THE X1/99, IF PRODUCED, IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE FRONT ENGINED
This has been confirmed in my last round of communication with our friend...
...and in fact it may well BE the "last" round... I hope not, but, it didn't go too well when this question was thrust (by me) front and center (no pun)
I'm sure you all can imagine I would want to get right to the bottom of this concern cropping up!!!!!!!!!!!
It went something like:
It doesn't have any engine. It's a static prototype.
(yeah, I guessed that, but what about a PRODUCTION version???)
It IS on the Punto Fiat-GM 199 platform...
(yeah, so the mid engine X was on a front engine 128 platform, so? AND????)
the IED project is a small sports car for the youth market. Just what this requires is "to be decided"
(COME ON MAN!!! Just say it, it's already obvious...)
Today [our] mid-engines are only built by Ferrari, not even Maserati!
(well, if Maserati can't even pull it off I guess a bunch of old Xheads are SOL...)
Starting from scratch to create a mid-engine platform today would take years and billions
(neither of which FIAT has at the moment...)
I felt pretty darn shitty about this turn of events, that's for sure, and the worst part of all is that our friends DO want it to be mid-engined every bit as desperately as we do, of that I am totally convinced, beyond any doubt. What it looks like it's all come back down to is FIAT just plain being too broke to do it THE RIGHT WAY. It's not for a lack of desire, it's the lack of a pre-existing mid-engine platform that could be used for this, and the lack of FUNDING to develop one...
NOW WHAT THE HELL DO WE DO ??? Do we just pack it in? What a lousy discovery to make, days before Geneva, and it's my freking BIRTHDAY no less...
err, happy birthday?
February 25 2005, 4:02 AM
It did seem pretty far fetched but no harm in hoping....
For the whole time I've been talking to them it's been sounding really quite seriously promising and the phrase "mid engine" has certainly been tossed around (by ALL sides) a healthy number of times when referencing what WE ALL WANT the car to be.
I took that, coupled with the renderings we previously examined here (that pretty clearly show reflections of a floor under the nose and what looks like a gaping engine bay hole in back), to mean the ACTUAL PLAN was for a mid-engine, and no one stepped up to correct that assumption. As much as it looked that way, the question was never asked OUTRIGHT up until this point...
When it again fell into question I came RIGHT OUT and ASKED POINT BLANK, and there you have it. I can only assume one of two things, either our friends seriously believed it to be possible too, until recently, or, they were really aware it could not be possible, but were simply praying that we as a community would support any car in the X's "spirit" (tiny, open top, low-slung, sporty, aspiring toward all which the X actually is regardless of engine layout) so much so, that spilling the front engine beans was just best left untouched until eventually cornered into having no choice but to address it. I don't know which, but logically speaking it's probably the latter.
I feel bad too. Now I'm really not sure where to go from here. These are good people, at IED, at FIAT, the project is EVEN STILL pretty cool for what it is, for those who are in markets where Fiats are sold, even front engine it would still be one of the most interesting cars Fiat has built in a long time... but there's just no way they could get away with marketing it "AS" the "NeXt1/9" with a front engine, there's just no way, and I really doubt, based on knowing this community as I've had the good fortune to over time, that many of you would disagree with that feeling.
As soon as this came out, I told them "it's still a cool car for Fiat, it should still be produced, but don't dare call it X1/something, else most likely enrage the global X1/9 enthusiast community, would be much wiser to market it as the "New Fiat Coupe" or basically ANYTHING BUT...
Hmmm... So Julian, what kind of a TVR was that you were saving up for?
I've never seen anything that promised a mid-engine layout
March 1 2005, 3:31 AM
In response to your message "I took that, coupled with the renderings we previously examined here (that pretty clearly show reflections of a floor under the nose and what looks like a gaping engine bay hole in back), to mean the ACTUAL PLAN was for a mid-engine, and no one stepped up to correct that assumption. As much as it looked that way, the question was never asked OUTRIGHT up until this point..."
I have never seen anything that promised a mid-engine design. However, that's in the past. I like the idea of the petition and I have signed it (wish I'd been a bit more creative with the 'comments' field, though!)
Happy birthday anyway. Look at it this way, it will be years before you can buy FIATs in the USA anyway. Why not get yourself a Ferrari in the meantime?
