program will explain (season 9 episode 2) The car was then returned to his wife and son who unfortunately did not use it and it sat in a garage until one month ago having covered only 100 miles since the full rebuild, early 2021.
The family then decided to sell the car and circumstance and luck placed me at the front of the que when it became available for sale. I once owned a Fiat X1/9 back in the late eighties and have had soft spot for them ever since, having owned many classic and retro cars. I was on the lookout to relive my youth! (Like most middle-aged petrolheads) and started my search for a Fiat X1/9. Unfortunately buying 35 plus year old classic can present its own set of problems like rust, rust, rust and a multitude of worn and tired parts that like to keep us tinkering in a never-ending spiral of renew and replace. So, with that in mind I wanted something that had none of those and that left only one option. Find an X1/9 that had been extensively restored. A very tall order. So, as I already mentioned, luck and circumstances dragged me to the other side of the country to possibly the best restored X1/9 in the country.
A wonderful family that wanted the car to go to someone who would appreciate it. A deal was struck and now I own (Sorry borrow) Steve Bibby’s pride and joy.
I could write pages of text describing everything that has been replaced, renewed or reconditioned. I think a bare shell rebuild covers it. Just watch the episode. Although they only show a small percentage of what has been replaced.
There are only 295 X1/9’s on the road and most being over 40 years old and given Fiat’s reputation for rust, that number will only drop. Originally launched in 1972 the UK didn’t see it until 1976. The first model was a 1.3 with a 4 speed box. Then in 1979 it grew to a 1.5 and a 5 speed box. The motoring press called it “A baby Ferrari” designed by the legendary Bertone who penned most of the Italian stylish cars in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s compact design and mid-engine layout allows for a small boot at the rear and a larger front boot “frunk” Where the removable targa roof can be stored. These cars are great fun to drive and handle very well due to the perfect balance.
I intend to use the car’s fame to raise money for charity. It seems poignant given the circumstances. I have already planned a trip to Italy next year in it to raise money for cancer research and many more charity runs and events. As I write this, the car is being displayed at this year’s NEC Classic car show. I intend to use the car as much as possible and will also be turning up to Re-Fuel regularly in it so please pop along and have a look and a chat.
Hope to catch you all soon at Re-Fuel!
Model: X1/9 Bertone
Engine: 1498cc I4
BHP: Approx. 100
Top Speed: 106mph
0-62mph Time: 10 seconds
Additional Mods: Janspeed 4 branch manifold and exhaust, Piper 270 high lift cam, weber 34 DMTR twin choke carburettor, K&N filter and lowered springs (all of these mods were carried out during the restoration and rebuild).