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jakeb New Reader
8/1/10 8:50 a.m.

I bought this rusty fiat 500 earlier this spring for $400. I have been trying to decide what to do with it... I am more and more leaning towards a challenge build for 2011. This way to forces me to have a budget....

The car is very rusty so I am not worried about cutting it apart and modding it A LOT. I have thought about bike engines, but I would like reverse and do not want some crazy custom diff. I would like to keep it rear engined. I was thinking of a quad engine...or a goldwing engine, mated to a car diff. Both would have reverse. But after mulling that over more I think it might be better to just go with a car engine, 4 cylinder of some sort. Then just swap over the entire subframe and suspension from the front of the doner car to the back of the fiat.

So I come to you GRM....looking for suggestions. I plan to flare the car to allow for a little more wheel/tire as well as to fit the track of a donor car.

On to some pictures from the seller...

DeadSkunk Reader
8/1/10 8:59 a.m.

There's a Crossley running around the Detroit area with a Harley V-twin in it. I'd look at a 2 cylinder bike engine and adapt it to the fiat trans, or consider fitting a VW Beetle trans if the Fiat unit is too fragile. With a stock 1000cc it ought to be pretty quick. Or, just cut the floor out and drop the body over a Miata floor pan and drive train !

914Driver SuperDork
8/1/10 9:09 a.m.

I'm thinking eVil things....

914Driver SuperDork
8/1/10 9:11 a.m.

What small cars are front wheel drive? Push the front clip in the 500's back seat and tie off the steering components.

This is a FWD V8 Caddy in a Geo Metro.

jakeb New Reader
8/1/10 9:17 a.m.

That is what I am thinking 914, something like an early honda or something else jap. I was thinking of an early geo metro. But not sure if 55hp is "enough".

I do have a mkII jetta engine and subframe sitting around....

The fiat is 52" wide. A geo metro is 62" wide, and I would think other econo cars are about the same width. Late 80s civic is around 65" wide. So some flares would make it work, right...

minimac SuperDork
8/1/10 9:17 a.m.

Good score! If it were me, I'd look at an aircooled VW running gear and pan. The pan would be easy to cut and fit.

jakeb New Reader
8/1/10 9:19 a.m.

minimac: I have thought about that too.... I have a buddy who is big into VWs and that was his idea. I need to look into that a bit more. I think it has been done before tho....

Grtechguy SuperDork
8/1/10 9:35 a.m.

Is that thing belt driven?

SlickDizzy SuperDork
8/1/10 9:37 a.m.

The Ford Festiva uses a lot of off-the-shelf Mazda parts, you could swap in a 1.6 or 1.8 twin cam back there with a donor Festiva and some elbow grease.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn SuperDork
8/1/10 9:42 a.m.

I would imagine the width of the drivetrain from a modern vehicle is going to be too wide to fit in that, except for maybe a Smart Car.

zomby woof
zomby woof Dork
8/1/10 10:39 a.m.
jakeb wrote: something like an early honda or something else jap. I was thinking of an early geo metro. But not sure if 55hp is "enough".

The 3 cyl takes boost really well, or if you can find one, a Swift GT motor, but the easiest (G series) Suzuki solution that makes power would be the 1.3 16V SOHC (98-01). They are plentiful, the trans final drive is 3.79-1 which you could pull with the light weight.

Treb Reader
8/1/10 11:12 a.m.

I've thought about doing one of these with an X1/9 engine and suspension.

Only about 60" wide, so not quite as much flare needed.

Man, if I found a 500 for that kind of money, I'd be in all kinds of trouble. Good luck -- and keep up posted.


Treb Reader
8/1/10 11:14 a.m.
Grtechguy wrote: Is that thing belt driven?

The big belt drives the cooling fan.

Junkyard_Dog HalfDork
8/1/10 11:28 a.m.

Subaru with stock FWD trans? Picture the front of the engine ending right before the back of the front seat. Linkage might be a pain tho.

ditchdigger HalfDork
8/1/10 12:49 p.m.

