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My 1978 Fiat 900T van. And the rest of my fleet...(3 years later!!! ...Updated 11/12/23)


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Right, I've been meaning to do this for a long time and as I have now got a decent camera and I'm making a lot more progress on my van restoration, I thought I would start a thread about it. I'm also quiet at work this afternoon, so it's an ideal opportunity :)

I have posted pictures of the van before so some shiters may already know about it but others may not. It is a 1978 Fiat 900T 'Citivan' the base of which was used to build the Amigo, Pandora and other camper van variants. As any type of van always tend to lead a hard life, it is these camper variants that are the survivors.

It is my intention to post the progress so far and then update this thread as I carry on.

I will start with the van as it was when I took ownership in December 2004. The following pictures were taken after I had unloaded all the mechanical and body spare parts that came with it, and I was getting it ready for jet washing.

First, have a quick walk round, as you can see it's a bit scruffy :lol:

A bit more detail then, let's have a closer look...


VERY CRUSTY, but structurally solid, and the majority of the panels (a mix of new old stock and bits chopped out of camper versions) needed to restore her came with it. I've also managed to source a few other bits in the past six years.

Step inside...

I then set about with the angle grinder and made a bit of progress. I replaced the nearside outer sill, and patched up the inner sill. The outrigger were the jacking point sits was rotten so I rebuilt that. Replaced the dented section halfway up the rear corner and replaced the bottom rear corner. Unfortunately I don't seem to have any pictures of when I did this work.

This was all well and good, but as usual, like many shiters, I ended up having to concentrate on other members of my fleet.

So the last time I worked in earnest on the van was a week off work in September 2008 when I tacked in a new front door sill on the nearside.


This crappy phone image is the only pic in my Photobucket from that time.

It then gathered dust until September 2010, when I was able to free up space in the garage.

That will be my next installment.

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Look forward to seeing this progress. Remember going with my folks to view a camper varient in 1979 at a garage in Yeadon near leeds. Suffice to say I think my mum thought it a tad small for 4 of us !! anyways we bought a sprite alpine caravan instead. Ah the memories. Surprised that has lasted so long, they always seemed to look scruffy even when new .. :)

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Strange fact for ya, The Squire of Knotty Ash's loyal sidekicks The Diddy Men used to travel about in a minibus spec one of those.


I only live about half a mile away from the Jam Butty Mines (near the broken biscuit factory) of Knotty Ash and used to see it quite often.


Ken Dodd has an immaculate Riley Elf he uses to go to the Post Office in nowadays, but he goes to gigs in a light blue T reg Primera.

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@ Pompei - Mainly Fiats was a company on the Isle of Man, which is were this van spent most of it's life.

@ Boobydoo - Probably going for a nice finish rather than Mint, but we'll see. It will be summer use only though.


OK, back to the progress.


Last year my Sis moved to a house with a garage. This meant I could put the Panda 45CL into winter storage at her place. As the Panda shared garage space with the van it meant any work I did on the van was confined to the summer months and I had to pack all my tools/gear away at the end of the day to bring the Panda in. Freeing up the space meant I could work on the van during the winter evenings, leave gear out, then pick it up and carry on were I'd left off the previous evening.


So the Panda and the 126 as well, went off to my Sis for winter storage.


It was now time to sort the van out after 2 years of not doing anything. First thing was to get it running again. It was running when I got it but gradually it had stopped turning over. Having it running would also make it easier to turn round as the brakes are solid. I mentioned this to my mate. If something isn't running he HAS to have a go at getting it going, it's like a red rag to a bull. So when he came to pick up the trailer I'd borrowed from him, he set to in the engine bay. After 15 mins it was running, diagnosed as a loose connection somewhere on the steering column. Fiddling about with the wiring then got the engine turning over on the key. Jobs a good un. While he was there, we also used the opportunity to carefully take the windscreen out without resorting to cutting the rubber.


One of the main reasons I wanted to get the engine running was because I intended to take it out...I thought it would be pointless without knowing whether the starting problem was mechanical. I'd also bought a new welder, but I had to wait for it to be built, so engine and gearbox out was the first task while I waited for my welder to arrive.


