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FIAT REDUX

gkelly3gkelly3 Posts: 38
edited March 2014 in FIAT
I was in Brazil last month, and got to see the car
scene in Latin America. I saw VW, FORD, GM
(Chevrolet), and few Renaults, Peugeots, Citroens,
and VERY few Hondas. The real surprise was FIAT-it
was by far the most common make. The most popular
Fiat model was the Palio, with a 1.6 liter engine.
They seem like pretty nice cars, with a lot of
interior room (for the size). Also cheap-around
13,000 Brazilian Reals ($7,000) for a basic one.
My question-since FIAT is one of the premier
automakers in Europe (and do well in Brazil)-why
don't we see them in the USA?
«134

Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Because they could never come up with the efficient sales and service network a company needs to compete successfully in the US. Worse than that, they have a terrible reputation among American car buyers, and it's going to be extra difficult to defeat that image, should they choose to return some day.

    Fiat is a huge company, and dominant in many parts of Europe as well as S.A. It's a shame they can't work it out in the US Market, because they've made some delightful cars in the past. Fiat was also, some long time ago, a dominant force in auto racing.
  • Oops. Didn't work, but here is a Dino that looks like the one I wanted!

    image
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yes, that's a Ferrari-engined Fiat (V6), and the coupe version is actually pretty cheap on the market right now....maybe $10,000
  • The coupe, as you say, is pretty reasonable. The spider is more expensive. The one I was looking at was asking $25,000, which seems to look like the market for a fully restored car. My former Alfa mechanic in San Rafael said he would sell me his for $35,000! I thought that was a little dear. Especially, you can get some used Ferraris for that price such as the 308's. Could also get a pretty nice matching numbers small block Corvette for that price as well.

    Too bad that Fiat didn't make it in the U.S.. I always liked their cars and wish they had been a little better build and more reliable. Love the 124 Spider.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    He's dreaming at $35,000...obviously doesn't really want to sell it. Which reminds me, I've had it with Italian car mechanics in Marin!-- now go to Berkeley and much happier. Can't understand why such a leftie community has all the good mechanics, but there you have it.

    Can you imagine, I've been trying to find an engine vibration in my Alfa for two months and no mechanic happened to notice two broken motor mounts, a worn camshaft lobe and one fan blade completely missing!

    Now you know why so few people drive Italian cars.
    in America.

    On the positive side, Fiat and Alfa parts are reasonable and the cars are not complicated. If this were a BMW I'd be screwed, but as it is I'm out the door for $800 complete.
  • It really is hard to find a good and honest mechanic in Marin. When I had my BMW's, I had them serviced at H&B and Bavarian Professionals in Berserkeley, both excellent places for BMW's. I went through a few BMW mechanics in Marin and always got ripped off.

    It is amazing that the mechanics missed the problems you mentioned. I find it amazing that incompetent mechanics can stay in business. Can you recommend a good Italian car mechanic in the East Bay? It would be good to know for future reference in case I actually do buy another Alfa, the Dino or a used (and inexpensive!) Ferrari. Thanks Mr. Shiftright!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Oh, Britalia is best for Italian cars, they are the old Griswold shop of racing fame. They had my car diagnosed in about 20 minutes.

    I think less than fully competent mechanics stay in business because a) they don't cause catastrophic failure (your car just never gets up to its potential) and b) they are often nice guys so people think they're also good mechanics.

    I pick mechanics like I used to pick bush pilots in Alaska. I want the guy who is taciturn and thorough and takes notes. Save the colorful stories for the dentist's office reading room.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think it was the mechanics who screwed up the Italian cars, not the other way around. My Alfa is a very reliable car, thanks to Bosch fuel injection and German electrics.

