1971 Fiat 850 Berlina

Started on Jan. 28 by Trent

Ride Rating


71 Fiat 850 Berlina (sedan) Turbocharged, intercooled and fuel injected 903cc motor. GSXR 4 piston front calipers, lowered via Faza mounting block and modified king pin housings (transverse leaf front end) , Larger front sway bar. Empi ball joint bug Gas shocks all around. Height adjustable 525in/lb rear springs Semi trailing arm swingaxle rear suspension.100ft/lbs of torque and 100hp at 12psi of boost 1375 lbs curb weight.

18 comments on this ride

Latest updates

Sept. 19

That is tight!

I had to cut the pinch welded lip completely off and reweld the skins together but they just fit. Just 2mm of clearance but they don't rub

Sept. 19

Not quite sure these are gonna fit

The tires I have been using suck, but they are one of the few short skinny tires avaliable in the US. Or were. I can't find them any more except through aircooled VW suppliers who want a lot of money ...

Sept. 11

Externally wastegated!

After chasing my taill looking for the cause of an intermittent boost loss problem I think I finally narrowed it down to a badly worn out arm on the wastegate. Time for an external unit

Aug. 07

new trunk

I had to finish off the rad relocate with ducting to remove the hot air from the trunk. I cut out the spare tire well and battery box to let the air out and then folded up a new aluminum ...

July 29

front mount radiator part three

The spare tire well and battery box were cut out of the trunk to allow the hot air out and a 6 inch hole saw and a nibbler cut the hole into the front valence.

July 29

front mount radiator part two

The civic aluminum radiator was set on its side in the trunk, 1" tubing was bent to follow the center of the car as neatly as possible

July 28

Front mounted radiator part one

It is finally time to move the radiator to the front. The limited airflow in the rear is becoming an issue with each increase in boost pressure. I am into the 18psi range and the engine is not cooling down ...

July 19

The good news

OK so the new motor went......poorly. The lifter, tons of oil leaks, a second injector, tuning issues and generally running like crap. Then one day it all kind of clicked together. I cleaned the wideband and started to let tunerstudio's ...

July 19

Teething problems

One week into the new motor the #4 exhaust valve kept going out of adjustment. By the time I ran out of threads on the adjuster I realized something was very, VERY wrong. The lifter and the lobe on the ...

June 15

back cut the valves

Amongst other things. The combustion chambers are ceramic coated, The seats are ground to 3 angles. The valves have been back cut and the spring seats have been shimmed to preload them as much as they can be.

June 06

It isn't sold!

Really I am probably never getting rid of it. Somebody mis-clicked the mark as sold button

May 30

tank installed

For the first time ever I am able to simply lift the engine cover, pop the cap and fill the system. Before it was a complicated dance with hoses on funnels. Please excuse the filthy bay. I plan on painting ...

May 30

expansion tank

Fabbed up a stainless coolant expansion tank. Purchased a chevy intake filler and cap and it turned out to be twice the size I was expecting.

May 22

Dirt cheap bump stops!

I still need more wheel rate on the rear of the car as evidenced by the fact that I can bottom out the suspension on hard launches. Actually having bump stops will help for now. Behold! EMPI has some dandy ...

May 22

cam gear

Adjustable cam gears do not exist for these Fiat motors. The last time the car was on the dyno the tuner asked if he could change the cam timing and my response was "You mean like skip a tooth on ...

May 03

new cooling

The civic radiator finally popped so I set about installing the new aftermarket aluminum civic radiator. I cut off the filler, welded up the hole and then welded a 22mm bung for for the VW fan switch and a 5/8" ...

Feb. 07


Trying out Techline coatings. The dry film lubricant for piston skirts and lifters and the ceramic coatings for piston tops and combustion chambers. Lets see if it works!

Jan. 29


This is supposed to make quite a difference on a naturally aspirated 850 motor so it has to do some good with boost. If nothing else it will lower the compression ratio a bit. Lots more work to do on ...

Jan. 29

bigger bolts!

The 9mm head bolts have a max torque spec of 36ft/lbs. To buy uprated ARP bolts would set me back $129 from a Fiat supplier. Isn't it handy then that the two different lengths required are the same as small ...

Jan. 29

the block

First step is to perform the reverse flow oil system mod. This moves the oil pressure relief valve inside the oil pan, applies pressurized oil to the center main and allows me to run an external oil filter instead of ...

Jan. 16

A new motor

I am now starting the new motor. 65mm bore X 63.5mm stroke for a whopping 843cc. I decided that on this one I would try out the techline ceramic coatings and dry film lubricants. It went against every fiber of ...

Oct. 12

oh yeah!

Fianlly started to shave those ghastly sidemarker holes. just 5 more to go....sigh.

Oct. 12


Found the weakest link. Blew the headgasket on the number 2 cylinder into the water jacket today at 11AM. finished the job by 4pm. The gasket was a NOS aftermarket piece from the early 70's that I didn't feel good ...