So over a week of evenings I set about the engine and gearbox, eventually dropping it all, and pushing the van out over it.


Pictures aren't brilliant I'm afraid






I split the engine and box, then cleaned out the engine bay and 30 years of crap off the gearbox. I used white spirit, rags, paintbrushes and old toothbrushes - Horrible job :x


When my new welder arrived I set to, finishing the nearside door sill that I'd just tacked on in Sept 08. I then started on the front of the van. I welded up the aerial hole, and repaired the crash damage on the front off side corner (A good section cut from another van came with it). When I cut the crap out, the damage was non-structural, just superficial. So a lot of careful measurements and alignment sorted it out. I also cut out the rotten wheelarch and door sill. I patched up the inner sill and the associated outrigger and fitted the new outer wheelarch and door sill I'd got off Italian Ebay.






That's it for this installment, more later.

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You're a hero!


As you said, vans tend to lead hard lives before they are unceremoniously dumped at young ages. This makes work-spec survivors all the more exciting. I remember these little vans being everywhere until the Orientals started bombarding us with Rascals and the like, then somehow all the Fiats just melted away.


All through my childhood we usually had a van; I remember two Anglia versions, one of which was brand new in about 1963. Later I spent big chunks of my career driving vans of various sizes, so you can imagine I have a big soft spot for a preserved van. I spotted an Anglia van in a farmyard recently, so maybe there's my next project.....

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Next Session.


One of the main reasons the windscreen had to come out was because there was some nasty bubbling round the corner of the screen. A few prods with the screwdriver revealed the following little horror.....






As you can see, it had even spread into the dash top. So a few nights with the dremel and bodywork hammers and formers, I was able to weld in a repair doing it bit by bit. Just needs final sanding now.






Now, it was time to deal with the side panels. I picked the large centre panel up from Betacar in Bradford a few months after I got the van. The rear arch and petrol filler panel I got from Italian E-bay at the back end of last year. It was now time to fit them :D




I ended up cutting the centre panel and using the top half to cut patch sections out of. I also welded up the holes for the trim as this was only on the 900E version.





Top of the sill needed patching. Sill now patched.




I carried on cutting...





I cleaned up the rear arch and painted it and the inside. I was ready to weld in the rear panel.





Panel was tacked at the bottom and then I welded from inside the van. You can also see the patch I cut from the top of the centre panel.


That's it for now. Wallander is on soon. :)

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Thanks for the positive comments guys :):)


love those cosmic alloys 8)


Ben, the wheels aren't Cosmics, they are Goodyear Geminis. I'm going to get them cleaned/refurbed. I actually don't have a set of original steels for the 900T :cry: so that is one thing I am on the look out for as it would be nice to have the correct originals as well as the alloys. It's on a set of Panda steels at the moment.


Now, after doing the side panels, it was time to tackle the bottom rear corner, which was pretty crappy. Luckily I had an excellent outer panel that had previously been fitted to a van, but then cut off, and also a whole 'chunk' that had been gas axed off another. This section wasn't perfect, but it was better than the internal corner sections that were on the van. So using a spot weld cutter I broke it down into bits on the bench. I could then repair and weld up the pieces I wanted to utilise on the van. It was when I cut the bottom corner off that I realised that the main mid section of the corner had been bashed at some point, so investigation with a cup brush on the grinder revealed a good inch of filler, so I ended up cutting that out too.







I decided access would be improved if I removed the battery tray and the bottom closing section. So I set about them with the spot weld cutter.






I then welded the holes in the wheel arch and started letting in the sections from the 'chunk' that I dismantled on the bench.




Unfortunately, I now jump to having welded in the main section and ground the welds, re-welded the closing section and the re-welded the battery tray. And painted it all...




I then closed it all in by fitting the corner panel. I used a panel I bought of German E-bay a few years ago. It was for an earlier 600T so the light fitting were different. As well as cutting the panel in half, this meant I also had to cut the section were the light fits from the old panel and weld it into the new one. It's for welding jobs like this the intergrip clamps come into their own :D






I then welded in the bottom section which was pretty straightforward. I then ground the welds down and covered them in etch primer.




