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Thread: Anyone familiar with X1/9s?

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    Registered User SportBikeMike's Avatar
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    Default Anyone familiar with X1/9s?

    OK I recently sold my 280ZX-T and had plans to buy something more practical, probably a pickup truck. But as usual I got sidetracked when going through the classified and stumbled upon this ad for a '84 Bertone X1/9 with only 15,600 miles and a price of $5K.

    Of course I've always been a Datsun/Nissan guy and know NOTHING about these cars. I did go look at it yesterday.....and its very clean with just a small amount of surface rust. The interior is like a new car. I was pleasantly surprised at the roominess, at 6'2 and over 200 lbs., I was able to easily get comfortable. The car was a hoot to drive, alot quicker than you would think for something with just 75 hp, and extremely nimble....almost go-cart like. Of course it has that Italian "pizzazz". The current owner is in his 70s and is selling it because he is just too old to drive it and because of his bad back.

    I've did some googling, and have got horror stories on the reliability (lack-of) and rust issues. I've also seen stories of people driving them 100K mies with minimal problems. Anyone on here have any experience with these cars and could give me some advice.....or warnings?

    Here are a few pics:






    Any advice is appreciated!
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
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    One passed me when I was a kid walking along the highway living in the stix. Instantly fell in love with 2 seaters.
    There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply.
    The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey.


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    Registered User Walter Moore's Avatar
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    I had a friend who owned one in the early 80's. He said it was the safest car he ever owned. The only way you could get hurt was if it fell off the jack stands and crushed you.

    When it worked, it was cool. I gather like a lot of Italian cars (and many American cars) if you got one that was "good" then it ran forever. But there were a lot of problems with that car. My friend's was a much earlier year than 84. (Mid to late 70's)

    His car had a 7 foot cable that connected the clutch pedal to the clutch master cylinder. It had a hydraulic clutch, but a cable to connect the pedal to the master cylinder. (strange I know...) On his car this cable kept breaking in a particular location. At first it would last a couple of months, then weeks, and by the end it would be broken within 24 hours of being replaced. I gather that someone eventually told him that this happened when there was a problem with the tunnel through which the cable ran. It became progressively worse until the car was junk. The only way to repair this was to cut the unibody open and rebuild something.

    He also had electrical problems that could not be cured. One of the problems (I don't recall what it was) he looked up in the Fiat factory service manual and it literally said something to the effect that the cause was unknown.

    On the other hand, my friend is the only person whom I ever knew who drove faster and more recklessly than I did at that point in my life. So there is the strong possibility that he just beat the car to death. If the current owner of the car you are looking at just drove it like it was an economy car, which I believe was it's actual intended purpose, it may have served him very well. I would just caution you that in my experience, flogging an X/19 isn't a good idea.
    '71 240Z, Because any fool can drive fast in a straight line.

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    Sure, I think that's a lot more practical. :-P

    Neat looking car though, I remember seeing these on the road back in HS.
    Mike

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    Semi-retired admin Arne's Avatar
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    A friend and co-worker bought one new in '76. They were still 1300cc carb'd then. Handled like a go-kart. Not very fast, though. He spent a pile of money on that motor, trying to turn it into a four-cylinder Ferrari. By the time he was done (head work, pistons, big valves, cam, exhaust and dual 2-bbl Webers), it was a snarly sounding mini-beast. Much quicker than stock, but still not really fast. After the motor was de-bugged, given regular maintenance it was reasonably reliable. He drove it daily that way for several years. His ex got the car in the divorce, I don't think it survived a year in her hands. She didn't understand its needs.

    Given his experience, I'd say that with good maintenance, and left fairly stock, an X1/9 could be a fun toy. I think the only consistent trouble area I can recall was wheel bearings. The early cars were pretty hard on them. Don't know if the later cars were the same.
    Arne - Former owner, HLS30-37705, 7/71, 905 Red
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    F ix
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    In the 70's & early 80's there was a mall near me(West Farms Mall)that was the local stolen car capitol.A friend had a X1/9 and he detailed it to the hilt.Parked it at the mall WITH the keys on the floor.2 weeks later Mall security called him and told him to come take his car home.

