Bunch of newbie questions

Discussion in 'Discussion Forum' started by toffee, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. toffee

    toffee Low Mileage

    First time poster, big howdy from southern California Desert!

    I have been thinking of getting a "slow" car that I could drive fast. After much debate, I have narrow down to the X1/9, with Miata as a backup alternative. As a former owner of 124 Spider, I have been liking X for decades, therefore it's my first choice.

    Ideally this is what I would like to have:
    1. Keep the original steel body.
    2. Must have A/C, it goes to 120F here in the summer, AC not debatable.
    3. Improve the output to have about 170 lb/ft of torque, and say 150hp. reason being that I do bi-weekly dash up California Hwy 74, from 100ft elevation to 5000 ft elevation in 15 miles. Almost a hill climb, torque rules.
    4. Excellent brake and handling.
    5. Weekend or occasional use car, not daily commuting device.
    Questions, quite random, sorry:
    1. Anyone know the weight of that 128 engine? or better still 128 engine + tranny.
    2. What's is largest tire/wheel that could fit without adding arches? or minimum arches?
    3. How to improve X's weight distribution? From factory, it's quite rear based, does that affect handling?
    4. I am eyeing new generation of 3 cylinder engines for it's light weight, and high output, anyone tried that?
      https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/new-ford-1-5-liter-engine-run-two-cylinders/
      https://www.wardsauto.com/2015/2015-winner-mini-15l-turbocharged-dohc-3-cyl
    5. I heard that X has some sort of rear torque steer, true?
    6. What's the realistic minimum curb weight one can expect without gutting steel body, factory steel suspension, etc?
    Thanks guys for helping out!

    [​IMG]
    California Highway 74.
     
  2. Welcome!

    Since the X is a unibody you will have to retain the steel body unless you plan on extensive modifications.

    Functional A/C pretty much dictates a 1500 ('79+ chassis)

    To make those HP/TQ numbers will pretty much mandate a turbo motor. And 170 lbs/ft in an X1/9 will stress the limits of the chassis's structure.

    The X1/9 already has excellent brakes and handling. The handling department would benefit from uprated springs and struts and a front swaybar. Pretty simple actually.



    Why the 128? I am sure someone knows this. The transmission is about 70 lbs. Clutch and flywheel another 25 lbs. A bear engine is in the 100 to 130 lbs range IIRC?

    Wheels/tires are somewhat limited. 13x7 or 15x7 wheels and either 185/60-13s or 215/50-13s and 195/50-15s are pretty much it.

    The rear weight bias really won't matter on a street car. It already has the battery in the front trunk so there isn't much in the way of options unless you want to compromise the streetability.

    There are many options on engine swaps. Check the alternative swap thread.

    I don't know who told you there was 'rear torque steer' but they have no idea what they are talking about.

    A non-A/C car can easily be about 2000 lbs. Add 50-70 lbs for A/C.

    I have driven 74 several times. Its a fun drive with beautiful views.
     
  3. AKimball92

    AKimball92 True Classic

    what is your time and budget for this car? It sounds like you are requiring an engine swap. Have you done any swaps before? Also, before requiring a swap, I would suggest getting a hold of any locals and see if they will allow you to go for a drive. Perhaps given the mid engine light car, the original 1500 motor with the added goodies would be enough for a fun drive.
     
  4. kmead

    kmead True Classic

    Location:
    Michigan
    To get to power like that the best way is with an engine swap. A K20 is pretty much the go to solution.

    There currently are Honda K20, K24, GM Ecotec 2.2 which will be turboed and a Fiat 500 Abarth Turbo swaps all actively being built up. A few other variations are being contemplated.

    A turbo 1500 is likely to get you to 130hp and similar torque but going beyond that will be expensive and more difficult.
     
  5. Eugene Harvey

    Eugene Harvey Daily Driver

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ
    A know there will be howls of disapproval, but if you're looking to something that goes fast, factory aircon, affordable mid-mounted 2 seater sports car, then I'd go an early 90's MR2 Turbo. You'll get the around 200bhp you're looking for along with the chassis, handling and braking that goes with the power.
    The X1/9, even the 1500's, aren't renown for getting anywhere in a hurry (over here they were dubbed 'hairdresser' cars for looking pretty but not overly sporty), but more for the ingenuity of the design and true italian styling from Bertone. It was much maligned for being under powered and that the chassis could handle more. If you do start mucking around with the X19 you'll need deep pockets to beef up the rest as everything is manual. brakes and steering, zero power assistance.
     