Nononono, I'm afraid I did not state that clearly
March 1 2005, 10:29 PM
Where I said, "no one stepped up to correct that assumption" what I meant was NO ONE AT FIAT who were throwing around the phrase "mid engine" all over the place while talking to me about the "spirit of the X1/9"!
They deliberately said "mid engine" MANY times over the course of our several email discussions, trying to get me all pumped up about the "spirit" of the X1/9 I guess (but apparently ONLY the X1/9) and since the renderings had looked to confirm it, I went on talking to them saying things outright, even point blank, that could have left NO ROOM AT ALL for them to NOT have known I was thinking it would be mid-engine, and NOT ONE TIME DID ANYONE in those email discussions say a PEEP about the fact that any production version would absolutely be FRONT engine.
They knew the minute that S hit the fan that enthusiasts would drop the support of that car like a hot potato!! All I can figure is they deliberately just sat back and let me continue on with my enthusiastic push for supporting the concept at Geneva, knowing full well that I was operating on the mistaken assumption it would be mid-engine... and probably hoping no one would figure that out until AFTER Fiat was convinced to "Build It!"
It was ONLY when CONFRONTED with the DIRECT question "Media says this is to be FRONT ENGINE - IS THIS TRUE??" that they took a deep breath and coughed up the fact that it was.
Sorry for the confusion, and thanks for signing the petition! Now go help recruit a few thousand more people, and we'll be getting somewhere!
I hate to say it but...
February 25 2005, 4:39 AM
This is what I was basing my opinions on regarding this project. Unless Fiat looked at this as simply an image car, it will never happen. I personally think that in todays economy, an affordable, mid engine car is not economically feasible. I don't like saying that but it is true. The closest thing that we have to an X1/9 right now is an Elise. It is a great car and folks are not busting the doors down.
Look at the bright sid, that makes our X1/9s even more special. There may not ever be another car like it in the market again. Take the money that you would spend on a new plastic Fiat and put even half that into an X1/9 and you have one heck of a car.
you are correct, but...
February 25 2005, 5:12 AM
... but I feel a bit "led on" (see my response to Julian) by the huge bulk of the dialogues that took place up to that revelation. I would never had sounded so convinced it was possible had they not sounded so convincING that it WAS possible... if you could only have heard some of the things that were said to encourage me, well shit.
The Elise IS great, but no one's busting down the doors because as great as it is it's still too expensive for a lot of people to even realistically consider buying or maintaining.
The only mid engine cars that seem to be surviving out there at all on a budget market are Japanese. Hm, when I want an Integra or a Civic, they do those great, but honestly I just can't see myself ever enjoying a tiny mid engine car that drives with the surgical blandness of a Toyota when I have tasted the "spicy meatball" that is the purebred Italian X1/9...
You are right, if it's front engined, I really would be better off dumping cash on the Xs I have now. The trouble is, where I might be able to get a car financed, there is no one around anywhere that would ever finance my FIAT X1/9 restorations!
I know what you mean...
February 25 2005, 6:12 AM
about the Japanese car blandness. I used a friends Supercharged MR2 for an autocross once and realized the difference. Even though the cars are similar on paper, there IS a difference. I looked forward to getting back into my X1/9 and have not looked back since.
So many things would need to happen for the market to ever accept a car like the X1/9 again. Heck, it would be hard to sell the idea of building a car that could not sell at least a quarter of a mil a year and keep the cost down. They only sold about 140k X1/9s from '72-'89. Most cars sell that many in a year.
I love the X1/9 and I love the idea of a NEW X1/9. I just doubt that the two will ever meet.
I think that the folks were leading you on in order to get information that they hoped to use for thier project.
not information - yet - just support imho
February 25 2005, 6:45 AM
... my feeling after all the dialogues looking at it now is not really at all that they were seriously looking for 'project information' - YET. It was made quite clear that a point would come after Geneva when that would become very much more important, but for now, the main concern seems to be whether the car will ever even make it out of the "static prototype" stage in the first place.
