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Fiat 126 purchased


DavidB
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I gave this a proper “machine polish” and it’s come up really nice. I got it running properly also (no petrol), replaced throttle and choke cables, flushed coolant, bulbs etc and drove it round the estate and it’s f@cking horrible in every way imaginable. Not sure about the no bumpers, but you can strip everything off in about five minutes.

 

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That does sound quite impressively harsh and unrefined...much more "big ride on lawnmower" than car!

Makes me appreciate how refined for a twin pot the little Steyr-Puch engines are.

Always fascinates me how two engines which on paper are quite so similar behave differently.  I'll need to grab a video of me giving her some revs if I get a chance for comparison.  You can see how little vibration there is at idle though.  How smooth this engine is has never ceased to surprise me given when it dates back to design wise.

126 in any form though is such a downright charming little thing that it's utterly impossible I find not to like them despite all their flaws.

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Sounds like it needs a tune up, but otherwise looks very solid. Congratulations on the purchase.

Small point: take care not to crack the taillights. BIS and EL/ELX 126ps had this newer taillight cover design with a vertical reflector stripe and they can be a bit of a bastard to find to find replacements for at times. Very easy to break tightening them up too.

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My parents had one of these in the late 70's early 80's and we regularly drove 4 up from London to Frome in Somerset. Very long journeys but we never broke down, apart from both front quarter lights dropping out onto the floor when being opened 🤦‍♂️

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On 17/07/2021 at 23:33, Zelandeth said:

You can see how little vibration there is at idle though.  How smooth this engine is has never ceased to surprise me given when it dates back to design wise.

Boxer is the only choice for smooth if you can't have 6+ cylinders!

126 needs Steyr power like those Steyr 500s.

 

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8 hours ago, Borsuq said:

Sounds like it needs a tune up, but otherwise looks very solid. Congratulations on the purchase.

Small point: take care not to crack the taillights. BIS and EL/ELX 126ps had this newer taillight cover design with a vertical reflector stripe and they can be a bit of a bastard to find to find replacements for at times. Very easy to break tightening them up too.

Yep already done it changing bulbs!😥

you can get screws with with plastic blobs to hold them in. Everything had wood screws. I think I’ll print some plastic blobs off.

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I remember reading on a Bangernomics site about someone who had one of this in New Zealand.

Quite brave as they were only briefly imported down there & 126 specific spares were next to impossible to source.

He mentioned the engine was like a lawnmower chugging away, & the only really good feature was the light & balanced steering.

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8 hours ago, DavidB said:

Yep already done it changing bulbs!😥

you can get screws with with plastic blobs to hold them in. Everything had wood screws. I think I’ll print some plastic blobs off.

Yep, original screws have plastic heads and look like this: 7D7E338F-C159-46AB-B56A-4CEDF9351AA9.thumb.jpeg.1bf65856156515974f4b31b278bad5ad.jpegColour of the head is different depending on where exactly each screw goes. Bear in mind that these plastic heads also have a nasty habit of cracking and if they do all you’re left is a threaded pin that can’t hold anything. I happened to lose one of my taillight covers at one point due to screw heads failing. Luckily I managed to retrieve it after retracing my route and it hadn’t gotten driven over. 😅

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8 hours ago, Minimad5 said:

You mad bastard 😅

Got to come have a look at this one day 

Come down m8 I’ll be at unit most nights this week

 

4 hours ago, Borsuq said:

Yep, original screws have plastic heads and look like this: 7D7E338F-C159-46AB-B56A-4CEDF9351AA9.thumb.jpeg.1bf65856156515974f4b31b278bad5ad.jpegColour of the head is different depending on where exactly each screw goes. Bear in mind that these plastic heads also have a nasty habit of cracking and if they do all you’re left is a threaded pin that can’t hold anything. I happened to lose one of my taillight covers at one point due to screw heads failing. Luckily I managed to retrieve it after retracing my route and it hadn’t gotten driven over. 😅

You can get those on eBay, they’re £20+ though. I need the screws as mine have wood screws argh

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I`ve had various 126`s, both air & water cooled, & I have to echo the views already shared, the water cooled BIS was completely under developed, & is an absolute arse of an engine that will never run for more than 25k without needing a full rebuild, 18 head gaskets & 12 fuel pumps. A depressing low point for Fiat.

I`ve seen air cooled 126`s with FIRE lumps bunged in (don't quite fit, so you have to have the engine cover open or modified), & the BIS`s rear structure would make it more difficult.

