A Jim of All Trades

The history of my Fiat x1/9

with one comment

My dad and I co-own a Fiat x1/9; we got it in the winter of 2009-10.  I had gotten into autocross the year before but unfortunately had to sell the car I had at the time and the idea behind getting the X was to have something cheaper to have fun with, but without adding extra wear to our normal daily drivers.

Seeing as I have had the car for a year and a half already it’s a bit late to document everything done to it, but I’m going to try to at least summarize the work done thus far.

Autocross (“ax” herein after), for those who might not know, is a form of racing that is most commonly done in parking lots.  Cones are set up to form a course and competitors are timed by how fast they complete it, with time penalties added for cones hit and some other basic rules.  It’s about the most basic level of road racing and a great way to have some legal fun in a car, while not needing to have a special race car or really deep pockets.  It’s a lot of fun and a lot more challenging than you’d think!

Unfortunately this season (2011) I haven’t been able to participate fully due to some personal things going on.  Regardless, I still enjoy driving the X once and a while and had fun ax-ing it the few times I’ve gotten to.  My dad has lost some interest so it’s mainly been me working on and driving it most recently, but I intend on keeping with it.  I tend to refer to it as “my car” a lot, but that means no disrespect to my father, who is as much if not more of an owner than I.  It’s just easier for me to say “I” or “me” than reference him every time I mention it.

Anyway, on to the car!

The x1/9 was an Italian made sports car that was produced from 1972-89 and sold in North America from 1974 through 1987.  It is a mid-engine car (engine located directly behind cockpit, but in front of the rear wheels) which along with its good frame provided for excellent handling.  The engine is only a small four cylinder though, that ranged from around 75 to 80 horsepower, depending on the year, so it isn’t really powerful. They do handle amazing well and are exceptionally fun to drive, but lack in the power department.

My X is a carbureted 5-speed 1980 model.  https://ajimofalltrades.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gifThe previous owner supposedly had it stored in a barn for a while before we bought it.  As far as I know it was in completely stock form.  It actually wasn’t in too bad of a shape when we got it.  There are some spots of surface rust at different places on the body, but overall it is structurally solid.

When we got it we could get it to run, but not very well.  Aside from performing a general tune up we ended up replacing the carburetor and that made a vast improvement.  It isn’t tuned perfectly, but now runs well with little to no issues.  The carb we used is off of an earlier model which provides modest improvements in performance over the original for our year.

I/we raced it the first year as basically stock.  We did put some cut springs on it to improve cornering ability and refreshed some older worn out parts, but that was about it.  I ended up finishing 2nd for the year in points in my class.  To be fair, including myself there were four competitors in my class.  The guy who won it (driving a Miata) was much better and placed higher in every event.  The battle for second place was closer though, and I believe I only beat out the other gentleman (also driving a Miata) by a few points.

Over the off season we refreshed some more worn out parts and made some more changes to the car, which moved us up to a different class.  The major changes were:

  1. Removing nearly all of the emissions system, which frees up more power (less strain and restriction on the engine) and saves weight.
  2. I got some extremely stiff springs which firmed up the ride even more.
  3. I removed the rear bumper and trim from the car – more weight savings.
  4. We bought a set of racing slicks which made the biggest improvement in handling.
  5. I also removed the front bumper and trim, but this was just done and I haven’t raced in the car since making the change.

As I said before, unfortunately some personal things came up and I haven’t even been able to make it to half of the events this year.  At the time of this writing there are still two left that I plan on making.  Before then I’d also like to fix a major exhaust leak (will end up saving some more weight by removing the stock system and might gain a little power) and I will see about removing the passenger seat for events.

There’s no money won in this level of AX, and though there are some trophies and plaques to be won, it’s simply done for fun and bragging rights.  So I haven’t been too upset about missing races.  It is frustrating though because the other main  competitor in my class (driving a Honda Civic) and I are very closely matched.  It would have been interesting to see how we fared against each other through a full season and who came out on top.  Unfortunately (for me) he’s been gaining experience while I’ve been sitting at home.  (I’m a VERY competitive person.)  Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be this year, and no one is cut throat about it.  I just have to have fun when I can do it and not worry so much about the other guy, who by the way is a nice person and I do genuinely wish the best for (well, second best for, if we’re competing directly).

Well, that about sums up my history with the X so far and its current status.  I’ll add more as there is more to add.  Kudos to anyone who actually made it through all this!

(most recent photo, sans bumpers)
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Written by Jim

September 3, 2011 at 8:39 am

Posted in Automotive, x1/9

Tagged with , , ,

One Response

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  1. […] been a while since I’ve said anything about my Fiat X1/9. Last year I got it out of storage, did some work to it, did one autocross with it in March, did […]


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