A Fiat 850 S in the MAuto in Turin

The MAuto shows only one Fiat 850, an S, although it looks like a Special. Only the logo is wrong.
Unfortunately, little information is given and the car was not in museum quality.

850 mauto 1

850 mauto 5

850 mauto 3

How the Fiat 850 was born

The creation of the Fiat 850 started at the end of the 1950s when Fiat management realized that there would be a demand for a car that was somewhat larger than the Fiat 600 and a bit smaller than the Fiat 1100. Dante Giacosa and his team are commissioned to design this successor.

At that time, Giacosa was busy with the further development of the Fiat 500, 600, 1100, 1800 and 2100, but still found time to think about what the car could look like. He assigned numbers 119 and 122 (later to become the Simca 1000) to the project (later the project numbers also were to be used as type names: 124, 125 etc.).
When the final design was clear, it was given the model number 100G (this number also became the type number for the engine).

A few key features that were essential for the new model:

  • Cheap to build so that the selling price could remain low. Important to be able to sell the car throughout Italy because the south was still poorer than the north.
  • Reliable and cheap to use. After extensive testing, the 100G engine proved to be a reliable and economical design with low maintenance costs.
  • Excellent driving characteristics:
    - Manoeuvrable, allowing the car to be used both in the cramped cities and on the winding roads of Italy.
    - Good handling and braking
    - Easy to use
  • Satisfy the taste of the average Italian.

A first idea was this design; an enlarged version of the Fiat 600:

850 1960

Fortunately, this design was not developed further (among other things because this body shape had poor aerodynamics), but the pontoon shape of the larger Fiats such as the 1100 was used as a basis.
850 1960 2a

As for technology, a development of the 600 engine would be used in the same setup as this model.
The engine was enlarged from 60x56mm (633cc) to 65x63.5mm (843cc). To do this, of course, the distance between the cylinders had to be increased.
And as we now know, the direction of rotation was also reversed to anti-clockwise (CCW), most probably because a bigger radiator was needed, like in Fiat 850's stepsister, the Simca 1000.

A bit of explanation*: For the Simca 1000 a new, all-synchromesh, gearbox was developped, in which the differential was offset to the right, so both driveshafts were of equal-length.
All this required the engine to run CCW in this model. To save development costs, the 850 was to use the same gearbox design, so a CCW derivative of the 600 engine had to be engineered.
*Thanks to Pedro Seixas Palma on Facebook (Fiat International Register group) for confirming this.

850 1960 technical design small
If you click on the image you will see a larger version.

This version includes the nose of the Autobianchi Bianchina's and the rear of the Fiat 1800:
850 1960 3a

This is already starting to look a bit like a Simca 1000, a design that Fiat used at its subsidiary Simca.
850 1960 6a

The management-approved design looked like this:
850 1960 approved

This would become the basis on which to work towards the final design.

In the meantime, testing was already being done with this "mule":

850 prototype

In 1961 it was decided to build the car in two-door body (because this was cheaper in production), although in 1962 the four-door version was picked up again:
850 1961

850 1962

The photos are from "Dante Giacosa: Forty Years of Design with Fiat". You can buy this biography on Ebay, among others

Testing continued, although the body still bears little resemblance to the Fiat 850 as we know it today.

850 prototype 1

850 prototype 2

850 prototype 3

Meanwhile, there was already much speculation in Italian car magazines about what Fiat was doing:
850 quattroruote850 voorspelling


Fiat-850.nl: 2020, a year in the mirror

Everyone has expirienced 2020 in a different way: from negative memories via neutral to (moderately) positive. For me and my loved ones, positive feelings applie, for the time being. Few people have been ill, many have worked from home and tried to keep doing as many useful and fun things as possible. For fiat-850.nl, thanks to a lot of free time at home, it was a positive year: 108 articles published, with more than 900 images handled (scanning, editing, sometimes merging into PDFs) and a large increase in visitors.

And for my car? Still not on the road. I think the whole thing about it (selecting parts, working on the car) way too much fun. The engine I'm working on is an example of this. Apparently more a fan of manual work than driving.

As far as the Dutch population of the Fiat 850 is concerned, 2020 was somewhat less: in October there were still 555 Fiat 850s in all kinds of variations known to the RDW (Dutch DMV). On January 1, 2021, there are still 528 in the registration file. 4 of them are still registered with the first owner! Two Spiders, a Coupé and a Berlina. This time no analysis if a car is roadworthy or not


850 rdw 2021 01 01 850 rdw filters

I filtered these brands and with "850" in the description. It seems that the Moretti Sportiva Coupé has left the country because it does not appear in the OpenDatabase in any way.

And 2021? Hopefully that will be a much better year for everyone! We wish you good health and have fun with your Fiat 850!

Full frontal: the Fiat 850 Coupé is extended 29mm.

Each and every month car magazines like Italian Quattroruote had to be filled with content and then thus, an adjustment of 29 mm to the front of a Fiat 850 Coupé was to end in an article. Because it contains drawings and photos of Fiat 850s, they also end up on this site. In other words: the facelift (literally) of the Fiat 850 Coupé.

850 coupe nieuwfront

Fiat 850 Coupé en Spider Press Kit

In 1965 the Fiat 850 Coupe and Spider were introduced. Dutch importer Leonard Lang provided a press kit. I only have the folder and a few photos, unfortunately not the introduction text:

850 coupe presskit

850 coupe 1965

850 spider 1965

DinkyToys Fiat 850 added to my collection

A few times a French Dinkytoys Fiat 850 came along on auction sites. These are often replicas but sometimes they are original ones. Last week it was a yellow original on Dutch auction site Marktplaats.
According to the seller in played-with condition, but at least complete with doors and seats with backrest!

850 dinkytoys 509

Luckily there were only two other interested people so I now have another 850 in 1:43. I'm not going to restore it, just clean it.