Andrew's X19 restoration

Andrew Coles

Say no to rice
Apologies to those who have already seen these photos a million times over, but I have decided to compile one single thread of the story of my X19 restoration. Currently I have threads on about 3 different websites that contain bits and bobs, so I have decided to compile all of the information here and then link to this site for anyone else who wants to see. As Xweb V2 now enables a single running thread, what better place to be based! :)

Ive had heaps of ideas of what to do with the car (turbo, supercharged, tarmac rally etc) but in the end Ive settled on a nice period modified resto. The car might see a bit of light duty on the track, in hillclimbs and as a course car for tarmac rally, but it will mostly be used for late night summer runs with the roof off. I was thinking of going more 'race' with this car, but Dad and I realised it would just be a crap race car and a crap road car so why try make it something it isnt? (there might be something a little more serious in the pipeline anyway).

Heres some pics before I started. My X (which was my first car that I bought just after turning 16) didnt have much rust, but the paint job was an absoloute shocker. It was done in a rush by the previous owner without proper surface preparation and it showed. The car looked great from 10m, but any closer and it was a bit dodge. Something had to be done!




Something I'm realising now is that commiting to a full restoration is a very big commitment. Im currently a University student (so dont work full time) which means that due to the resto I'm constantly broke. Whatever spare time I have is spent on the car, and when it isnt I feel guilty that Im not working on the car.

So before I considered this fully, I decided to do a complete nut and bolt ground up resto. I carefully considered the pro's and con's for umm, maybe half an hour or so and then jumped right in. I got up early one morning, took the X for a last spin through the hills (sun shining, roof off) and then pulled into the gargae. I gave a last blip of the throttle then shut her off. I jumped out of the car, grabed some tools and immediatly started ripping my baby apart.



I was supprised at how easily and quickly it all came apart. I'm now realising I shoudlve taken many many more photos, but ah well head scratching is kinda fun I guess (now I know ive seen this part go somewhere before...)


The body was riddled with little flaws like this one. On a trip through the Great Ocean Road I hit a cat at 90kmh, and it dislodged a piece of bog from the front spoilier.



With the engine out, I decided to rip into pulling it apart. I was on my own, I dont have that much mechanical experiance but this didnt concern me. I wrongly assumed that there are millions of people (some of them quite dumb) who can rebuild an engine, so why the hell cant I!. I ripped into stripping it right down - this was probably my biggest mistake. But ah well, ce la vie or however it goes


In their infinite wisdom, my parents decided to purchase a new house. This would mean we would be moving house, which is not the best thing to do in the middle of a resto. But it is free accomodation and free use of the shed (and we were getting a bigger shed with a pit too) so I went along with their plans.

The real estate agent thought an old X19 body shell would somewhat reduce the value of the house, so it had to go before open inspections started. As we hadnt taken the title to the new house yet, the only place for it was the body shop. After much begging (and luckily the guy who's car was next to be done having a heart attack and dying - not a good thing but it worked for us) I managed to get the car in right away. Eddie reckoned it would take 6 months or so to do it on the side.

We hired a trailer, and hitched it up.


This is how she looked when we dropped her off.



I found these cool Bertone stampings inside the interior under the carpet, luckily they are being saved.


Andrew Coles

Say no to rice
While we were moving my Mum found this old photo of me. We werent into Fiats back then (my dad had them when he was younger but had to give them up when the house and family came along). Pretty funny really, sign of things to come 12 years later!


With the body gone I was left with several huge piles of parts. I couldnt really work on the parts (due to us moving house and my general laziness) so I got happy online and ordered parts. I like doing this, as it gave me the impression that my resto was moving forward quickly without actually doing anything.

First to come was a PBS sump baffle


And the WHOA Wilwood brake kit. I am going out on a bit of a limb here and fitting the same kit to both front and rear. I reason that the X19 has a lot of weight over the rear wheels, so braking needs to be sufficient on the back as well. I was afraid that if I had good brakes on the front and stockies on the rear that I would have problems with the rear cooking before the fronts are properly heated up (on the track anyway). Im going to use a bias valve to increase pressure to the fronts. So it will either be a great success or an expensive lesson, only time will tell. But I think they look cool :)



Back at the body shop, things were worse than we thought. It seemed the whole car had been covered with a type of spray on bog (saves individually filling each little dimple) which meant we had to go back to bare metal. Normal paint is around 7 coats im told, however on mine it was more like 18. It was so thick that the bottom layers couldnt even cure properly. So, we decided to do it properly.