    Nobody has ever really wanted a Fiat.Mike-run.Run away fast.Screaming is optional.Walter's story is standard fare.
    Faster than anyone in Oceanside

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    An X1/9 is the cover story on the latest issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car. They may be less prone to pre-judge than others. Worth a look.
    Arne - Former owner, HLS30-37705, 7/71, 905 Red
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arne View Post
    An X1/9 is the cover story on the latest issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car. They may be less prone to pre-judge than others. Worth a look.
    Arne, I actually subscribe to that magazine. Thats what got me interested in the car. Before reading that article, I hardly knew these cars existed. I've owned Italian motorcycles and have thought about getting an Italian car, but can't afford a Ferrari or Lamborghini, so this might be my best bet.

    The current owner is in his 70s. He was probably late 40s/early 50s when he bought the car. I'm pretty sure its never been abused or driven hard. He said he just used it for casual Summer crusing on the weekends, and the overall condition of the car would confirm this. No signs of abuse that I could detect, and I looked her over real well.

    For the record, no matter how many cars/bikes I obtain, the Z is going nowhere! It will always have a place in my garage.
    Last edited by SportBikeMike; 07-10-2011 at 06:57 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z train View Post
    F ix
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    F riggin'
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    T ransportation


    In the 70's & early 80's there was a mall near me(West Farms Mall)that was the local stolen car capitol.A friend had a X1/9 and he detailed it to the hilt.Parked it at the mall WITH the keys on the floor.2 weeks later Mall security called him and told him to come take his car home.

    Nobody has ever really wanted a Fiat.Mike-run.Run away fast.Screaming is optional.Walter's story is standard fare.
    Its not a Fiat, its a Bertone!
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
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    Last edited by Blue; 07-10-2011 at 07:04 PM.
    There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply.
    The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey.


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    I knew a couple guys that owned them back when I was a late teen. I remember one of them was mid seventies and the guy had alot of trouble. He broght it to my uncle to look at. I remember my uncle shaking his head looking the car over, saying what an absolute PITA it was to work on. He said you needed a special tool to get the plugs out. A couple years later, a guy at my old job bought a '78 (He had traded a "77 Trans Am for it). He owned it about 3 months(traded it in on a "79 RX7). He liked the car initially but grew very tired of its quirkiness and lack of power very quickly.

    Driving back from a picnic, 4th of July, I saw a red Dino sitting out at a dealer lot way outside of town in the sticks....it had some weeds growing up around it in the gravel lot, must have been sitting there for awhile. I fought the temptation to pull over and look at it, twice, coming and going....helped my lovely wife was with me.

    Finally, on the Fiat front, a co-worker came in Friday with a new Red Fiat 500...Im old enought to remember why they pulled out of the U.S., hopefully, they have their act together now.
    1977 280Z
    I'm great at taking my Z apart, putting it back together has been a whole different story.

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    Registered User SportBikeMike's Avatar
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    Dude, I can't believe you didn't look at the Dino! I've honestly never even seen one in person....

    Anyway, if I buy the X1/9, it would just be a weekend toy like the Z. I could see where they might get annoying as a daily driver.
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arne View Post
    They may be less prone to pre-judge than others.
    You might have a point.After all,magazine editors(30 years later)should know more than someone who was there when these cars were new-right?

    Quote Originally Posted by SportBikeMike View Post
    Its not a Fiat, its a Bertone!
    Well,Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse meeeeeeeeee.
    Last edited by Arne; 07-10-2011 at 08:11 PM. Reason: quote tag repair
    Faster than anyone in Oceanside

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    Quote Originally Posted by Z train View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Arne View Post
    They may be less prone to pre-judge than others.
    You might have a point.After all,magazine editors(30 years later)should know more than someone who was there when these cars were new-right?



