Autobella 2010

February 21, 2010


The FIAT Car Club of Victoria held its annual concourse, and we invited ourselves to attend.

Bianca. Competition category winner Phil Buggee's orange Punto Diesel is in BG

We’re lucky we didn’t have to drive the 15 kays to Como Park because we were fouling plugs even getting onto the trailer. This is a car that does not like to idle. Theories of cause could possibly be due to oversized pump jets or the dizzy arrangement. We will be able to isolate that soon if we move to a Megajolt system which would allow us to control our spark a lot more accurately and send bigger sparks into the cylinder. It will also give a more reliable spark at high RPM. There will be no movement on that front until the first couple of track days prove that the plugs will be a problem. There wasn’t so much as a mutter when it was running properly on the dyno. so we’ll see.

My pick for people's choice

It was nice to see so many Italian classics, including this Stirling Moss Masarati, which sent grown men running in its direction. Also-rans include a fleet of Ferraris, Lancias and a few Alfas.

Stirling Moss Masarati

Although we didn’t exactly bring home the silverware, there was some encouraging interest in the car. Comments about our preparation were positive, and hopefully this will translate into reliability and consistency when we finally hit the track.

Julian, Sam and Andy

The only thing missing in the end was stickers to make our X look like a proper racer – ‘home brand’ racing obviously doesn’t win the judge’s vote. Phil Buggee’s orange Punto Diesel ended up winning the competition category. It was by far the most prepared (and probably most raced) entry, but being a fairly stock diesel, it was a bit boring when compared with some of the other modifications and older exotica in attendance.

Next stop, Phillip Island.


Any head is good head

December 6, 2008

Judging by the size of those ports, we have a very good head on our hands. Prepared by the blokes in Eltham, it promises to be good to rev to 9000 rpm with the steel valves and springs (12000 if we decide to upgrade to stainless… which we won’t… yet.)

John Black Special

John Black Special


It is to be matched with a rediculous cam we’ve borrowed, just to see whether it will work for us. John used to use it, but it was no good foor hillclimbs. It only made power from around 6000 rpm. Our limiter is currently set to only 8000 rpm, but we’ve been told that it should be fine to crank to 9000.

The head will be fitted Monday or Tuesday, and will go to the dyno once we get the vernier cam pulley made. Finally it is all coming together nicely.  We WILL be back on the track in the early New Year!

In other news…


Getting In

Getting In

 I finally got around to doing the V8 Race Experience I got for my Birthday nearly 12 months ago! I had a ball, even though all the sessions were running late and I waited for nearly 3 hours for my drive.

Although the torque of the car was vary impressive, it was the braking which I could not get over. Between the ABS, slicks and the warm track, the effect was eye popping.  I had an instructor on board with me, who guided me through the line and the braking points. It was a fantastic way to learn the Calder Park circuit (short course). This means I have a minor advantage over Julian when we finally get to take Bianca out to the Western ‘burbs. The Holden V8 was lapping around the 58 second mark, it will be interesting to see how much slower the X will do it!


V8 Lap

V8 Lap



Many many thank-yous to the Bennetts who knew this would be right up my racing line.

It was my first trip to Sandown in many years, and both Julian’s and my first time on the track. We both got taken out as passengers first up on familiarisation laps, both of our instructors were really helpful showing us where the line was and where time could be saved.

Julian was first out, and reported back that the car was running well, but had very little grip. He initially thought it was the tires, but the grip improved, so it was more than likely a dirty track at the start of the day. I had a couple of runs next, and managed to find the extent of the grip (and beyond) by spinning right in front of where Julian was flagging. Bloody thing wouldn’t start again, but was only flooded. I also managed at some point to get the A arm to knock the alternator out of position and nearly wreck the fins on that. But that was fixed in enough time for Julians next run.

The remainder of the day was uneventful but consistent from both of us, both running low 1:52’s for most of the day. The best thing about the day was that because there were only 40 entrants, we each got over an hour of track time with longer 15 minute runs. This was great to actually settle in to a rhythm, and the day saw very few yellow or red flags unlike the MSCA meet at the Island. In all we put 230 flat knacker k’s on the car, with some runs back to back (30 mins of track time for the car without a rest), and it hardly skipped a beat.

A big thanks once again to John, who let us borrow his trailer. Also to everyone who came for a look, it feels good to think we have a fan club.

Apparently there was also a big race in a backwater NSW country town that we missed… does anyone know who won it?!

Let’s go racing!

October 3, 2007

We’ve both been pretty busy with uni since Phillip Island, but a couple of weeks ago after a careful 5 minutes of planning the strategy-of-spending-money over the next few months, we decided that we’d be at Sandown this weekend. I personally have fond memories of my last trip to Sandown, when my uncle teed me up with a ride in a Maserati Giblia Cup thing that was spinning the wheels in third half way down the front straight (it was wet which helped).

But I digress, today, we gave the old girl a bit of a tub up, fixed (for good) the new oil pressure sender and a wheel stud. The shift light continues to be a pain in the rectum; electrical problems generally are, in my experience. In other news, we bought a pair of Dellorto side drafts off eBay, which should arrive on Julian’s doorstep at any minute. Obviously they won’t be on the car this weekend, but it’s something to look forward to. I can’t wait to be back on the track again.

Phillip Island

September 9, 2007

We made it! Taking with us almost every tool in the shed (prepared for any contingency) and 4 interested onlookers (who provided a symphony of drunken revelry all Saturday night), we made it to Phillip Island for the MSCA Sprint.

After an uneventful trip down the Sth Gippsland Highway, we were prepared for anything once the sun rose on Sunday. It was my first track meeting, so I was on a steep learning curve, where to be at what time, etc. Friends in the Fiat Car Club who had only heard about our project got their first look at it and i’m relieved to say that they seemed to approve of our efforts. We sorted out some numbers and passed the scrutineers checks the first time (the suckers!). Julian was to be the first bunny on the track.

Jack and I looked on from the pit roof as he took off on the warm up lap, but we were heart-broken when he coasted past us on the straight, engine off, coming to a stop just off the track by turn 1, causing a red flag. I didn’t want to say it then, but I thought the day was over before it had begun, that the worst had happened and we’d seized the block or blown a head or were suffering from some other form of warstopper. A quick check revealed that the leads had vibrated loose off the fuel pump, and starved itself dry. This was the only problem! They were crimped and taped back on, ready for my session. There was another moment of panic also when we thought we saw hydro fluid in the foot well, indicating a leak from one of the pedals, but nothing was found.

Since I’d never been on Phillip Island, nor driven a car around any track in anger before, I was a bit nervous heading out for my first session. The car was still an unknown quantity to me, having never driven it before. It’s a very easy car to get used to. The gearbox still has synchros so the shift is easy (no need to double de-clutch) and the brakes have good feel to them (Julian still managed to lock them up twice over Lukey Heights with warm tyres).

The upshot of the whole day is that Julian and I were bettering each others time by about a second every lap, until I had a rush of blood in my last lap and managed a 2:25 to Julian’s 2:30 (provisional iPod/Jack stopwatch times). Hardly a scorching lap time, I’l be the first to admit, but for a stock 1300 with 2 green drivers, it’s a starting point.

A great thanks goes out to everyone who supported us, both from the start and on the day and a big thanks to Cliff for letting us overheat his transmission in order to tow the car down there.