These were the kinds of dimples the spray bog was covering...


Whats more a quick hit with a hammer revealed that the sills were shot as well



I watched the Fast and the Furious one night, and noted how a shopping list of stickers on the door seemed to make the cars faster. I made this simple modification to the X, and I am hoping for an extra few seconds less around the track


This is the kinda stuff they were having to deal with...


Since I am going to run with no bumpers, I got the body shop to make up some little plates and weld them into the front of the car to cover the hole below the headlights. They have also welded all the holes left by the bumper removal.


I tracked down a NOS spolier panel on ebay to replace the bogged one, which was installed as well


Ebay is a wonderful tool, it also provided this North American spec front grill. I think I had to outbid some guys on here to get it, sorry bout that!



I decided to order a set of G Force coilovers for her. They are probably overkill now that the car isnt going to be as track oriented as I first thought, but they will still have use. I am going to set them up in the green X, and then transfer them along with the brakes into a more serious car if and when we ever build one. They should make her handle pretty sweetly, however I got stung on the import taxes into Australia (another $760 I couldnt really afford)


All this time the car was receiving minor bits of work here and there, its color had now changed to flat black :) A bit rat rod, I like it! hehe


I also dug up this pic. This single pic is what made me want an X19 so bad, and is the kinda style I am aiming for with my car. When I am feeling lazy this pic restores the desire to work!


The guys hand fabricated a new sill for the X, which I thought was pretty good. Its a little thicker than normal and contains lots and lots of sealant inside it



The decision was also made to strip the underside of the car back to bare metal to check for more rust spots...


And to paint it again with fresh sealant and a quick coat of black paint.



On a side note a Cinelli Road bike frame came up for sale cheap, and since it was the same color as the X19 I thought theyd make perfect garage pals! (read: drowning in projects here)


Ed from Xweb was selling these Weber 40 DCNF's and PBS manifold, and he was nice enough to package them up and send them down under. Thanks for the packaging effort Ed!


I also managed to get the last PBS extractor from PBS in California. At only AUD$300, its a lot cheaper than having some made locally


And finally I completed the brake package with the rotors from WHOA, consisting of WHOA hats on Brembo rotors


As time passed, the car was undergoing various coats of primer. We were now into a cool white color, very 60's I thought. Whilst it doesnt look like much is changing, a lot of detail work was being done which will pay off when the color coat is sprayed.


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Looking great, your part list is looking almost identical to the one I am putting together for when I start my project. Can't wait to see some more progress shots!

Andrew Coles

Say no to rice
So, the saga continues...

The engine package I was running in the car before I pulled it apart was a 1500 4sp that we rebuilt only a few years ago. I was planning to keep the 4sp gearbox as 5sp boxes are quite expensive and rare in Australia and I didnt think the $1,500 or so I was quoted was really worth it. (however the bigger driveshaft splines are desireable - harder to strip when doing hard launches up hillclimbs with sticky tires :) ).

I was on holiday in Vietnam when 5 people smsed me all within 2 days telling me of an X19 at a local self serve wrecker. I was 8,000km away and dad was too busy back home, so I just decided to let it go assuming that all the good bits would be gone by the time I got home.

3 weeks later (when I shouldve been studying) I conned a friend into taking some sick leave from work and we headed up to the wreckers one afternoon and discovered it was still there, and had a 5sp box in it. It was 3pm, the place closed at 5 so we decided to launch into pulling it out. We didnt have many tools with us as we were only planning to get small trim bits so we had to work fast and rough. We had no chain, so had to lower the entire mechanical package out on the end of an old seatbelt we stole from another car. The engine crane they gave us wouldnt fit down the side of the car (as the X was the only rear engined car there, most are front so no probs) so we had to drag this poor engine along the gravel for the length of the car. "1...2... heave....1...2... heave... etc".

In the end we dropped the engine, gearbox, entire rear suspension, hubs, driveshafts and CV's out in 1hr 45mins (not bad for two inexperianced guys we thought). We ran with it to the counter (very dodgy as it bounced around over bumps on the end of the seatbelt) and made it with a whole 5min to spare. And whats more they only charged me $300 for the whole lot!

