Miro Kefurt responds to email . . .

On Aug 8, 2019, at 1:51 PM,

Bored sitting on a plane from Las Vegas to Chicago I was reading Wikipedia on the X1/9. It says that Miro Kefurt imported the car in it’s final years, so I researched him and found him in Jean, NV and an email address, so I emailed him. Here is his response below. . . I was intrigued by his comment about Fiat selling the X1/9 replacement prototype to Mazada. I never heard that one before.


Begin forwarded message:

From: mirox@aol.com
Date: August 8, 2019 at 11:35:27 AM PDT
To:
Subject: Re: Bertone X1/9

M.I.K. Automotive, Inc. in North Hollywood sold about 300 to 400 cars each year from 1984 to 1989 the two next best dealers were Ron Tonkin in Oregon and another Dealer Group that sold from several locations in Dallas and Houston they averaged 32 and 26 cars per year respectively.
Once Bertone decided to give up on USA Nuccio told me personally that if they had at least two or three dealers like me they would stay in USA but they did not.
The replacement for the X1/9 prototype was sold to MAZDA and became the Miata.
I do not have any VIN records we sent that all to SOCAR that was Bertone parts and Warranty division.
Sincerely
Miro Kefurt
this may interest you:
http://www.synlube.com/Bertone.html
 
It would seem more logical that a prototype for a 124 Spyder replacement would become a Miata rather than one for a mid engine car. I guess that would have come full circle now with the Miata becoming a 124 Spyder.

I had never heard about a bunch of late X1/9s being lubed for life by the dealer with Synlube. Interesting site even though they are out of business.
 

Dr.Jeff

True Classic
I don't recall for sure, but is he the same guy that tried making electric cars utilizing some Yugo parts on it? If it is the same guy, he also has (had?) a site with some left over new Yugo dash switches and misc parts that remained after the electric car project. I believe some of it is the same as for the X?

Jean, NV is a bit of a odd place. Mainly just a smaller version of Primm, which tries to capitalize on being right at the CA - NV border for gambling.

Hard to imagine leaving any oil in the car for life. However that must be what one of my X's was, because the inside of the engine is heavily stained and has a lot of sludge. :)
 

kmead

Glutton for punishment
Mazda bought an X to use in the evaluation of what would become the Miata. I have the book set which shows the X being driven along with a variety of other vintage sports cars.

9AC73F93-31EE-45E3-88E0-83D7F0863A93.jpeg AE33B775-0AF1-446C-B03D-9FF4A64D95C4.jpeg 3B949014-B850-41DD-98D6-0C309CC0F4E1.jpeg

I don’t know that there was a prototype sold to Mazda (or that there wasn’t) but I tend to doubt it. Could Mazda have engaged Bertone to assist with manufacturing an early sample of the Miata, entirely likely or at least possible.

I went to MIK many times in the late 80s, the rims on Lavin’s red X came from their lot.

He continues to sell X parts along with his other new businesses. Interesting dude.
 

NEG

True Classic
Following that link seems some of the cars where consuming a quart or 1l of oil every 9k miles with annual filter changes...an oil change by stealth! :p Also the warmer climate and maybe freeway miles helps prolong oil life.
 

mirox

Miro Kefurt
I think I joined this years ago, but no one seem to have responded to anything I posted, and now this ???
After I go this e-mail few days ago from Richard J. Herber.

Well if anyone is curious about anything just ASK, I have known Nuccio Bertone personally since I was 17 years old and went to the factory to pick up 850 specialle, that my father bought for me as birth day gift. (That was aluminium bodied coupe that looked like the 850 spider but had non removable hard top).

So my relationship with BERTONE started way back then, and continued even through the Bertone family wars after Nuccio has died.

But once he died Lilli Bertone and her two daughters have only spoken to each other through their lawyers. Even when in the same room, and I witnessed that but once, and that was enough for me.

For me that was a hard choice, to pick just one out of the three, so I picked NONE and was effectively disowned by all of them....

Really a sad story !
 

mirox

Miro Kefurt
The Miata story for those that dare to know. This is especially entertaining to me as when Miata became as successful as it did, everybody seem to have claimed to be the originator of the vehicle, but all those claims are 100% "fake news".

At some time before the FIAT stopped making the 1,500 cc engine, BERTONE realized that they need a replacement, and went ahead to design a new sports car, that was TOP secret and they even had a guard by the prototype that was wrapped in Italian tri-colore flag.

When I was introduced to the vehicle, and the flag was lifted, I was not sure what to think !!!

