Nobody really ever expects an advertisement to tell them the whole truth, whether it's for laundry detergent or criminal defense attorneys. When it comes to 1980s car ads though, a new dynamic comes in to play.

That dynamic, specifically, was words like "dynamic." The early part of the 1980s was filled with cars that were a bit weak, especially compared with today's hairy-chested monsters. The emissions regulations and fuel price spikes of the 1970s were still affecting engines, but people were getting tired of the same old excuses. Faced with this dilemma, manufacturer marketing departments had to get a bit innovative.


The strategy they devised wasn't to lie, exactly, as that would be crass and horrid. The idea they came up with instead was to simply yell specifications in an impressive manner and then pray to the Mad Men in the sky that they would stick with the car-buying public.

We saw that last week with the 1984 Chevrolet Corvette, when the announcer touted the car's four, yes count 'em one two three four speakers, plus the fact that it even came with wheels and tires standard. Fiat was in even worse shape, though, with it X1/9. Its anemic engine wasn't evan a V8, and it's not like you could celebrate its reliability with the infamous "Fix It Again, Tony" moniker.

What to do then, for the poor struggling Italian company? Well, the X1/9 was mid-engined, so they had that going for it. And what else was mid-engined... let's see... oh right! The Lotus Esprit, the Ferrari GTB, the Maserati Bora, and the Lamborghini Countach! Since those cars were all mid-engined, it was basically the same thing, right? Right?!


That's where the creative annunciation came in. The Lotus, Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini were all high-performance machines of their day, with big engines and outrageous styling. The Fiat X1/9? Well, that had a piddly 1.5-liter four-cylinder.

No matter, though. You say "piddly 1.5-liter four-cylinder," Fiat says "ONE POINT FIVE LITER POWER!" There, job done. Who cares that the thing only put out 85 horsepowers on a good day?


In truth, the Fiat X1/9 was a nimble little handler, and can still be a blast to drive today. Maybe all it needed was a little more power, but if you can keep it in working order it should be rewarding. Maybe "rewarding" is the wrong word, but it's definitely dynamic.


DYNAMIC! Why does he keep repeating that?

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