    Well,Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse meeeeeeeeee.
    Just giving you a hard time Benny Hill. I realize its pretty much the exact same car, just different badging.
    Last edited by Arne; 07-10-2011 at 08:13 PM. Reason: quote tag repair
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arne View Post
    An X1/9 is the cover story on the latest issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car. They may be less prone to pre-judge than others. Worth a look.
    Quote Originally Posted by SportBikeMike View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Arne View Post
    They may be less prone to pre-judge than others.
    Just giving you a hard time Benny Hill. I realize its pretty much the exact same car, just different badging.
    Oh,i know that.That's why i responded with the Steve Martin line from the same era.IF you get the car,please let us know when you think you are ready for the nut-house.
    Last edited by Arne; 07-10-2011 at 08:16 PM. Reason: more quote tag repair
    Faster than anyone in Oceanside

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    Quote Originally Posted by Z train View Post
    You might have a point.After all,magazine editors(30 years later)should know more than someone who was there when these cars were new-right?
    Don't forget, I was there when they were new as well. Your single experience does not a statistical universe make. As with many cars, I suspect a whole lot of reliability is how they were taken care of.
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    Two majot frailties with FIATS....

    1. They used a lot of Russian steel and you can almost hear them rusting...
    2. They tend to go waaaaay overboard on the use of relays. Had a 124 Sport Coupe that I swear had relays for the relayed relays and never leave home without a spare fuel pump relay or two.

    Just my experience..

    Would rather drive a British car with two moving parts than an Italian car with 127......
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Palmer View Post
    Two majot frailties with FIATS....

    1. They used a lot of Russian steel and you can almost hear them rusting...
    2. They tend to go waaaaay overboard on the use of relays. Had a 124 Sport Coupe that I swear had relays for the relayed relays and never leave home without a spare fuel pump relay or two.

    Just my experience..

    Would rather drive a British car with two moving parts than an Italian car with 127......
    Come to think of it there is an MGB for sale here on a used car lot. You don't know how rare it is to have to vintage sports cars for sale at the same time here....

    I agree about the relays and Italian electronics. Been down that road with my bikes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arne View Post
    Don't forget, I was there when they were new as well. Your single experience does not a statistical universe make. As with many cars, I suspect a whole lot of reliability is how they were taken care of.
    Exactly! Thats the conclusion I've reached from my research on these cars. Sure they're piles of crap.....if not maintained. Just like every other car.
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
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    I have always liked them, but have heard they are dog slow and a nightmare to keep running. That said, I'd LOVE to have this car.

    http://www.kilometermagazine.com/art...a_Splatos.html

    It raced at GingerMan in LeMons and was fantastic to see on the track.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff G 78 View Post
    I have always liked them, but have heard they are dog slow and a nightmare to keep running. That said, I'd LOVE to have this car.

    http://www.kilometermagazine.com/art...a_Splatos.html

    It raced at GingerMan in LeMons and was fantastic to see on the track.
    I would love a Stratos!


    The X1/9 engine is surprisingly lively for only being rated at 75 hp. Maybe its the high revving nature and the sporty sound that give you the impression you're going faster than you are. 0-60 times I've seen are usually in the 10-12 second range, so rockets they're not......but fun nonetheless.
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
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    Quote Originally Posted by SportBikeMike View Post
    Exactly! Thats the conclusion I've reached from my research on these cars. Sure they're piles of crap.....if not maintained. Just like every other car.
    That's so true, just look at all the well maintained Yugo's that you see still running about!
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    I've owned 2 124's and my bro had an X1/9. Extremely fun to drive and never had a problem with any of them that I couldn't fix. Just like a Z, you need to know how to keep them running (or know a good mechanic). I look at it this way: The Z is to Japanese sports cars as the MG is to the British sports cars as the Fiat is to Italian sports cars. They were all an inexpensive way to get into a specific class of sports car.

    I actually searched CL for fiats in my area last night. Extremely hard to find "solid" Fiats in my part of the country but I will keep looking.

