A Jim of All Trades

Posts Tagged ‘Fiat

Carlisle Import & Kit Nationals Car Show

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Back in May my dad and I went to the annual Carlisle Import & Kit Nationals car show. Carlisle is a town in Pennsylvania, not too far from where I live, that has a big fair grounds and hosts tons of car shows throughout the summer. My dad goes to a few each year and I tag along from time to time. We had never gone to the import show before so decided to this year.

This shows features foreign cars from all over and kit cars. Though still big, it was smaller than many of the car shows held there; the American brands just bring more people I guess. Still, it was really cool to go to and I got to see some cars I’ve only ever read about or seen online.

Following are a ton of pictures.
Hope you enjoy, thanks for looking!

Some of the types of kit cars on hand…

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One of the coolest cars there…

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Some motor swaps…

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This Fiat…IMGP9926xs

…had this engine…

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Written by Jim

July 3, 2015 at 9:45 am

Summer Autocross

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It was over two months ago, but I did do one autocross this year. While it would have been nice to do more, I was more focused on training and working on my bike this year, so didn’t devote much time (or money) to the car. The local Corvette Club hosted some autocrosses just a couple miles from my house at a nice big parking lot, so I went to one. It’s nice when they’re so close, I can put my racing wheels and tires on in the comfort of my carport and just drive there on them (rather than packing a ton of tools and the tires and doing it at the event). I was considering going to more than one, but when removing my tires I realized that cords are showing on one of them (meaning they’re extremely worn) so thought it wasn’t safe to keep using them. I’ll have to replace the tires before doing any more racing. In any case, I had a lot of fun and was pleased with how I did.

Here’s a video of my best run of the day.

I finished roughly in the middle of the pack overall, which I was happy with since I hadn’t done it for over a year. I messed up a bit at the end so know I could have been faster yet. Like anything else, you only get better with lots of practice, so I can’t expect to be too competitive unless I start doing it more often. If having fun is your only intention though, it’s still well worth it.

I brought my camera along, too…

Some friends of mine that lived close by stopped to watch and one of them was kind enough to take some pictures of me while I was driving.



It’s fairly common that some cars will have a rear tire come off the ground during extreme cornering at autocrosses. Some cars are notorious for it; Subaru’s, for example. In a hard turn while braking all of the car’s weight shifts to the front and outside, and all of the travel is used up in the suspension at the lightest inside corner – the rear. These aren’t the best pictures, but look at the rear tire… there’s space between it and the pavement.



It can look pretty funny. The softer the suspension the more the car will lean in a corner and the tire can lift up pretty high. LIKE THIS!

I mostly tried to practice taking panning shots. I didn’t do as well as last time. I just couldn’t get the timing of the cars right and ended up moving the camera a bit too slow or fast, resulting in blurry pictures. Using an auto focus lens (the 70-210) this time, I think the second it takes to find focus could be having an impact as well. It was still fun to shoot and I know I’ll improve with more practice.







Thanks for reading and happy driving!

Written by Jim

October 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Fiat X1/9 & an Autocross

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It’s 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 some more work to it, and at my next autocross in June began having problems with it. It was hard to get it running and keep running and there were a few things at fault, but at that point I was out of patience and didn’t have any more budgeted for working on it. I think I fixed just enough to keep it running okay and drove it over a few weekends, but it went back into storage relatively early in the year and I didn’t autocross it again last year.

But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this year I had renewed interest in working on it again. I didn’t get it out of storage until June, but I made a plan of attack and devoted an hour a day to wrenching on it for a few weeks to get everything fixed, plus some extra time over some weekends. It was nice splitting up the time like that because I never got too frustrated with it. Some nights were just spent re-positioning jacks and getting tools ready because there’s only so much you can do in an hour, but it worked for me.

