Abandoned Mansion Has an Iconic Rear-Engined Italian Classic Hidden in the Garage

Abandoned classic cars are usually associated with junkyards, but some spend their retirement years in garages on properties that haven't been inhabited for decades. This mansion in southern France is one of those places.
Fiat 850 Spider barn find 9 photos
Photo: Abandoned World Explorer/YouTube
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Documented by YouTube's "Abandoned World Explorer," this old and beautiful chateau has been decaying for 15 to 20 years. That's when the owners reportedly abandoned the property and left everything behind. The place is now a time capsule packed with all sorts of belongings, including vintage furniture. The property is also home to four vehicles.

A Peugeot 206 and a first-generation Renault Clio are parked outside, while a Peugeot 405 station wagon is resting inside a garage. Pretty mundane, right? Well, the fourth car, which is parked behind the 405 in the garage, is an iconic and relatively rare gem. I'm talking about a Fiat 850 Spider.

Obviously stuck in the same spot for more than two decades, the Italian drop-top is in rough shape. There's surface rust under the thick layer of dust, and the interior is missing a few bits and pieces. It looks like the owner might have been working on it before he abandoned it, but it might have been vandalized too. The engine is still under the hood. And based on how it looks, it's probably the factory unit, which is excellent news for a classic car.

Is it worth saving? Well, it requires a lot of work and cash to return to public roads, but it's a solid project for restoration. More so since Fiat 850 values have increased recently, especially for two-door coupe and convertible models. Sadly, it doesn't look like this Italian compact is going anywhere anytime soon, so it will probably end up as a rust bucket.

If you're unfamiliar with the 850, Fiat introduced the supermini in 1964 to replace the 600. Unlike its successor, the 850 was offered in various body styles. The two-door sedan was the most common, but Fiat also built two-door coupes, convertibles, and a minivan called the Familiare.

Like most Fiats of the era, the 850 was fitted with small-displacement four-cylinder engines. The lineup included 843 and 903cc units in Europe and an 817cc lump in the United States. Output ranged between 34 and 52 horsepower.

The Spider version was introduced alongside the coupe at the 1965 Geneva Motor Show. Unlike its siblings, which were designed in-house, the convertible was penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone. Not only prettier styling-wise, the Spider was also faster than the coupe thanks to a slightly beefed-up engine.

Fiat ended production of the 850 in 1973 after nearly 2.3 million cars were built. Only 140,000 were Spiders, so the drop-top is among the rarest. Check out this hidden survivor in the video below. The Fiat pops up at the 31:53-minute mark.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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