That's it for now.

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Some utterly WELDTASTIC work here Vinster, I love these little things but I don't think I've ever seen a normal van version on the road. I'm glad you're keeping it that blue colour too, very nice.



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Fabulous. What I find incredible is that folk like you and Mr Bol not only do brilliant work saving utterly rotten ol' shite, but document it so well too!


I agree, I always find threads like this enjoyable to see as well and can really appreciate how much hard work goes into a job like this, Well done!

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totally take your point re camers being the survivors - the only running Mk1 sherpaz are camper vans

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This is how the Intergrip clamps work. They are great for butt welding, but you have to be able to get to the square bar when you've finished...







The next part I tackled was a section above the drivers door. This area was pretty rotten and and the gutter was bent. The same area on the other side was OK, so I don't know why the drivers side was like this. My mate suggested it could have been past roof-rack damage...possibility I suppose.


You can maybe just make out the 'sag' of the gutter in this picture.




My concern with this section was that there is a channel behind which carries some of the wiring and this channel was rotten, you can see it in this pic above the yellow door with the wiring running along the channel. The bracing you can see was actually in good nick on the drivers side, just the top of the channel being rotten.





I had a ponder and decided I would bite the bullet and cut the section out. This meant I would have to take extra care when putting it back as I would have to line up the swage line and gutter perfectly. So I cut this section out up to the bracing and worked on it on the workbench, cutting out metal with the dremel and welding new metal in trying not to distort it. With the section removed I was able to make and weld in a new wire channel.


Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of this stage and only remembered when I was tacking it all back together.





Below is the finished job. A poor picture, but I'd just ground the welds down and had ran out of etch primer. The swage and gutter lined up though (the gutter needed a slight tap with a hammer) and there was no distortion, which I had been worried about so I was quite pleased.



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They design of these dates back to Fiat 600 times - they are really just a more practical van version of the Multipla. They were gradually updated with different mechanical bits to match whatever the small saloons had at that time. This being a late 900T I would guess it's the 903cc from the 127 that's in here.

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This is amazing work, bloody well done! The fact that it's a FIAT and not a VW panel van or camper makes it so much better, rare and so worth saving especially as you will be doing it for the right reasons. 8):D

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They design of these dates back to Fiat 600 times - they are really just a more practical van version of the Multipla. They were gradually updated with different mechanical bits to match whatever the small saloons had at that time. This being a late 900T I would guess it's the 903cc from the 127 that's in here.


You are correct Barrett, it is a 903cc in this van, but it's from the 850, same engine as the 127/128/Panda MK1, but running the other way. You could put the engine out of 127 or 128 in the van but you'd have 1 forward gear and 4 reverse gears.


Also, check out an original Multipla and you will see that the back half is a 600...


A bit more progress. For the past fortnight I've been mucking about trying to get the driver's door sorted out. Not long after I got the van, I got what I thought were a good set of yellow doors from an old lady in the midlands. It was only recently, when trying to get the drivers door to sit properly when I was doing the repairs, that I realised they were full of Glen. It had been a professional job by the look of and was actually very good, but I'd rather have metal than filler, so I ended up digging it all out to find the drivers door was actually worse than the original. For this reason I decided to repair the original door.


The van came with a few doors in crap condition, but the areas that were affected on the original door wasn't affected on the spare, so I could make two into one. I stripped the original door down, but left the winding mechanism and pullies in place as I hat having to unwind twisted mechanisms.


Donor door




Original door




I then cut the door skin and welded in the replacement section. I didn't take any picture of the welding process unfortunately.




Much to my annoyance, I managed to distort part of it while I was welding the skin. This meant that when I ground the welds down there was a 'furrow' along part of the weld. I had to fill it and it took me all afternoon to get it looking right. It's covered in stopper at the moment, which i'll smooth off nearer painting time.





I'm now off work for two weeks, but I'm not going anywhere. I'm spending my holiday in the garage, so no doubt expect some updates as the fortnight progresses.

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I have never managed to do a door bottom without getting a shatload of distortion in the doorskin, no matter how slowly I go. That looks like an ace job!

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