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    Fabrica Ignonima Automobi Torino, I think. Had one as a cast-off from my father-in-law who had a penchant for buying interesting but worn out stuff just for the enjoyment, "If you can get that thing running, you can have it." It had been wrecked and poorly repaired, but indeed, I had a ball with it. First, I got over my fear of tearing into the transmission to replace some synchros, then fatter little tires, lots of loving the effort it took to keep it running just to scoot around corners, and it became my daily driver for a couple of years, until I just got tired of the electronics gremlins, as some have pointed out. NOT so good at night or in a downpour; worst in a downpour at night, with poor pot-up headlights, and a very light front. My wife and I even took a couple of very memorable day-long road trips, and the targa top was a plus, since the AC never did work. Would I own another? Yes! Definitely. Cheap fun really, especially if you like an "intimate" interior. It would make a great base for an EV. Lots of empty spaces for batteries in such a small car. You might search some engine swaps. Some very interesting things have been stuffed into them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alternativez View Post
    ...You might search some engine swaps. Some very interesting things have been stuffed into them.
    Did you check out the link I posted above? The LeMons team stuffed an Alfa twin cam V6 in the little X1/9 and it transformed it intoa seriously quick little car. It went from 75hp to 190hp with the swap and all was done on the cheap to keep the X1/9 as a $500 race car.
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    I don't know why anyone would bother with a Fiat X 1/9 for $5K - when you can find a very solid 1990+ Toyota MR2 or perhaps MR2 Turbo - for just a couple thousand more.

    I sold FIAT, DATSUN and SABB in the early 70's and VW / FIAT & Lancia in 75... I'd avoid buying any Fiat - short of the 2.0L 124 Spyders - - even then it takes a careful and caring owner.

    If your looking for a street rod project - swap the Toyota's MR2 turbo engine and drive train into a less expensive X 1 1/9...

    FWIW,
    Carl B.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Beck View Post
    I don't know why anyone would bother with a Fiat X 1/9 for $5K - when you can find a very solid 1990+ Toyota MR2 or perhaps MR2 Turbo - for just a couple thousand more.
    Maybe because the second generation MR-2s are ugly?? They may be a vastly superior car, but they are too ugly for me to own. While the Fiat isn't a classic beauty, it's a bunch better than the 90+ MR-2.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SportBikeMike View Post
    I've did some googling, and have got horror stories on the reliability (lack-of) and rust issues. I've also seen stories of people driving them 100K mies with minimal problems. Anyone on here have any experience with these cars and could give me some advice.....or warnings?

    Any advice is appreciated!
    and

    Quote Originally Posted by Arne View Post
    As with many cars, I suspect a whole lot of reliability is how they were taken care of.
    Hi Guys:
    It might be more productive to consider "durability" than "reliability". We would have to agree that how reliable any car is - at any point in time - would depend on how faithfully its owner maintained it according to the manufacture's recommendations. However there can be a large difference in durability between different models from the same manufacturer, or different models from different manufacturers.

    After 40 years on the highways of America in the hands of American drivers - the 240Z has proven itself to be highly durable. The FIAT X 1/9's.... not so much. I'd say that they are fragile by comparison in typical use or abuse here.



    FWIW,
    Carl B.

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    Thanks for the advice and input everyone.

    I was going to go look at the X1/9 again tonite now that I know more what to look for, but decided not to because it looks like its going to storm. Is that some kind of sign I wonder?
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
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    Sigh....

    This whole thread has been yet another example of the general tunnel-vision, arrogance and negativism of a sizable minority of the Z-car community. It is SO easy to find something bad to say about everything. Even the way we pick apart other Zs. Darned few people seem to be willing to look for the good in other cars. Almost makes me want to sell my car and buy a 911. At least with that group the arrogance is expected.

    Back on topic - perhaps the Fiats weren't/aren't as durable as other cars when they are abused at the hands of the typical US drivers. But we aren't talking about a typical abused car or typical US driver here, we're talking about a low-mileage, well cared for example, which would continue to be cared for by an enthusiast while being used as an occasional weekend picnic car. I see no reason at all why this car shouldn't continue to provide driving enjoyment under these circumstances.

