story by chris stutters • photos by david s. wallens

The original Fiat X1/9 seemingly had it all, from Buck Rogers styling and four-wheel-independent suspension to a tasty mid-engine layout and a removable targa top. It was sexy, Italian and built for sin.

Unfortunately, the car was also slow. Really slow.

Credit for that lack of speed goes to the times. Back in 1972, when the car was released, the proposed crash standards looked tough to beat. To meet them, Fiat made the X1/9 strong—and that translated into heft. The 1290cc-powered car weighed more than a full ton; do the math.

The X1/9 met these proposed crash standards while others didn’t, but then the standards were changed. This left Fiat with a strong, yet unnecessarily heavy, sports car compared to its competition. Enthusiasts looked for solutions.

Over the years, a number of different horsepower recipes were sampled in the X1/9. Most chefs reached to the Fiat parts bin in order to hot rod the car, though some did look to other car makers for more power. John Soman falls into that second group.

Read the rest of the story

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
6/5/17 1:13 p.m.

Awesome project. I love everything about this car.

LuxInterior
LuxInterior HalfDork
6/5/17 1:37 p.m.

Want!

Jerry
Jerry UltraDork
6/5/17 1:52 p.m.

NimrodWildfire
NimrodWildfire
6/5/17 3:17 p.m.

Thanks for posting this. I am hoping to find my copy of the original article. John was a friend of mine and unfortunately he was killed doing another passion of his - surfing! John built a cool car and was in the process of making it wilder when he passed. I heard the car went to Southern, Ca. I'm not sure what has happened to it.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/5/17 4:58 p.m.

That's right, I had heard that he passed. I did the photography for that one and lined up everything. He was a neat dude who built a very cool car.

NimrodWildfire
NimrodWildfire New Reader
6/5/17 5:11 p.m.

He did build a cool car and to think it was his first build. He learned how to weld doing that car. In reply to David S. Wallens :

T.J.
T.J. UltimaDork
6/5/17 5:52 p.m.

Cool car.

Raze
Raze UltraDork
6/5/17 7:32 p.m.

Bellissimo

Shaun
Shaun HalfDork
6/6/17 9:45 a.m.

RIP waterman. A girlfriend had one and I loved the little thing with 70hp. 270 would be silly fun. 2000 lbs is still light. I have stumbled into you tube vids of some Itallian hillclimb organization (I guess) where highly modified versions of these little things scream through villages on what look like Roman era roads.

icaneat50eggs
icaneat50eggs Dork
6/6/17 10:11 a.m.

I think I'm in love.

oldsaw
oldsaw UltimaDork
6/6/17 9:31 p.m.

I loved that project when it was featured in 2007. Yeah, that article is ten.years.old.

Where does one go to buy 215/50/13 tires with a TWR higher than 50 these days?

randyracer
randyracer New Reader
11/30/17 9:45 p.m.

I always loved the X1/9.  Built a very crude and simple autocross racer in about 1980.  This car reminds me of that.  But with three times the HP.  Pretty little baby Ferraris.  Beautiful work.  So sad about John's surfing accident mentioned above.

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
12/1/17 8:56 a.m.

You are not kidding about how strong the X was. I parted one out and tried to cut up the shell, even being extremely rusty, It dulled every sawzall blade in I bought in a matter of minutes.

Robbie
Robbie PowerDork
12/1/17 9:11 a.m.

Yeah, I love this car too.

JerryKieft
JerryKieft
12/18/17 1:32 p.m.

Years ago I started a project X19 stripping everything, seam welding all bottom sheet metal, building a rear subframe to install a mid engine 13B rotary. Car had fiberglass IMSA body including hood & deck lid. Never found time to finish the car and sold components. Always thought a mid engine 350HP FI solo car would be neat. Jerry (Bandit) Kieft

Robbie
Robbie PowerDork
12/18/17 1:42 p.m.
JerryKieft said:

Years ago I started a project X19 stripping everything, seam welding all bottom sheet metal, building a rear subframe to install a mid engine 13B rotary. Car had fiberglass IMSA body including hood & deck lid. Never found time to finish the car and sold components. Always thought a mid engine 350HP FI solo car would be neat. Jerry (Bandit) Kieft

Dang. Don't have anything left do you?

Coupefan
Coupefan Reader
12/19/17 11:31 a.m.

I appreciate reposting the article again.  Short of Momi's Integrale-based conversion in Israel, this has got to be one of the most wicked X1/9s created for street use.  I had forgotten about the accident. And yes, I do believe the car is in Southern California. 

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