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X1/9 Restoring an 82 X1/9


My Fiat X1/9 project

MANY years ago, I used to own Fiats. My first NEW car was a Fiat 128 sedan. I drove it mercilessly, autocrossed it frequently, and it never had a failure or let me down (including towing a single snowmobile trailer in Alaskan winters!).

I moved to X1/9s, and have had several. A street car, that was yellow, which I ended up running in the Fur Rendezvous Gran Prix, a sanctioned road race run on downtown streets around a carnival in Anchorage Alaska in February. Then a pure race car that was red with various white parts on it, Carrera coil overs, PBS engineering head, exhaust, etc., which was an autocross maniac. After that was a stock metallic green X in Seattle. Perfect car for Seattle traffic.

Now, some 35 years later, I found the desire to bring one back from the grave. I found an 82 (first time I am dealing with fuel injection) that has sat in a pole barn for several years. Maybe 5 years. Parts of it sat in the woods (hence the hail damage and really terrible primer on the hood hiding surface rust bubbles). Someone started to prep it for paint, and did some disassembly, but it was literally a basket case. When I went to pick it up, I ended up with 4 crates of parts and components, as well as a pickup-truck bed of other parts, hoods, engine covers, etc. It was Mediterranean blue, and various shades of primer and rust and etc. There was some surface rust, but no rust-through areas. It had over 100K miles, a clean title, and a key, no battery, and it looks like most of the parts are there.

The car suffers from being exceptionally dirty (a couple wasp nests, LOTS of leaves), and there was some water intrusion in the various cavities. Those issues have been handled.

The goals are as follows:

Clean it up visually: Remove bumpers, mounts, side marker lights, pop up headlights, and weld everything over and smooth.

Get it ‘pretty’: New wheels. New paint, deep purple metallic. Interior changed from blue to black. No rust, all visible surfaces painted and clean to the touch. Interior cleaned up and any missing parts replaced. Projector beam H1 headlights, and LED turn signals up front.

Get it comfortable: New carpet, new seats, 4 point harnesses, etc.

Make sure it functions, even if different than designed: For instance, get rid of all three rusty hood latches and cables, and replace with flush mount pushbutton hood pins, some of which would be lockable.

THEN get the wiring straightened out, and get the 85hp injected motor running, and have a fun weekend driver.

Long term goal, maybe a year out: Switch it over to a Honda K20A2 motor with a Honda 6 speed limited slip transmission (and over 200HP). Midwest-Bayless has a rather expensive kit that makes this possible, with a limited amount of cutting and welding. :slayer:

The car has so far had the following done in the last 4 weeks, working 2 hours on Saturday morning, and 2 hours on Sunday morning before the heat and humidity make my garage uninhabitable, and whenever the heat and humidity allow me to work in the evening after my regular job:

Took the hood down to bare metal, treated for hail damage and one ding, painted with rust restorer primer, and then with a regular primer. Treated the underside of the hood to a nice satin-black paint job.

Sanded the rear decklid, treated with rust restorer primer and then with regular primer. Treated the underside of the lid to a nice satin-black paint job.

Door cards have been removed, cleaned and treated, and painted satin black.

Seats have been removed

Interior old blue carpet has been removed

Interior blue vinyl trim has been removed (blue? Really? Yuck!)

Cromodora Iron Cross wheels and old Kumho tires have been removed. Tires are actually in decent shape, wheels are in decent shape, and I have a spare wheel with road rash.

New tires (Toyo Proxes 195/45-15) have arrived, and new ‘Competizione’ 4x98 15x6.5 wheels should be here next week.

Targa top has been stripped. Latches have been treated for rust and painted to prevent further rusting. The trim and the 35 year old vinyl, foam, and gritty tar-like adhesive have been removed. The top has been painted with Bumper and Trim black paint.

Doors have been removed, and the door latch areas sanded and primed
Headlight buckets and motors have been removed

Radiator has been removed

Gas tank has been removed. Will be removing old gasoline that smells like turpentine, and then refreshing, cleaning the inside, and painting the outside.

Bumpers have been removed

Bumper Shocks have been removed

Whats Next:

Now there will be a couple months of perfecting the body, surface rust removal and treatment, in the front, interior, and rear compartments, as well as treating the rust on the outside of the body, and repairing any dings or small dents that I find.

I will be creating plates to replace the headlight buckets, cleaning up the wiring, and making the front end smoother.

Will cut out the bumper mount square tubing (and tow hooks) that extend out of the body in front and rear. Then I will make some threaded inserts to be able to put in racing tow straps or thread in tow hooks when needed. This will be followed by cover plates welded in and smoothed.

