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Old 24-10-2015, 11:10 PM   #1
jas_racing
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Bringing a Fiat Coupé 20V Turbo Plus Back to Life

Evening All,

After completing the restoration and rebuild of my mk1 Fiat Uno Turbo i.e. last year I've been itching to get stuck into my next project - bringing my former daily-driver 1999 Fiat Coupé 20V Turbo back to life after retiring her in November 2014.

I bought her in December 2007 from a chap near Newark - he'd only owned her a few months but was short of cash so I swooped in and bought the car at a very favourable price. Admittedly it needed a bit of tidying up plus the turbo oil seals were starting to go (common issue) but more importantly it was the right colour and a "Plus" model. I already owned a 'normal' 20V turbo model but had hankered after a Plus for ages - no difference in performance but the Plus came with a few extra's that to me make a huge difference i.e. 6-speed gearbox, push-button start, Recaro seats, red Brembo front calipers, different wheels, front strut brace, 180mph speedo + other stuff I can't recall right now!

I took her from 63k to 118k miles between early 2008 and late 2014 and had very few issues, even with a stage 1 remap applied that took power from 220 to 260bhp (best £200 I've ever spent!). After several months of work in 2008 to bring her up to my standard she looked (in my eyes at least) stunning:




The 5-cylinder howl on boost is highly addictive! I'd have happily carried on driving her for many years to come but sadly in early 2014 I noticed that the (all original) paint on the roof and bonnet was deteriorating big time (another common issue) plus with the list of MOT advisories from late 2013 on my mind I took the decision to retire her pending a future project to bring her back to life and former glory.

This is how she looked after being retired (complete with a few cat paw prints):



Not pretty

The plan was/is to do a full overhaul of all suspension & brakes, deal with any (hopefully minor) rust issues underneath then a full respray. The engine & 'box run perfectly so no need to do anything in that department. I got started in March this year - not busting a gut to get her done in double-quick time, just doing a little bit each weekend to make steady process.

First was the rear end underside...which turned out to be MUCH worse than I thought. More to follow!
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Old 24-10-2015, 11:13 PM   #2
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Looking forward to it.

These are future classics.
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Old 24-10-2015, 11:34 PM   #3
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So, onto the rear end...

Stripping down the rear suspension & brakes made me realise just how knackered everything was...and how corroded it all looked. At 16 I don't consider her an 'old' car but the years and miles have taken their toll. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Subframe to chassis rear mount:


Inner arch, pop-stud hole for the arch liner:


Underside of the spare wheel well, where it meets the rear panel (common corrosion area):


Crusty rear trailing arm (and coil spring in the background):


Floor pan:


Where the inner arch meets the sill, driver's side:


Subframe to chassis, other side:


Subframe, where the trailing arm pivots:


Interior still looks good though:
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Old 24-10-2015, 11:55 PM   #4
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After a few hours with some large spanners and long breaker-bars I had the grotty looking rear subframe and trailing arms off:


Eew:


Trailing arm:


This then allowed me to poke and scrape at the areas of corrosion on the chassis:










Bottom of the spare wheel well not looking good after a poke around:


All the pop-stud holes in the inner arches had caused a lot of corrosion so I set about cutting out a few bits to see just how bad they are:


My original thoughts of merely treating a few areas of surface corrosion went out the window at this point as clearly some welding would be required. I spent a few days in two-minds about whether to ditch the project as 'too far gone' or not but the present Mrs jas_racing convinced me to stick with it. Whilst I can weld odd patches in some of the stuff pictured above is a bit too much for me to tackle so I decided to tackle what I could and leave the rest to a pro to do at some point down the line.
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Old 24-10-2015, 11:19 PM   #5
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Sub'd, your renovations make for great reading
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Old 24-10-2015, 11:30 PM   #6
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My old neighbour had one of these running 400+BHP on standard internals

The drive train is built-proof just hope the tin-worn hasn't got it

John
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Old 25-10-2015, 03:01 PM   #7
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Don't want to be horrible, but for an Italian motor, I don't think it looks to bad, I wish you good luck.
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Old 26-10-2015, 01:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ibiza55 View Post
Don't want to be horrible, but for an Italian motor, I don't think it looks to bad, I wish you good luck.
Thanks! And yes I know what you mean given that it's Italian...but I consider it a 'modern' Italian car so it shouldn't be quite so susceptible to corrosion, plus I had it fully undersealed in 2010 so hoped for better when I started poking around. The worst bits are where the rear chassis rails meet the floor pan - I didn't poke & scrape too much but the bits I did investigate were crumbling and the screwdriver went straight through

I've already consulted with the chap who'll do the welding (a Fiat Coupé specialist) and in his words it's "all stuff I've seen before and is all repairable"
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Old 26-10-2015, 02:25 PM   #9
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Sub'd to this one. I've a real soft spot for the Coupe and very nearly bought a standard dark green 20v non turbo when I was 18. Bottled it as the one I really wanted was the Turbo and I couldn't afford the insurance.

My Dad nearly bought one new when I was very young, would it be an 'LE' model? Was a dark silver with anthracite alloys and it had all of the plus bits, I remember it looking stunning in the showroom. I might be wrong, I'm going back a long time here and my memory isn't great.

Good luck with it, can't wait to see it done and dusted.

Jon
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Old 26-10-2015, 10:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBirchy View Post
My Dad nearly bought one new when I was very young, would it be an 'LE' model? Was a dark silver with anthracite alloys and it had all of the plus bits, I remember it looking stunning in the showroom. I might be wrong, I'm going back a long time here and my memory isn't great.

Good luck with it, can't wait to see it done and dusted.

Jon
Yes the 'Limited Edition' 20V turbo Coupé came around in 1998. Limited to a production run of 3000 individually numbered cars, they were the first versions to have a 6 speed 'box, push button start, Recaro front seats, the anthracite alloys, wings mirrors, rear light cups, red Brembo's, front strut brace, subtle bodykit, etc. The interior had a lot of bright red leather to contrast the black and wasn't to everyone's taste. I saw a red one in the flesh on the Fiat stand at the Motor Show at Earl's Court in 1998 and LOVED it. Seemed incredibly exotic for a Fiat! Michael Schumacher was rumoured to have been given LE number 0001 as a gift at the time but it's since been debated that he had a slightly later number in the sequence. Regardless, LE number 0001 appeared for sale a couple of years ago and commanded quite a premium due to its number. When purchased new the owner was also given a jacket with the number of their car embroidered on.

The '20V turbo Plus' model followed in 1999 and had, much to the annoyance of LE owners who thought their cars would remain unique after the 3000 cars were produced, pretty much the same spec as an LE but with a more understated interior and minus the anthracite bits.

Both LE's and Plus' fetch a premium now compared to normal 20V turbo's.
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