It is said that nature abhors a vacuum, and it seems that the automotive market does, too. It didn’t take long for Fiat to realize that it could convert its popular 850 sedan into a ‘sports coupe’ and capitalize on a hungry, willing market. So was the 1965 Fiat 850C born. It featured a rear-engine, longitudinal configuration, and boasted styling by Bertone. Like the sedan, the coupe featured four seats, and luggage space in the front ‘trunk’, under the hood. The fact was that the rear seats were useless except by small, extremely patient and well-behaved children, and the trunk was just about big enough to pack a toothbrush and spare pack of cigarettes. I exagerate for effect, but that’s the essence of it. In the end, it didn’t matter, because what really counted was there: the car looked good and was fun to drive.
The 850C was not a fast car, by any stretch of the imagination. It had a small, 843cc engine (upgraded to 903cc later) that produced 45 horsepower (52 for the larger engine). Top speed was an honest 91 miles per hour, and acceleration to 60 took 18 seconds. The fact was that the 850C was really fun to drive. Despite having an overhanging rear engine, the handling was excellent, and with its front disc brakes, offered stopping power that was hard to match. The steering was light and responsive, too.
You can’t really argue with numbers; the 1965 Fiat 850C remained in production until 1972, and when it was finally cancelled, over 380,000 of them had been built, sold and loved.