Will create cover plates for the four side marker lights, and weld them in. Will also be weld-filling in the various holes in the body for things that no longer require a mount.

Will be fabricating the mounts for the projector beam H1 headlights, which are just 2.5 inches in diameter, as well as the front marker/turn signal LED lights.

Once all the body work is done, I will turn the car over to a professional for the final coat of deep metallic purple.

Then it will be another couple months of sorting wiring, rebuilding an interior, and getting the engine singing happily.

Barring any major difficulties, should have it back on the road by 1st qtr of 2018.

And, during this process, I will be putting the following up on Ebay:
Front Bumper
Rear Bumper
Bumper Shocks
Headlight Buckets
Headlight Motors
Cromodora Wheels

I'll be posting some pictures, as soon as I figure out how.
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Brilliant project. Thanks for posting! Look forward to following your progress.

The car looks in really good shape. I expect they are fairly unusual in Alaska?
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In the heyday of the late 70s and early 80s, X1/9s were surprisingly common in Alaska, so they made a great source for race cars. That was back when the X competed with the TR7/8 and first Mazda RX7 for inexpensive sports cars.

Now, 35 years later, in northeastern Florida, I do not recall seeing one on the streets in the last 7 years. Not even at Cars and Coffee. They have become rare indeed. Most have rusted out and since they were cheap to begin with, in the 90s and early 00s, I would guess a lot of them were sent to be recycled.

Maybe there is some DNA from a recycled X1/9 somewhere in the heart of a new Fiat 500? I would love to see Fiat today build a modern version of the X1/9. Use the same drivetrain as a 2017 500 Abarth, rear-mid engine, targa, 2 seater? Money! Yes, I would dip into my retirement funds to buy that car.
Racing X1/9s in extreme conditions. Anchorage Fur Rondy Gran Prix, 5 below zero farenheit, roads salted to prevent freezing, running a box stock X except for the safety equipment. 68HP, 4 speed, and better balance and brakes than anything out there. Third in class in an unmodified car.

Red car was my autocross car. Purchased from a man that wrecked it a few years before (also in the Fur Rondy Gran Prix). Lightened, stiffened, PBS engineering head and valvetrain, Carrera coil over suspension, and the heaviest sway bars I have ever seen on ANY vehicle. Waiting to be towed to the next autocross, with 'street' tires.

Current project continues, with targa top cleaned up and painted, now waiting for the arrival of some sound deadener and padding, and the new wheels.


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What wheels are you going for?

I have not really used my X in icy weather much, let alone raced it in those temperatures!
Going for some Gunmetal Grey Competizione wheels (see image). Running 15x6.5 size. Already have the Toyo Proxes 194/45-15 tires. (Wheels should be here in a couple days).

I also attached an image of a Dodge Shelby powered X1/9. I like how it looks, and that is the general look I am going for. Maybe a little smoother.


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Wheels have arrived, and will be shod with tires this afternoon.

Targa top is an hour of work or so away from being completely refurbished. Now using modern sound dampening materials and a 1/4" nap black carpet.

Been unable to work on the car for a week due to some issues with my back.

Next I will be refinishing the engine covers, and then move on to reinstalling the gas tank, finishing the removal of old padding and etc on the interior, and finish painting the interior.
Nice wheels - Will any work be required to the arches to fit them?

I tried some 15 inch Alfa 146 wheels on my X and they did not fit due to the offset being wrong...

Those Minilite replicas look a lot better suited though.
Offset and tire combo is pretty good. Plenty of clearance on the back. about 3/8" of clearance on the front (between the tire and the strut spring perch).

Doesn't seem to need any modification of the wheel arches or fender wells.

I am considering going to a coilover suspension, which because the springs are so much smaller diameter, completely eliminates any clearance issues.

Will have it down on it's feet in a couple weeks.

I've attached some pictures showing what they look like on the car. Just put them on for looks. Will be taking them off so I can continue working on the car without damaging them.


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I have been under the weather for a couple weeks. My back went out, and I didn't feel like working on the car while being in excruciating pain.

Doing much better now. Back to work on the X tomorrow morning!

Will be working on the area around the fluid reservoirs, replacing the fabric covered hoses from the brake and clutch reservoirs with metal tubes. While I have those out, I will be doing rust removal and treatment in that area.

Had some issues with the gas tank. Should have it out tomorrow.

Still finishing the targa top. Should have it done tomorrow as well. Hard to find the right fasteners/screws that connect the latches to the top. Ended up getting some screw-anchors that are normally used for wood, that accept a 10-24 thread machine screw. These will be sturdy, and let me complete the re-install of those latches and finish the dang top. Now all screws on the top are stainless steel.
My back is nearing 100% again, so I was able to do a few minor tasks on Mutant this morning. Back didn’t seize up, so overall a good morning.

