Balena Bianca: 1966 Fiat 850 Coupe
The Fiat 850 was available as a boxy van, an oddly bulbous sedan, and a cute little spider ragtop, but that best looking version had a fastback roofline and was called the 850 Coupe. They were manufactured in huge quantities (2.3 million 850s were sold worldwide from 1963-1973) but isn’t a car you’ll see very often — probably because of the sheet metal disintegrated in moisture like single layer cardboard and the engines needed to run at 100% duty cycle to keep the driver from being rear-ended by children on skateboards. Despite that, I think I’d enjoy the experience of owning a classic like an 850 Coupe. Find this 1966 Fiat 850 Coupe offered for $9,000 in Scotch Plains, NJ via craigslist.
From the seller:
title status: clean
1966 Fiat 850 Coupe in great running condition. Original white with black interior. This was a California car up until 3 years ago so rust is minimal and the floors are solid. Has Abarth steering wheel, exhaust and cromodora magnesium wheels. Upgraded 60 series tires. Upgraded 903cc motor (original was 817cc), 4 speed manual trans shifts well.. It runs great and everything works, the car handles amazing. It’s not perfect, has a few rust bubbles, paint cracks and digs. This is a 54 year old car and a survivor. 1966 was the first year these were imported into the USA, very rare.
Here is a video of it running and driving.
Firm on the price. If you don’t like the price, go find another one.
See a better way to drive something Italian? email@example.com
High school, 1977 or so. Four of us packed into one of these. Hard left turn, at speed. Car goes up on the two right wheels, inches from rolling. We laughed like the young, invincible assholes we were.
Cool car at what seems like a reasonable price, but the seller should have spent a little more time prepping it for sale.
In a matter of a few hours, you could vacuum the interior and trunk, scrub the caked dirt from the trunk gutters, remove the mold from the engine bay, rocker panels, and under both bumpers, and create a short-pile carpet or heavy canvas cover for that rear package tray behind the back seat. That would have been time well spent instead of slick coating the tires and calling it a day.
I used to have a neighbor with a Fiat fetish who had one of these (and a 500 and an X1/9). It always caught my attention and made me want one. I’d hustle to the window to look when I heard it coming down the street.
The sport sedan version was my first car. Burned up the motor (blew a gasket at speed, barely had time to get the car out of gear before the engine seized), found another, and my buddy the HS football center held it in place while I bolted it in. Not enough power to need a clutch, but it cornered hard, and the inside wheels coming up was your clue to slow down. You could watch the metal dissolve on this thing. Only car I ever had that smelled like rust. Eventually sold it to an old Italian dude who didn’t speak a word of English, just smiled, handed me the cash and drove off.