1979 Preservation/Improvements

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Slartibartfaster
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:49 pm
Your car is a: 1979 Spider

1979 Preservation/Improvements

Postby Slartibartfaster » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:26 pm

Starting a thread to track efforts to preserve and make moderate performance improvements to my 79 Spider. I'm the second owner, having just bought it from the original owner of 38 years. I was looking for a project with no bodywork needs - I have limited mechanic skills, and I'm not afraid of diving in and figuring things out along the way, but I'm not interested in cutting metal, welding, or paying for new paint.

I'm in Ohio -not many Spiders still on the road here at all, let alone rust-free. My car spent it's life in northern Ohio and was never a daily driver, so accumulated few miles. It's very original, no rust, the roof was replaced the first year under warranty but literally looks brand new. Original interior including carpet and padding, seats are perfect, no dash cracks. Came with a binder full of receipts documenting an actual 23,000 miles since new. PO drove it a bit in summers and otherwise stored it away...never seen salt, etc. He was very good at getting maintenance done and clearly loved the car. Truth be told, it was a much better car than I had expected to find. It was priced accordingly, but I think we settled on a fair deal for both of us. Still more than I had planned to spend originally, but as they say, when it comes to old cars, buy the best you can afford to get the cheapest overall cost of ownership.

As a potential investment (okay, not investment, but at least not a pure expense) it has good and bad aspects. Low miles, one owner and very well maintained but not a very good year. 79 performance is the worst (at least it's a 49 state car), and was a high-production year. It seems that 71's-74's are the sweet spot if you're market conscious. In the end I decided on this car because it has such potential. I won't do anything that is not reversible by a future owner, but intakes and carbs apparently make a huge difference - more on this later.

Here it is in it's new home :)
Image

And that beautiful interior...

Image
'79 Spider
'15 Tesla Model S85D
'14 Santa Fe
'17 Civic

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chrisg
Posts: 602
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:30 am
Your car is a: 1971 FIAT
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Re: 1979 Preservation/Improvements

Postby chrisg » Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:06 pm

Perfect mats !

My general recipe for a carb'd Spider 2000 is 1800 (ideally '74?) intake with a better carb (I like the 34DMSA that was stock for the '74, 34 ADF is popular, as is 32/36 DFEV). The carburetor will require some minor either linkage fiddling, spacers, or re-routing a coolant line or finding a key-on hot wire, depending on which one. None requires a PhD in Physics. Along with the intake, you'd probably get rid of all of the vacuum/emissions type plumbing unless you need it...well, actually, I guess if you need it, just don't read anything i write here.

Changing the exhaust to one of the factory 4-2-1 type is also a good thing.

You could also liven it up a bit by putting a fresh 1.8 head on it, and of course dual carburetors are an option in there...

But first, change the timing belt, check the structural integrity of the door hinge attachment points (on the doors) and the seat backs & then remain mindful of all three areas. Keep a spare ignition pickup and HEI ICM in the glovebox.

Have fun with it. When you find them, rust belt area Fiats that have been kept out of the salt are usually great!
Chris Granju
Knoxville, TN
'71 FIAT 124BS (stock, pretty), '72 FIAT 124BC,'76 FIAT 128 Wagon (rat rod), '85 Bertone X 1/9 (FI, efficiency machine) '70 124BC (project,project), 79 X1/9 (hot rod in rehab), '73 124BS (2L, mean), '74 124 Special TC

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nelsonj
Posts: 328
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:37 pm
Your car is a: 1972 Spider 124

Re: 1979 Preservation/Improvements

Postby nelsonj » Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:51 pm

Looks very nice - thanks for posting and congratulations. Looks like you have power windows. Wow.

Per the previous post, the a new carb and manifold will give you (by far) the biggest bang for the buck. I have a 32/36 on my 1800 and I really like it.

Check to see if you already have a 4-2-1 exhaust. My understanding is some 79's have it and some don't. If you already have it, you're set. Also, you might want to get a "test pipe" or a new catalytic converter (if the car has one). Some of the original cats were very restrictive and heavy.