    People often make the mistake of thinking that a good Porsche or Mercedes mechanic is a good Alfa or Fiat mechanic. Simply not true.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    When did Fiat get it reputation for unreliability? My brother had a '65 1500 cabriolet that we bought out of an East Palo Alto junkyard. It had been driven there from Fremont with its crank in two pieces. He did an inexpensive rebuild and drove it daily for several years with good reliability. Was he lucky, or did Fiat's reliability problems come later? I suppose it helps that the car wasn't as technically advanced as the 124, or as overstressed as the 850 Spyder.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    I think it was a combination of
    1. quick-rusting sheet metal giving the impression of a car "falling apart",
    2. the fact that a lot of owners wanted to run them without proper maintenance,
    3. some actual component failures that really were just plain silly. I remember the door of my 128 getting caught by a gust of wind as I was getting in, and the stop (the thing to limit the door's travel) just snapped and let the door open all the way, like a jeep's, creating a curved, vertical dent in the fender. After that every 128 I saw, I looked for that dent, and it was present on the majority of them. That stop, by the way, was a piece of iron wire, not much bigger than coat-hanger wire, fashioned into a double hook. Very fragile.

    I was surprised to learn that in Italy Fiat in general has a very similar reputation (non e` meccanicalmente buono), and certain models, like my 128 and the rear-drivers are seen by many as a joke. Of course, these might not be car people.

    I'm curious about the 1500. How would you rate it as a low-budget sportscar of the period, compared to say, a Spridget?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    The Fiat 124s are pretty tough and have no grievous faults aside from budget-minded build quality...mostly they have fallen into the hands of people of modest means or knowledge, so the cars received no car and no expert attention.

    The later models had transmissions and differentials made in Spain (by Seat) and these are definitely inferior to the Italian ones. So maybe that's what you're seeing.

    Mostly look for butchery from domestic mechanics, but if the car seems clean and orderly inside, under and out, it's probably okay! It won't be easy to find one that hasn't been abused.

    Rust is an issue with any car of the 1970s, so I don't think it's peculiar to Fiats.
  • gorokagoroka Posts: 1
    I've searched the net and can't find any reference to the Fiat Ghia, which was a Fiat 1500 but with tubular frame covered by a sleek two-door steel body by Ghia. Mine was a 1965, red, and sort of a cross between a 240Z and a short bodied 365GTB/4...at least that's how I remember it...long nose, short trunk, two seater...but with only four cylinders. I drove it all over San Diego (SDSU) in 1976/79, and by the time I sold it, I had become a decent Fiat mechanic....like I had a choice. Parts weren't too bad to get, but when the passenger window broke, I had to go with Lexan. I never had a car that got so much attention....I've seen exactly one other Ghia in 25 years. Any other Ghia owners?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think there's an article on a similar car in the March 1965 issue of Road & Track...you might call them in Newport Beach and ask if the library would forward you a clip of the article.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Just noticed that C13 asked about the Fiat 1500 I referred to. I can't compare it to the Spridget, but I did drive an MGB daily for several years, and the B felt much more lively. I think the problem with the 1500 was that we had the cam reground for "more performance". Why we (I) thought a Redwood City machine shop would know how to unleash the potential of a Fiat 1500 I don't know. Our engine didn't have any brio, although I don't think the 1500 ever did--probably why the twincam S was introduced. Had a nice ride, adequate handling, a great dash and clean, rather slab-sided styling, very similar to a Peugeot cabriolet of that era and probably a few Ferraris I don't know about as well. Direct steering, but the shifter was bus-like. Lots of fun, but the parts situation was so-so even fifteen years ago. I suspect that the 128 was a much more engaging car; certainly the market thought so.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think Abarth knew how to get power out of a Fiat engine, but for some reason, despite the ccs, stock Fiat engines didn't have much power. Even Alfas don't have that much power for their size, but at least the Alfa engine is willing and very sturdy...you can run the old Alfas of that era up to 7.500 rpm, past redline, and at the very worst if you got really crazy you might brake something up top but the bottom end would always hold together.

    The Fiat 124 2.0 FI Turbo from 1981 or so is a quick little car, but alas a bit fragile.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    Al Cosentino, who should be taken with a grain of salt, said that most Fiat engines were capable of eating as much fuel/air mixture as you could pump through them, converting it to power. They were limited only by their restrictive breathing (including cams and all).

    That might be a slight exaggeration, but probably generally true, at least for the time.

    The 128 was a deligtful car when running, which was a good 50% of the time. You just had to be sure to get a valve job with each tune-up and a tune-up with each oil change. Also a good idea to carry a lot of wheel bearings, as they wore out faster than the tires, which if you didn't rotate em front to back, wore out pretty fast.