Here’s a list of the work done:

  • new brake pads
  • installed an electric fuel pump
  • oil and filter change
  • installed a “hard-start” relay
  • replaced starter
  • installed new outer tie rod ends
  • did my best to align it (it’s not perfect, but improved)

And here’s how it looked for most of June:


Though I did have to rely heavily on a friend for advice for a couple things, everything went pretty well and it’s been running good since. It does still need more work – it’ll never be “done” – but I’m not doing anything major until next year at this point. Next will be fixing a transmission leak and hopefully doing some much needed body work.

Anyway, I’ve been driving it once a week, usually just for fun on back roads or to the gym on weekends, and it’s been a hoot.

(shot with a polarizer and some post processing was done)

I wasn’t going to autocross it this year, just don’t have the extra time and money to commit to it, but the local Corvette Club is hosting some events ONLY ONE MILE FROM MY HOUSE, and they’re cheaper than the ones I usually do, so how could I pass that up?? I mean, it’s so close I can drive there on my racing tires (not street legal) and don’t have to mess with changing tires in a parking lot with hand tools and bringing a ton of extra stuff along.

So yesterday I got the car all ready and today was my first autocross since the one in June of last year that was absolutely horrible.

Here’s the car yesterday with the tires on, all ready to go:

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way too much negative camber, but that’s the best I can do with my current setup

And here are two shots to sort of give an idea of the stance with the Slicks on… they stick out a bit:



The car doesn’t look that great non-photoshopped with all of it’s defects showing, but it is a very fun little car and I’m happy to have it.

Anyway, on to the autocross…

It rained today so it was a bit more challenging than under clear conditions. I had fun though and am glad I went. In the morning I finished 7th out of 14 overall and in the afternoon I finished 9th out of 14. I wish I would have been faster, but I’m satisfied with middle of the pack, especially considering it’s been over a year since I’ve done this. The car club that organized this is welcoming and I’m looking forward to doing their last event of the year in a couple weeks, at the same location.

Here are a couple pictures I shot in the parking lot today. You can sort of tell how small the X1/9 is compared to other modern cars.

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The club is a Corvette club, hence the number of Vettes.

And here’s a video I took using a Drift HD I borrowed from a cousin (neat little camera). This was my best run from the morning.

Thanks for reading and happy motoring!

Written by Jim

August 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Working on the x1/9

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I spent a lot of time working on the Fiat x1/9 this past week.

The first thing I did was change some parts out on the front end. My dad and I acquired an earlier year parts car a few weeks ago and I took the grille and air dam from that car and put it on ours. The earlier cars, 1974 through 1978, had a different front end setup. On later year cars, if removing the front bumper (which I had already done), it is common to use an early year grille and air dam since the later year ones just don’t look as nice. I had removed the bumper last year and was using a home made grille made from wire screening, and my original air dam was damaged and cracked. The parts from the ’77 look much nicer, though they are not pristine.  That’s fine with me consider they will likely only get more beat up from my use of the car.

(before on top, after on bottom)

I’ll note that both of the photos above are HDR photos, which I’ve been messing around with a bit recently. I won’t get off subject talking about them here and now, but a google search will yield a lot of info about them if you’re curious. I’m just mentioning that they’re HDR because the paint doesn’t look that nice in real life.

Here’s a shot I took today:

The other work I did to the car was replacing the exhaust system. I acquired a used ANSA header to replace the factory exhaust manifold and a SuperTrapp tip to replace the muffler. The header is supposed to be good for increasing torque; it has four tubes that come from the engine, that connect into two tubes, then into one, which would then go to the muffler. This is commonly called a 4-2-1 header. I’m not the right person to explain why this produces more torque, but just take my word for it. The SuperTrapp tip is pretty neat in that instead of just having an open exhaust pipe, it has a stack of plates at the end of the exhaust pipe with gaps in between them, which is where the exhaust exits. One can add or remove plates as they like to tune the car. More plates equate to more volume and higher horsepower, while less plates equate to less volume and more torque. This is all within a certain set of limits of course, one can go too far in either direction.

I don’t have any detailed pictures of the install, but here are all of the parts sitting in the driveway waiting to be installed.

