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May 31, 2016 Comments (0) Club Plus, Club Plus Projects

The Fiat X19 Project

SCA10348 The Fiat X19 Project-Heading

Meet Glenn, a very skilled 48 year old Club Plus member from the Hunter Region in NSW. With dual trade certificates in the areas of Fitting/Turning and Refrigeration and previous experience restoring an XB Falcon Coupe and modifying cars for speedway, rally and Motorkhana racing as well as ‘bush-bashers’ and lawn mowers, Glenn was ready to tackle something new!

See the progress Glenn’s made on his Fiat X19 restoration, with only just a few things left to do before completion – which he aims to do before his 50th Birthday! Read Glenn’s story below, from his initial thoughts thinking he’d bitten off more than he could chew, sourcing parts, dealing with rust and building his own home spray booth!


My Fitting and Turning Trade qualifications and work experience has provided me with various skills for mechanical work including work on drivetrains, suspension, fabrication, welding, machining and tool making. My Refrigeration trade has allowed me to acquire piping and electrical skills, hence I am capable of reading electrical/wiring diagrams and construct air conditioning systems.

I decided I would restore a four cylinder car, something from the 70’s or 80’s, 2 doors and a bit unusual.  After perusing the internet for a few months, I coincidently located a Fiat X19 for sale. I had never seen or heard of an X19, but I knew “I just had to have it!”. So, $1300 and a 160km round trip later I was the owner of a 1982 Fiat X19. The overall structure seemed sound however some panels had been eaten away. Doesn’t Fiat mean “Italian for Rust” anyway?

I unloaded the car from the car float and pushed it into the shed. Now it was “Show and Tell” time for the wife and trying to prove some justification of my purchase! She exclaimed “It’s not exactly Flashy Blue and Shiny now is it?

Fiat X19 1

The overall structure seemed sound however some panels had been eaten away!

Fiat X19 2

The challenge began of dismantling the car and taking photos and labelling all individual items for storage and future reference. Oh dear, more rust discoveries and the heater box had completely fell out due to mounts having rusted away. I even found a nice mouse or rats nest. Sheer horror starts to set in as I find further evidence of concealed rust and previous repairs to an unsatisfactory standard.

I stood aside and thought “Where do I start and have I bitten off more than I can chew?” I was even starting to consider parting it out for spares. But I also didn’t wish to see the car end its life in my garage. I bit the bullet and started cutting. I purchased some sheet metal and set myself the task of making new panels. I bought a Panel repair Kit, sanders and grinders from my local Supercheap Auto. I repaired the heater box and a new mount was fabricated.

My ailing body joints and back were being challenged, especially since the car only sits 6 inches above the ground. The project stalled for a while until I sweet talked the wife into allowing me to purchase a 2 post hoist. I even whispered to her I could also do repairs on her Toyota Camry for her when needed. The hoist was very useful especially since the engine is dropped out through the bottom.

Fiat X19 14

The car now has a bare shell, it was time to start welding and fabricating

Fiat X19 15

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I didn’t know if this was going to take months or years and no further work could be performed using the hoist, so I built a rotisserie.

As the car came off the hoist and onto the rotisserie, I commenced on the floor pan and boot floors. Radiator pipes were specially made with stainless steel. I hope they don’t leak!

So after all the rust was gone, I put the car back on its wheels, loaded it onto the car float and drove it around to obtain quotes for panel beating and paint. The quotes ranged from $10-20K. As much as I can appreciate the skills and costs required for painting and repairs, this project was never going to be worth any money, with more needing to be spent on parts and interior.

I stripped the brake callipers.  The pistons were beyond repair and I endeavour to source replacements from Supercheap Auto. I sent the pedal box for powder coating. The brake master cylinder and clutch master cylinder were unserviceable, so I purchased some replacements from an enthusiast online in Sydney. I also sourced from this enthusiast new doors and a brand new front grille which was missing and a very rare find.

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The air cleaner was painted resulting in a much cleaner look. It may stay or be upgraded.

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The rear access cover to the motor from the boot was rusty and a new patch was made.

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The X19 has a manifold cooling fan which is located in the engine bay. It works fine, so I just tidied it up a bit.

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Looking tidy!

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The bonnet stay rod clip was broken. I made a jig and fabricated a stainless cover to hold it together.

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I started to refurbish the radiator fan and mounts. The radiator may need replacing.

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A massive improvement

The engine cover was not surprisingly rusty too. So it was dismantled and new patches were made. I decided to strip down the doors, only to find more rust.

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The quarter panel window frames were rusted away so I fabricated new ones from stainless steel.

After much research and viewing numerous videos online, I finally decided I was up to the challenge and give the body and paint work a go myself!

Once again I visited Supercheap Auto to purchase some spray equipment and set about prepping, panel beating and painting the spare doors and boot lid that originally came with the car, as test panels. As of today I have home built a spray booth with parts painted and ready to go back on the car. I am still a long way away from completion of the project as the weather has been a constant dilemma with rain, heat, humidity, damp and cold conditions.

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I used spare doors and a boot lid that originally came with the car as test panels

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My home built spray booth – not a bad job!

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Working through sections at a time

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Many tasks still remain incomplete including:

  • Engine oil leaks
  • Timing belt
  • Points, plugs, leads
  • Custom exhaust system
  • Gearbox seals, inspect clutch and pressure plate
  • Brakes and suspension
  • Radiator
  • Head lights to be replaced as the original ones are completely rusted.
  • Steering Wheel
  • Ball joints
  • Door seals and rubbers
  • Windscreen
  • Interior
  • Seats etc.

So hopefully by my 50th Birthday, I will have a completed Fiat X19 project to celebrate. In the meantime, the challenge continues…

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