4 speed vs 5 speed transmission

Discussion in 'Front-Engine Rear Drive Fiats' started by Familiare, Dec 21, 2019.

  1. Familiare

    Familiare Low Mileage

    Dear all,

    For my first post, I've got a couple of questions.

    I've bought a RHD 1970 124 Wagon which is surprisingly rust free. It is however mechanically very tired.

    At some point the standard 4 speed transmission had been run out of oil (leaking + difficult access to filler, I guess) and as a result, it needs rebuilding. I'm wondering whether I should just replace it with a later model 5 speed unit and therefore have a number of questions.

    Do the later Lada/Fiat 5 speed transmissions have the same bell housing bolt pattern - either from the transmission housing to the bell housing or from the bell housing to the rear of the crankcase?
    Are they longer necessitating surgery to the transmission tunnel for the shift lever and/or a shorter tailshaft?
    Can I still use the cable clutch or do I need to fit a hydraulic one?
    Are the 5 speed boxes better in terms of wear and tear etc.?

    At some point I'll also need to attend to the engine as it also needs a refresh. It is a 1438cc OHV unit. Should I replace it with a twincam engine - if I can find one and if it fits, that is?

    I guess in general I'm also seeking to find out just how interchangeable are parts between the various 124 and other models (eg 132).

    Kind regards,
  2. Familiare

    Familiare Low Mileage

    A couple of photos.

    The previous owner added a few 'enhancements' and labelled them all with Dymo tape ...

    Fiat 124 Wagon 6.jpg Fiat 124 Wagon 6.jpg Fiat 124 Wagon 7.jpg Fiat 124 Wagon 5.jpg Fiat 124 Wagon 6.jpg Fiat 124 Wagon 7.jpg Fiat 124 Wagon 5.jpg Fiat 124 Wagon 4.jpg
    Anandastar likes this.
  3. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Sin City
    Welcome to the forum.
    I'll let others give you opinions about the engine and transmission. But I like the car a lot. Not too sure about the add-on forward set of mirrors though. And the labels are also a bit odd. Otherwise very cool. Please post more pics.
  4. flaviaman

    flaviaman Low Mileage

    Vernonia, Oregon
    I learned to drive on a 1438 wagon back when they were new, this brings back many fond memories.

    I do think you need a few more guages however!

    Merry Christmas
  5. Familiare

    Familiare Low Mileage


    I'm the second owner. The original owner bought the car new in Adelaide (South Australia) in 1970 and drove it for 30 years then 'donated' it to a local car museum for static display when he got too old to drive. He looked after it very well - regularly serviced, always garaged and never driven in bad weather. He was a musician and quite eccentric, hence the gauges and labels. I bought it from his estate a few months ago and had it transported to where I live, 2100km (1300 miles) away in Queensland.

    Because it has sat unused for years it needs recommissioning. Virtually every rubber seal, gasket and bush has deteriorated. The rear brakes have seized and oil had run out of the diff, the transmission and the steering box. The engine oil was also very old. Luckily, or not, the water had been deliberately drained years ago as well.

    I own a shed and it's been on my hoist for the last couple of months while I strip everything mechanical and rebuild the parts. The transmission may actually be OK.

    Once I sort the mechanical items I'll move to the interior - not much needs doing here, just new door seals etc.

    I'm going to leave all the accessories in situ - it gives the car a really nice quirkiness and speaks volumes of its history and original owner. The only things I've removed are the wing mirrors and the roof rack.

    I do have one other question - how do you remove the front springs? I have both an external coil spring compressor and an internal one. I can't get enough coils within the hooks for the internal one to work properly and was considering using it to compress the top of the spring against the lower pan. Is this a safe option? Other cars I've worked on either have springs amenable to external compression or removable lower spring pans. I need to strip the front suspension to replace the bushes and ball joints.

    I'll take more photos and post them soon.

    Merry Xmas,
  6. kmead

    kmead Old enough to know better

    The easiest way to remove and install the front springs is to raise the car @2’ high. Put a jack under the ball joint of the lower A arm and lift the lower a arm a few inches. Undo the shock and remove it. Remove the nut from the lower or upper ball joint to the steering knuckle and pop the ball joint out of the steering knuckle. Lower the jack, the a arm will extend down and the spring will extend. If the jack even when fully down is still holding the arm up and the spring isn’t fully extended you may have to lift the arm up by hand to extricate the jack, at this point the spring is barely under tension sho it should be easy to pull it up by hand. You can then let the arm fully rotate and the spring will be untensioned and you can remove it.

    I usually remove the steering knuckle completely before releasing the spring, it is easier and there is more room to maneuver the spring out.

    The good thing about this approach is that the spring is under no compression when you are done and when you are compressing it you are able to be out of the line of fire and the ends are fully captured so when you are recompressing it there is little if any danger.

    Installation is the reverse. This is much easier and much faster than using spring compressors.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2019
  7. Familiare

    Familiare Low Mileage

    More photos.

    Cleared rear end. Diff and tailshaft are being rebuilt. The diff was leaking (pinion seal) and the rear axle bearings very noisy.

    Cleaned, powder coated and fitted with new poly bushes. Awaiting the diff to reinstall.


    Cleaned, checked and fitted with new valve stem seals.


    Weber (Holley) carburettor stripped, cleaned and fitted with new diaphragm accelerator pump, gaskets etc.


    Front hubs removed, bearings cleaned and repacked, new grease/oil seals. All steering parts cleaned. Brake calipers stripped and awaiting seal kits. New track rods ordered.

    Next job is to remove the springs and the front cross member. All will be cleaned, rebushed, new ball joints and engine mounts.


    I have a lot mote photos, but you get the idea.


    Attached Files:

    kmead likes this.
  8. ghostdancing

    ghostdancing True Classic

    nice 124 downunder! also like the red giulia and 124 coupè lurking in your first pic..
    kmead likes this.
  9. carl

    carl True Classic

    How about just installing a twin cam with a 124 five speed and cable operated clutch? The five speed shifter will probably come up through the trans tunnel in a different position and I'm not sure which driveshaft will fit right. I don't know if the five speed will just bolt up to your motor. You might get more info if you ask this on Mirafiori.com which focusses more on the 124 based Fiats.
  10. BEEK

    BEEK True Classic

    Clermont Fl
    a 5 speed will bolt up. you can interchange bell housings between dohc and sohc. I would look into a lada 5 speed, the shifter comes out in the same place as the 4 speed. they are real cheap brand new and you can bolt on a fiat bell housing
  11. Familiare

    Familiare Low Mileage

    Thanks - just what I needed to know :)

    BTW, the cars in the background of one of the photos belong to a mate of mine - he owns over 50 Italian cars of various marques, ages and models. My 124 was delivered there first as I was away at the time.

    I'll have a look at the Mirafiori bulletin board. As this is my first 124, at the moment I'm still trying to find out where I should ask my questions.

  12. Jefco

    Jefco Daily Driver

    Portland OR
    Love the Oregon plate!

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