With a booming economy and a massive market filled with young people flooding the scene, Fiat introduced the 850 sedan in 1964 as a modernized, cute alternative to the more familiar 500s and 600s. But, for 1965, Fiat really enticed the youth market with the 850 Sport Coupe and Sport Spider.
Designed and built by Bertone, both shared the platform of the sedan, but used slightly more powerful versions of the 843cc inline 4-cylnder engine, the Sport Spider packing the most with 49 horsepower. This increased power allowed it to achieve top speeds in the 90-mph neighborhood, very respectable considering the size of the engine. Sport Spider buyers would also enjoy bucket seats, a sport steering wheel, a dashboard with custom instrumentation, and front disc brakes among other subtle enhancements. On top of all this, it was arguably one of the sharpest designs to hit the streets at the time. Early Spiders featured a breathtaking, perfectly flat beltline profile from windscreen to tail, thanks to seats without head rests and a flush, steel boot cover completely concealing the top when it was down. Up front, Spiders featured recessed headlights covered with plexiglass lenses, raked to flow with the fenders. For such an inexpensive car, it was a lot of style and engineering, but Fiat continued to develop the Sport Spider. Improving the Spider meant increasing engine sizes over the years, enhancing the suspension, revising the body to meet various safety requirements, and making it more fun and more capable all around. This 1972 Sport Spider appears to be a remarkable example of one of Fiat’s most successful, dreamiest cars.