Nuccio was visibly proud of the creation, but I at first thought it to be a "joke", as I saw Lotus Elan that Emma Peel used to drive in "The Avengers", sure this can not be for real !? (but it was !!!)

Then I was told it will be front engine front wheel drive car - now I for sure knew Nuccio has lost it !!!

Well, turned out that the engine was Alfa Romeo - tooling was done, production readied and then FIAT bought Alfa Romeo and one of the first things they did was to axe the FWD unit.

So then PSA announced that they will return to USA, so BERTONE redesigned the car to fit in the FWD Citroen unit. As PSA promissed to handle all the CARB/EPA for it and also use the same poweretrain in both Peugeot and Citroen models intended for USA.

Tooling was done, production about to start and PSA changed their mind, they are NOT going to resurrect Citroen in USA after all.

Lot of money spent twice and NO powertrain.

I suggested SUBARU, but it turned out that it just would not fit, the body would have to be much wider and for what ever reason that was not possible without significant change of the COMAU machinery.

Then (I was not present at this event but was told the SAME story by 3 different people that were there) during visit from MAZDA people at the design studio, they went to lunch, they did see the prototype, and somehow learned about the "sad story" of no powertrain problem.

One of the MAZDA people wrote check to BERTONE, leaving the amount "blank", handed it to Nuccio and said they want the prototype.

Everyone at the table expected Nuccio to "tear it up", but to everyone's surprise, he folded it and put it into his shirt pocket and said nothing in reply.

Next Friday the prototype was taken to Malpenza and loaded on to Alitalia "Combi" plane that headed to Los Angeles.

In was in Southern California at MAZDA, where they "glued" the powertrain less prototype on to chassis from B2000 Pick Up and rest is history.

The Miata has became the worlds most popular sports car by the number of vehicles made. Front engine, RWD on crude "body on frame".

So I have to admit when I said to people (other than Nuccio) that I have no desire to sell FWD, Lotus from 1960's look alike in So Cal in 1990, and they took me seriously, it was looking back a big mistake. I had enough clout as I was their #1 dealer (but was not even told that until after BERTONE quit USA - they kept that fact also "top secret')

So that is the real juicy Miata by BERTONE story.

I guess the part of the top secret deal was that neither BERTONE nor MAZDA would ever admit what has really happened.

But I was there and have seen what I have seen, and was told what I was told by people that had no reason to make up such a story, especially since neither of the 3 that confirmed it no longer have any association of what little is left of BERTONE.
 

Ulix

True Classic
Awesome story Miro.
Thanks for sharing.

I would love to see a pic of that Bertone prototype! :)
 

carl

True Classic
I had a 124 spider and an X1/9 when I bought my 90 Miata an can definitely say the Miata drove just like an X and was the antithesis of a spider.
I would have thought that Mazda would have made a big deal about their car being designed by a world famous design house but I guess there were reasons this did not happen.
 

aarpcard

True Classic
Its interesting considering the new 124 spyder is a joint Mazda effort based on the Miata . . . Perhaps theres more history there than I realized.
 

Dan Sarandrea (Phila)

Waitin' On Parts...
The Miata story for those that dare to know. This is especially entertaining to me as when Miata became as successful as it did, everybody seem to have claimed to be the originator of the vehicle, but all those claims are 100% "fake news".

At some time before the FIAT stopped making the 1,500 cc engine, BERTONE realized that they need a replacement, and went ahead to design a new sports car, that was TOP secret and they even had a guard by the prototype that was wrapped in Italian tri-colore flag.

When I was introduced to the vehicle, and the flag was lifted, I was not sure what to think !!!

Nuccio was visibly proud of the creation, but I at first thought it to be a "joke", as I saw Lotus Elan that Emma Peel used to drive in "The Avengers", sure this can not be for real !? (but it was !!!)

Then I was told it will be front engine front wheel drive car - now I for sure knew Nuccio has lost it !!!

Well, turned out that the engine was Alfa Romeo - tooling was done, production readied and then FIAT bought Alfa Romeo and one of the first things they did was to axe the FWD unit.

So then PSA announced that they will return to USA, so BERTONE redesigned the car to fit in the FWD Citroen unit. As PSA promissed to handle all the CARB/EPA for it and also use the same poweretrain in both Peugeot and Citroen models intended for USA.

Tooling was done, production about to start and PSA changed their mind, they are NOT going to resurrect Citroen in USA after all.

Lot of money spent twice and NO powertrain.

I suggested SUBARU, but it turned out that it just would not fit, the body would have to be much wider and for what ever reason that was not possible without significant change of the COMAU machinery.