    But there was no other car I ever had that would allow me to park next to some poor dweeb in a Corvette who took up 2 spaces in order to protect his baby. I could park quite legally in one of the half-spaces left over.

    Enzo Ferrari had one with HUGE Webers and appropriate cams for buzzing around the Ferrari compound.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    I had a 128 in college--the rolling shoebox, fwd, now known as a Yugo, 128. One of the best cars I ever had. There were about 10 of us that sang gospel music in those days and the 128 had the largest trunk in the bunch! I could put two speakers, the amp, tape deck and all the mics in it. 36 mpg, too, no matter how I drove it--flat out or conservatively. Sold me on fwd. Was like a Jeep--go anywhere! Too bad they sold the stampings to Yugo and destroyed the image of that little car forever. The only time I had trouble with it was when the clutch cable broke driving across campus. Stuck in 2nd with an 1100cc engine is no fun! The dealer was 22 miles away and only the golden arches have poorer service than he did! Didn't know, didn't care, didn't care that he didn't know! That's what killed Fiat in this country--the lousy dealers!

    Well, having said all that, in the morning I'm flying out to buy a 1982 Spider for my youngest son and drive this car that I've never laid eyes on 600 miles home! I'm putting my fate in the hands of the little spider and hoping for the best. I mean, it's only got 54000 miles on it, what could possibly go wrong? (hint of saracasm)

    Referring to Shifty and others, I was surprised at the availability and reasonable prices of both Alfa and Fiat Spiders. It was a toss up as to which we'd wind up buying, but he likes the Fiat styling better--although I tend to like the Alfa's better. Must have to do with Dustin Hoffman and Simon & Garfunkel!

    Have a great weekend,

    Hal
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Both cars are handsome...the Fiat 124 is a bit cleaner looking by the 1980s I think. Most 124s just suffer from neglect...on the 1980s Fiats, some parts were outsourced from Spain, so it's a good idea to get on a lift and check for leaking seals here and there. Mostly all you have to do is keep these cars away from incompetent mechanics and you'll be fine.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    Keep us posted on the 124's condition and progress.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think you'll find the technical sophistication, braking and handling of these cars light years ahead of your Jensen-Healey, too. About the only area it will be neck and neck with the Brits is the electrics. Italian cars from the 70s & 80s are notorious for bad grounds, so before you tear any electrical component apart, check its ground wire (if there even IS one!).

    I presume this 124 is not a turbo. If it is, we need to talk....
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    Well, we made it! The car is light metallic green with tan top and interior with panasport wheels, very classy! We bought the car at the Raleigh/Durham airport and drove it 629 miles home (13 hours, yawn!) Saturday. It was a real adventure. The interior and mechanics of the car appear to be excellent. A little "tinker" work to be done. The blinkers went on the fritz last night. A little body rot to fix, no floor pan rust or anything like that, just some wheel arch rust. A huge thunderstorm outside of Asheville gave us our baptism by rain--it leaked, but we were prepared. The A/C is cool but not cold, I'll give it a shot of freon in the next day or two. I'll have my Euro/Brit-Mechanic check the cam belts and such when he changes the oil. It certainly was the hot topic of conversation at church yesterday!

    Thanks for your interest and support!

    More later,

    Hal
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Great! I'll bet the blinker is a ground problem.

    As for the A/C, that's about as cold as it's going to get...you may want to think about just removing the whole system, that's what most people do...saves weight, gives you more engine access...remember, that freon is $50 a pound and it WILL leak on you.

    The top shouldn't leak...maybe it can be aligned and sealed better.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    I feel sort of stupid, having fooled with British cars for so long, but the Fiat seems to be a bit different, with similar problems. We tinkered with the blinkers last night, swapped flasher units, swapped back and played with the 4-way flasher switch, flipped the lever and POOF! the blinkers started working again. However as my other son drove it away last night, I noticed that one tail light, one parking light and one side marker was out that were working on our way home Saturday!