I installed the other two speed-bleeders, so now all four corners have speed-bleeders installed on the brakes.

Gas Tank Removal (also known as ‘things no one speaks about):
I finally got the gas tank out. Turns out that in order to remove the electrical connection and upper hose connections (for emissions control), I had to remove the bracket for the throttle body, the throttle body itself, just to get access to another vinyl cover. Jeepers! Could they make this any harder?

Once I got the tank out, and the gas gauge sender unit removed, I discovered that the sender unit float is 1/3 full of gas, that the gas in the tank is the consistency and clarity of tea with cream added, but smells like turpentine. And now that the tank is drained (luckily there was only a couple ounces of fluid) and empty, there are still some clunky rusty bits rattling around inside. I guess I’ll be ordering a new tank and sender from Vick Auto.

I now have the following parts and bits on-hand and ready to be worked into the fabrication:
Projector beam headlights with Halogen H1 bulbs
LED turn signal button-lights
LED license plate lights
Purple anodized license plate frame
Purple anodized pop up hood pins
New steering wheel
Castrol brake fluid
Oil filter

Also found that, after doing some rust treatment and primer on the body, that the previous mechanic used a primer that didn’t get sealed. So the primer has crazed and cracked. Looks like more sanding in store. Yay?

I think over the next week I’ll be running some hard copper lines to replace old and deteriorating fabric covered hoses from the brake and clutch reservoirs to the master cylinders, removing and treating rust where the reservoirs were, and trying to catch up on my admittedly very loose schedule. I am still working on getting the latches re-installed on the targa top and re-engineering the screws and threaded inserts as I go along.

Truly sucks that the steering wheel adaptors are freakishly expensive to mount a 6-bolt momo-style steering wheel to the X1/9 shaft. I understand that the mid-year 124 spyder adaptor would work reasonably well. However, they are apparently made of unobtanium, because I have not been able to find one. I had a line on 3 124 spiders that were taken to a breaker/junk yard. By the time I found out about them, they had been crushed.
A few pictures showing just how bad the gas tank is. Also drilling and tapping the targa top for thread inserts for the latches. And the progress on the side of the car. Black = rust reformer primer, and you can barely make out the crazing of the primer underneath.

Oh, and in case anyone wonders, there in the engine compartment is the access panel for the connections to the fuel level sending unit, and the emission control piping. That big hole is hidden by the throttle body, the throttle body mount, and a vinyl cover held in place by three screws. If you don't disconnect those, your gonna have a bad time.


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Ordered brand new fuel tank and sender unit from Vick Auto (

Also ordered a brand new fuel filter. With that kind of junk inside the tank, don't really even want to imagine what the inside of the filter must be like.
The new gas tank is here! Shiny inside and out. Guess what I'll be doing on Saturday morning!

Yes, I gave it a seat of honor in my favorite recliner. I am sentimental that way (or semi-mental?).


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Fresh shiny clean new gas tank is now fully in place. New fuel filter is in place as well. I need to get a couple spade connectors to hook up the sending unit. 35 year old wires.

Old broken speedometer cable has been removed. Too hot and sweaty to run the new one.

Targa top latches are completed, and targa top sits back on the car, HOWEVER, I found a couple spots that need touch up. Easy Peasy!

Sunday morning (tomorrow) I plan on running the new speedo cable, patching the spots on the targa top, and getting the rusty area around the brake reservoirs de-rusted, and primed. That's all for this weekend...

(Billy Mays voice) But Wait! There's More!

Red found me a steering wheel adapter. So I will likely work on that tomorrow as well. New steering wheel joy!
Good progress.

Wow that fuel tank was quite bad! I fitted a new tank to my 2001 fiat seicento recently. I looked under the car recently and was dismayed to find paint was no use and its covered in surface rust! Hope your new x tank is better.
Using a steering adapter from a 124 Spyder, was able to get the new steering wheel in place. Need to do some mods to get the 124 adapter to work with the horn button conductors.

The 124 Spyder mid-cycle models used a Momo 6 bolt pattern.

Wheel was $35 on EBay, and is approx 1.5" smaller diameter than the stock wheel. Feels nice and looks pretty good.


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I have a 124 spider wheel on my X1/9 - its a bit bigger than the stock steering wheel though. Le Mans style :)
Not sure what the textured coating is that they use on the underside of the engine cover on my Fiat X1/9. However, it is nearly impossible to sand off, and almost impervious to aircraft grade paint remover. Man, they should cover tanks in that stuff!

So, another day or two more until I get the rear decklid completed.


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