And here’s the end result:

Looks pretty cool, I think anyway. More importantly, it seems to do what it is supposed to. This car will never be a 0-60 racer; it’s strengths are in handling and agility, not acceleration, but the exhaust helped. It is more responsive now to throttle input throughout the rpm range. This is especially important to me because of autocross. Coming out of corners where the rpm’s can dip, it’s nice to step on the gas and have the car be a bit more eager to accelerate. That is why I was after torque improvements.

Speaking of autocross, I’m going to one tomorrow morning! I’m very excited for it, like a kid at Christmas. I’m eager to see how the car will perform with its new exhaust, but I also haven’t done one since March and am just looking forward to having fun. Wish me luck! (that’s an order)

Written by Jim

June 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Posted in x1/9

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Working on the X and autocross

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This past weekend I spent some time working on the Fiat x1/9 and went to my first autocross of 2012.

The Work:
All of the work I did was for aligning the front end of the car. The alignment has been bad ever since we got the car so working on it was long overdue. Using some camber bolts I was able to achieve a decent camber setting, then using the string method I was able to improve toe, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Now the car tracks straight and is much more responsive turning. I don’t intend on doing a whole write up about suspension and alignment here, so if you’d like more info, the link above explains how to measure and adjust toe using some string (pretty neat!) and this link is great at explaining alignment parameters – camber, toe, and caster.

The Autocross:
I had never been to an autocross held by the organization that hosted this one, and I’m happy to say that it went smoothly and was a lot of fun. There was a risk of rain so not many people showed up, only about 30, but luckily the rain never came and those of us who did go were able to do extra runs. The only real negative was that the lot was rough and really bumpy. The suspension on the X is so stiff that it bounces around on rough surfaces like that. So that combined with cold weather and my racing slicks that didn’t pick up much heat so didn’t get great traction resulted in a lot more bouncing around and sliding than I would have liked.  But, I’m not really complaining.  It was still fun, a learning experience on handling the car like that, and everyone obviously had to drive on the same course and deal with the same challenges that I did.

All that said, I actually did fairly well and finished 6th overall in PAX. (PAX is a widely used factor used to adjust drivers’ times, to essentially put them on an even playing field regardless of what kind of car they have.  A better explanation can be found here.) I was very pleased with the results from the day, I never really finish much above middle of the pack in any event I’ve run in, so hopefully this is a sign that I’m improving as a driver and the changes that have been made to the car were worthwhile. That or I just had a lucky day. Either way, I still definitely have a lot of room to improve, but it was fun and that’s what counts.

Prior to the autocross I was thinking that I’d do a detailed post about it, complete with photos and videos. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case. I completely forgot about taking any pictures and even forgot to setup my camera for video until my last couple runs, so I only recorded two of them. To make matters worse, my camera mount is pretty wobbly, so the videos are quite shaky. I contemplated not posting them at all, but what’s the fun in that. Sooo, following is a video of my best run of the day.

BE FOREWARNED: It’s shaky!!! Probably best viewed small. Sorry!

Written by Jim

March 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Posted in x1/9

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End of the season and new exhaust.

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Unfortunately I am missing the last two events of my local region’s autocross season.  Oh well.  I got to go to a few earlier in the year, I had fun at them and was relatively competitive.  With any luck, next year I’ll be able to participate in more.

I did get around to replacing the exhaust system since my last post.  I removed the factory section after the downpipe (exhaust pipe that drops from the engine) and replaced it with a free-flowing “Cherry Bomb” muffler and a short tail pipe. 

Driving it since the change I haven’t noticed any difference in performance.  It is much louder though.  As a daily driver it would probably be too much to bear, but for joy riding once and a while and racing it’s just fine.  I’m satisfied with it.  I’m guessing it weighs roughly 25 lbs less than the factory system, so that’s a bit of an improvement.  And even if it isn’t any faster, it at least sounds faster.  That’s something, right?

Written by Jim

October 14, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Automotive, x1/9

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The history of my Fiat x1/9

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jim

September 3, 2011 at 8:39 am

Posted in Automotive, x1/9

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