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1988 Fiat Panda, minor update.


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Aye, I was working that out in my head yesterday as I typed it. 'E' prefix is August '88, so it did 12 years, which isn't bad for a Panda. The low mileage will have helped, it's only done 68'000.

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Glad this is back on the road. I commuted for at least two years, 90 miles a day in mine ( seem to remember it was a C reg example) back in 1991 ish. Slow and steady on the motorway with the lorries, but never let me down. Only major problem was when the front edge of the bonnet rotted through and it shot up and blocked the forward view at about 50mph. That's why they have those slots in it, you use them to see through so you can pull over safely!

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3 of us slept in my mates Panda when we went camping to a cider pub and campsite (cider impaired our ability to set the tent up) I was in the passenger seat with my feet resting on the tool box in the footwell, although I've had better night's sleep it's a great memory :)

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Where does the time go?

I started using the Panda to drive over to Mrs Sparts place every now and then, it's about 30 miles away, so a decent run. It drove OK but had a flat spot that was bugging me and needed fixing, I wrote a list and started to work through it. Without boring you with all the detail I've fitted new plugs, new leads, cleaned the carb out, replaced the cambelt and fitted a new alternator belt. Non of these things completely solved the issue but I'm happy to have done them, the cambelt was so loose I could turn the tensioner by hand and the alternator belt literally had chunks falling off it.

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In my head, when I'm doing these jobs, I'm taking loads of pics and keeping a detailed photographic record of my work...

In reality you've got a couple of pics of knackered belts.

Although, while I had the engine mount off I gave ita quick coat of paint, it's some sort of spray stove paint, goes on well, dries quick and gives a reasonable matt finish.

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But now, tonight's main event!

I picked this car up over four years ago, it's lived in my garage ever since and I've never washed it. Today was the day to change that. The weather was forecast to be overcast, ideal for washing and polishing so I set to. The car was covered in all sorts of crap from the last 20 years, (stored in a garage before I bought it), and I'd heard good things about 'snow foam' type stuff for lifting off dirt and contaminants. I bought a 'Demon Foam' that comes supplied with the gun to fit to your hosepipe. It was shit, the stuff wouldn't come out off the bottle into the gun, so after that initial disappointment I went back to a bucket and sponge. Here's a before pic...

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The car has a cassette deck fitted and I've bought one of those adaptors that plugs into a phone. I had Dave Pearce trance anthems on, I was very nearly lost in a '90's throwback, although the doves mentioned in the title are nothing to do with that famous rave pharmaceutical but my watchers for the day...

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I can recommend them, they're peaceful, quiet and soothing to have around.

Anyhoo, back to car washing. Because the car is small and it was minging it didn't take long to make a massive improvement, today I went light on it and just gave it a good wash them a quick polish, it came up well I think...

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If it's feeling flat I'd replace the vacuum advance on the distributor if you haven't already.   The diaphragm in them pops fairly frequently. There is some test you can do like blow or suck into the hose attached to it but I can't remember.  Just bin the fucker and get a new one.

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Going back to my place I was driving towards a very heavy sky, I had washing on the line and I didn't want to drive the Panda in the rain, for fear it might dissolve around me, I got home just in time for the washing but the neighbours car was blocking my drive and I couldn't get the car into the garage until after the downpour!

Have an arty garage shot.

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I've been using a 5l container of Auto Smart trade polish but it's not up to much. It doesn't bead well, or last long. I really like Zymol but haven't been able to get hold of any recently.

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17 minutes ago, Skut said:

If it's feeling flat I'd replace the vacuum advance on the distributor if you haven't already.   The diaphragm in them pops fairly frequently. There is some test you can do like blow or suck into the hose attached to it but I can't remember.  Just bin the fucker and get a new one.

I have tested it and it defo holds vacuum, that doesn't mean the dizzy doesn't need a rebuild though, so that's on the cards. It's satisfying for me to do all that stuff because you don't need any special tools or a diagnostic computer to fix it. That can be a double edged sword though!

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I have to say, it doesn't disappoint. Even with it's minor running fault it's got enough go in it, the handling and feel are so direct, it's a cliche but it's very 'go-kart' like. It's says a lot for it that I'm favouring it over the rest of the fleet ATM.

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  • spartacus changed the title to 1988 Fiat Panda, minor update.

I've had a miss-spent youth and as a result I've got a little 'barryboy' left in me. Mrs Spart bought me a set of H&R lowering springs for the Panda, they're one of the better makes out there, it may seem unlikely but there can be a huge difference between good and poor quality springs. I took the chance to give the front legs a coat of paint and fit new bump stops and dust boots too. It's only lowered it by 35mm, Pandas sit fairly high as standard so it doesn't look too 'barried', and the ride is better.

I also bought a brand new grill, the one fitted in earlier pics is from a Selecta, the auto version of a Panda, the original grill was badly damaged and beyond even an enthusiastic repair.

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