Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder PowerDork
7/1/09 9:12 a.m.

Here’s a trivia question for you: In the early 1970s, which Italian automobile manufacturer seeking to make major inroads into the U.S. market developed a mid-engine sports car blessed with excellent handling to match its sculpted styling? Need a hint? Okay: That styling was penned by a famous desi…

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favedave
favedave
11/1/11 9:54 a.m.

The Fiat X-19 is the most wonderfully designed Italian sports car of the 1970s. I was lucky enough to own a 78 (Bertone Signature Edition,#1305 I think), German racing silver with maroon side stripes and fitted luggage). This was during the period when Porsche was selling the 914 and 914 6. A comparison between the two was inevitable since I had two friends who owned both the 4 and a 6. The 914 was faster because of the bigger engines. That (and the name plate)was the only area where the Porsche beat the X/19. I'm 6'2" and the Xer was literally the most comfortable road car I've ever owned. Seating position was a bit odd for the first 3 minutes I owned the car. But I thought nothing of loading it up with enough clothing for an extended tour and putting 10 to 12 hours behind the wheel. The capacity of the front and rear luggage compartments is phenominal. The Targa roof was a breeze to put on. And stowing it in the front trunk did not diminish the luggage space one bit.
Traveling between Long Beach,California and Houston, Texas, I saw 110 mph on the speedo (okay it's Italian and probably optimistic)a number of times and considering it was the 1300cc, I thought that really good. (My 67 Morris Mini Cooper S, an Alpine Ralley car, topped at 105.) I am now on the look out for a 74 to 78 to add to my collection.

I hope this article doesn't spike the price of these exceptional cars any further.

GLK
GLK New Reader
6/24/19 3:31 p.m.

Back when the X1/9’s were new I wanted one bad. But when I went to the dealer and sat in it I found my height just did not work. I had the seat all the way back to the firewall but alas could not get comfortable. Arms and legs folded like an accordion. I was truly disappointed. This is coming from an Alfa guy who has no problem with the classic Italian arms out, legs bent Italian driving position. A neighbor currently has a yellow one in mint condition. I look at it wistfully. If only, if only...

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
6/24/19 4:48 p.m.
GLK said:

Back when the X1/9’s were new I wanted one bad. But when I went to the dealer and sat in it I found my height just did not work. I had the seat all the way back to the firewall but alas could not get comfortable. Arms and legs folded like an accordion. I was truly disappointed. This is coming from an Alfa guy who has no problem with the classic Italian arms out, legs bent Italian driving position. A neighbor currently has a yellow one in mint condition. I look at it wistfully. If only, if only...

There are ways to solve that, the seats can actually go a bit further back and lower with a quick mod to the seat rails or seat belt mounts along with shimming the steering colum/changing the steering wheel.

Early cars also have a little more room compared to the later Bertone badged cars.

I do miss Per's writing in the magazine.  Glad he and the family are doing well though.

Tberg
Tberg New Reader
6/24/19 9:00 p.m.

After the opening questions regarding an Italian carmaker wanting to make inroads into the American market, penned by a famous design house by building a beautiful midengined sports car, the first that jumped to mind was the De Tomaso Pantera.  It was a small Italian manufacturer putting out a stunning midengined missile designed by Ghia, that certainly outfperformed the Ferrari and the Fiat.  And De Tomaso predated both Ferrari and Fiat with midengine designs even prior to the Pantera.  Oh well, I guess I would have lost this round on Jeopardy.

GLK
GLK New Reader
6/25/19 3:50 p.m.

Here is a list of interesting cars fitting a wide variety of skills, tastes and budgets in no particular order both foreign and domestic from the 1960s - 90s that have yet to set the world on fire in the enthusiast marketplace. Yet any one of them would be a cool ownership experience. Ignored but not forgotten are...

Alfa Romeo GTV6 & Spider

TVR 280i

DeTomaso Pantera

Delorean DMC-12

Fiat X1/9 & 124 Spider

Datsun 1600/2000 Roadster

MGB, GT & Midget

BMW 2002tii

Volvo P1800E & ES

Studebaker Avanti R1 & 2

Triumph TR6, TR7, TR8 & Spitfire

Jaguar XK8

Corvette C4

Cadillac XLR

Saturn Sky & Pontiac Solistice Turbo

Porsche 924 & 914

Lotus Europa & Esprit

Mercury Marauder

Chevrolet Impala SS

Lamborghini Urraco, Jarama, Espada 

Ferrari 400i, 308 Mondial & 308 GT/4

Mercury Merkur XR4ti

Toyota MR2

Miata MX5 (of course)

 

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