It was about three weeks ago, on Saturday April 29th 2017, when I brought her home. And by that, I mean she was delivered on a trailer and rolled into the garage. I bought her from a guy who is moving out of state next month. I lost count of how many cars he had. There were two Triumph Spitfires, a late model BMW, some type of old Honda, a Volkswagen Beetle, and the Fiat that I actually came to look at. There were a few others too, all convertibles, and a Winnebago.
The Fiat 124 Spider was red. It caught my eye on Craigslist, so I went to look at it. I've always wanted a convertible, and I like projects, although I hadn't wrenched on a car in a few decades. Honestly, I have two many hobbies, but I was just going to 'look' at it, so no big deal.
As it turns out, the Fiat was not my thing. It needed a lot of bodywork, and I couldn't hear it run because the seller had temporarily stolen the fuel pump to put in the Winnebago.
But the midget parked next to it... bumpers were off, but all parts were there. He had a brand new vinyl top and carpet pieces. And there was no rust. I mean,a little surface rust in the wheelwells, but the floorpans were solid. And it ran. Briefly. With a shot of starter fluid in the carb he started it up and then pulled on the throttle cable to rev it up.
A few days later I went back for another look, and made a deal to make her mine. Since then, I've named her Bridget, joined the forum, got her running well with a new battery and starter, and bought a few hundred dollars in parts. The missing seatbelts and a window crank are the only non-mechanical parts purchased thus far.
She was fouling plugs 1 and 4, so I properly set the timing, put in new spark plug wires, changed the oil, tranny fluid, and refreshed the rear differential. She's up on jackstands and I'm slowly working through other maintenance items. The brakes are not working, and new kits are on (back)order. I bought a new master cylinder as the gasket in the lid of the original one was toast. Not sure how much of that deteriorated and fell into the system. Maybe I'll rebuild that some day and put the original back in. The Monza dual exhaust was literally strung up with bailing wire (but no duct tape), so I've now got that mounted solid and proper.
I know a lot of people ditch the rubber bumpers, but I like mine. They look super sharp after hitting them with some Armor All. The emissions equipment was mostly disconnected and/or capped off. The charcoal canister was still connected, so I took that apart and reactivated the charcoal and put it back in line. I fully removed the rest of the emissions equipment and added back in the missing vacuum lines. Also removed the heater core temporarily to have some more room to work.
Eventually, I hope to put it all back together, including emissions parts and pieces. My understanding is that there are not a lot of these in original condition, and this one is real close. I'm missing the air rail, some flame traps, and the intake hose for the heater. Maybe the pieces between the air cleaner and ?header cover? as well. But that's it, it's fairly complete.
After brakes, if the clutch/gears are OK, then I'll probably start looking at suspension. All of the rubber is shot, from front to back. And of course, electrical. I've got no lighting other than headlights and dashboard gauges. So, there's going to be some wiring work. After that, I expect I'll put the seats back in and drive her as a 'rat rod' for a while. I'm really looking forward to that, as it's the 'main' reason that I bought her, not just for the fun of restoration.
My air cleaner box was missing a clip, and all of the paint was peeling really badly. My carb also appeared to be missing some small parts for attaching the choke cable (but she runs fine with no choke currently, so that can wait). Both of the vacuum ports in the intake manifold were sealed with JB Weld. A guy in a Facebook group reached out to me with an intake manifold, matching ZS CD 150 carb, and airbox for $100 shipped, so I figured 'Why not?'. I've reused the vacuum ports in my manifold, robbed some of the missing pieces from that carb, which I'll now rebuild, and swapped in the airbox for my broken one.
More than likely I'll work on the interior at some point, and get that up to speed. Although maybe I should wait and do that after paint? I think the final piece will be pulling the engine/tranny for a rebuild (hopefully minor) and then dropping that back in after the body has been painted. In the meantime I'm considering a POR-15 or RustBullet coating for the wheelwells and undercarriage.