Sept. 27

New dash

I made up a new dash pad today. Some plywood, glue, fiberglass and vinyl leaves me with this For starting with a pile up wood and fabric I am very pleased http://i459.photobucket.com/albums/qq313/ditch_digger/fiat/dash2.jpg http://i459.photobucket.com/albums/qq313/ditch_digger/fiat/dash5.jpg http://i459.photobucket.com/albums/qq313/ditch_digger/fiat/dash8.jpg

Aug. 22


One TDO3 Turbo from a Volvo S80 Bi-turbo, one 1G DSM intercooler and BOV. For some reason it takes doesn't start making boost until 4000RPM and only makes 4.5psi at 7000RPM. I need to double check the wastegate and make ...

Aug. 22


An ANSA twin tip slash cut exhaust is the birthright of every italian car. A co-worker bought this muffler from an exhaust shop back in the 70's. They told him at that time it was for an old Ferrari but ...

Aug. 15

Idle control

Unfortunately the coolant operated idle booster on the quad throttle body doesnt quite seem to work. So I whipped up a new throttle plate bypass. The brass screw in the side and the 3/16" hose barb is base idle speed ...

Aug. 10

One step closer

Acquired and modified a DSM sidemount intercooler. It is the best fit I have found. Purchased an 835CC injector. Boost piping is done. The things left on the to do are. fab new exhaust.....pretty much just one 2.5" mandrel U ...

Aug. 06


I started this months ago then got sidetracked and forgot about it. Found it in the backseat of the car and finished it up on thursday. A Denso gear reduction starter from a subaru legacy had the correct rotation direction. ...

June 29

A little waste is good

When it is wasted spark. Got EDIS installed and running with MS2. It was suprisingly easy. I am pleased.

June 11


Megasquirt is installed and running. Suzuki gixxer fuel pump and a yamaha raptor 700 throttle body and injector. Megasquirt 2 on a version 3 board tuned with tunerstudio's autotune feature. Goes to the dyno next week for final tuning

June 02

rear adjustability

Height adjustable rear. Top perch machined from delrin, garage surplus coilover sleeve, 550 in/lb spring (thanks Gimp!) and a 6061 aluminum lower perch that snaps into the factory perch like a lego. Looks like I need to trim back where ...

June 01


Replaced the US spec bumper and turn signals with proper NOS euro spec peices. Very happy

June 01

Tank complete

Inside of the tank sealed with the por15 kit. Outside covered with a heavy coat of primer. 96 hours to cure and then I can install it

May 13


The next contender for the injection system is the Yamaha Raptor 700R throttle body. The ID of the TB is a perfect match to the size of the intake port on the head. One 90 degree 2" mandrel bend made ...

May 13

Fuel injection attempt 3...or 4? not sure anymore

Gotta start somewhere and I am starting at the beginning. The fuel tank. Cleaned, stripped and welded in a flange to hold a Suzuki GSX-R fuel pump. Internally regulated, filtered and just one line to feed into the engine bay.

Feb. 28


Tokico 4 piston fixed calipers from a 2008 GSXR 750 installed and functioning VERY well onthe front of an italian microcar

Jan. 10

driving straighter

Did a driveway alignment today. I shimmed the upper control arms out to remove some of the negative camber. I still need to adjust more out. took it from 4.2 on the drivers side and 4.58 on the passenger to ...

Dec. 06

newer ignition

I had to modify a non-advance distributor to work with megasquirt so in the meantime I installed it with VW knocksensing ignition. Amazing difference in drivability

Nov. 01


Luckily an 850 head is small enough to fit in the bridgeport and flycut in one pass.

Nov. 01

wonder what that was?

Chasing down a rattle noise I pulled the head and found #4 cyl looking like this

Sept. 06

bigger wheels

May I present plus three fitment on the berlina

Aug. 14

Starting the exhaust manifold

Took some time today and started the exhaust side of the build. Should go quickly

Aug. 14

Changing directions

Got the car dialed in with the cam and rejetted the 30DIC carb and while it revs like crazy I am underwhelmed with the performance. The plan was to install megasquirt to wring the last bit of performance out of ...

Aug. 03

hotter cam/bigger carb

I finally got around to installing the 283 cam I had reground by Johm Edwards at Costa Mesa R&D. At the same time I slapped on a two barrel Weber 30DIC carb as a temporary replacement for the single barrel ...

July 11

New goodies

When swapped to discs up front it was with the 68 and earlier units. Rotors for the early brakes (if you can find them) can run around $100 each. Screw that! Rotors for later units are under $15 each I ...

June 22


Ditched the failing generator setup this weekend and installed a 55 amp Denso alternator from a chevy sprint. Nice reliable 14 and a half volts charging at idle now. Just one more step to make it completley reliable to go. ...

May 30

Stronger spark!

I think something must have been off with the Fiat distributor. It went to full advance at 1600 rpm, The tach bounced like crazy and it was a bit tough starting. Points? seriously? it is 2009 isnt it? I dug ...