    Different problem--every time I get in the car I feel like a lobster someone's trying to boil. We've read the manual about the heater controls and think we've got the heat shut off, but there's a tremendous amount of heat coming in through the floor and defroster vents. On my MGs, I put a cut-off valve in the heater hose to eliminate this problem in the summer. Can the Fiat be done the same way? I haven't even looked to see where the heater hoses run or anything.

    Thanks again!

    Hal
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Sure, you could make up a simple shut off valve as the line comes out of the water pump... I THINK that's the inlet for the heater, but you should check. The heater valve is probably stuck or a cable isn't working...no biggie.

    try grounding the tail light body that holds the bulb, or clean up the bulb sockets. Also check that there is a ground strap between the engine and the frame! (You can substitute a battery jumper cable to see if your problems magically disappear when you ground the engine to the frame.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    Well, we let a little "magic smoke" out of one of the wires last night. My son and I were trying to figure out why some lights worked and some didn't. The add-on fog lights obviously have a dead short in them somewhere as we replaced the fuse, turned them on and watched them blow another fuse. I told him his friend, Mr. Tester, and he would get very familiar with all the nooks and crannies of the car pretty soon. Just playing with it, we got the trunk light to come on, but one tail, one parking and one side marker are still dark......we just need more time!
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    And they say Lucas electrics are funky! My son and I made a fascinating and frustrating discovery last night. We've been working on getting all the lights in our 1982 Spider working properly and the blinkers have a way of mysteriously coming and going. We were working on them last night and could not get them to work, then my son fired the car up and took it out of reverse (it is always parked in reverse) and suddenly the blinkers started working! He put it back into reverse and the blinkers quit. He put it in first and turned the engine off--blinkers still work. Is this some unique Italian safety device--no signalling when backing up, or are the wires really screwed up in this car?

    Thanks,

    Hal
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Obviously (isn't that smug of me?) the backup lights and tailights are competing for the same few paltry volts being sent back there! Probably a cross-wire somewhere.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    In my Centoventotto, "The Car Ferrari Drives", the headlights were wired into the ignition.
    Ignition off, headlights off. You could never leave your headlights on.

    I was never sure whether it was a deliberate feature or accidental.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    It is the same in the Fiat. I had forgotten this feature (or my 128 didn't have it), but it is very helpful.

    Shifty, and I thought that was in compliance with Italian traffic law: No turning in reverse! What a crazy set-up. Power appears to be coming into the printed circuit for the tail light and being transmitted across it to the other tail light, marker light and license plate lights, but not lighting up the bulb and marker light on that side.

    BTW, did I mention the small device hidden in the spare tire well that looks for the life of me like a florescent light ballast? It also appears some PO wired in a 4-way trailer type plug into the system! I think I'll just set up shop in the garage for a week or so with my tester, knife and electrical tape!

    Thanks for all the help!

    Hal
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    For some reason, Catholic mechanics seem to have the best luck with Italian cars. But ever since I started meditation practice, I can't tune up my Alfa anymore. I really need to think about this more.
  • ccd3ccd3 Posts: 2
    Such memories... I owned a Fiat 124 Spider throughout high school and college. I loved the car. Wish I still had it. I can't really call the car traditionally unreliable. It was more "moody". I drove the car with all the enthusiasm a guy with a new driver license could muster. Aside from a broken strut from an evening a "scratching seconds" with a car load of friends, (which lead to a replaced clutch a year later)I never suffered any catastrophic breakdowns. I had a clutch pedal break in half, the bumper fall off, an unusual "aurora borealis" effect under my dash whenever driving at night, and embarrasing water-leakage marks left on my trousers whenever it rained. However- the growl from the Ansa exhaust made the headaches worth it.

    Back then- I thought the car was fast. Something to be said about sitting so low to the ground with so much mechanical sysphony filling one's ears. These days I would be blasted by an auto-Camry with the air conditioning. However, at the time I could dust my buddy's MGA and his brother's TR3, and that's all that mattered.

