Home » Malaise Mid-Engined Mayhem: 1973 Porsche 914 vs 1985 Bertone X1/9

Malaise Mid-Engined Mayhem: 1973 Porsche 914 vs 1985 Bertone X1/9

914 Vs X19 Final
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Sports cars may exist for the thrill of driving, but given the squeeze of the everyperson’s needs, they’ve also morphed into a luxury. After all, a sports car is rarely someone’s only car, and especially so for options of the mid-engined variety. Nothing says cash money like a front end full of trunk space, and you don’t need to be a billion-dollar baller to afford that luxury.

Mind you, neither of these cars might meet your definition of shitbox, and that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong, beating the absolute piss out of a $500 Ford Tempo is about as much fun as you can have while still being able to run for office someday, but for stuff to actually care about, that’s not my style. I firmly believe that shitbox is a term of affection even if a car’s relatively pristine, so don your best pornstaches because we’re diving back into a sleazy era with two mid-engined machines that ought to put chest hair on your chest hair.

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But first, we have to take a look at how our last matchup went. Going off of the data as I’m writing, it seems like a whole bunch of you went for the three-pedal Meteor, and given its less advanced state of patination compared to the V8 Fairlane, that makes sense. Right, now on with the show!

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1973 Porsche 914 — $15,900

Porsche 914 1

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Engine/drivetrain: 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transaxle, rear-wheel-drive.

Location: Phoenix, Ariz.

Odometer reading: 92,000 miles.

Operational status: Runs, drives, stops, all that good stuff.

Porsche 914 2

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Is Porsche the hottest car brand in the world right now? From purveyors of what P.J. O’Rourke called an “ass-engined Nazi slot car” to yuppie darlings to the sports car brand from Europe, this determined little outfit from Stuttgart has it damn good considering it was on the ropes 30 years ago. These days, no high-end car collection is complete without something from Porsche’s GT division, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a mid-engined masterpiece on a sensible budget. If you like the form factor of the Boxster but like your machines a little bit older, the 914 is where it’s at.

Porsche 914 3

With a 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine in the middle, two luggage bays, and a quasi-bench seat, this might be as practical as a mid-engined sports car has ever been. It’s also drop-dead gorgeous, with lines that have aged like a fine chianti. Stash the targa roof below deck, let the oil warm up, give it hell, and this little four-wheeled escape won’t disappoint. It just looks money, from the vinyl-covered sail panels to the pop-up headlights.

Porsche 914 4

Of course, it helps that this one’s in the show-off presentation of bright yellow with stripes and a gnarly set of exhaust tips. It’s Mulholland personified, a bottled expression of joie de vivre. Sure, it might have a few dents and a little surface rust, but it’s 51 years old, for Pete’s sake. If I look this good at 51, buy me a Bumble premium account and dress me in Dior because I’m hitting the town. While $15,900 isn’t exactly peanuts, it’s not bad for a classic sports car with this sort of allure. Call me biased, but a yellow Porsche with the roof off will always whip ass, and that’s guaran-goddamn-teed.

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1985 Bertone X1/9 — $16,900

Bertone X1/9 1

Engine/drivetrain: 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transaxle, rear-wheel-drive.

Location: Sparta, Mich.

Odometer reading: 38,800

Operational status: To use an industry-standard technical term, fuckin’ mint.

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Bertone X19 2

It’s safe to say that the Porsche tax is real, and if you’re willing to forego it, you can buy a freaking nice X1/9. This one’s from the year that Bowling For Soup sang about, which means it’s a Bertone and not a Fiat. That doesn’t matter though, because you’re getting a fuel-injected 1.5-liter four-banger right in the middle of one of the prettiest bodies ever to come out of Bertone.

Bertone X1/9 3

Seriously, just look at this two-tone gold-and-brown object d’ooh la la. It’s creased like the Levi’s apparel Flat Eric promoted, but delicate in all the right places. The gold split-four-spoke alloys hit like a Timbaland kick, the red pinstripe is absolutely tasteful, and the seats have me looking for the next ice cream truck, with mocha inserts shadowed by chocolate bolsters. Make no mistake, this Bertone X1/9 is hot.

Bertone X1/9 Interior

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Out on the road, the character of the fizzy little single-cam four-banger in this Bertone-built Fiat will linger like an Alka Seltzer on your palate, providing Aperol-Spritz-on-a-July-day refreshment against today’s backdrop of fly-by-wire commuting machines. Sure, there’s always the chance something will go wrong, which certainly wouldn’t help beat the allegations Italian cars face in America, but with less than 39,000 miles on the clock, that’s a pair of dice worth rolling, baby.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like at some point, you gotta own a sports car. It’s like the champagne of motoring — expensive and frivolous, yet effervescent, intoxicating, and celebratory of the fact that we’re on this planet until our ends, and we’ll inhale, exhale, perspire and desire until we’re six feet under or heated to 1,400 degrees. Neither of these classics are bad options, so it’ll be curious to see which way you lean. Do you reckon the Porsche’s perfectly imperfect, or are you going for the Italian stallion? The choice is yours.

