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Little Classics Feature: 3 August 2014

A Classic Fiat 850 Restoration: Part Two

Phase three of the Classic Fiat 850 Abarth restoration

We’ve already heard how two first-time classic car restorers have taken on a little 1969 Fiat 850. However, it turned out to be more rot than Fiat in most places.

We left them as they stripped the car down and started to replace much of the rot with new metal. Now comes the rest of the work to build a solid foundation.

Slowly but surely the rear’s taking shapeImage: Slowly but surely the rear’s taking shape

Not being satisfied with a standard 850, Nick and Bob are passionate about recreating a true Abarth 850 – meaning there has also been quite a bit of online time sourcing all the exact parts needed to create a believable result.

First on the list was a Weber 36DCD 14/F23R carb. With that safely tracked down Nick and Bob soon found a deep finned Nardi aluminium sump, followed by a Hausermann flywheel. Finally they spotted a trigger timing belt kit which, when put together made a bit of a dent in their pooled savings.

Image: Essential work to the front leaves a sound bodyImage: Essential work to the front leaves a sound body

Now all they needed was an expert to fit them. So it was off on a long drive from Yorkshire to a highly recommended team of experts at Middle Barton Garage, Oxfordshire. Teeming with beautifully restored classics, Nick and Bob couldn’t resist a tour. They picked up a wealth of tips and plenty of ideas from the two finished Fiat 850 Abarth Coupes the garage was showcasing.

It gave the lads a chance to stock up on some extra parts they’d not managed to pick up on their travels. A reverse eye front spring and two rear coil springs will help them bring a lower, more aggressive look to the car. They also ordered an inlet manifold, re-profiled cam and a Coupe valve spring set.

Image: The interior bodywork’s primed and seat rails re-fittedImage: The interior bodywork’s primed and seat rails re-fitted

Trust the engine to experts

They left the cylinder head with the garage to remove the valves and pressure test it. Other work included: bead-blast and face valves; recut valve seats triple angle; repair stripped spark plug thread, as well as rebuilding the head with new valve springs.

Image: The motor in expert handsImage: The motor in expert hands

Having committed to the rebuild they didn’t want to skimp on the engine. With the new head now in hand they decided the block also needed work, so Nick &Bob called in the experts again. This time it was closer to home. A Huddersfield based guy with an unrivalled reputation for stripping and building engines took up the challenge. He more than lived up to all their expectations having given everything a full check, clean and rebuild.

Another stint on eBay earned the lads an Abarth front grille straight from Italy, a second hand wood steering wheel from Germany and an 850 Coupe dials set sourced right here on home soil.

They now have what is best described as a lot of the right bits, but none attached to each other. Now starts the fun of building up everything and bringing this car back to life.

The restoration is also being covered through the Cherished Vehicle Insurance blog as the two guys send in their diary entries of the rebuild as they go.


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