I am newly registered on the forum, but I have been a visitor for many years. Best forum on the web.
As is human nature, there is a reason for my participation. After a number of years of false starts, I am now finally preparing my Spider for the BHRC historic Rally Championship and I would appreciate some comment from you chaps on a number of issues. I will start with a little history of me and the car.
I bought a rally prepared BS1 spider in 1983. I ran it for 3 years in local club road and stage events with some moderate success in the club championships. The car was rally prepared by its first owner ( an English army officer stationed in Germany) The car had a number of Abarth factory parts including suspension skids, front tension rods, sump guar d and mounting bar, gearbox mounting and cross member, lightened cam wheels, and a big wing alloy sump. ( Yes it is actually alloy not painted steel.) The car was fitted with a Borg Wanrer LSD, Piper head and cams, 4:2:1 exhaust. For a 1608 it went quite well (believed to be around 135 bhp) and certainly held its own in the up to 2 litre class.
As usually happens things change and I needed to build a garage to put the car in. Roll on 3 years, the garage was built and the car was brought inside having spent 3 years in a field. ( It started and I drove it into the garage, much to my wife’s amazement. )
Roll on another 15 years and after many “I’ll get that car going one day” moments I finally bought a rally prepared 124ST and entered that into selected rounds of the BHRC . Some of the parts were swapped from the old Spider including twin carbs, LSD, etc. We ran the car for 3 seasons, did not have much success, but had great fun and even scared myself a few times.
During this time I started to look more closely at the Spider, and realised that perhaps 3 years in a field had left the shell a little worse for wear. Another BS Spider (an American Import) came available, so I bought this to prepare for rallying. 2006 end of season neared, so thoughts of selling the ST and having a massive push on the Spider over the winter were planned. That was interrupted by a roll on my last event in the ST. ( One competitor was surprised as he said the ST did not go fast enough to roll- well at least I got further than he did- he reached the 3rd corner before putting it off and out of the rally. )
Anyway- after much consideration the ST was sold to a guy in Ireland (The ST was still drivable) and I then concentrated on the Spider build. That was 4 years ago. In that time I have scrapped the original Spider ( after removing all of the bits) bought 2 other Spiders – 1 for parts , one as a possible rally conversion and started to acquire some parts.
Having decided that the second Spider is easier to prepare- ( better chassis but worse bodywork) the shell has finally gone to the garage to be seam welded and have the cage fitted. Hopefully it will be back this week, and I can start on the initial build before stripping down and sending back for paint.
There are a number of questions I have and certainly would like to pick your brains on some of the issues over the next few weeks. So where to start?
First the spec of the car is not to mirror ex works cars so much, but to be a cost effective ( ie cheap) rally car that is not an Escort and is easy to prepare and maintain. I am looking at Class C3- Cars before end 1974 under 2 litre. I have the homolgation papers and numerous articles and books about the early ( pre IRS Abarth ) Spiders. The regs state that only mods used at the time can be used, and you have to have “documentary” evidence to prove any mod. ( Not sure how many Scruteneer know Fiats that well). I’ll start with the suspension.
Front Standard with strengthened wish bones, cross member, rose jointed tension rods connected to sump guard cross member, complete with single leaf spring skids. Standard ( new) rubber bushing on wish bones. Rose jointed antiroll bar mount to wishbone with superflex support bushes. ( standard roll bar) . Strengthened track control arms ( and plenty of spares ones!) Strengthened cross member.
Brakes- 256mm vented discs with 911 callipers.
13” wheels on 30mm/side spacers.
Strengthened axle. Extended top links, rose jointed and rubber bushed upper and lower links. (actually modified Mk1 Escort rally parts). Rose jointed and rubber bushed Panhard Rod. Aeon rubber bump stops. 15 mm anti rollbar ( Standard on early 124 Spiders!)
256 solid discs 911 rear callipers with original callipers for mechanical hand brake.
Regarding engine, I will probably go for and 1800, not sure of full spec yet. ( depends on how much money I have left) . Hoping min 150 bhp 170 would be nice. Gearbox will theoretically be standard, as cannot afford a Colloti or ZF.
There are weak parts in the spec. However, in the historic rallying you are limited to 7” wheels so even on tarmac you will not have too much grip. I will mainly be contesting forest events. ( Certainly to start with).
The front suspension was always the weak point and the problem with any competition car is that as you strengthen things up you just move the weakest link. Also I am trying to keep the weight down to reduce stress on everything. ( My co driver does not know yet but he may need to go on a diet!)
So the first area to consider are the front hubs. 132 or 124? I have both. I understand the concept of the 132(125) hubs as these were homologated early on for the spider. However, my understanding is that as a straight swop they lower the ride height by 10mm. This then reduces suspension travel, which for a gravel rally car is not good in the first place. Again if you were using rose jointed suspension ( like on the special lower wishbone of the works cars) then perhaps the hub became the weak link? So what are the thoughts- use 132 parts and suffer from reduced suspension travel or keep the 124 ones? ( note from my past experience the weak part is the steering arms and track control arms- even I managed to bend those!) Reducing the bump stop will help negate the suspension travel, but bump stops are there for a reason- and reducing the length surely means that overall you have less travel?
What about 124 hubs for forest and 132 for tarmac? ( giving a 10mm ride height reduction without having to change the front springs ? ( Note front springs for forest are much stronger than you would normally expect on a loose surface car. This increase in spring rate on the 124ST made a huge difference to the handling on the loose.)
I look forward to your comments- I have lots of other ideas and questions to follow.