    There is more to the automotive world than Zs/Datsuns/Japanese/etc./...
    Arne - Former owner, HLS30-37705, 7/71, 905 Red
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    I have no issues with working to keep a funky car running, but I get upset with the poor engineering. I have worked on several Fiats and they were a pain in the butt. Datsuns are 1000 times more straight forward and well thought out. If an X1/9 in good shape landed in my driveway, I'd cherish it and have a lot of fun.
    Jeff
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  32. #32
    Semi-retired admin Arne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff G 78 View Post
    I have no issues with working to keep a funky car running, but I get upset with the poor engineering.
    Agreed. Although no car is totally immune to poor engineering. Let's face it, the rear diff mounting design on our S30s is a bit of a joke.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff G 78 View Post
    If an X1/9 in good shape landed in my driveway, I'd cherish it and have a lot of fun.
    And that, to me as a car enthusiast, is the whole point. No car is perfect, but if we can have fun with it in one way or another, it's a good hobby.
    Arne - Former owner, HLS30-37705, 7/71, 905 Red
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  33. #33
    Registered User SportBikeMike's Avatar
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    Well I'm planning on going and taking a second look tomorrow (weather permitting). I gave it the once-over last Saturday but now that I've done some research, there are areas I now realize I forgot to check for rust ie. the shock towers. There was some surface rust on the engine cover and a few other small spots. I'm pretty certain though, that the car doesn't have any major rust issues.....just want to make sure.

    I realize the MR2 is probably the superior car......but comparing the MR2 to a X1/9 is like comparing a Honda motorcycle to a Ducati. It just lacks that certain Italian "flair" which is hard to describe.

    Arne is correct in that this car will just be the occasional weekend toy. Always garaged.....right next to the 240Z.....and never abused. Although at 35 mpg, could be an occasional daily driver.
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
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    Registered User Bonzi Lon's Avatar
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    IIRC, Dr. Gadget did an electric X1/9 on some show, Amped, Discovery, something like that. It had some impressive numbers.

    Little brother had one for a while, he still says it was the funnest car he has ever had, but was too much for him to maintain.

    Bonzi Lon
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    Ones and Zeros

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    One thing to consider would be to take a few minutes and call around to some of your parts sources and ask for price and availability if say a water pump, clutch kit and maybe front or rear wheel bearings.

    If you do have fixin' in the future, you should know how readily available parts are.
    Bruce Palmer
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  36. #36
    Former frequent poster sblake01's Avatar
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    On a vagely related note, Fiats are actually coming back this year. At least, the 500 and 500C (cabrio). They are rather low cost, entry level type cars, however.
    http://www.fiatusa.com/en/
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  37. #37
    Registered User SportBikeMike's Avatar
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    Well folks, I looked at (and drove) the car a second time tonite.......had the cash on me, looked the car up and down and underneath, under the engine bay, under both trunks, couldn't find any major problems.....and he was standing there waiting for me to say "I'll buy it".....and I just couldn't do it. Just couldn't "pull the trigger". Something is holding me back. Maybe its my unfamiliarity with Fiat? Maybe its all the negative remarks I've seen? Maybe I'm such a Datsun guy, that I subconsciously look down my nose at all other marques? Or maybe I was little tired and didn't want to deal with buying a car. At any rate, I didn't buy the car.....although I told him I would still "think about it". Any car enthusiast psychologists out there?
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
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    '84 Bertone X 1/9
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  38. #38
    Merchant of Cool Z train's Avatar
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    Mike-you musta had my acronyms running thru your head when you slept the other night.
    Faster than anyone in Oceanside

  39. #39
    Merchant of Cool Z train's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arne View Post
    There is more to the automotive world than Zs/Datsuns/Japanese/etc./...
    If the automotive world is on Earth,then assembly line made Italian cars are from Mars.
    Faster than anyone in Oceanside

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    Quote Originally Posted by Z train View Post
    Mike-you musta had my acronyms running thru your head when you slept the other night.
    I think thats right!

    Its a nice fun car but I did notice a few things:

    1) Reverse was a little notchy. I've read where these cars have a problem with the reverse gear.

    2) although the body is clean, there were some signs of rust on the frame underneath and in the rear trunk. Nothing severe, but enough to make you think twice.

    3) I'm the type that likes to do all my own maintenance (another reason to love the S30!), and this car looks like no fun to work on. A very cramped engine area.
    '82 Datsun 280ZX Turbo
    '14 Ford Focus ST
    '84 Bertone X 1/9
    '07 MV Agusta F4 1000R
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