New member from Central PA

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New member from Central PA

Postby ronarthur on Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:27 pm

Hello, my name is Ron and I live in the Central Pennsylvania area above Harrisburg. I have a 1981 Fiat Spider that had an engine fire (maybe brake fluid leaked on exhaust?) and caused damage to the hood and fender. I bought it from a friend of mine that picked it up at an auto auction. The plan was to finish building my racecar and then to start restoration on the Fiat. So, it basically sat for 3 years. I looked at it the other day and much to my dismay, the inner fender and shock tower area on the drivers side is rusted away pretty bad. The floorboard area behind the clutch and brake pedals is pretty well shot also. From what I can tell, I'm looking at $2000.00 to $3000.00 in bodyshop labor just to replace the inner fender/shock tower and to weld on another fender. That isn't including paint and whatever else money wise I would have to put into it to rebuild it and replace all of the plastic parts and hoses that were damaged in the fire. The rest of the body only has minor rust issues and it does have a complete interior in fair to good shape. I can easily see $6000.00 to $7000.00 total to restore it. My question is, is it worth putting that much money into it? (especially with today's economy) At this point, I'm leaning towards parting it out and helping other Fiats stay on the road. Thoughts and opinions?????
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Location: Liverpool, Pa

Re: New member from Central PA

Postby mbouse on Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:21 pm

hey, first. welcome.

and thanks for the invitation. i love it when someone asks for my opinions. it is not possible for me to be wrong in my reply. thoughts, on the other hand...my wife frequently tells me my thoughts are wrong.

so, here is my opinion.
1. you have what we call a parts car.
2. for $3k, you can get a great every day driver that is in better structural shape that what you have, possibly one within a four hour drive of where you live with zero structural rust issues...even as late as this in the driving season.
3. no, your vehicle with the punky floor board and rotted shock tower is not worth that amount of work. there are plenty to choose from with out the need for that extensive work.

if you have a desire for a Spider, we might could steer you in the right direction. you certainly live near lots of friends with Spiders. Pennsylvania is loaded with Fiat Freaks.

if you wanna cut your losses and run, we could help you part the car out as well. i'd rather help you do that then make EVIL BAY and PAY ME PAL rich off you and your buyers.
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Re: New member from Central PA

Postby rlux4 on Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:27 pm

First off, let me welcome another Ron to the forum.
As far as your '81 is concerned, I think you may be conservative in your estimate to restore it. It never fails that once you get into something as major as this you're sure to find more that needs to be done. We see very good Spiders sell in the range of $2000-$4000 all the time. Anywhere near $7000 and you'd be looking at a jewel. You could go a long way to buying a car in good shape by parting out the '81.
Anyway, that's my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions.
Ron
Ron Luxmore
lux2n2@gmail.com
'82 2000 Spider: after 26 years between Spiders.
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Re: New member from Central PA

Postby baltobernie on Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:36 pm

Hello ronarthur and welcome,

I second the emotions of the previous posters, but caution that East Coast cars are generally more expensive than California ones of the same vintage and condition. Maybe as much as 2x. In particular, CA autos face emissions testing as early as 1975, so the cars must be better maintained just to be on the road. Knowing what I do now, if forced to start the process again, I would have one of our West Coast members pick a couple of candidates (see below), and fly out for inspection and negotiation; there's that much more bang for the buck.

Each series of Spiders have advantages and disadvantages vs. others; search this site and others to learn about the differences and apply this knowledge to your own likes, dislikes, dollar and time budget, mechanical ability, etc. Factor in historic vs. regular registration, inspection and insurance. Maybe go to an event or two to meet and quiz other owners.

Then all you have to do is pick a suitable vintage, price range, and (most importantly) color! You'll have all winter to search for the right car...
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Re: New member from Central PA

Postby So Cal Mark on Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:46 pm

okay, I'll play the role. I can't imagine that it would cost $2k to replace the left floor board and one shock tower. That is blacksmith work. Contact a local welding school and see if the car can be a student project or completed at a reasonable price. With todays economy, there have to be some welders that would welcome some side work on a weekend. Brand new floors and shock towers are available and not very expensive. Used pieces can be bought cheaply.
More than likely the burn damage came from a fuel leak on the left side. All of the fuel hoses should be replaced anyway in a car that old.
If you're building a race car, most of this stuff should be a no-brainer. I just hate to see cars thrown away that can be preserved.
Oh, and welcome to the site
Mark Allison
allisonsautomotive.com gear reduction starters for the 124, 131, X1/9, 850 Distributorless ignitions for 124, 131, X 1/9, Monza wheels
X1/9, 131, 124 Spider exhaust system, http://www.fiat500speed.com
starsmark@hotmail.com 909-981-3566
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Re: New member from Central PA

Postby ronarthur on Wed Oct 01, 2008 8:43 am

Not only are the shock tower and floor board on the drivers side rusted, the inner fender that the shock tower welds to and the outer fender are shot as well. Not to mention some wiring, the radiator support, the grill and the windshield. The quote was for replacing/welding in a new inner and outer fender, the shock tower and radiator support. Maybe our labor rate is higher here or the guy gave me a high number just to cover his butt. I'll try to take some pictures of it and the 1977 parts car that I picked up for the hood and fender this weekend and post them early next week. Maybe the pictures will tell a better story of the condition.
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Location: Liverpool, Pa

Re: New member from Central PA

Postby So Cal Mark on Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:59 pm

pix would be great, but I'll stand by the suggestion to seek cheaper ways to do the repair
Mark Allison
allisonsautomotive.com gear reduction starters for the 124, 131, X1/9, 850 Distributorless ignitions for 124, 131, X 1/9, Monza wheels
X1/9, 131, 124 Spider exhaust system, http://www.fiat500speed.com
starsmark@hotmail.com 909-981-3566
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