Having recovered the Fiat X1/9 back from Leeds it was time for its first inspection. I’m not a seasoned Fiat X1/9 enthusiast, so I don’t know all the places to look. Fortunately, years of owning Citroens have given me a good nose for rust.
Fiat X1/9 Paint Work
The Fiat is over 30 years old, and like myself, it’s looking a little aged around the edges. From a distance the bodywork looks okay, it’s flat and clearly hasn’t seen polish for a long time but there are no significant dents. I can’t see any typical signs of impact, body shut lines are pretty good for the era. But there are some telltale signs of age on closer inspection.
The bumper is probably the clearest sign that the car has been stored outside with little protection. The paint here is a little grey colour when the rest of the car is (nearly) black. This isn’t uncommon for this age of car where the bumpers were painted separately using a different process. For many manufacturers the solution was coloured plastic.
One of the standout paint issues is the pop-up headlight covers. There is quite a bit of corrosion under the paint, resulting in bubbling and lifting. I’m told these are aluminium and being at the front of the car typically getting peppered by road grime and stones, corrosion here is not a surprise. I suspect if the car had done more than 1000 miles in the last 10 years, they would look at lot worse. The UK is not exactly a dry climate!
I hadn’t noticed on collecting, but on inspection of the Fiat X1/9s bonnet, there is quite a lot of paint blistering. This could be the result of stone impact, but I’m lead to believe the paint process at Bertone wasn’t the greatest.
There is a small shallow dent in the drivers door, some peeling around the sills, and little paint on the rear valence. Otherwise the car’s body work is surprisingly straight! There is however some obvious rust.
First Rust Impressions
At the point of this first inspection, the only area of concern for the bodywork on the Fiat X1/9 is around the windscreen. The whole lower edge is bubbling paint, with the worst bubbling in the corners. The whole screen seems to be installed incorrectly. Around the sides and top of the screen, the rubber seal is in contact with the glass, but at the bottom, there is a 3mm gap!
Looking through the limited history that came with the car, it has had bodywork done on the ‘front screen’. There is no more detail than this, but I suspect the glass is going to have to come out for repair and repaint at some point. In my experience, any car of this age that has had a windscreen replaced has corrosion here. I put it down to the removal of the old screen exposing bare metal.
What has reapply surprised my about this little car is how solid the sills are. There is a little surface rust, and the paint is lifting nearly all the way along, but the metal is sound. Perhaps I’m biased from the Mini’s I’ve worked on and the problems with the sills on the BX, but these are really solid!
Tyres and Trim
I mentioned in the previous article that the tyres looked nearly new, and with plenty of tread. Well, when I washed all the mud out of the tread, I soon changed my tune.
Going by MOT history and tyre receipt these 20 year old tyres have only done a few thousand miles and are completely shot! I’ve never heard of the brand CEAT, but at £90 fully fitted in KwikFit, these must have been the cheapest tyres in the shop.
I still don’t understand why such aged tyres are allowed to pass through an MOT in the UK. My understanding is that the cracking occurs as the VOC content of the rubber escapes and the tyres harden. I know from too much experience that hard tyres are not much use on a damp roundabout, unless you like driving childishly in a slideways manner. They will need changing, once the car reaches its destination.
One of the strangest bits of aged trim on the Fiat X1/9 is the front valance. I hadn’t noticed this when collecting the car as it was parked in some scrub. The front air splitter or ‘chin’ is heavily warped, almost like it has been left out in the Australian sun. Only it’s spent most of its life in the Midlands, hardly a raging inferno of sunshine!
The wing mirrors are heavily sun-damaged, no irony there, and the removable roof needs a little attention in the corners, but generally, the exterior trim is in great condition. All the grills are in place and not damaged (save for one split screw hole). The car is really well preserved.
The 70’s Interior
Despite the ageing on the outside, the interior is in fantastic condition. All the buttons and switches work, even the digital clock is fully functional. Underneath the farm mud, the carpet fabric looks like its in top condition.
Even before any interior cleaning the Fiat X1/9 has obviously had little use in the recent past. There are a few parts that will need replacing. The glove box latch is broken and the interior light switches in both door jams are seized. Fortunately, EurosportUK stock most of what will be needed. The back edge of the seat rails is showing some surface rust. Otherwise, it’s pretty much in factory condition.
The Front Trunk (or “Frunk” as Tesla call it) is in immaculate condition, barely a mark on the carpet and no signs of rust underneath. All the roof storage rubbers are in good condition and the leading edge under the nose cone has clearly been treated at some point.
Even the instrument panel is in good condition, and very retro! All the dials, gauges and lights work as they should. I like that the handbrake warning light actually flashes. I did eventually find that the oil pressure sender has failed so the gauge doesn’t actually move, but that’s a reasonably easy (if expensive) fix.
Now that the car is washed I can take a closer look at the bodywork. It will be some time before the car ships so I’ll just be looking at the underlying paint quality.
I’ll start to tackle the long list of photos required for the import of the car to Australia. This will also mean getting under the car and poking around in the rust.
Then there is some remedial maintenance to do before shipping to stop any degradation, mainly a coolant and oil change.