6/30/11 8:02 a.m.

That phrase dose'nt often come up, but with potential for near term death of utterly unpractical 2 seat mid - engine cars headed are way (me thinks - front & rear, too) in the sake of low emission standards making all but the most outrageously expensive sports super cars available, I'm pining for an old "keeper" for weekends. Having owned all manner of Jags, Corvettes, Nissans, Mazda's and Porsches. My two favorites for pure driving favorites were miles apart in price; Lotus & Fiat/ Bertone, but shared one inescapable distinct commonality that's intrinsic to the car's design. A Lotus (God I miss it), and as a twenty some-thing, a Fiat/Bertone X19. Both mid - engined, small displacement, light, and knack for tracking apexes all day. These days, I'm broke & divorced, but pine for that pure drive. Modern Lotuses (unless antyone is offering free lease Elise or Evora S') and Italian cars don't fit in the budget. I'd love to find a decent & serviceable Fiat/Bertone X1-9, circa 1980-2 from a southwestern state (please; no winter driving/salted roads) near my San Diego home that has been cared for as my "last" fun petrol powered driver. Anyone out there that needs to free up cash for a Prius? O trade with a Miata ( admittedly hard to par with - low mi., very usable) Please advise, My Thanks, Doug

P. S. Toyota MR-2's (preferably turbo) are certainly up for consideration - just more $; I'm on a meager retirement income... douglas.corley@att.net

Dave_Jorgensen New Reader
6/30/11 8:12 a.m.

Doug: There were two particular 2.0 914's on eBay last week that seemed particularly well done. It seems like the pool of restored 914's is now getting bigger, if that helps any.

Good luck in your search, Dave

racerdave600 HalfDork
6/30/11 8:25 a.m.


Here's an X1/9 I found in Knoxville. I've owned a couple of dozen mid engine cars, and love them. They were split somewhat equally between x1/9's and MR2's. For a pure driving experience, short of a Lotus, I've found not much beats an X, however the '85 MR2 comes close.

These days the MR2 is probably a better buy than the X, as they can still be found and they are better built. In my opinion, the '85 is by far the best of the bunch, and there is a loose Lotus connection in the development process, depending upon who you believe.

For cheap fun mid engine motoring, either one is a great buy.

TR8owner Reader
6/30/11 9:58 p.m.

Three years ago my brother picked a near original 72 Lotus Europa twin cam for $6000. He put about 4 K into it on the restoration. He has 10 K into it but could get 20-25 K on today's market. The car is super clean and a blast to drive.

The chances of getting a deal like that are slim for sure unfortunately.

dougie Reader
6/30/11 10:36 p.m.


I never owned one myself, but a college pal did and I more then once had to "remove" his keys and felt the Pontiac Fiero also had the attributes you described. A little more weight, but the V-6 when tuned made up for it.



Dave_Jorgensen New Reader
7/1/11 12:01 a.m.

In 1985 we bought a new Fiero GT with the 2.8 V6 and the 4-speed. It had torque,was a good runner up to about 110 or 115 mph, and was way more reliable than the '73 914 we had before it. Ultimate grip was good, but was not a really quick-turning car. When we pressed it hard, it went into a snap oversteer, a lot like an early 911. GM finally got the Fiero sorted out for '88 - and then they stopped making them. It was a good, reliable long-distance car for my wife and me, and I'm glad we had it.

triumphcorvair New Reader
7/1/11 8:20 a.m.

What about a Corvair? Although not truly mid-engined the rear engine format makes it a contender. They are relatively cheap, have an extensive support group and parts are easily available as well. i bought a 65 140hp Monza for about $3,500. I lowered it, added Konis, 17" wheels, Yokohamas, headers etc. It handles great and attracts a greater crowd than my 68 Sehlby ever did. The only problem I've had is the Corvair know-it-alls seem to come out of the woodwork telling me about Nader, how they had a 4cyl Vair (no 4's ever made) etc,etc.

wspohn Reader
7/1/11 6:07 p.m.

Agree - go for the 1988 V6 version of the Fiero - best handling, decent power and the 5 speed. Add more power and they are a real sleeper. I've surprised just about any non-turbo Porsche 911 with my turbo 3.2 Fiero.

oldtin Dork
7/1/11 6:21 p.m.

Stuck on original? X1/9 with honda k20 looks like it would be fun

7/1/11 7:53 p.m.

How can you go wrong with lotus Esprit? Or Europa?

BoxheadTim SuperDork
7/1/11 9:50 p.m.

Cheap Lotus - more expensive than a cheap boat?

7/1/11 11:14 p.m.
BoxheadTim wrote: Cheap Lotus - more expensive than a cheap boat?

Now Tim..don't be like that. Some times fairy tales DO come true!

They are just cars, so if you can turn your own wrenches, they should not drag you into the poor house. Buy wisely and all those other caveats...

oldeskewltoy Reader
7/1/11 11:39 p.m.

1st generation MR2 aka AW11. 4AGE engine is rated @ 115hp, 95#/ft - tuneable to in excess of 170hp and 120#/ft. VERY dependable, very fun, very fast. You don't need a machinist to own one. Most of the tricks to make them even faster are on one of at least 2 or 3 forums. Low initial buy in, low over all costs.

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
7/5/11 10:32 a.m.

I would personally go for the Fiat X1/9. Amazing economy, parts are available, they are not teh fastest cars but super fun to drive and look great. These are also pretty well built. Look in California/Arizona for a rust free example. I have owned one and thought it was a great car and have been sort of looking for another myself.

RossD SuperDork
7/6/11 2:02 p.m.

I had a supercharged MR2 and had a bit of trouble keeping up with a V6 Fiero when bombing around a couple of highway on/off/interchange ramps. I liked that little car...

rconlon HalfDork
7/6/11 4:05 p.m.


914Driver SuperDork
7/7/11 7:00 a.m.

I am on my third 914 and second X-1/9. My first Bertone was really, really nice; black and grey two tone with a red interior, AC and a five speed. I didn't like but my wife did.....

First, sports cars shouldn't have air conditioning, but that's me. The Bertone was so plush and loaded with thickly padded seats, sound proofing etc. that A) it was a pig, and B) it was uncomfortable to drive dristance; I'm 5' 11".

My current X-1/9 is a rust free stripper set up for racing, no plush.

My current 914 I bought from the original owner, it's a 57,000 mile survivor. It's never been out in winter, been in the rain five times that he recalls and is an all around cool little car! A 914 is wider inside than most other sporty car you'll find. My 1966 Datsun you rubbed shoulders with the passenger, the 914 you can stack a half dozen shoe boxes between driver and passenger.

914s have a bigger aftermarket than X-1/9s but remember they have no frame and are topless; a bit of rust and it folds like a taco. Find a survivor or travel outside the rust belt to find one.

I never owned an MR2, but the first generation always turned my head.



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