My feeling is that the prime motivator was pure and simple, "look at this global group of X1/9 enthusiasts, if they would support this car that we are floating 'in the SPIRIT of the X1/9' vocally to Fiat management, the chances of it being seriously considered for production would surely go up..." - eg: it would lend legitimacy to have enthusiasts of the original "endorsing" this one loudly as a group.
Plus, if what they wanted was some demographic input, I think I just nailed that to the wall for 'em, in the last email. Tell me if I got it right folks?...
...no matter how great the spirit of a sported up Punto rebody might be, if the engine is in the front, that "spirit" is unarguably fundamentally altered...
There is no way this group of enthusiasts is going to back a "front engine X1/9" they will drop that sucker like a hot potato the minute that realization strikes... even if it was the 'second coming of the Gandini Wedge', actually that with a front engine would just piss them off.
...precisely what it would take to be a "hot" car to this crowd: tiny, low-slung, slot-car handling, mid engine, rear wheel drive, 2 seats, targa top and a couple gracefully eXecuted styling cues to recall the heritage. I do wish FIAT and you success, nothing would make me happier than to see that company flourish and thrive, then perhaps a REAL evolution of the X could be afforded. In the meantime, maybe the 99 if front engined would be better marketed as the "new Fiat Coupe".
Would you say that is a reasonably accurate appraisal of overall "vocal majority" enthusiast opinion on this topic? If I'm off the mark please do let me know ...
Things have not changed that much
February 25 2005, 8:55 AM
Remember, Nuccio Bertone had a v-tough time selling the mid-engine, x1/9 concept. In fact, initially, he had to present a front engined design to Fiat as well.
If Bertone had not been so stubborn and persuasive, the X1/9 would have been quite different indeed. The opinion of many at Fiat (then) was that a mid-engine layout was for exotics and not appropriate for a small, affordably priced sports car. If Fiat had to build the car themselves, it would have most certainly been a front driver, don't you think?
Anyhow, IMHO the idea of a new car trading on the X1/9 name is not particularly a wise move. That is, I don't believe there is enough brand equity in the X1/9 among today's potential buyers. We mustn't forget that most "young folks" have no idea what an X1/9 is/was. On top of that, most of the X's came to the USA (a non-Fiat market now).
Re-takes such as the Mini and Mustang are much different in this respect.
It would be nice to see Fiat leverage its unique strengths with some innovative new models. Maybe it's time to push the envelope a bit with regard to new designs? The Italians are well known for fantastic styling and buling many exciting machines. Plus, Fiat has a history and collection of automotive brands that other manufacturers would die for. There seems to be a lot of untapped opportunity there.
Anyone recall the Pinnifarina Ethos (1) of 1992?
untapped opportunity = new Lancia Fulvia
February 25 2005, 9:13 AM
This is another topic that came up during the discussion of the "front engine X1/99" being the only financially feasable approach at this time, the breathtaking new Lancia Fulvia.
I never realized just how DESPERATELY Fiat had REALLY TRIED to make that car a production reality (so for all you Lancia buffs out there who figure they sh*tcanned the Fulvia concept because they just "didn't feel like it" THINK AGAIN!)
They went extra mile after extra mile looking for any possible way to make that car fly, all this parts sharing with the production Barchetta, all this engineering tap dancing, desperately juggling everything any way they could, and in the end, even a car THAT rich with promise ended up being dumped from production consideration because Fiat just "could not afford" to run with it. Many a Fiat employee probably wept on their desks the day that news came down... these guys are REAL enthusiasts.
If FIAT had a fat bankroll, you would be amazed the cars they would be selling
I think our only hope as Fiat fans is that they pull that company back to solid profits in as few years as possible. If they can get profitable again, stand back and just watch the cars that come out THEN!
If I could have one wish now, it would be that they WAIT on an X evolution until they can AFFORD to do a mid engine, but as badly as they need a money maker, it's probably here comes the front engine X1/99
Re: I hate to say it but...
February 25 2005, 8:02 AM
I'm waiting for a couple years for Elise.
Once it comes out of warranty, like every other British car, they will drop.
I'll but a used 30,000 mile Elise for $25,000 all day long.
Re: I hate to say it but...
February 25 2005, 8:19 AM
what happened to Ulix's project? That has way more potential and is more worthy of our collective efforts, ideas and criticisms. I hate to say THIS: if I want a modern, affordable, mid-engine sports car, I'm gonna have to buy an MR2. Like I said, I hate to say it, but it does meet the criteria.