Then (I was not present at this event but was told the SAME story by 3 different people that were there) during visit from MAZDA people at the design studio, they went to lunch, they did see the prototype, and somehow learned about the "sad story" of no powertrain problem.

One of the MAZDA people wrote check to BERTONE, leaving the amount "blank", handed it to Nuccio and said they want the prototype.

Everyone at the table expected Nuccio to "tear it up", but to everyone's surprise, he folded it and put it into his shirt pocket and said nothing in reply.

Next Friday the prototype was taken to Malpenza and loaded on to Alitalia "Combi" plane that headed to Los Angeles.

In was in Southern California at MAZDA, where they "glued" the powertrain less prototype on to chassis from B2000 Pick Up and rest is history.

The Miata has became the worlds most popular sports car by the number of vehicles made. Front engine, RWD on crude "body on frame".

So I have to admit when I said to people (other than Nuccio) that I have no desire to sell FWD, Lotus from 1960's look alike in So Cal in 1990, and they took me seriously, it was looking back a big mistake. I had enough clout as I was their #1 dealer (but was not even told that until after BERTONE quit USA - they kept that fact also "top secret')

So that is the real juicy Miata by BERTONE story.

I guess the part of the top secret deal was that neither BERTONE nor MAZDA would ever admit what has really happened.

But I was there and have seen what I have seen, and was told what I was told by people that had no reason to make up such a story, especially since neither of the 3 that confirmed it no longer have any association of what little is left of BERTONE.

The FIAT Barchetta was a FWD 2-seater about the same length/width/height as an NA Miata---any chance you might have seen a Bertone styling exercise meant to fulfill FIAT's design specs for the future Barchetta?
 

maz124s

True Classic
Fantastic info Miro amazing how after so many years never known info comes out, having seen posts here just wondered the following if you had anymore insight

- How close did you get to convincing Bertone to put the Lamborghini Bravo into production, what killed the project?
- Im assuming Fiat killing supply of the 1.5litre is what ultimately stopped X19 production
- What happened to all Bertone X19 production records, i find it so frustrating that post 1982 Bertone cars there is no exact build info would be great to have some historical records, practically impossible im assuming seeing as Bertone no longer exist
 

LarryC

Curator of #10105275
The thing that impressed me about the X 1/9 was the fact that it seriously departed from the ancient front-engine-rear-wheel-drive roaster routine. Truly an advanced design that set a new standard. I am thinking that the reversion to the old ways is a sign of how advanced it was. IT is beginning to appear that the world was just not ready to move on. Maybe somewhere out in the end of this century the idea of something outside the old roadster box will become more acceptable.
 

kmead

Glutton for punishment
It never registered in my mind how small that car was. It makes an X look big.

Cool design and one I would have loved to own.

Small means lighter which means less power needed and round and round.

Thank you for posting and participating here.
 

lanciahf

True Classic
Miro,
Nuccio ever say why he did not upgrade the X with the turbo Uno motor? Seems like a simple upgrade.

Thanks for sharing.
Ralph
 

mirox

Miro Kefurt
After making the same X1/9 body since 1972, BERTONE just wanted something different and since they spent 4 years on the FWD "elan look-alike" there was no interest to keep X1/9 in production, it was VERY expensive body design and construction. The X1/9 was more that twice as expensive to make as the Dino 308GT4. And that obviously retailed for lot more $ in US.

I have also imported TURBO UNO made for MIK by Moretti, and we sold it as "ITAL AUTO" http://www.synlube.com/MorettiUno.html
It was not all that simple to bolt the powertrain into X1/9 body, and the 5 speed with reversed shift was also out of production along with the 1.5L engine. The X1/9 was also much heavier than the Uno. The ITAL UNO was $26,000 in 1989, and the X1/9 would have been about $32,000 so a big jump from $7,995 to $10,350 (with typical vehicle selling for $9,995 in 1988). Only four ITAL UNO were sold in USA, while 16 were made by Moretti - all the others were sold in mostly in Italy, but as "US Models". I kept one (still have the left overs) till it caught on fire at about 450,000 miles on the odo; have driven it till 2007. With top speed 148 mph the only other car I have that was faster is Maserati Quattroporte (1985). However, Innocenti Mini De Tomaso (1985) was just as fast if not faster (in acceleration) for 1/2 the price (Also designed by BERTONE). Innocenti however also went out of business back in 1987 and only handled the spare parts till 1997 when it was completely dissolved.

The ITAL UNO project was financed by me and Giovanni Alberto Agnelli, but that is yet another separate story....
 
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