The Rat's Nest - 81 X1/9 Build

Dr.Jeff

True Classic
I once tried to set a car on fire by slicing a fuel line open over the hot engine and left it running for awhile, but no fire. So I threw lit matches at the gas pumping out of the slit line, still no fire. I finally had to ignite a rag and hold it under the fuel line for quite some time before a fire finally slowly started. Man it was a lot of work to get that car to burn (true story).
 

Clatter

True Classic
I once tried to set a car on fire by slicing a fuel line open over the hot engine and left it running for awhile, but no fire. So I threw lit matches at the gas pumping out of the slit line, still no fire. I finally had to ignite a rag and hold it under the fuel line for quite some time before a fire finally slowly started. Man it was a lot of work to get that car to burn (true story).
The guy was flirting with your girl?
Owed you money?
:D
 
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Mark_Toro

True Classic
That certainly was a teaser story Dr. Jeff. We did some lawnmower experiments back 10 years ago (likely more). Was tough to get them started, but once the seat caught they went fast. We were testing shielding to prevent propane BLEVEs. We found the shielding to be effective. :)
 

Rupunzell

Bernice Loui
A Fiat by any other name...
Knowing no verbiage can or will alter the current mind-set of the brand identity married in mind with "Fiat" and all related...

The x1//9 was never really a Fiat in anyway. It was a design despised by Fiat management and was forced to produce the design on order by Gianni Agnelli. The design was cooked up by the folks at Bertone, same group that designed the Lambo Miura. What Fiat management wanted was a Front Wheel Drive two seater to replace the Fiat 850 rear engine two seater.. What Giuseppe Nuccio Bertone presented to Fiat management was the mid-engine concept car.. followed by the x1/9.. Fiat management did not want or had any interest in a mid-engine two seater.. a Lambo Miura for the "masses".. precisely what Fiat management did not want. After a meeting between Giuseppe Nuccio Bertone & Gianni Agnelli, Gianni Agnelli decided to produce the x1/9.. the chassis was built by Bertone from day one. upon commencement of the x1/9 to production Giuseppe Puleo (same designer of the Lancia Stratos) worked on the design of the chassis. One of the design requirements was to meet the then USA dept of transportation proposed 50 Mph frontal barrier test and 80 Mph roll-over test. Only two cars from that era passed, one was the Volvo 240 series, the other was the x1/9. No cars from Detroit and else were met this proposed DOT requirement. It is also why the x1/9 is 500 pounds heavier than the four passenger Fiat 128.. To make the x1/9 pass this proposed DOT crash requirement, Giuseppe Puleo borrowed many structural design elements from the Lancia Stratos (why re-invent the wheel) or why the x1/9 was designed/produced with such a overly robust chassis.. add to this the x1/9 was gifted with one of the best suspension designs from that era and remains extremely good compared to many modern suspension designs.. It is also why the x1/9 feels SO under powered and SO easy to add more power with no modifications to the chassis and changes to the suspension/chassis as needed.
Circa mid-1970's Fiat gave up producing the x1/9 as the production numbers were too small, Production of the x1/9 was passed on to Bertone as their product offering since that time.. Essentially, your x1/9 is a Bertone product with oily bits and some other bits from the Fiat parts bin.. The x1/9 was a source of revenue for Bertone, not Fiat.. Add to this, Fiat made absolute sure the x1/9 will never be made into a factory supported competition chassis as Fiat management made absolute sure no racing promo will ever happen for the x1/9..

Just how good is the design of the x1/9..

Colin Chapman purchased one for his daughter Sarah.

Admired and copied by the folks at Toyota which resulted in the MR2.

Folks at GM copied the x1/9 as the Pontiac Fiero (Meh).

Served as a daily driver for Gianni Agnelli.. who terrorized Niki Lauda as a passenger. Yes, Niki Lauda was gifted on which Niki passed on to his wife.

Three of the engineers for the first re-do of the FORD GT-40 owned an x1/9..

Lotus Elise is essentially a modern variant of the x1/9...there are others that did the mid-engine chassis based on vast production FWD power trains..

This list goes on..

As for your previous Fiat experience.. temper that knowing the alterations forced on the Fiat designs to meet USA dept. of transportation requirements (import barrier) and smog requirements from that era.. before making any judgement on the basic design/engineering of the Fiat oily bits..

Bernice
 
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Steve Thomas

True Classic
Knowing no verbiage can or will alter the current mind-set of the brand identity married in mind with "Fiat" and all related...