I think Chris' idea, wait for a broken-in Elise...
February 25 2005, 8:34 AM
... would be a better choice than even a brand new MR2.
Sure the MR2 would be more reliable, and cheaper, but man..
MR2? or Elise? I think I'd wait for the Elise.
Saddest part of all this is, if the X1/99 WAS to be mid engine, and a performance minded budget (even if budget was a relative term) enthusiast's car that took the "X spirit" a little more literally, EVEN IF it couldn't touch the Elise, as long as it was an MR2 beater, I would rather have it than either one of those cars...
I guess there's always some outside chance it could still end up being mid-engine - if Fiat pulled off a platform or finance miracle, but probably not likely if they try to move on it any time soon...
I think they should just WAIT on floating an EVO X until they can actually AFFORD to do it right and do a mid engine. That would be good!
Thought for the day: Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground
but in true spirit
February 25 2005, 8:53 AM
us X-men cannot leave a car be "as-is". I would not touch anything in an Elise, and one probably wouldn't need to either - but tinker with an MR2? Sure! As you can see, we need to shut down this forum since I would like to make it clear that there will be no MR2 sitting in my Italian stable any time soon!
Did you know that CECOMP (the same prototype construction house that is currently putting the finishing touches on the X1/99) is the same place that built the prototype for the MRSpyder? Check it out...
There is a market, but it in the 30k or less area, not 50k
If Someone in Europe could make something sexy,utilitarian, and targa for $29,999........Build a bunch, becuase they are going to sell.
Brad in Stockton
Happy Birthday, anyway, Mac!
February 25 2005, 4:19 PM
And thank you for your infectious enthusiasm.
well I hope you're all infected already!
February 25 2005, 4:36 PM
... cuz my enthusiasm is starting to wane ...
Trying to think of a new motto for this forum (since "Build It!" with a front engine no longer seems quite appropriate)...
"SAVE UP FOR A MID ENGINE PLATFORM, THEN BUILD IT!"
that one says it all, but it's a bit long...
"LET FERRARI BUILD IT THEN!"
just kidding there, they could pull a mid-engine but then we'd never afford it
or my personal favorite
... based on that comment about forums disqualifying themselves by "bar style post game analysis". If it goes front engine I think we will quickly all be disqualified around here
If they are making it a front engine the design proposal won't work.
February 26 2005, 6:19 AM
Actually the sleek profile of the "old" X1/9 depends on the mid-engine layout so if Fiat builds this new x1/%%%%whatever with a front-engine it will certainly not look like the original proposal. There's no way they can squeeze an engine in that little space in front of the passenger area.
And another thought that has crossed my mind is that Ford has managed to alter their Ford GT platform so that it now works for the front-engined Shelby GR-1.
Finally, if Fiat would state that they was going to build a proper x1/9 successor (mid-engined and sporty) I promise I'll start saving the very same day.
... about starting your "X1/99 savings account" the same day if they would make it mid-engine and take the link they are trying to establish with the X1/9 a little more seriously!
As for the design proposal, they could probably fit a front engine in it without too many major design changes, if the engine were small (which it probably will be) and set back far enough from the nose. Then the issue becomes foot space inside the cabin, will someone's feet be resting on the side of the engine?
In any event, I agree that there appears to be a lot more engine room just behind the rear window!!
X1/9 shares components with the 128, not the platform
February 26 2005, 10:46 AM
Current model Ford Focus, Mazda 3, and Volvo S40 share the same platform... basically, if you were looking from the underside of any of these three vehicles, they almost look identical!
The X1/9 was a unique platform, it just uses 128 components here and there..
1978 Fiat X1/9 1500cc/4spd/daily driver
1982 Fiat X1/9 1500cc FI/Faza 35/75/weekender
1982 Fiat X1/9 1500cc dual 45/DCOE GT race car
1987 Volvo 760 GLE daily&winter beater
1987 Alfa Romeo Milano (Gold) sold,
yep you're right
February 26 2005, 11:26 AM
I was just wound up at that moment and rattled that line off without thinking about it, but yes you're correct
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