When in recent automotive history has that EVER happened??????
I have not once heard of a major manufacturer's specific model of front engine car being so successful that they suddenly decided to make it mid-engined during the course of production. Even the Corvette failed at that proposed transition...
In fact, my main fear in that scenario is that the total OPPOSITE would be true, if the car did so well as a front engined model why would they care for anything but to just continue on rolling with a successful "formula that works"? - Especially if it's cheaper to do so?
An interesting note, the "Del Sol" you mentioned, is actually a living example of a car that should have been mid-engine from the start and wasn't, AND had huge enthusiast support for a mid-engine transition, and never got one.
That would be exactly my fear if a "front engine X1/9" were to actually make it to the showrooms, we'd forever be stuck with it, until sales and the model died, like the Del Sol did (I bet had it been mid-engine it may have had a lot longer run too!)
If Fiat actually marketed the car as front engine and it did well enough with the Honda Civic import drag huge spoiler crowd, there would probably then exist a lot of complacency on Fiat's part to ever bother "converting" the car to mid-engine later on.
Look at it this way, if Fiat needs a sporty cash cow to get out of their current slump, they have several other models to attempt that with. They also have the TREPIUNO ("Mini"-Fighter) in the wings to rake in dough. They don't really need to hurry a front engine X1/99 into production for a fast buck, even as desperate as things are financially, they do have other concepts, other cars, other options. Save the X1/99 until a mid-engine is feasable right out of the gate.
If they are truly so desperate that they can not wait for that, then go on and market it, but as something else, like "Punto SPORTSTER" or something totally un-X-related. THEN, when they DO have mid-engine development dollars, a serious X revival effort with a mid-engine could be taken on as a totally separate project.
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