This is the poor X that gave its life for my project. It was pretty rusty though:



Apparently reality is an illusion... hmm well maybe theres still another engine in here for someone else to take? Maybe the car doesnt exist at all? Yea right....

Only prob was that we had driven up in my Alfa 33, which is not designed for carrying large lumps of greasy steel. I called Dad, who agreed to drive out with the trailer after he finished work and pick us up. Except he was going to be a good two hours before he could get there, so we dumped the engine on the footpath out front and waited. And waited. Got some pretty funny looks from passing motorists.



My friend Michael and I were extremely stuffed after doing this, but we were proud that we got it out. Good story to tell as well :)

Michael tried carrying it home on his back hobo style, but that didnt really work that well. That seatbelt over his shoulder is what was used to lower the engine out and carry it 300m running on an engine crane :eek:

Back at the body shop, the last major coat of primer had been applied. From here it will be minor detailling and perfecting work, then the color coat... finally



So thats pretty much where I'm up to now. Once again apologies to those who have seen it before, I know a lot of this is re-post but I wanted to have the whole story in one place :D
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Andrew Coles

Say no to rice
So, back to present day time (all new stuff from here :) ). As I write, it is 17/12/08.

Once my exams were over, I decided to pull all the parts out and lay them on the floor to work out what I do and dont have. This was possibly a bad move as it a) occupied most of Dads shed, and b) made me realise just how much work is ahead of me. I started to make a pile for things Im going to use again, things to replace and things that I dont know what they are. When the unknown pile became a lot bigger than the others, I stopped sorting!



My Dad must be a lot more patient that I usually give him credit for. As the pic above shows, our red Alfa Sprint is in its usual location, but the rest of the shed is covered in my junk. The silver shell is his current project, and is covered in a few layers of X19 stuff. Off to the right is that junkyard engine/trans, the boxes in the foreground and shelves to the right are all X19 stuff. And the entire floor infront of the shell is more X19 junk. Not to mention the storage area, but I wont go there. Thanks Dad!

Good news came the other day, when Eddie called me to tell me they had started painting! (finally, they got the car in September '07, its now December '08 - more than a year not bad). The painting of the X19 had become the butt of all my friends jokes, and I must admit that I started to get a bit worried. As I was paying in installments, was Eddie just gonna take years and see how much cash he could suck out of me? I was quite worried, but it will apparently be totally finished and ready for collection by the end of this week, so fingers crossed I might actually have it soon. Then the real work can start!




First job when it gets home will be to clean and sort out the wiring loom. In hindsight I shouldve just taken the whole damn thing out and replaced it - ah the benefit of hindsight. But it will be ok, I'll clean it, string it back around the shell, cover it in that shrink covering and it will look a million bucks (I hope lol)




Daily Driver
Great work Andrew.........

looking really good, just remember - it takes about 4 times as long to put it back together as it did to strip it...........Ask me how I know,
If you need photos, I have a disc with around 300 photos as I pulled mine apart - may help in the rebuild if you would like it.


True Classic
Awsome job Andrew, and you've got some serious hardware there. I think you'll find that you have to dial back the rear calipers alot to prevent lockup. With 60-70 % weight shift to the front under hard braking, my guess is the stock calipers would be enough. Also really it's the tire that provides the friction to stop. Don't get me wrong, I'm saving up to do my fronts, but I don't think the rears warrant it. BTW, did you get my reply to the pm?


Daily Driver
Great Post!

I like the way you put it all together. I'll have to do the same for mine once I pull all the pics together.

If I recall I think it was me that you beat out on the front spoiler. They are quite rare and I ended up making my own.

Be patient with the assembly. Lappy is right it will take at least four times as long. I've been at it for two years now and I'm still not done.


Giancarlo Nasca

Low Rider
Nice working

Andrew, it's looking really nice. Where are you getting all the paint work etc done and how much was it costing to bare metal and paint the underbelly etc?

The car should be really good. I hope I can get mine moving like yours. Where abouts did you get the WHOA brakes from? Aust? I am soon to purchase the camber plates from Jim aswell.

Awesome photos!

Andrew Coles

Say no to rice
Thanks for the comments guys, its happening but very slowly.

