It has been 8 years since I first got into Fiats, and some 6 or 7 years since I initially created this page. I have written a number of articles about my various exploits into the Fiat world for fellow Fiat enthusiasts to enjoy and perhaps benefit from. The last 6 years I have been pretty focused on the 128 sedans so this page is geared toward them. I do have some 124 stuff, but there's plenty of other good 124 sites out there, so I feel my time is best spent working on 128 content. I don't claim to know everything about Fiats (or whatever else I discuss in my articles) so if you have some info that may be of use to others that I've missed out on, please let me know and I'll try to incorporate it in my articles. Also, if there's anything you would like to see here or think I should change, shoot me an e-mail. Input is always welcome, even if you just want to say you liked the page. It makes all my efforts worthwhile! Owning a Fiat means a new experience every day, be it good or bad, so there's sure to be more to come too...
A little about myself for those who are interested: As of this writing (November 23, 2003) I'm 25 years old, recently graduated from the University of California, Davis with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I've been interested in all things mechanical since I was a kid, so I guess it was natural that I'd develop a passion for cars. Having grown up in a "financially challenged" household, if I wanted to have a car I had to pay for everything myself so I worked to buy my parts and self-taught myself to wrench (with eventual guidance by some fellow Fiat enthusiasts who'd been doing it a lot longer than I). While in college, I worked on several student engineering projects, namely the FutureCar/Truck and Formula SAE projects. FutureCar/Truck involved converting existing passenger cars and SUVs into hybrid-electric vehicles. I worked on those vehicles for 3 years but, While very technological and complex, I was much more interested in racing so I switched to Formula SAE, where we built 600cc motorcycle engine-powered open-wheel autocross cars. These projects, and my various Fiat projects, required that I learn quite a bit more about fabrication than I already knew. Quite a bit of my spare time was spent in the student machine shop learning how to operate a mill and lathe, and cranking out parts of course.
So how did I get into Fiats? I was sixteen and desperately wanted a car, as almost all teens do when they are finally able to drive. I had a '74 Saab 99LE sitting in my parking lot, and had worked on that a bit, but the cost of getting it running and registered was too much for my small budget. One of my mother's co-workers informed me that their neighbor had a Fiat sitting next to their garage and they would probably be willing to give it to me. I got the person's phone number and gave him a call. He said it had run, but sat for a while and needed some work. Time and energy was all I had so I said I would take the car if he would give it to me. Well, I ended up having to pay $200 in registration, but that was a heck of a lot better than what the Saab would've cost.
It was a 1970 124 Sport Spider, with quite a few miles on the clock. The poor thing had been sitting under an oak tree for three years. I acquired it in the middle of January, during an extremely rainy year. There were puddles behind both seats; spider webs and spiders were everywhere (how fitting); bay and oak leaves, along with plenty of dirt, covered the car, even part of the engine; The carpets were soaked and mildewed; the wood paneling was warped and cracked; to top it off, there was a towel over the driver's seat with a mushroom growing out of it!
I towed it to my house and worked on it for a few weekends when I had spare time. The thing had to be aired out for days, which was difficult since it was usually raining. I tore out the carpets and sound-damping insulation and soaked up all the water; Many hours were spent just working on getting the interior in decent shape. Then I got to work on the engine...
For a couple weekends, my father and I screwed around with the engine, but couldn't get it to start. He then bought me a Haynes manual (a true godsend) and some general tune-up stuff such as points, condenser, spark plugs, distributor cap, etc. We replaced all of those items, but it still wouldn't start. Eventually I reset the static timing and the thing fired up (with the help of a can of starting fluid). It happened to be my 17th birthday and that was just the best gift I could have asked for.
When I took it to have it smogged (emissions test), the mechanic set the timing and adjusted the carb and it passed without any problems. The following months were spent driving the car and fixing up things here and there, slowly building my knowledge of mechanics and the 124 Spider. A friend of mine bought a 128 sedan and through the course of trying to fix it I grew more fond of Fiats, and we became acquainted with Eli, the man behind the wonderful Fiat Page, without who's help and guidance, doubtless both of our cars would be rusting in a Pick-n-Pull.
Anyway,I'll stop rambling and let you get on to the good stuff!