Personally, with only 23,000 mile on it, I'd stop there and enjoy the car. No need to tear apart an engine with such low miles.

Make sure you have the rubber "donut" that connects the transmission to the drive shaft inspected. If it is original or has drying and cracking you need to replace it IMMEDIATELY. This is an important maintenance items that isn't easy to see, but if it fails while driving, you'll drop the drive shaft and very, very bad things can happen next.

As for other upgrades, I'm not sure if the 79 has relays for the front headlights. If it doesn't, the relays make the lights a lot brighter and will help your ignition switch last (much longer). I also put in diodes for the main illumination of my dash and they are much brighter than my stock lights.

Again, congrats, welcome, and please keep posting.

Peace.
Out.
Image
Simi Valley, California
Spider 1800
Romans 10:9

Slartibartfaster
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:49 pm
Your car is a: 1979 Spider

Re: 1979 Preservation/Improvements

Postby Slartibartfaster » Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:41 am

Thanks. My intake and carb swap is actually well underway! I'll try to post an update today.
'79 Spider
'15 Tesla Model S85D
'14 Santa Fe
'17 Civic

Slartibartfaster
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:49 pm
Your car is a: 1979 Spider

Re: 1979 Preservation/Improvements

Postby Slartibartfaster » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:20 pm

SO, I secured an 1800 Intake and 32/26dfev Weber. EGR and associated plumbing are all boxed up with the original carb and intake for the next owner. Copying my update from another thread..Having completed most of the intake/carb swap and climbed partway up a steep learning curve..

- I suggest putting the whole car on jack stands for the work - some of the manifold bolts were more accessible from underneath and you're going to spend a lot of time leaning over the car. This would have killed my back otherwise.

- Even with draining the suggested amount (1 gallon) of coolant, when you loosen the intake manifold there will still be coolant leaking out, especially from the coolant line at the right end of the manifold for the water choke. Wish I'd had a bunch of shop towels stuffed under the manifold.

-I've read many posts about how hard it is to get the intake out even after you get all the nuts/bolts off. This was a total pain, until I decided the studs had to come out too. My car had two studs and the others were bolts. Since the original intake is so wide it is blocked from pulling out by the timing belt rear cover (if you still have one). Removing the mounting studs allows you to slide the intake to the right. Used the 'two nut' method to back them out. Be prepared for more coolant leakage from the stud holes.

- as for the carb, I ordered the k-518 kit put together by Redline. Shop around online -prices vary. Parts needed to connect throttle to rod are included, along with many unneeded bits for other installations. Importantly, I ended up having to take the top off the carb for troubleshooting and found metal shavings and brass 'sand' in the float bowl of whatever cheap metal the carb is cast from. Not impressive QC from Weber. Also the nut holding the linkage to the throttle shaft kept coming loose, and the little tab that bends over the nut is a joke so I'm trying some thread locker to see if it will hold.

-Finally, During my first post-installation test drive, the secondary idle jet and holder fell out somewhere on the highway. I have invested a lot of time learning about my carb trying to troubleshoot this problem...wish I had invested that time and dismantled the carb and learned something before rushing into installation. Not sure I'll ever learn this lesson though.

-Most importantly, it was worth it! Still working on the tune, but I'm amazed at what a difference this made in the car. Need better brakes now.
'79 Spider
'15 Tesla Model S85D
'14 Santa Fe
'17 Civic

Slartibartfaster
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:49 pm
Your car is a: 1979 Spider

Re: 1979 Preservation/Improvements

Postby Slartibartfaster » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:42 pm

I still need to figure out what size to order for the secondary idle jet on the 32/36 and get a new holder for it too. As a patch I pulled the secondary holder and jet from the old carb and was surprised to find that they fit in the new carb (old jet holder had a small O ring that the new carb holder did not - left that off and it fits nicely).

Went through the basic idle screw/mixture.idle adjustments and was please to actually be able to hear the idle smooth out. Haven't checked the spark plugs yet, but it is running smoothly and pulls nicely from stop to highway speeds. Feeling good about that!
'79 Spider
'15 Tesla Model S85D
'14 Santa Fe
'17 Civic


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