Video: Homebrewed, Bike-Powered Fiat Boasts Odd Aerodynamics

Fiat’s X1/9 was always a lightweight,nimble, driver’s car that appealed to the enthusiast who wanted something a little offbeat. Mid-engined and pared to the bone, the X1/9 had a lot going for it. Maybe a bit underpowered, sure, but there are always ways to find a bump in grunt—a bike motor in this case. Though downsized, the 1,000cc motor from the Yamaha R1 pumps out a smoothly-delivered, scintillating 175-odd horsepower, which is more than enough to get the featherweight up to speed.

Once it’s moving along at a decent pace, it’s the eye-catching bodywork that keeps the Fiat on rails. While big teams piss through fortunes to develop an aerodynamic package that will stick the car to the asphalt without causing a lot of drag, but not Albano Fabbri. With modest means, the clever man developed his own form of F1-inspired DRS to allow the car to be quick in a straight line and a monster when the brakes are applied.

The homebrewed DRS system and massive barn-door wing presses the car into the track when the time is right.

The homebrewed DRS system and massive barn-door wing presses the car into the track when the time is right.

For those who’ve glazed over after reading the last paragraph, notice how the rear wing is constantly moving to provide a mixture of slipperiness on the straights and downforce in the braking zones and corners. When Fabbri applies the brakes, the rear wing’s horizontal plane pivots forward to snatch up the airflow and press the Fiat’s rear into the pavement.

Whoever thinks they’ll have to take a second mortgage to develop their car’s aero package should take a look at this ungainly little Fiat. It might not be the most elegant machine to grace the racetrack, but it’s remarkably quick and shows where a little creativity with sheetmetal can take a dedicated amateur.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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