1964 witnessed the introduction of the 850, an evolution of the 600. The body was an all new design, albeit with some design cues carried on, with a drag coefficient of 0.42. It remained a two door, rear engined car and continued to use most of the mechanical parts of the 600, with the (significant) exception of the engine, which was a new 843cc four cylinder water cooled unit. Two versions of the saloon were produced, the 'Normale' with 34bhp and the 'Super' with 37bhp. Here are a series of images of the early berlina.
The following year saw the range spiced up with the addition of the Coupe and Spider. Both launched at the Geneva Motorshow, the Coupe was designed by Centro Stile Fiat and produced by Fiat, whilst the Spider was designed and built by Bertone. The mechanicals were similar, but the Coupe got a more tuned engine producing 47bhp and the Spider 49bhp. Disc brakes were also fitted at the front, replacing the drums of the saloon.
Later that year the Familiare was also introduced to replace the 600 Multipla. A mini-MPV (although such definitions did not exist then!) with three rows of seats, the Familiare actually proved to be the longest (although not most numerous) produced 850 - continuing in production until 1976, using a 903cc engine from 1970 onwards.
A new semiautomatic transmission was introduced in 1966. This used a conventional gearlever but dispensed with the clutch pedal, instead using a switch on the gear lever.
The whole 850 range was revised and facelifted in 1968. First came the 850 Special in February, which was a saloon with the 47bhp coupe engine and disc brakes at the front. In the following month the new Sport Spider and Sport Coupe were introduced, easily recognisable by their lights. The Sport Coupe got four round headlights instead of the old Coupe's two (and four rear lights instead of the previous models two), whilst the Sport Spider got two upright headlights instead of the old Spiders sloping units. Both these Sport models also featured a new 903cc engine with 52bhp.
In 1971 the Sport Coupe received a final facelift which again changed the design of the front and the headlights. Production of the Coupe and saloon stopped in the same year (the Spider continued until 1972) and total volumes produced were approximately as follows. The replacement was the 127, whilst the Spider was later replaced by the X1/9.
saloon 2,203,380 coupe 342,873 spider 124,660
An interesting varaition on the 850 was the Abarth 1000. This was a modified 850 featuring (obviously!) a 1000cc engine which produced up to 90bhp and was even fitted with fuel injection in the mid-1970's. It was used in motorsport with some success.
The 850 was used as the basis for a vast number of low volume specials from the various carrozzerie, here you can see eleven variants all of which were displayed at the 1964 or 1966 Turin Motorshow. Also notable was the pretty aerodynamic 850 coupé by Vignale.
For various 850 based cars made by other Italian manufacturers (such as the 'Grand Prix' by Francis Lombardi, cars by Moretti, and many others) see the 'Other Marques' pages.
Driveline longitudinal engine at rear with rear wheel drive Engine 843cc (65x63.5mm) four in-line ohv with 34bhp @ 4,800rpm or 37bhp @ 5,000rpm
Coupe (srs I) & Special : 47bhp @ 6,200rpm
Spider (srs I) : 49bhp @ 6,200rpm
Sport Coupe and Spider (1968-71) : 903cc (65x68mm) with 52bhp @ 6,500rpm
Suspension front : Independent with telescopic dampers and single transverse leaf spring
front : (Familiare) coil springs plus anti-roll bar.
rear : independent with telescopic dampers and coil springs
wheelbase : 2027mm
front track : 1146mm (srs I saloon), 1158mm (srs I Coupe), 1170mm (srs II Coupe)
rear track : 1211mm (srs I saloon), 1212mm (srs I Coupe), 1222mm (srs II Coupe)
Brakes front : discs diameter 226mm (drums diameter 185mm on 34 & 37bhp saloons)
rear : drums diameter 185mm
handbrake operating on the rear via a cable
Gearbox 4 speed manual
cable operated clutch
clutch plate diameter 160mm
Steering Worm and sector Kerb weight series I saloon : 670kg
Coupe : 720kg (srs I); 745kg (srs II)
Spider : 725kg (srs I); 705kg (srs II)
Familiare : 900kg
Click here for a cutaway drawing of the 850 Sport Coupé.
model max speed 0-100 km/h standing km Braking (from 100km/h) 850 Spider (1965) 147 km/h 17.7 sec 38.74 sec 59.5 m 850 Coupé (1965) 139 km/h 18.5 sec 39.45 sec 52.5 m
For books on the Fiat 850 see our Online Bookstore
There is also a list of all our picture galleries (including museums, motorshows and various events).
Wallpapers/Desktop Backgrounds of numerous Fiats also available to download.
Slightly more labour intensive than todays cars, the following are the recommended schedules for the 850 Special (1968)
Every 500km : check the tyre pressures and oil level.
Every 2500km : check the level of the battery fluid, lubricate the front suspension ball joints.
Every 10000km : Check the valve clearances (intake 0.15mm, exhaust 0.20mm), replace the air filter, clean the carburettor jets and internal filter (with compressed air), oil the distributor, check the points gap (0.42-0.48mm), clean the points, adjust the idle speed as required, clean the spark plugs and adjust the gap (0.5-0.6mm), check the brake fluid level, check the security and cleanliness of the battery terminals and smear with vaseline.
Every 20000km : Lubricate the front wheel bearings and check the play, lubricate the door hinges, check the torques on the main bolts holding the main mechanical groups to the body.
Every 30000km : Lubricate the rear wheel bearings and check the play, clean the dynamo, check the wear in the bushes and lubricate, the same for the starter motor.
Every 60000km : replace the coolant system fluid.
850 comment form
I've driven my '72 850 spider for over three years now as a daily driver. While there may be faster convertibles on the road, no other gets as many smiles and waves and miles per gallon. It seems everyone's had one at one time or another, and the regrets they have at giving them up are a great comfort to those of us who still drive theirs...(GFS, USA)
It still amazes me how, the faster you drove this car the more stable it felt.This car was tremendous fun, carving up country roads in its heyday. It served as a daily driver for some 25 odd years in Guyana after being bought in England. Needs some body work now. Thanks for the memories Fiat. (Indra C., Guyana, 850 Sport Coupe)
I used to have a (red ;o) 850 Sport coupe from 1968. I sold it as it was 20 years old and had more than 200 000 kms. Someone said that Fiat are not reliable cars ? (Johannes, France)
I've been driving a '73 850 spider for two years as a daily drver, and it has been wonderful. Despite FIAT's bad reputation in the states for unreleiability, it has been trouble-free and good cheap fun! Also it handles like a race car and is great for embarrasing drivers of more expensive cars in the turns. I'm keeping mine...(Benj., USA)
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