So I decided to write about my project. Why? Admittedly a fair bit because I’m procrastinating on editing the latest video of my project, but also because I just enjoy writing. Any excuse to blather on about my questionable choices and how much I love them is always good in my book, so here we go...
Who am I? I’m Andrea. That girl. The one with a severe addiction to Fiats.
When am I doing it? Uh, well, now. Technically I started in December, but whatever. Project due date: Summer 2021.
Where am I doing it? A shop deep in the wastelands of Garden City, Idaho called Throttle Works.
Why am I doing this? Well, the build process is because I want to learn things. Being a car person, you kinda need to know how they work, or at least you probably should. I was born to a car guy father, but he died when I was young so I never got the opportunity to learn like most car people do, helping their dad. Instead now I get to learn in a professional shop as the guinea pig for a kind of internship-but-not program where I get to be guided by the masters in everything from building the engine to paint and body.
What am I doing? Ok, do you like cats? I sure hope so cause here it is coming out of the bag.
Ain’t it a beauty?! Feast your eyes upon my 1980 Fiat X1/9. About a year and a half ago a guy got ahold of me asking if I wanted to rescue the car. As dead Fiats often are, it was free, just with the stipulation of “don’t crush it.” I sat on it for about a year and a half, occasionally poking the engine with a screwdriver, trying to decide whether to fix it or do a swap. Time passed as it does with such cars.
About a 6 months ago my husband was talking about how he wanted to build a 200mph car. Hmm, well we have this X1/9. He said a flat no, to quote, “I don’t want to go 200 mph in a glorified soda can.” The conversation continued on to a C5 Corvette with a supercharger. I got bored. He let the idea float away. I readjusted the idea and chewed on it. One evening whilst drinking, I let slip the idea to my best friend. He let the idea slip to the shop. That’s when the plan was formed.
Take one dead X1/9 and the leftover motor from my old crashed 500 Abarth. Perform the MultiAir-to-T Jet conversion as pioneered last fall by John and Eddie with Tork Motorsports. Slap a biiiig turbo on it. Take it to Bonneville with the goal of becoming the fastest X1/9 ever to grace the salt. Yes, salt, Fiat, rust, get the giggles out of your system now, I’ll wait.
Ok, feeling better now? Good. While 200mph would be amazing, I’m a realist. I’m working with a tiny engine and a specific “no streamlining” rule. So the goal is a little more moderate, 166. The last X1/9 I was able to find a record of at Bonneville did 165.444 way back in 2008. The SCTA does not make tracking down records by make/model particularly easy, so this is the best I could find through them, google, forums, and asking X1/9 groups on Facebook. The class I will be running is new, Blown Modified Grand Touring, the record is currently open, though that could always change this summer. Complicating this, I am not allowed as extensive of modifications in my class as the 2008 team did. I’m basically allowed a bumperless X1/9 with a ducktail on the back. They had a loooong boi, chopped down, ‘Busa powered, etc. I have a small Fiat powered by Fiat. Is it possible? Not entirely sure. Am I going to make an attempt? Definitely.
And then there’s another complication. My husband doesn’t know. He thinks we’re just building a “badass street car.” Don’t get me wrong, when all is said and done, cut out the cage, change the seat, and it WILL be a badass street car. It’s just there’s kinda shenanigans between then and now. He will know eventually and probably fairly soon, it’s hard to hide such major plans, but for now he doesn’t know and well, it’s going to be an interesting conversation when he does find out.
The real point is to do something amazing with a Fiat. Since I started owning Fiats back in 2012, I’ve heard the “Fix It Again Tony” joke thousands of times. I want to show that Fiats are much more than an automotive punchline, more than just cheap, disposable transportation. Fiats can be utterly badass while still at the core being Fiats. ‘Busa swaps are cool, all the K swapped Xes running around are fantastic, but this is about maintaining as much Fiat as possible.
So where are we now? Well, I have a rolling shell of an X1/9. I have a motor dry-fit to a 6 speed manual transmission out of a Dodge Dart (hey, still FCA!) sitting on a pallet. I have an Instagram and I have a YouTube. I will be popping in to write things about it on Oppo now and then as well. So if you feel like it, come along on a deeply questionable journey. One where I learn a hell of a lot, probably bust many knuckles, and attempt to do something amazing; all in the name of a little brand that everybody makes fun of.
God help me, I am an idiot.