Our eBay Find of the Week is highly original, but your first drive should be…
The 1974–82 Fiat X1/9 is one hot ride (well, it’s heating up anyway)
The 1974–82 Fiat X1/9 sports a wedge shape and mid-engine design, two characteristics that are oh-so Italian. In fact, the X1/9 is the only mid-engine Italian sports car this side of the big-money exotics—and that’s the beginning and the end of the comparisons. Never will the words “X1/9” and “big-money exotics” be used in the same sentence again.
The most powerful Fiat X1/9 carried a 75-horse, 1500-cc four-cylinder engine, and the very best example in the world would be hard-pressed to fetch $20,000. That may sound like a knock on the Targa-topped Italian two-seater, but it’s actually a beautiful sentence for anyone looking to get the most bang for their middle-class buck.
Hagerty valuation editor Andrew Newton says Hagerty Price Guide values for the X1/9 increased recently—up 3 percent, on average, for 1974–78 models and 4.6 percent for 1979–82 models—but values for anything short of a perfect #1 (concours) car aren’t much higher than they were a decade ago.
“I think the main explanation for the jump is that X1/9s couldn’t get much cheaper than they already were,” Newton says. “They’ve followed other lower-priced, more modern performance cars, which are making gains.”
With that said, the average value of the X1/9s insured through Hagerty has risen 122 percent in the last 12 months, and the number of X1/9s on the books has increased 34 percent. Those numbers are “significant,” Newton says, because they helped push the Fiat’s Hagerty Vehicle Rating from 65 last month to 79 points this time around. So what does that mean? The data-driven HVR is based on a 0–100 scale and considers vehicles insured and quoted through Hagerty, as well as auction activity and private sales results. Since ratings higher than 50 indicate above-average market interest, the X1/9 is—dare we say it?—hot.
Interest is concentrated mostly among Gen-Xers, who make up 41 percent of X1/9 insurance quotes through Hagerty, and Millennials, who account for 25 percent.
Newton says there haven’t been any headline-grabbing, market-rattling X1/9 auction sales, but Hagerty has seen “a handful” of X1/9s on Bring a Trailer sell for more than the car’s #2 (excellent) condition value the last two years.
A 1974–78 Fiat X1/9 1300 has an average #2 value of $8800 and #3 (good) value of $5900, while a 1979–82 Fiat X1/9 1500 carries an average #2 value of $9100 and a #3 value of $6300. (The later 1983–89 X1/9, built by Bertone, has average values of $8100 for #2 and $5300 for #3.)
If you’re comparison shopping, a first-generation 1984–89 Toyota MR2 is newer, provides nearly twice the horsepower, is generally more reliable, and has easier-to-find parts than an X1/9. We even included it on our 2019 Bull Market List. However, the MR2 is also more expensive than the X1/9. A similar-condition MR2 will you cost you $2600–$2800 more than the Fiat. Of course, that’s a decision for you to ponder, and probably not a rational one.
Automotive writer Brendan McAleer enjoyed his time behind the wheel of an X1/9. In a story he wrote for Hagerty two years ago, McAleer described his X1/9 experience this way: “Stepping into the cabin of the Fiat is like going back an age. The stubby shifter pokes up like the antenna of some 1950s sci-fi robot, the tachometer swings counterclockwise, and it’s the most reluctant to start. Start it does, though, bursting to life with the sound of twin Webers added by (its owner)… Like the Fiero and the MR2, the X1/9 sought to take ordinary components and assemble them in a configuration that provided accessible fun for everyone. Famously, it was built to survive tough new U.S. crash test regulations, and it did so, performing as well as contemporary Volvos… It is deft and tiny, looking like a Lancia Stratos and sounding and going like most of a [Ferrari] Dino.”
Newton too admits the X1/9 has its good points. “It’s mid-engine and Italian, which is something other cars can’t say unless they’re exotics. It also gives you open-air motoring without the hassle of a soft top. And I’ve been told they’re a lot of fun.”
He forgot to say they’re hot. But they are. For now, anyway.