The x1//9 was never really a Fiat in anyway. It was a design despised by Fiat management and was forced to produce the design on order by Gianni Agnelli. The design was cooked up by the folks at Bertone, same group that designed the Lambo Miura. What Fiat management wanted was a Front Wheel Drive two seater to replace the Fiat 850 rear engine two seater.. What Giuseppe Nuccio Bertone presented to Fiat management was the mid-engine concept car.. followed by the x1/9.. Fiat management did not want or had any interest in a mid-engine two seater.. a Lambo Miura for the "masses".. precisely what Fiat management did not want. After a meeting between Giuseppe Nuccio Bertone & Gianni Agnelli, Gianni Agnelli decided to produce the x1/9.. the chassis was built by Bertone from day one. upon commencement of the x1/9 to production Giuseppe Puleo (same designer of the Lancia Stratos) worked on the design of the chassis. One of the design requirements was to meet the then USA dept of transportation proposed 50 Mph frontal barrier test and 80 Mph roll-over test. Only two cars from that era passed, one was the Volvo 240 series, the other was the x1/9. No cars from Detroit and else were met this proposed DOT requirement. It is also why the x1/9 is 500 pounds heavier than the four passenger Fiat 128.. To make the x1/9 pass this proposed DOT crash requirement, Giuseppe Puleo borrowed many structural design elements from the Lancia Stratos (why re-invent the wheel) or why the x1/9 was designed/produced with such a overly robust chassis.. add to this the x1/9 was gifted with one of the best suspension designs from that era and remains extremely good compared to many modern suspension designs.. It is also why the x1/9 feels SO under powered and SO easy to add more power with no modifications to the chassis and changes to the suspension/chassis as needed.
Circa mid-1970's Fiat gave up producing the x1/9 as the production numbers were too small, Production of the x1/9 was passed on to Bertone as their product offering since that time.. Essentially, your x1/9 is a Bertone product with oily bits and some other bits from the Fiat parts bin.. The x1/9 was a source of revenue for Bertone, not Fiat.. Add to this, Fiat made absolute sure the x1/9 will never be made into a factory supported competition chassis as Fiat management made absolute sure no racing promo will ever happen for the x1/9..

Just how good is the design of the x1/9..

Colin Chapman purchased one for his daughter Sarah.

Admired and copied by the folks at Toyota which resulted in the MR2.

Folks at GM copied the x1/9 as the Pontiac Fiero (Meh).

Served as a daily driver for Gianni Agnelli.. who terrorized Niki Lauda as a passenger. Yes, Niki Lauda was gifted on which Niki passed on to his wife.

Three of the engineers for the first re-do of the FORD GT-40 owned an x1/9..

Lotus Elise is essentially a modern variant of the x1/9...there are others that did the mid-engine chassis based on vast production FWD power trains..

This list goes on..

As for your previous Fiat experience.. temper that knowing the alterations forced on the Fiat designs to meet USA dept. of transportation requirements (import barrier) and smog requirements from that era.. before making any judgement on the basic design/engineering of the Fiat oily bits..

Bernice
I think you are under-selling the FIAT engineering involved. FIAT did the detail engineering. Bertone was a coachbuilder [just bodywork] as evidenced by their entire portfolio. It was not the case of engineers at Bertone doing all the design using the FIAT parts bin. It was FIAT engineering doing the detail design using the FIAT parts bin in cooperation with Bertone body shop. And that is no bad thing. FIAT were at the top of their game during this period.
 

tvmaster

True Classic
Knowing no verbiage can or will alter the current mind-set of the brand identity married in mind with "Fiat" and all related...

