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January 17th, 2018

During the late 60’s, Fiat’s successful 950 Spider had started getting a bit long in the tooth. To come up with a deserving successor, the Italian brand once again returned to Bertone to design a new machine. Under the supervision of chief designer Marcello Gandini, Bertone took the drivetrain from Fiat’s front wheel drive sub brand Autobianchi Primula and mated it with a brand new engine from the Fiat 128. The result was the Autobianchi A112 Runabout concept which the company introduced the world at the 1969 Turin Auto Show. The Runabout was such a massive hit that Fiat decided to go ahead and make a production model from the A112. The resulting car was the Fiat X 1/9 that you see here in the photos – the world’s first widely successful mass-produced mid-engined sports car. Fiat built the X 1/9 between 1972 – 1982, the same era where this particular example that is going on sale at Bonhams’ Grand Palais comes from. After Fiat discontinued production of the X 1/9, Bertone continued producing the car till 1998.

Fiat X 1/9 Specs

The X 1/9 got its power from a transversely mounted 1.3-litre engine from the Fiat 128 Rally that produced a modest 75 bhp that was sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. Fiat knew that the superb weight distribution and chassis setup meant that the X 1/9 could handle more power, and in 1978 with the second series, the X 1/9 received an upgrade in the form of a 1,498cc engine and a five-speed gearbox. Now the power was up to 85 bhp and the X 1/9 was able to top out at 177 kmph while reaching 100kmph in about 11 seconds. Furthermore, the Fiat X 1/9 was also developed as a factory works rally car. This is when the engine was further bored out to 1.8-litre and fitted with an Abarth 16-valve cylinder head. Unfortunately, Fiat’s corporate policy back then favoured Lancia as the preferred rally car brand due to which the more powerful X 1/9 never took off beyond the prototype stage. Photos via Bonhams

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