May 05

featured on thetruthaboutcars.com

Friday night there was a guy shouting outside my fence as my wife and I were trying to decide what to do for dinner. I finally noticed that what was being shouted was in fact “HEY FIAT GUY!!!” and went ...

April 30

been a while

Been daily driving it for a while now. I have had to replace the 175/50/13's on the rear with 175/70's to get the gearing back up to a reasonable level. The info in the 98 GRM race prepping a fiat ...

March 14


Motor in and complete. From the small valve 34hp 817cc motor to the larger valved 52hp 903cc unit. There was no way in hell I was putting that awful cast manifold and pea shooter muffler back on so I welded ...

March 13

Just two days in....

Today the oil pressure light popped on and it started making a godawful racket. That combined with the rediculous amount of smoke that pored out of the rocker cover breather meant it was time to install the 903 motor. I ...

March 11

Good news!

So I did a quick and dirty toe adjustment to eyeball "good enough" specs and leaned out the idle jet a good 20 turns and it runs much, MUCH better. Took it for another shakedown 6 block spin. For a ...

March 09

first drive!

I finally got it to where I could drive it around the block. It has about an inch of toe out up front and a major bog when the throttle is opened. I think that the distributor isnt advancing. I ...

Feb. 28


Finally got around to mounting up the front disc setup. I had rebuilt the front wheel cylinders and was planning on using the stock drums for a while but I ended up needing to replace the master cylinder and the ...

Feb. 11


With the water pump no longer in the picture...or even in the bay I needed something to act as a radiator fan. After dropping the cash on the water pump I was reluctant to shell out for a slimline fan. ...

Feb. 11

Water pump

The original water pump was leaking pretty good without even turning the motor over. Replacement pumps are around $180 and that just gets you the same goofy thing you had before. Ebay netted me a Meziere Electric water pump so ...

Feb. 08


Managed to get the new wheels stripped, polished, powdercoated and tired. Discovered that a pre 66 VW bug windsheild seal is the perfect size for the rear window of an 850 sedan

Jan. 30

more info

More details huh? Well I decided to cash in on the rising values of E30's and I sold my 325is for 3 grand more than I paid for it to get rid of some bills. The plan was to get ...

Jan. 28

Plus 3 fitment?

Are 15's too big?

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Jan 29, 2009 7:19 a.m.
Tim Baxter:
We're going to need more details!
Jan 29, 2009 6:11 p.m.
ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter):
Very, very cool....probably my favorite Fiat bodystyle. 15's sound too big, but tire availability for smaller wheel sizes is getting tougher these days.
Feb 21, 2009 2:19 p.m.
The refurbed Libres look fantastic. Perfect wheel for that car. This is a neat-o project.
Feb 25, 2009 1:45 p.m.
poopshovel again:
PLEASE post more pics of the car!
Mar 11, 2009 9:34 p.m.
mad_machine (Forum Supporter):
you ever want to get rid of that sweet 850 coupe' let me know.. LOVE those cars
Mar 18, 2009 11:27 p.m.
Super cool project. I bet that cherry bomb sounds nice.
Dec 22, 2009 6:27 p.m.
This is so cool. Was that imported or did they sell fiat cars in the us at one point? I grew up in rural wisconsin so I did not see a whole lot of imports growing up.
Dec 22, 2009 7:09 p.m.
Fiat's were avaliable in the US up until the mid 80's. This 850 is a US spec model. You can tell by the large turn signals in the bumper and the round reflectors under the tail lights.
Mar 1, 2010 10:31 a.m.
Raze (Forum Supporter):
killer, love the brake swap!
Jul 1, 2010 12:59 p.m.
Hi, Very nice little car. It is a feast to see the car, but also the 850 coupe you have. I won the Quebec road race championship with one of these in 1972. Much faster than the 998 mini-coopers of the day, especialy in the turns. I am looking for a restoration project but can't seem to find one on the east coast. I found an Abarth version for 70,000 US$.....it's still for sale....! Have fun. bearmail19@yahoo.ca
Jul 5, 2010 8:04 p.m.
This is an awesome project. Really shows that no matter the car, you can make it really cool.
Aug 29, 2010 8:24 p.m.
Hey Trent, How about posting a shopping list for the turbocharge project? You are getting amazing results I'd like to duplicate in my 850 Spider!
May 5, 2011 3:18 a.m.
Great looking car and very nice motor and chassie setup, awesome!
Mar 24, 2013 5:14 p.m.
I used to think that I was a gonzo fiat nut, back in the day (25+ years ago).your in a whole new league ! I built my 2000/850 25 years ago.still have it , looking forward to putting it back on the road.
Dec 5, 2014 9:20 a.m.
Ed Higginbotham:
Hi Trent, Shot you an email regarding this car. Just a heads up.
Apr 28, 2015 1:11 p.m.
I found your car on Curbside Classic: http://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/curbside-classic-simca-1000-the-franco-italian-baby-corvair/
Jun 17, 2015 4:09 p.m.
Oct 11, 2017 1:24 p.m.
Wow looks like I'm late to the party on this one but this is marvelous. Very very cool.

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