The x1//9 was never really a Fiat in anyway. It was a design despised by Fiat management and was forced to produce the design on order by Gianni Agnelli. The design was cooked up by the folks at Bertone, same group that designed the Lambo Miura. What Fiat management wanted was a Front Wheel Drive two seater to replace the Fiat 850 rear engine two seater.. What Giuseppe Nuccio Bertone presented to Fiat management was the mid-engine concept car.. followed by the x1/9.. Fiat management did not want or had any interest in a mid-engine two seater.. a Lambo Miura for the "masses".. precisely what Fiat management did not want. After a meeting between Giuseppe Nuccio Bertone & Gianni Agnelli, Gianni Agnelli decided to produce the x1/9.. the chassis was built by Bertone from day one. upon commencement of the x1/9 to production Giuseppe Puleo (same designer of the Lancia Stratos) worked on the design of the chassis. One of the design requirements was to meet the then USA dept of transportation proposed 50 Mph frontal barrier test and 80 Mph roll-over test. Only two cars from that era passed, one was the Volvo 240 series, the other was the x1/9. No cars from Detroit and else were met this proposed DOT requirement. It is also why the x1/9 is 500 pounds heavier than the four passenger Fiat 128.. To make the x1/9 pass this proposed DOT crash requirement, Giuseppe Puleo borrowed many structural design elements from the Lancia Stratos (why re-invent the wheel) or why the x1/9 was designed/produced with such a overly robust chassis.. add to this the x1/9 was gifted with one of the best suspension designs from that era and remains extremely good compared to many modern suspension designs.. It is also why the x1/9 feels SO under powered and SO easy to add more power with no modifications to the chassis and changes to the suspension/chassis as needed.
Circa mid-1970's Fiat gave up producing the x1/9 as the production numbers were too small, Production of the x1/9 was passed on to Bertone as their product offering since that time.. Essentially, your x1/9 is a Bertone product with oily bits and some other bits from the Fiat parts bin.. The x1/9 was a source of revenue for Bertone, not Fiat.. Add to this, Fiat made absolute sure the x1/9 will never be made into a factory supported competition chassis as Fiat management made absolute sure no racing promo will ever happen for the x1/9..

Just how good is the design of the x1/9..

Colin Chapman purchased one for his daughter Sarah.

Admired and copied by the folks at Toyota which resulted in the MR2.

Folks at GM copied the x1/9 as the Pontiac Fiero (Meh).

Served as a daily driver for Gianni Agnelli.. who terrorized Niki Lauda as a passenger. Yes, Niki Lauda was gifted on which Niki passed on to his wife.

Three of the engineers for the first re-do of the FORD GT-40 owned an x1/9..

Lotus Elise is essentially a modern variant of the x1/9...there are others that did the mid-engine chassis based on vast production FWD power trains..

This list goes on..

As for your previous Fiat experience.. temper that knowing the alterations forced on the Fiat designs to meet USA dept. of transportation requirements (import barrier) and smog requirements from that era.. before making any judgement on the basic design/engineering of the Fiat oily bits..

Bernice
Well damn, after reading this, all doubts on whether our crazy Covid-lockdown purchase was wrong have floated away like a warm breeze. I've never felt so good to own a car that is 50-years-old this year. Thank you! :)
 
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tvmaster

True Classic
I think you are under-selling the FIAT engineering involved. FIAT did the detail engineering. Bertone was a coachbuilder [just bodywork] as evidenced by their entire portfolio. It was not the case of engineers at Bertone doing all the design using the FIAT parts bin. It was FIAT engineering doing the detail design using the FIAT parts bin in cooperation with Bertone body shop. And that is no bad thing. FIAT were at the top of their game during this period.
Except for knowing how to sell and service cars in North America ;)
 

johnph

True Classic
Except for knowing how to sell and service cars in North America ;)
TV master is onto something here.
About 15 years ago, I was at an American Lancia Club Reunion and the guys were holding court at the bar around midnight. I mentioned that I had been looking for an Fiat 850 coupe to restore and that it seemed that although there were plenty of spiders out there, there were virtually no Coupes. At the other end of the bar there was laughter. I listened up and was told a story by one of the gang who was an ex Fiat North America employee. He told a story (the facts now are blurry) that in the mid-70s Fiat NA was facing a problem with safety issues with the 100,000 or so 850s they had sold here. It was either gas leaks from the carbs dripping onto the header or rust out and suspension collapse or something. Apparently, the Italians had an idea to avoid corporate embarassment of a recall. The idea was to offer a favorable trade-in price on your 850 which would apply to 1975? new Fiat cars. It just so happened that Fiat NA had committed to the Italians to sell a huge number of Fiats. (our experts here can now look up and post Fiats NA sales here for the years 66-79 to verify if any of the sales records line up with my memory). The trade-in offer was based on the current trade in value of the 850 sedans, the 850 coupes and the 850 spiders. Since the sedans and coupes had much less value , a huge proportion of those owners went for the deal and traded in and got a new 128, 124, or X. At the time, the 850 spiders apparently had better resale value so the FIAT NA offer did not appeal so much to spider owners.
NOW; What does all that to do with the rarity of 850 Coupes? Here it is: To avoid recall, FIAT NAs plan was to remove them from the road. All the trade in cars to qualify for the trade-in rebate were to be scrapped--not resold. The dealer operatives at the bar told me of stories that, once the service personnel learned of what was going on, there were minor demolition derbies and other car abuse going on in the dealer back lot before the "trade-in" cars were hauled away and crushed. And, in my opinion, that is why an 850 Coupe on the road in the USA is a very rare sight.
I finally found one soon after I was schooled on this subject. It was a California car and it had lots of rust and the brass carb inlet piece was quite loose.
 

