Sometimes the best automotive adventures are the result of a throwaway comment to a mate. In this case, my offer to go and view a car for a faraway friend has turned into an ever-growing adventure. A Fiat X1/9 wouldn’t be my first choice of a mid-life crisis car, but it’s certainly growing on me since collection.
How the Fiat X1/9 adventure all started
The exact details are lost in time. I know a guy, we’ll call him Stu, who lives in Australia. Nice chap, generally has good taste in cars. Well, he has a Freelander2 and that’s how I know him. His first car was, not surprisingly, a Fiat X1/9. I think he must have really loved it, given what I’m going through to get him one.
I offered to have a look at local(ish) Fiat X1/9 before he bought it. This, as we will find out, was a mistake. He was looking for something quite specific and after missing a few cars, he tracked down probably the best value car I’ve ever played with. An enthusiast owned car which wasn’t getting much use and would be available to purchase once the MOT was sorted.
A lovely day out in the country
Chatting to a colleague at work, and they offered to loan me their car trailer. I knew they raced a mini so I was expecting something lightweight and short, how wrong I was! What I picked up was about the right size to put a tank on.
So off I set early one Saturday morning for the collection of a newly MOTd Fiat X1/9. The forecast was bleak but the weather was actually quite lovely. Very little traffic made the drive pass quickly and the lovely scenery above Leeds made for an enjoyable adventure. Eventually, I reached the destination and a short drive down a farm track, I found the car!
A quick once over and loading up
The owner was a really nice chap and super knowledgeable. Given that the car had a one week old MOT following a reasonable bit of maintenance, I wasn’t too worried about the condition. The owner was keen to walk me through the vehicle, and its blemishes, which for me is always a sign of an honest seller. He knew far more than I ever thought I would need to know about the Fiat X1/9.
With darker skies looming the car was quickly loaded up and strapped down to the trailer. Despite a cold engine and not running for a good few days, it started immediately and the revs settled down straight away without missing a beat. I’m not too familiar with these carburettor things having always had EFI, but it sounded very healthy to my untrained ear.
Spares loaded up, paperwork exchanged and a brief wait on the balance transfer and I found myself the temporary owner of my first Fiat X1/9. Having a Bertone designed car on the drive at home already, there was definitely a familiarity about the shape penned by Marcello Gandini.
Stablemates back in the fold
The return journey was equally uneventful if a little bit wetter. I also avoided the uphill narrow bridge on the way back. Despite a 2 hour drive each way, I was back in time for a late lunch. The car was quickly unloaded and the collection of the Fiat X1/9 was complete.
I hadn’t realised until I got back home just how much mud the Fiat X1/9 had picked up at the farm, it was everywhere. Much of the mud is still all over the drive. It’s going to be both a long and short spell of Fiat X1/9 ownership. There is a strict wife enforced time scale to getting the car shipped to Stuart. However, there is also going to be a fair bit of work to do to prepare the car for it’s journey half way across the world.
Preparing for Export
The preparation is going to start with a quick clean to allow for export pictures to be taken. The list of images required by the Australian authorities is lengthy but simple for the most part. No doubt as I take the pictures I’ll find issues and niggles with the car that were not known about.
Being a 30+ year old car and pretty much original, there is bound to some hidden rust. The MOT mentions rust in the rear of the engine bay. Hopefully, it won’t be too awful. My experience with Fiats is mostly with rotten Uno’s and unmaintained Cinquecento, so I may already be biased!
Some basic servicing and maintenance will also be needed. It hasn’t had an oil change for a very long time, so that’s worth doing to protect against any overly enthusiastic dock workers. It will also need consumable fluids draining down including fuel and washer fluid, all par for the course of shipping vehicles long distances.
Hopefully, nothing too scary will be found, it seems like a solid car, and I haven’t too much enthusiasm for a full rebuild. I guess we will find out in future articles!