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Hagerty Employee

Slowly but surely, my dueling 850s will be reborn

It made perfect sense at the time. I’d yank out the Mini’s seized engine (along with the transmission bolted to the bottom of it), install the replacement drivetrain that’s been sitting in my garage for months on end, hook it all up, and I’d have a running car by the end of the weekend. Shift linkage issues punctured the thin membrane of optimism that surrounded this project, and the car is still perched a foot and a half in the air, buried under a pile of its own parts, with a gaping emptiness in its engine bay ...


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Intermediate Driver

I feel your pain with the shifter oversight. I once took an engine out of a fiero and then a replacement out of a Chevy and discovered while doing the setup to run that the replacement engine used a crank sensor and the old engine from the Fiero had a distributor. I got it running but it idled a little high. 🙂

Pit Crew

I didn’t realize how small the Mini was, nor how big my Super Beetle was, until the last picture. I guess I’m really driving a midsized car. 


I went to Rome in the mid '70s when I was about five years old. My next door neighbors in the States had a '66 Beetle and a FIAT 128 sedan, which both seemed like tiny cars compared to the typical Valiants, Country Squires, Electra 225s and Impalas that I saw daily. In Rome, the Beetles and 128s served the same roles as Cutlasses and LTDs did in Virginia. Most traffic was made up of FIAT 500s, 600s and 850s in the city, and they were dwarfed by VW Type 1s.

Pit Crew

You do, of course, realize that the luggage cart (like grocery carts) actually cost fairly large dollars to their rightful owner. They don't put them there for you to take away, and that you commit larceny when you appropriate one.


Other than the larceny aspect, an interesting story.

Intermediate Driver

Back in the day, after I blew up the original modified 850 motor, I swapped an MG1100 drivetrain into my Morris Mini. The easy way to do it is to hook up a come along and hang the body, unbolt the front subframe, roll it out, swap the engine and gearbox, and roll it back in. I did this by myself in my Mom's itty bitty garage with about a dozen tools to my name. I opted to use the remote shifter from the MG, way better than the wand. As I recall it required moving the starter button. With the MG1100 having been geared for 12" wheels, when installed in the 10" wheeled Mini, it was geared wonderfully for autocross and hill climbs, of which I won many that year.  A light blue early '59 it also had a Cooper S header and Alexander twin carb setup. Wonder what ever happened to it?


Ah, the photos of the Fiat sure brought back great memories for me.  I had one from the early '70s into the '90s, and I absolutely loved it.  I think I paid $750 for it.  Went through several iterations of paint, upholstery, and wheel/tire combos.  My favorites were some Minilites with Pirellis.  I scavenged the front suspension/steering/disc brakes from a Spider I found in a junkyard and that really gave the little Sedan so much better handling and stopping.  Parts for a car that had very few US deliveries were indeed a challenge, but fortunately, not much on it ever broke or wore out, so it was mostly shocks, belts, filters, and distributer parts that I had to source.  I still have an old Magnet Marelli cap on my shop office desk for a pen/pencil holder.  I've had electric can openers that had more power than that little 850 Sedan, but honestly, I've had few cars that I enjoyed driving as much!