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Steve Thomas

True Classic
brass carb inlet piece was quite loose
Can't comment on the whole story but that carb issue is a Weber feature not FIAT specific. Had GT Capri try to immolate me.. Personally prefer the coupe, very rare here but spiders are non-existent here [Australia]
 

Rupunzell

Bernice Loui
I think you are under-selling the FIAT engineering involved. FIAT did the detail engineering. Bertone was a coachbuilder [just bodywork] as evidenced by their entire portfolio. It was not the case of engineers at Bertone doing all the design using the FIAT parts bin. It was FIAT engineering doing the detail design using the FIAT parts bin in cooperation with Bertone body shop. And that is no bad thing. FIAT were at the top of their game during this period.
Really a some what combo of Bertone & Fiat, some of the oily bits were Fiat (power train), many parts on the exxe are specific to the exxe but were also Bertone stock bits like the engine cover/trunk release was also used on other Bertone cars (Lambo, Lancia and ..). exxe clutch master cylinder was used on the Lancia Stratos and more. Items like this were easy and properly applied to other designs as needed. Much was learned by the folks at Bertone during the Lambo Miura journey, from cooling, aero, chassis dynamics, packaging and more.. It was the Miura experience that allowed the folks at Bertone to do the exxe with help from Fiat engineering to make up for other parts of the design.. Cooling was one of the prime challenges with the Miura, the crew worked hard to figure out how to cool a mid-engine car.. it was not easy, plenty of road and aero wind tunnel testing was done to figure this out. What was learned got applied to cooling the exxe.. This is just one aspect of design that was shared.

As for aero, Bertone was deep into aero early on, notable were the Alfa Romeo BAT series of cars that were essentially aero studies..

Then there was Marcello Gandini, designer at Bertone that penned the Miura, exxe and many others...

Often never considered about European cars from that era.. Most of Europe was still recovering from the devastation of WW-II, Post WW-II personal transportation needs were a given even with the European goal of mass transit that worked excellent. Due to the post WW-II economy, low cost motos were a must. This resulted in motos like the-
BMW isetta:

Messerschmitt KR200:

Renualt 4cv:

Citroen 2cv (really excellent design, product of French farmers & eggs to market):

Tatra 97 ( where the VW beetle came from, plagiarized by Prof Porsche, then sued and lost the legal dispute)

Fiat 500/Topolino:

UK mini (now BMW):

And a host of "eastern European cars"

~Keep in mind most of Europe had no vintage Dino juice to burn.. mandating small displacement motors, small motos with packaging efficiency as a must, cost of running and ownership low as a post WW-II requirement. This is one of the reasons why Italy had a harsh displacement tax for over 1600cc motos, while the Brits taxed on bore diameter..

While all this was happening as the European reality.. USA with vintage Dino juice to burn, full speed industry from WW-II production and plenty of natural resources coupled with a fondness of BIG motos and related wretched excess shifted industry to producing BIG cars with bright chrome, big motors total isolation "floating" suspension with way under sized brakes and rolling luxury living room design goals were the thing..

National culture, resources, industry, economics, politics and more all figure into and drives moto designs..
So, before condemning a given moto design.. take all this into account on top of the actual design/engineering/production of the target moto..


Bernice
 

Steve Thomas

True Classic
Marcello Gandini, designer at Bertone
Yes - Gandini, designer. Bertone, manager. Bertone [the man] had zero impact on the car. He was running a business with about 1,500 employees. Anybody who thinks he had anything to do with the design of any product is kidding themselves. He [and his son] were hands on old school managers and they were focused on the dollars and even more so - focused on the next job, the next contract. No contracts = no business and that is ultimately what happened.

Gandini is the man to venerate. The car should have Gandini badges :)
 

SuperTopo

True Classic
Yes - Gandini, designer. Bertone, manager. Bertone [the man] had zero impact on the car. He was running a business with about 1,500 employees. Anybody who thinks he had anything to do with the design of any product is kidding themselves. He [and his son] were hands on old school managers and they were focused on the dollars and even more so - focused on the next job, the next contract. No contracts = no business and that is ultimately what happened.

Gandini is the man to venerate. The car should have Gandini badges :)

Agree to disagree. Should the iPhone be a Johnny Ive or an Apple branded product? But to have this discussion here will go even one step further than my 850 Coupe picture in hijacking this thread
 
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