    I have no point... Just fond memories of simpler autos from simpler times.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    Excellent memories. I had a '59 MGA and a '69 MGC in high school and college. The A traveled more miles chained to the back of my dad's pickup than under it's own power! The C failed me only a few times, but, in typical British car fashion, required lots of attention and "tinkering" on an almost daily basis. Wonderful memories--and I still relive them, though at a different level than before. Now I can enjoy my sons learning their way around a faulty electrical system, leaky tops, etc., all the things that make being a teen boy fun! Our Fiat Spider is my 8th convertible following 3 MGs, 2 V8 Mustangs, a Chrysler Sebring convertible (my daily driver) and a 1973 Jensen Healey (eldest son's daily driver). I have driven a convertible of one kind or another on a daily basis since 1974! Now, both of them have one so the tradition continues!

    Thanks for the memories (as Bob Hope would say),

    Hal
  • ccd3ccd3 Posts: 2
    You're living the dream! How I miss roadsters. My last "convertible" was a CJ-7... not the same driving experience, but rudimentary and earthy nontheless. Tell me about the Jensen-Healey. I painted a friends A-H 3000 in dad's garage for a case of Molson's and a bass-drum pedal. The 3000 was a darling with 8 coats of environmentally-unfriendly laquer. I didn't even get to drink the beer... most of it was shared at a "wet-sanding party". Besides having an incredible exhaust note, It was a strong automobile. Only prob was (guess) the electrical system. Leave it parked for more than two days and the battery would run down. Simple solution was a battery cut-off switch...

    Is the Jensen-Healey a strong car? If memory serves it has a Lotus Twin-cam 4. Whatever happened to them/ They were only with us a few years.

    Once my son is old enough to appreciate motoring, I think I'll look for a TR-6. I always lusted after these while driving the Fiat. A friend in a 1974 TR-6 would regularly spank me at the stop-light. Have to love that big, lazy 6-cylinder. I've always been curious how a TR-6 would fare against a Miata. Guessing powerwise +, handlingwise -.

    You have a fine collection of autos. Those of us in SUV's are envious. As soon as sports cars are practical for me- I'll be in the market.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    The JH is a lively little car. 140 horses out of 120 cubic inches with sidedraft strombergs! Not bad! Not a pollution device on it from the factory, and this is in 1973! Too bad it only has a 4 speed (later versions had a 5 speed) as it always sounds like it's wound a little too tight. Nevertheless, it will flat get with it. Not long after we bought it, the Monza exhaust tips rotted off (they all do) and left us with a very aggressive exhaust note. Well, mentally, I'm still only 17 and love to get that extra "blip" in on the throttle and pop the pipes between gears. The third red light I geared down for beside the same kid in a GEO Storm, he got antsy (must have been drowning out his stereo) and indicated he was interested in challenging me to a contest of acceleration.......I let him lead off the line, then absolutely blew by him just as I changed from 2nd to 3rd (with a quick blip in between). I could see his jaw drop as I disappeared into the evening! Never told my son about that experience, may wait a little while yet to do so.

    The JH feels much faster than the Fiat. It probably is, and coupled with the fact that the Spider is a much more luxurious car and your rear is not dragging the ground, it just seems more agressive and quicker. They are, however, totally different takes on the same sports car premise. I truly love them both! The JH is very un-typical for a British car--it starts and runs every time you get in it! Yesterday was the first time in almost 3 years it failed to start. When I went to check on it, the + battery cable came off in my hands. Two new cable ends last night and she's off and running this morning. It really has been a great car for my son. Loud (ANSA exhaust now), shiney (chrome wire wheels), bright (Viper Red), unique, it's everything a teen boy would want! It has given us almost zero trouble in the last 3 years which I attribute to good care from previous owners and I've got a great mechanic who really delights in working on it. Too bad the marque didn't fare better. The looks were so-so in the 70's but really don't look as dated as some of it's contemporaries do now. The interior is huge and so is the trunk (for this kind of car)! But if my memory serves me correctly, you could buy a brand new Mustang Mach 1 with all the go-fast goodies and A/C for less than a JH! The early engine failures didn't help matters either. Lotus essentially used the JH owners as test mules for their new engine. However, the marque has a very loyal following and parts are not overly plentiful, but generally you can find just about anything you want for one!

    Regarding my other cars: the TR6 was my favorite street challenge when I was driving the MGC. From a distance (or in your rear view mirror) it didn't look that much different from an MGB, but that 3 liter Austin Healey engine would pull like a freight train! I even caught a 240-Z or two unawares with the C. It was a much better "cruiser" than "sports car" because the big 6 made the car nose heavy and did nothing good for the handling.