(Photo credits: Craigslist sellers)

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67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
26 days ago

« It’s also drop-dead gorgeous, with lines that have aged like a fine chianti».. Really? You should lay off the wacky-tobaccy Thomas. I would be willing to give the 914 a try sometime,but not for its looks.

ESO
ESO
26 days ago

“expensive and frivolous, yet effervescent, intoxicating, and celebratory of the fact that we’re on this planet until our ends, and we’ll inhale, exhale, perspire and desire until we’re six feet under or heated to 1,400 degrees.” 

I’m here for this, thank you Thomas! 🙂

William Domer
William Domer
26 days ago

I have owned the 914 in 2.0 liter guise. Always wanted the Fiat because I am weird that way. Voted for the Pin

Memphomike
Memphomike
26 days ago

These are two of the cars I search for while I ponder what I should own for my retirement years. The 914 is the only Porsche I can get into in my price range for a fully restored classic; X1/9 prices have never gone up and fully restored/mod’d examples are pretty darned cheap.
I owned an X1/9 for 4 years when I lived in SoCal after I got my first engineering job. I loved that car even though many parts broke on it.
I’d prefer a 914 in better condition with some mods, but that makes it $25K+.
At this price point I’ll take a fully restored X1/9 with low miles and deal with the repairs while I’m having fun and mod’ing it.
P.S. I was 6 foot even when I owned my X1/9 and I fit fine.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
27 days ago

I’ll definitely take the Bertone- what a good looking car in amazing shape. This one’s definitely not a shitbox- every once in a while it’s a nice change of pace among all the great shitboxes. I really do enjoy your style of writing, Hundal…it’s hilarious, and it’s quality writing!

Last edited 27 days ago by Freelivin2713
Here4thecars
Here4thecars
27 days ago

My dad had a 914 when I was a kid (after the divorce, naturally). That almost swayed me towards the Porsche, but I had to vote for the Bertone because it’s just so damn beautiful. I would roll the dice on this one.

Eephus
Eephus
27 days ago

I just have zero desire to own, drive, or be seen in a 914. So, lovely Bertone it is! I’m assuming it’s been garaged its whole life, otherwise I wouldn’t consider a Michigan car.

SirRaoulDuke
SirRaoulDuke
27 days ago

This Bertone is fuckin’ concours worthy. It gets my vote. But the truth is, it’s too nice for what I would want to do, and that’s K20 swap it.

Myk El
Myk El
27 days ago

I’m just assuming that no matter what has been done to protect that Fiat, and Italian car from the 1970s that spent a none zero amount of time in Michigan is going to succumb to entropy faster.

JDE
JDE
27 days ago

Hate yellow cars, but multiple tones of Brown are not a lot better. The Italian TR7 is a bit cleaner though, and ultimately the better choice from simply a heart string standpoint.

Neither are all that appealing though. if I were going down the road of small two seater sportyish things, I would probably pony up to a 2020 or so Vanderhall 3 wheeler for that price.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
27 days ago

Co-worker of my Dad’s had a neon-green X1/9. He’d bring it over for my Dad to fix every once in a while. I learned so many interesting swear words when that awesome little wedge was in the garage.

Dude would pull into the garage and yell out “Fix it again, Tony!”

My Dad is Italian, his name is Tony, and yes, he fixed it again.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
27 days ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Forgot to add, voted Porsche.

William Domer
William Domer
26 days ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

The Porsche was a slot car and oh boy pro e to rust. Probably here in MKE it would be a race to see which one disintegrates first

TheNewt
TheNewt
27 days ago

There used to be a dealership on S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota the sold the X 1/9 in the 80s. That’s where I first saw it and fell in love with it. I still love seeing it. This one is amazing. Full stop. I like the 914 but I love that X 1/9.

Last edited 27 days ago by TheNewt
Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
27 days ago

Good luck with parts on that Fiat. Most of them have dissolved into rust.

Wagonsarethebestanswer
Wagonsarethebestanswer
27 days ago

914’s were loosed upon the world in the year of my birth & were my 1st Favorite cars. A high school classmate sometimes drove his dad’s Yellow track-prepped, but street legal, ‘faux’ 914-6 with a 930 Turbo lump. Words can’t begin to explain riding shotgun on twisty backroads !! That said, I’ve always liked X1/9’s also, and this one is basically perfect, so for the same-ish $, Bertone for me.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
27 days ago

Tough one today. I’d love either. I guess it comes down to the fact I could actually get in the Bertone. Driver’s side door handles are really nice to have.

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