The X1/9 began production in 1972 with a 1300cc engine and small corner bumpers. Although some earlier cars were imported to the UK and converted by Radbourne Racing to right hand drive, it was 1976 before this car was produced in right hand drive for the United Kingdom gaining racy ladder stripes along the side, a choice of three metallic colours, orangy-red, blue or lime green.

The 1300cc X1/9 developed 75bhp (as opposed to 65bhp when fitted to the various 128 variants) and used the 128 4-speed gearbox. This would carry the car to a top speed of around 105 mphIn the USA things were not so good with only 66.5 bhp available giving a top speed, according to Road & Track magazine, of only 93 mph.

From the very beginning, the X1/9 came with independent suspension and disc brakes on all four wheels. Tyres were relatively narrow, even for 1972, being 145 HR 13 all round, eschewing the fashion for mid-engined cars to have larger rear tyres than front, practicality overiding ultimate cornering power in this instance.

Right away in Europe and the USA, the X1/9 was a hit. Comparisoms were made with the Ferrari 308GTB (it was regularly called the baby Ferrari) and even the Lotus Elan - the handling icon of the 60s. Tiny in exterior size (12 ft 7 in long, 5 ft 2 in wide and only 3 ft 10 in high), the design still allowed for 2 passengers in comfort, as well as luggage space fore and aft combining to more than enough space to holiday with the car. The spare wheel is fitted behind the drivers seat (RHD) between the passenger compartment and the engine. Fiat bosses were more than a little concerned that this may prove a difficult location from which to remove the wheel, but after a demonstration by some of the Bertone secretaries, the solution was accepted for production.

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