If it is really that rotten go all the way and go V8


That is a 59 right? That was a one year only headlight treatment and is pretty rare. There are quite a few 500 folks across the pond that would double your money just for the front sheet metal

jakeb New Reader
8/1/10 12:57 p.m.

The title says its a 60.... But some things seem different about it. I like the smaller headlights better and would convert but ppl not here in the US, like these big US lights? I would sell them for sure.

Not sure how I feel about the v8 idea.... I did find a ford festiva for $350 near me....maybe less if he gets to keep the glass and a few other things. So that might work out. The car is pretty rusty as you can see from the pictures. The suspension pickup spots are pretty solid tho, most rust is in the floor and body work.

I thought about a Subaru engine. Also thought about Subaru with a VW transaxle, thus keeping the engine in the rear. Not sure if there is enough room back there tho. I would be more than happy with 100-150hp or so

914Driver SuperDork
8/1/10 1:17 p.m.

I have an Audi 2.0 with a 1.8 head, a 268 cam, cam timing device and dual manifold exhaust for $150.


4cylndrfury SuperDork
8/1/10 1:31 p.m.

Luckily i just happen to be the proud new owner of a Metro/Swift 3 cyl head - (forum member Cghstang is a cool guy!!! thanks buddy!) I am looking for an application to build a manifold for it - a Fiat swap sounds delightful. I want to try casting a manifold, and think that a fiat-tro or a swifiat would be a perfect place to start.

edit - I also have garage envy...such a beautiful floor!

Supercoupe Reader
8/1/10 2:11 p.m.

Suicide doors, bugeyed for Export, mines a 58, not as rusty and I really didn't want to cut it up for the challenge, stuck an Austin motor mated to the stock gear box, clutch was not strong enough for the 4x power increase. Gearboxes are crash box style, and don't handle much power. VW trans sticks into the rear body too much to do without cutting floor, I was looking into an 850 sychro box but that's opposite rotation so I'd need the 850 engine also. Tha Abarth's used a modded 600 transaxle but parts are NLA, so that's out. I was working out a plan to use a shafted MC engine in the passenger seat area mated to a narrowed rear, this way I'd only need to cut a small drive shft hole in the rear area. Was planning to have sorted out by this year's challenge, but it's not going to make it, most likely using the $225 Geo Prizm I just picked up. Is the stock engine available and not locked up? If so I would consider purchasing it from you if were inclined to get rid of it.

jakeb New Reader
8/1/10 3:48 p.m.

racinginc: goldwing is high on the list, the seq shift would be really cool. I believe the reverse started in 89 so I would need to find a bike cheap enough. I have looked a little but havn't found much yet. I will look for a trike.

4cfury: Its not my garage, it was the sellers. My floor isn't painted yet at least. A pic of my garage below.

supercoupe: Yes the stock engine would be available but it is locked up. Not sure what my plans are fully yet so at the moment I am going to hang onto it. But it might be available eventually...

jakeb New Reader
8/1/10 4:16 p.m.

Yes I am in michigan, I bought the car near TC but I am in Bay City. Where are you?

jakeb New Reader
8/1/10 4:18 p.m.

what about a mr2?? I'm not too familiar with them but....mid engined already, I am sure it is to wide to just run flares tho.


Jensenman SuperDork
8/1/10 5:42 p.m.

It cries out for a Suzuki Swift transplant. Or even a mid/late '80's Civic/CRX motor in the middle.

mad_machine SuperDork
8/2/10 6:16 a.m.

was it just the 850 or did the smaller 500 and 600s also have reverse rotation engines?

I have heard of aircooled Vdub engines into 850s.. and I have seen fiat 124 engines stuffed into the back of 850s.

Not really sure where you could go with a tiny 500 though

914Driver SuperDork
8/2/10 7:27 a.m.
Jensenman wrote: It cries out for a Suzuki Swift transplant. Or even a mid/late '80's Civic/CRX motor in the middle.

I was thinking that. I sold the Geo Metro engine to a guy that put it in a Mini. More hp than stock and Japanese reliability.


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