The Steyr-Puch  engine is a diamond, but not plentiful or cheap when they do come up in the UK.

I have toyed with various engine ideas with these, including shaft drive BMW bike engines, chain driven bike V-Twins, transverse mounted, simple (pre-body control module) 3 cylinders that would fit between the chassis legs (Daihatsu/Kei), & electric conversion. The electric conversion makes the most sense to me, especially given the fact the BIS has 2 boots, the only question mark would be could the original gearbox & spindly driveshafts repeatedly take the instant monster torque of an electric motor for any length of time.

I have kept my electric moped with the intention of doing an EV conversion to a microcar at some point, but I was thinking more along the lines of an ultra light 3 wheeled thing, like a Bond Minicar/bug/chopped down Reliant/Morgan Trike replica, I think a 126 may be too heavy for that motor.

The problem with late compact engines, like the Fiat Twinair, is the complexity of the electronic control units, all of which require stuff like individual wheel speed sensors etc to run, so no use on cars that never had ABS, like the 126. Yes, it could be done (custom wheel bearings/stubs/hubs or driveshafts with custom made sensors), but it wouldn't be easy for non-electronic wizards (I`m not one of those), & some issues would be pretty much insurmountable.

I`ve no idea whether the Aygo/C1 unit has the ability to run with a standalone/customised ECU, or if its been done.

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12 minutes ago, uk_senator said:

I have toyed with various engine ideas with these,

What about the air cooled horizontal twin from a 500  Giardinera?  Not the easiest thing to find, obvs. but exactly the right configuration.  

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2 hours ago, Mr Pastry said:

What about the air cooled horizontal twin from a 500  Giardinera?  Not the easiest thing to find, obvs. but exactly the right configuration.  

It would be, yeah, but I`d imagine a decent Giardiniera engine is well into 4 figures now, & are less powerful. If your gonna do it, might as well add a little extra power as well as reliability.
 

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4 hours ago, DavidB said:

You can get those on eBay, they’re £20+ though. I need the screws as mine have wood screws argh

They're around 20p-30p a screw on allegro.pl. Also, for a decent selection of 126p parts check out https://sklep.regmot.com.pl/. They're slightly more expensive than individual sellers on auction sites, but I still use them every now and then. Fairly sure they also ship abroad.

Just checked and they have the correct screws in stock for around 40p apiece:

https://sklep.regmot.com.pl/wkret-lampy-tylnej-krotki-fiat-126p-kierunkowskaz,3,14128,16368

https://sklep.regmot.com.pl/wkret-lampy-tylnej-krotki-czerwony-fiat-126p-1517,3,14128,16670

https://sklep.regmot.com.pl/wkret-lampy-tylnej-fiat-126p-kierunkowskazu-fso,3,14128,1921

https://sklep.regmot.com.pl/wkret-mocowania-lampy-tylnej-fiat-126p-dlugi,3,14128,1068

https://sklep.regmot.com.pl/wkret-mocowania-lampy-tylnej-dlugi-pomaranczowy-fi,3,14128,16732

https://sklep.regmot.com.pl/wkret-mocowania-lampy-tylnej-dlugi-fiat-126p,3,14128,16369

I see that they also have BIS/EL taillight covers in stock so maybe the shortage is a thing of the past.

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  • 1 month later...

I put this in for an MOT, the drive was OK, it still feels like everything is about to fall off, but I still think it's quite cute and everybody looks at it.

The indicators failed on the way there, and the fail sheet was quite disasterous. I put it on an ebay auction - a car I paid £1450 with about 300 spent on it, and it went for £1350. 😪 The fella I bought it off had it up for £2000. I think I should have done the whole "I'm walking away" with £900 in me 'aaand.

One of the things it failed on was king pins in the front suspension being loose, which is probably the most expensive thing to fix on the whole thing - I bought recon ones for £175, because they're horrible to do, and I tried. I got in touch with someone who refurbs them, and even he said he hated doing them. They had significant play in them even off the car. It took approximately ONE HOUR to remove, change bearings, refit hubs, brake components and other bits and put back on. I reckon you could rebuild every component on the car in a weekend.

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I fixed the broken headlight mounts by modelling and printing out some new ones, and just make nice fitting washers for the lens where the original plastic head screws had broken. These work great, even using a crude wood screw to hold them on. I love 3D printers!

