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Jumper K. Balls
Jumper K. Balls UberDork
4/7/15 1:13 a.m.

It is happening... again! The eight and a half is coming back.

For those that know this build this first post will just be a short recap. For those that don't, well..... I built this car while it was my daily driver. It was never off the road for more than a weekend. This meant that I was never really happy with everything that was done. I always wanted to go deeper than I was able to.

I sold my E30 and paid too much for a basketcase Fiat that "just needs a carb rebuild to run and drive"

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It turned out to need a lot more than that. After a solid month and a half of 50 hours a week after work and on weekends I got it on the road. Floorboard patches, New brake master, hard and soft lines, wheel cylinders, front disc upgrade, new shocks, rearched front leaf, New head gasket, rings, new carb, fuel lines, twenty years and 12 pounds of fuel turned to roofing tar burned out of the tank then acid etched it popped into life with a splash of tractor paint to keep it from deteriorating any further. At this point it became my every day car. Curb weight was 1275lbs on a freight scale.

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It went through a few different motors. The stock 24hp 817cc, a disappointing 36whp built 903cc and culminated in the turbocharged, megasquirted 843cc motor which made 70whp at 7psi and was eventually turned up to 21 pounds of boost and 120whp.

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The car also received some adjustable suspension, Suzuki GSXR sport bike brake calipers up front and the 15" panasports from my BMW

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You might notice a certain burrito lovin' GRM'er bombing that shot.

And that is what I drove for years. It was seriously fast, could out-brake pretty much anything it was also out accelerating, handled like you would expect something that weighed that little on 195 tires to. It was an absolute riot. It was also like driving a parade float everywhere I went. Constant horns, cameras, waving and thumbs up every where it went.

Fast forward to the worst three days of my life. I lost my job of 12 years, My wife passed away suddenly and when I got home from the hospital I was greeted by a freak snow storm that caused this

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The damage to the car wasn't too terrible, my psyche however wasn't up to anything. I drove the car a few times about 6 months after the incident and diagnosed the random misfire that was getting worse as a burnt intake valve and parked it... for two years.

In the meantime I landed the dream job and honed all the metalworking skills I would need to repair my beloved Fiat on lesser cars like Ferraris and Austin Healeys. My boss kept asking me when I was gonna build the 850 up right, but we keep getting busier and with more and more cars in the shop any room for even my diminutive project is hard to carve out.

And then fate, in the form of the property manager our shop is at stepped in. She had a small storage space directly across from our space available. I leapt at the opportunity.

So here is the 20X30 space less than 20 yards from everything I need

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Plans are a whole new motor. Going back to the "big" block which will be bored out to 965cc. H beam rods, and a Garrett GT1446 from a new Abarth

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Repair the roof

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Repair the floor that split during a particularly spirited drive and then do all the body and paint. Subtle flares on all four corners to fit some 205's all the way around.

The rotisserie is in use right now but as soon as it is free I will have the car stripped and mounted. Updates will be sporadic. This is gonna take some time.

I have really missed this car.

JThw8 PowerDork
4/7/15 6:09 a.m.
Jumper K. Balls wrote: I have really missed this car.

So have I! By far one of my favorite cars on GRM. I'm so happy you are getting back to it. I'll be following along for sure!

Woody MegaDork
4/7/15 6:14 a.m.

Did I ever mention how much I love this car? Because I really love this car. I'm looking forward to this one.

This car is so interesting, and your skill level is so high, that I'd love to see the full rebuild covered in the pages of Classic Motorsports.

chandlerGTi UltraDork
4/7/15 6:28 a.m.

Yes! One of my favorites as well!

NOHOME UltraDork
4/7/15 6:51 a.m.

The car I have admired for a long time, but those three days...

RossD PowerDork
4/7/15 7:21 a.m.

It's such a great little car and I'm sure if you can rebuild a fancy Ferrari you can spiff up a funky Fiat.

sethmeister4 SuperDork
4/7/15 11:51 a.m.

Awesome! Can't wait!

2002maniac Dork
4/7/15 2:55 p.m.

I love, love, love, love, love this car! I'm very glad to see it make a comeback.

mazdeuce PowerDork
4/7/15 3:17 p.m.

I'm excited about this rebuild. I remember the roof falling and those three days. Your continued enthusiasm for this car makes me happy.

bgkast UltraDork
4/7/15 3:22 p.m.

Awesome car! I'm not sure I would have survived those three days...you are a better man than I.

Kenny_McCormic PowerDork
4/7/15 4:05 p.m.

I love how the intercooler is almost as big as the engine.

Burrito Dork
4/7/15 4:37 p.m.


chandlerGTi UltraDork
4/7/15 4:58 p.m.

Oooo, MKI jetta coupe to boot!

ssswitch Reader
4/7/15 9:33 p.m.

I'm always excited about Fiat 850 content of any kind. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

How did you split the floor from excessively spirited driving? I cracked a dashboard once hitting a dip in the middle of an uphill right-hander in -30.

Kenny_McCormic PowerDork
4/7/15 9:50 p.m.

In reply to ssswitch:

Presumably chassis flex, I imagine it's pretty easy to get most of that car's weight on one wheel coming into a tight corner.

Jumper K. Balls
Jumper K. Balls UberDork
4/7/15 11:19 p.m.

I was really pushing it dangling the inside front in a long sweeper and heard a big pop and the car totally fell off the line and felt weird. Later I found a split down the tunnel on the passenger side that most definitely wasn't there when I laid the carpet down.

It has developed some cracks in the B pillars too.

gamby UltimaDork
4/7/15 11:47 p.m.

In reply to Jumper K. Balls:

The symbolism of all this is amazing!!! What a rebirth!!! I think I'm simply happy for you in general! So wonderful that things have turned around for you. Best of luck with all of it.

Jumper K. Balls
Jumper K. Balls UberDork
4/8/15 12:44 a.m.

Here is the best shot I have showing its stature.

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Making an Aveo look like a minivan

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Lookin rough with a burrito mobile

Wally MegaDork
4/8/15 12:33 p.m.

I'm so happy to see it back.

dropstep Reader
4/8/15 12:33 p.m.

i dont think ive ever seen one of these on the road. looks like a fun little car, ill be following along!

wheelsmithy HalfDork
5/10/15 10:14 a.m.

Before GRM, I had only seen 850 verts. Now, thanks to you and Burrito, I feel very fortunate to come along for the ride on these awesome builds. Thanks for sharing.

fiesta54 Reader
5/11/15 9:36 p.m.

I didn't know I needed an 850 until just now

Jumper K. Balls
Jumper K. Balls UberDork
7/11/15 11:52 a.m.

Washed off the bulk of the lichens and hazelnut tree detritus and pushed it into a bay

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I used to drive this daily?

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I can't wait to bin those Miata seats. I think I have something more appropriate stashed somewhere.

But lets get this part out of the way

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It's kinda like a real turbo, only smaller!

The rot situation isn't as bad as I had imagined. There are a few areas I already knew about (under the rear window is a mess) and a few shoddy repairs I did in haste that need to be redone. I am also going to copy the spider X brace in an effort to stiffen it up.

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So the drivetrain is out. I will strip the interior and cooling system out this weekend before I push it back into the storage space.

Dusterbd13 UltraDork
7/11/15 12:06 p.m.

Could you cut the floors, stick the x brace through about 1/4 inch, and weld the floors to it? Its how we dothe good subframe connectors on mopars, and mmakes an incredible rigidity increase vs not doing it.

noddaz Dork
7/11/15 1:02 p.m.

Heck yeah! Keep going...

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