In 1982 when Fiat bought Alfa Romeo, they ceased production of the X1/9. Bertone, who had always built the body and interior, then took over full production of the car which was then badged "Bertone". Due to the Australian emmission rules, we had to wait till 1988 to see this new X1/9, when just 51 were imported to Australia by LNC.
|This car was the first.
Registered on the 26th July 1988, it was the car on display in October 1988 at the Sydney International Motor Show. Indeed, this was when I first saw it - raised up on a pedestal, and it naturally grabbed my attention. I had no idea then that ultimately that very car would be mine...
At the show, I was interested in the fuel injection and the different exhaust configuration which included the catalytic converter, so I got down under the back to take a look. Next thing I know, there's a voice behind me "Come on out Carolyn..." and I looked up to see a guy from the Fiat club peering down at me. "I knew it must have been you. There's no other woman who would be crawling under an X1/9!"
For the next year, the car was used as the demonstrator and was featured in magazines, often compared to the MR2.
Eventually it was sold and took up residence in an inner city Sydney suburb without the luxury of a safe garage. Unfortunately in these 2 years it was broken into twice, the Bertone badges and radio were stolen, it was maliciously "keyed" down the passenger's side and suffered a minor hit-and-run sideswipe in addition to numerous other minor dings and bumps.
Finally, on 10th August 1991, it was mine and came to live in my warm & cosy garage.
It's now 17 years old and despite the minor "battle scars" mentioned above it is generally in really good nick. I guess one of these days, I'll have to take it off the road and at least give it a good respray and generally detail it back up to it's original condition. Mechanically it's still in great shape and has suffered no real problems, except a recent blown head gasket, but even then it was still running surprisingly well on a 1000km trip - just drinking too much water!
I have no intention of selling this car. I just love it. Between this and the blue 850, at least half my garage will always be full!
If you too have an Australian registered Bertone, we'd like to hear from you!. Take a look at the Aussie Bertone X1/9 register, enter your vehicle's vital statistics and view the results.
While I was replacing the head gasket, I decided to do a few other things to the car - you know "Just while I can get to this bit... while it's off the road & on stands anyway I should check this...etc". With all the justification in the world and a month later, the head's still off (although ready and willing to go back on), and the car is pretty much stripped.
I'm off in search of the Italian rust demon and to my surprise and delight, I haven't found any real nasties. For a 10 year old car, it's cleaning up just like a new one! I love it! A few touch ups and a drenching of fishoil later, it'll be back on the road and going and looking better than ever as I'm also taking the opportunity to fix numerous small problems and irritations.
You might notice that in addition to my 5.7 metre workbench that's now strewn (neatly of course) with parts, even the spare 850 has been pressed into service as a place to lay the finished bits out ready for reassembly!
Hmmm, there sure are lots of little bits to go back on... hope I remember....
IT IS ALIVE!
After 4 months of messing around with it, my X1/9's back on it's wheels and back on the road. It was a struggle at times, but yes, I did eventually figure out where most of the important bits should go! In addition to over $1000 of new parts, a great deal of preventative maintenance and respraying more of the body than I thought I would, I also bought it four new tyres and a wheel alignment to complete it's make-over.
It looked and drove like a new car - no annoying little rattles, no interior trim missing, a sweet and healthy engine and the "wonderful" smell of a freshly fishoiled body (it's not really that bad!). Just over a week after it's maiden voyage though, I went away for the weekend to country NSW and of course, came across extensive roadworks complete with dirt sections... in the rain. Damn but it sure needs a wash already.
But it's happy, I'm happy and all is peaceful in the world of Car's cars again :-)
CAR.19X won it's class at the Fiat Club of NSW Annual Concourso! See for yourself what a wonderful day this was for Fiats.