Lappy, thanks for the offer of photos. Once I get the shell back I'll see how I go with putting it all together and if I start having major problems I'll get in contact. Out of interest, how long has your car taken so far?

AngleoX19 - I did get your PM once I checked just then. As it turns out I didnt have the email notification enabled so I didnt even realise it was there. I think you might be right about the brakes, however Ive got a sneaking suspicion this might work once we get the bias valve working properly. Once I had the X19 out at Mallala and was running Hawk race pads in the front and good quality road pads in the back with stock brakes. After about 4 laps the rears were cooking, overheating and smoking and the fronts had only just warmed up and not even properly at that. I guess Im just a little worried about this happening again - Mallala is the toughest track on brakes in Australia so I want them to be good :)

Giancarlo Nasca - Thanks for the comment, I hope it will be worth it once its done. As for the body its being done by 'Mr Ed's Paint n Panel' in Mount Barker, South Australia. Eddie is a bit of a character, an old school style panel beater who does good work. Pity his time management and book keeping isnt nearly as good. It will end up costing about AUD$7,500 for all the work shown above. Its taken more than a year and its been a frustrating process but Eddie reckons the bill would be closer to $20,000 at most restoration shops so I can put up with the inconveniance :)

The WHOA brakes were sourced from Jim Susko who makes the mounting brackets in the states. Through sheer dumb luck I bought them when the dollar was good and they were about $575 an end I think. Probably a bit more than that now though. I'm saving up for the camber plates as well, but at the moment they work out at AUD$950 plus shipping and I'm not totally sure if I can justify that right now. I might hold off for a while and see what the Aussie dollar does


Daily Driver
18 months......

just finished today and took it for a run around the to get it roadworthied and reg'd now ... bad time of year, but least its finished....
Cheers, Lappy:D

Andrew Coles

Say no to rice
Well, finally the day came that I have been waiting for. I finally got the body shell back. Now the hard part starts - putting it all back.



So I conned my friend into helping me, and we hitched the trailer up to the battletruck for the 55km journey home. I can honestly say that was the most nervous trip of my life - I was so scared something would happen to her. But, we got her home safely.


So we pulled up outside our house, and with the offering of free pizza I conned some friends into helping us lift it off the trailer. It was supprisingly heavy and I swear we came very close to dropping it, but luckily we safely carried it the 20m into the shed.



One of my mates who helped us carry the car has just bought this Volkswagen Golf R32, and the condition of him helping us was that I post a pic of it on the net. So there ya go Ben! lol

Now the hard work begins....
very nice photos

can you make some under the car, and closer looks ?
U'll want to have thoose photos later , trust me :)
please make some more photos and post them , we are in digital area , cost nothing to post more :))

thanks !


True Classic
nice looking X love the .:R too. my buddy has one and let me beat the shiz outta it before he moved:headbang:


True Classic
You are wrong

Hi Andrew,

You are wrong: now the FUN part begins! :)

Take your time and finish it off to the same standard as the bodywork and paint.
Nothing worse than beautiful new paint combined with broken, faded plastic parts held on by rusty bolts.

I enjoyed this part most when I put my car back to gether. Refinishing every single part before it goes back on the car, replacing or repainting trim etc.

Have fun, Ulix


Bernice Loui
Very Nice Indeed, Most Agreeable!

I really like this shade of green. Now the FUN begins putting the entire car back together. Suggestion, use all new hardware where possible of stock or better quality. This will make a very significant difference during the assembly process and later when the car needs service for what ever reason. Make sure all painted holes thru or threaded are cleaned out well before assembly and use anti-seize or Loctite where appropriate.

Dan Sarandrea (Phila)

Waitin' On Parts...
Watch Out Lappy!

Your apparently rock-solid :king: status as "My Hero" could be facing some VERY formidable competition!

Andrew seems to be doing a GREAT job!:clap:


True Classic
I so wish I lived near you. You would have to put a bed in the shed for me. I'd never leave until the car was put back together.



Daily Driver
No worries.....

happy to have another "X" in pristine condition down here.....You have started the right way Andrew - keep it up, replace the old crappy bits and definately use new or re plated hardware. Its the little things that let the job down, perished rubbers, faded and cracked lenses...etc.
Anything you need - just ask,happy to help anywhere I can.