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I replaced the bushes on the gear change column, which always go. I just couldn't find more than two gears no matter how much I adjusted them, it was like stirring bricks with Pepperami - taking the whole thing out (10 minute job) showed original bushes were cracked! I bought a brand new shaft with pressed bearings on and new bushes for the rest. It changes 'beautifully' now!

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The passenger seat runners were completely seized and bent. No amount of messing would straighten them, I found a pair of ball bearing runners from my old Peugeout 106 that luckily I didn't throw out. I welded these onto the frame and the seat is fantastic now. Bolted to the floor with 1" box section.

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I cleaned up the wheels and sprayed them a nice grey - they only need the wheel caps to look nice now. Also yellowed the headlights and painted the terrible front bumper with 2pk satin black.

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The only thing it needs now for another test (retest lapsed today due to new parts arriving too late), is a 'boot' on the rear outer driveshaft - it a one inch wide bit of rubber. I think I'll make my own - shafts unbolt and are a synch to change.

The other thing is the indicator flasher - they stopped on the way to the MOT as mentioned, and I haven't been able to cure it with new flasher relays. The old one is broken, and I'm wondering if new relays are incompatible with difference in pin order connections. It's one of those metal cylinder types, but I can't get one from anywhere local new. Does anyone know what the other ones do - the second from left is burnt out, I think it's the intermittant wiper relay.

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Fuck me, this fucking car, etc

Spent a fair few days trying to track down a relay for this. Just as a reminder it looks like this:

76C51317-2BBD-4D21-AE78-9805FB36C169.thumb.jpeg.eb821728831d5948249702430a15e46e.jpeg

I think the ones on these are earthed from the indicator stalk or something. No wiring diagrams on the internet though. Visited every scrapyard and motor factor (most of whom looked at my like I had two heads) in the area, closest I got was one saying they offloaded a load to someone called Greg. Greg said it was at the back of his garage somewhere and he might sort it out one day.

I finally went to a scrappy in north Wales and bought as many relays as I could. I got it all wired up and working in about 8 hours, but the brake lights don’t work. 🥲

Only have to change a driveshaft boot which is tiny and it’s ready for another full price mot as I missed the retest.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, DavidB said:

Fuck me, this fucking car, etc

Spent a fair few days trying to track down a relay for this. Just as a reminder it looks like this:

76C51317-2BBD-4D21-AE78-9805FB36C169.thumb.jpeg.eb821728831d5948249702430a15e46e.jpeg

I think the ones on these are earthed from the indicator stalk or something. No wiring diagrams on the internet though. Visited every scrapyard and motor factor (most of whom looked at my like I had two heads) in the area, closest I got was one saying they offloaded a load to someone called Greg. Greg said it was at the back of his garage somewhere and he might sort it out one day.

I finally went to a scrappy in north Wales and bought as many relays as I could. I got it all wired up and working in about 8 hours, but the brake lights don’t work. 🥲
 

 

 

Ugh sorry to hear that... we've all been through it with cars at this stage.  Keep at it, you'll get there though! 
 

If you've been digging around under the dash working on the indicator circuitry make sure it's not just a case of you knocking a wire off the brake light switch or jostled a fuse.

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2 hours ago, DavidB said:

Fuck me, this fucking car, etc

Spent a fair few days trying to track down a relay for this. Just as a reminder it looks like this:

76C51317-2BBD-4D21-AE78-9805FB36C169.thumb.jpeg.eb821728831d5948249702430a15e46e.jpeg

I think the ones on these are earthed from the indicator stalk or something. No wiring diagrams on the internet though. Visited every scrapyard and motor factor (most of whom looked at my like I had two heads) in the area, closest I got was one saying they offloaded a load to someone called Greg. Greg said it was at the back of his garage somewhere and he might sort it out one day.

I finally went to a scrappy in north Wales and bought as many relays as I could. I got it all wired up and working in about 8 hours, but the brake lights don’t work. 🥲

Only have to change a driveshaft boot which is tiny and it’s ready for another full price mot as I missed the retest.

 

 

Looks like a fairly standard flasher can. Are they NLA?

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Don’t know, I had to do a rewire, different to modern ones anyway. Have tried to get the bulb on the dashboard to flash but it just spazzes out the relay if I connect to the relevant relay pin.

I fixed the brake light issue which was a loose connector, and then put new coolant in - it decided to wait until I did this to start emptying the contents of the cooling system.

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I removed the rad and heater matrix and flushed them both out. There’s something very satisfying about flushing solid silty orange water out until it’s clear! There was so much sediment in both.
MOT is tomorrow so hope nothing else goes wrong.

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