Engine Of The Day: Fiat SOHC

Illustration for article titled Engine Of The Day: Fiat SOHC

We get quite a few suggestions for EOTD honors and we try to get to all of them, but a tip from a Fiat X1/9 racer always gets jumped to the front of the line!

Illustration for article titled Engine Of The Day: Fiat SOHC

Bernice, of the Italian Stallions 24 Hours Of LeMons team (that's her on the left, replacing a head gasket on a Fiat SOHC in the bracing 36° air at Arse Freeze-A-Palooza '08), wants us to know "This FIAT engine often ignored in the US due to its small displacement, regardless it is IMO one of FIAT's best engines from the 1960's. While the FIAT twin cam gets much of the glory and noted attention, this is actually the better of the two in some ways. Designed by Aurelio Lampredi, famed Ferrari engine designer before he went to work for FIAT. He is also the one who designed the FIAT twin cam from this era. Production of this engine ran from 1969 to 2005. By the mid-1980's FIAT produced over 6 million copies with numerous variants."

Originally designed to power the Fiat 128 (which, as we know, Enzo Ferrari chose to use as his daily driver) the Fiat SOHC had a good long run, from 1969 to 1999. In addition to 128s and X1/9s, a version of this engine was used in that Balkan legend, the Yugo (including turbocharged examples). The Ritmo/Strada, Punto, and 127 also had Fiat SOHC power, and a number of Lancia machines were fitted with this iron-block/aluminum-head workhorse as well.

[Mirafiori.com, Wikipedia]


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I still miss my X1/9. We never quite got it to idle properly at the spec 800-ish rpm, so we turned up the wick to about 1200 or so. Soccer moms would give me stern looks for idling too fast through the neighborhood - foot off the throttle.

Eventually, 5th gear gave out, and since we'd already redone the transmission when we bought the car, I lived without it. It wasn't such a problem; the motor was happy all day long at 6000 rpm, so just leave it in 4th and let 'er scream. Good times.

In another decade or so when I get to the age where I'm looking to spend silly money trying to recapture the car of my youth, I'm going FIAT shopping.