    I find it amusing to listen to people talk about what a great sports car the Miata is. Not to put it down or anything, it is a great little car, but your TR6 or either of our "classics" would send home with it's tail between it's legs--provided some of our electrics didn't short out first! The advantage of the Miata is the same as the Acura NSX--it's Japanese made and therefore will run forever. It just doesn't have the "character" of the British or European classic sports cars! (nor the leaks, nor the rust, nor the electrical gremlins, etc.)

    Well, I've rambled on far too long. Good luck with your son's budding automotive interest and I hope you get you another sports car soon!

    Enjoy,

    Hal
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    You bring up a point that I've been wondering about for some time: how the Miata compares with some of the great old beasts of the 50's, 60's, 70's.

    Of course the Miata won't require nearly the same maintenance or repairs, but then *SO* much more is known now about the various weaknesses of the various English and Italian sportscars.

    I'm wondering if I might be happier in the long run with a car that requires more attention but delivers more of the roadster experience.

    PS
    It's funny to note that each new model (e.g., MGTD, TF, A, B) was introduced as being less finicky, more "civilized", and sportscar people of the day were glad to see more reliability and comfort but lamented the loss of some of the traditional sportscar 'feel' and even the intimate knowledge of the car's mechanicals that was forced upon one by unexpected failures.

    Twas ever thus, I guess.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You all knowhow much I love old British sports cars, but in truth a Miata would beat the living stuffing out of a TR6 or or MGA, B, or MGC in every category, and certainly in acceleration, braking and handling. It would, of course, being more modern, outbrake and outhandle a JH, but acceleration, if both were in top shape, would be just about even. (somewhere around 8 seconds or a tad less--the new 157 (?) HP Miata for 2001 should be faster still).

    One of my favorite Brit sportscars is the AH Bugeye Sprite, which is hardly fast (0-60 in about 20 seconds!) but even more fun than a Miata.

    So the old cars are about fun, not about performance, unless we get to the more exotic old stuff.

    With all that noise, the instant throttle response of carburators, no power anything, and really accurate steering boxes, all running on skinny tires, the feeling of the old sports cars is hard to duplicate or even come close to in a modern car. They are no match as a rule for putting up "numbers",but if that's not so important, the rewards are many. And maintenance and repair is, within reason, more like great therapy than work to me.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    Ah, therapy, that's why I feel so much better after skinning my knuckles and banging my head on the underside of the hood, trunk, wheelwell, etc.! But you're right, there's something theraputic (spelling) about putting back in order something broken or just tinkering to hear the sound of dual cams or dual carbs or dual exhausts echoing in your garage (though the neighbors get antsy about midnight!).

    Regarding Miata performance vs. _________ fill in the blank with a classic roadster. I suspect that we as drivers of such and defenders of the faith so to speak may understand the capabilities and limitations of our particular machine and may be willing to push it harder than the average Miata driver, thus achieving superior performance. Given equally prepared drivers, the Miata might win out, however, I think I've seen something that one of the Jensen Healey groups put out comparing the two nose to nose and the JH seemed to have a performance edge, but the Miata won hands down on creature comforts (especially when it came to top raising and lowering).

    Later,

    Hal
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Oh, it's not really fair to compare older cars with modern ones...the sophistication level is so much higher. About the only thing the old cars could offer in abundance was a) lighter weight than new cars and thus b)decent performance for their HP.

    But I doubt modern drivers would tolerate the maintenance levels and comfort levels of a 60s MGB in a new Miata. We are very spoiled these days.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    A car I'd pretty much forgotten about was the late-model (early 80's) 124 spyder turbos.

    Any thoughts on this model? Experiences?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Fun & fragile. Much of the car was outsourced to Seat in Spain, and the components aren't as good as the pre 80s cars. You may expect differential and transmission issues, and the turbo is very inaccessible to work on. It was a good idea, that car, but needed more development. I'd think twice about owning one.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    Based on what I've read the boost from the turbo resulted in marginal improvements in performance....hardly seemed worth the money or trouble--from my point of view. This one we've bought was supposed to have been "prepped" for hotter performance. I can readily see the headers, but only left to speculate on the cams, ignition, injectors, etc. It seems to run great, but aside from the JH, I have no base of reference for 4 cylinder dohc engines! Frankly, the JH feels and seems faster! Maybe it's that loud exhaust note or the dragging my butt on the pavement.....anyway, the PO indicated that some of his buddies at work with their 4 cyl BMW Z3's had a healthy respect for the little Fiat! Maybe that was just the sales talk. It's hard for me to judge truly "fast" the car is.....regardless, that's not what I bought it for.

    It is a very classy, comfortable, enjoyable sports car to drive. That's why I bought it.

    Later,

    Hal
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    No, the n/a Fiat 124 wouldn't match the JH performance, but I think the turbo would. I felt it was considerably faster than the normal 124 by a very noticeable seat of the pants margin.
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    But I had a blast working on my son's Fiat while he was away at camp (it'll be a year before he can drive it independently). I cleaned up PO's wiring mess and was determined to get all dash lights working. PO indicated only tach and speedo actually had lights--like you wouldn't need to see the gas gauge at night??? Only thing wrong was the lights weren't plugged in to the instruments, therefore not grounded--not working! Anyway, I had 1 bulb burned out and the only one I had like the little push-in bulbs was an orange side marker light. Hmmmm, now what if I replaced them all with orange lights....would match the orange lcd on the radio.....! It was fun watching his face when we backed out of the garage in the dark and he saw the color change! I didn't know you could do that! I've had as much fun with this car already as he has! Of course, he'll be the one picking up teenage girls in it!!!!!

    Enjoy,

    Hal
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Lucky him....but tell him about the underage laws :)

    Did you know that Fiat makes the fuel injection systems for Harley Davidson motorcycles? And the cylinder heads for many Chrysler cars?
  • sebringjxisebringjxi Posts: 140
    No other place to tell this story, but I had a little "engagement" with a Miata the other evening. With my son at the Academy, I am responsible for making sure it stays in good shape, so I exercise it a bit from time to time. We wound up side-by-side at a redlight on the 4-lane bypass: a viper-red Jensen Healey and a bright red Miata. I blipped the throttle, he blipped the throttle, we both nodded at one another, grinned, and when the light turned green, we went at it. I had him right off the line, the JH seemed to be geared lower for a quicker take off. Held him off through third gear, then he began to catch up with me. He passed me just before we dove off onto a side road, a little winding lane back toward town. He could out brake me going into the turns, but I seemed to have more bottom end and would pull right up on his back bumper coming out. If it were truely a racing situation, I think I could have gotten past him coming out of several corners. All good things come to an end. He turned off one way, I turned off the other with friendly waves all around. A day or two later, I pulled up at a local eatery and parked beside the Miata. As I was waiting in line to place my order, he came over and pointed out the window. There were 5 guys standing around studying the JH, not one of them was looking at the Miata! He said, that's where you got the best of me! As I've told my son before, with his car's color and the chrome wire wheels shining and that glorious exhaust note, at any given intersection, at least 2 other cars would have to be on fire to attract more attention than the JH!

    Have a great weekend!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Just saw my old nemesis, the Fiat 128. Now that Shiftright told me about the special tool, I'm just itching to try to pull a 128 head again. This was the first 128 I'd seen in years, and it was an automatic, about the last 128 I'd expect to be on the road for 28 years. I know it was an automatic because it said so--how 1972. Remember when foreign car makers were so jazzed they had an optional automatic that their auto cars had special ID? As I recall, French cars said "automatique".
  • i saw a mid 70s honda civic that had a "hondamatic" badge on the back of it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    that was an interesting transmission...there was no room for a "proper" automatic so you had to actually shift between low and drive manually. If you just started in drive it was only the top gears.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    What's interesting is how the tables turned. I remember in the '80s GM was putting "4-speed OD" or something like on their cars, just to show they had a modern automatic. "Look folks, no more Powerglides!" Well, what else could they do, put "OHV" on the fenders?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    On the road, too! I think it was a 600. The license plate said "MULTIPLA". I thought I could see the driver pedaling.
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