  6. Eugene Harvey

    Eugene Harvey Daily Driver

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ
    Another option, with you being an ex 124 Spider owner, is go German, pick up an early Porsche Boxster for around $6K and forgo any hassles, 240 bhp, 0-60 mph in around 5 sec (for the S Model), electric sunroof, aircon, power steering, seats and driving position to die for, one of the best handling chassis ever made, and is a mid-engined sports car. These cars are very undervalued as viewed as the 'poor-mans' Porsche, yet had a configuration that allowed it to out-handle the twice as expensive flagship 911 !
    Yes, my little X1/9 is my italian classic, but I went down this very same Boxster path for a daily driver with all the comforts, and just like the X1/9 has a good sized boot up front and decent sports bag boot in the rear.
     
    lookforjoe likes this.
  7. dragonsgate

    dragonsgate True Classic

    Location:
    arkansas
    My car has been handling 180 lbs. torque for 18 years now and my resent inspection has shown no problems from it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
    AKimball92 likes this.
  8. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    Your photo brings back memories. I spent part of my childhood in Palm Desert and have driven Hwy 74 thousands of times. At one time it was the shortest route to get to San Diego from there. Lots of camping/hiking in Idyllwild. And of course canyon racing up and down it. All of this was way back when the whole area was a sleepy little rural town. And I mean town, it wasn't even a legal city yet. Haven't been back in many many years, so likely would not recognize it anymore.

    If you decide on a X1/9, this forum is very different from any other - in the greatest of ways.
    By the way, I'm living in Las Vegas at this time. With the same type of heat as you have. So I can offer some "AC" advice if you need it.
     
  9. dragonsgate

    dragonsgate True Classic

    Location:
    arkansas
    I never paid much attention road names and numbers when I was younger so I had to look up hyw 74.
    The memories came back.
    I have taken that road, Palm desert through Elsinore to Capistrano and back, many times in the early 70's usually in a 63 Renault Caravel or on a 69 Triumph Daytona.

    In my search I found a couple articles telling how dangerous it was.
    I guess I am lucky because it was balls to the walls all the way just about every time I traveled it.

    Like Dr.Jeff said, the area was a lot smaller and less populated way back when.
     
  10. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    Ya, it was a narrow, tight, twisty road with no runoff, barriers, and few guardrails, plus lots of blind corners and the rocks/gravel would fall off the surrounding mountains onto the road surface. Back then no one wore seat belts, there were no airbags, and a head on collision ment death - even if you did not go over the side. The canyon drop offs along the sides were spectacular.
    There is a very old movie called "It's a mad, mad, mad world" (or something like that). A scene in it was of a car flying off the side of Hwy 74. That car (what was left of it) remained at the bottom of one of the canyons for many years.
    Palm Springs is near by and in those days a lot of Hollywood celebs would head there to escape the LA crowds. I recall standing in line at one of only two local theaters to see a movie (each theater had only one screen in those days), and in line in front of me was Cheryl Ladd (look up pics of her younger days, quite the looker). Nobody knew who she was and she was there with a friend just like everyone else. For a teenage boy that was a thrill.
     
  11. aarpcard

    aarpcard True Classic

    Location:
    NJ
    I second this. You'll also factory AC system that works well, cruise control, and potentially electric power steering. I'd recommend a 93+ Turbo if you can find one. The brakes were upgraded in 93 (bigger rotors and dual piston calipers in the front) and several styling changes were done which IMO make the MR2 look significantly better.
     
  12. dragonsgate

    dragonsgate True Classic

    Location:
    arkansas
    AC is nice but keep in mind, pulling steep grades in hot weather with AC on puts a heck of a load on the engine that can cause over heating.

    There are signs along I-10 east of Palm Springs saying turn off AC.
    One time we helped a couple of elderly ladies with a over heated car.
    Someone asked "didn't they see the signs?"
    They said yes but didn't know what they meant.

    So a very good cooling system will be a must.
     
  13. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    Although I haven't been through there in ages, I remember when those signs were first posted way back in the late 60's. That was when automobiles were considerably less developed/efficient than they are today. So back then it was a real issue to run the AC in hot weather (ironic isn't it). But today's cars (if kept serviced appropriately) can drive in that type of climate and run the AC without issue. Not sure if those are still the original signs from back then or not.

    They have similar warnings on I-10 going up the huge grade through the desert beyond that region. Similar thing along I-15 heading toward Vegas. In those cases it is a bit more appropriate due to the steep incline, but still not necessary if your car's cooling system is in good condition (I run mine on "MAX" while driving 80 MPH the whole way up those hills).

    You may be thinking, "ya but what about older cars like the X or MR2?". Again, if you have rebuilt the AC system with more modern components (which you will have to do anyway if you want to use it at all), and your cooling system is well serviced with some upgrades (again, it will have to be in order to own it in that climate), then you can run the AC with no problems.

    So your message about AC in the desert is very significant; part of owning a vehicle like these, in a desert region like the OP is in, you must be prepared to do a lot of servicing and make upgrades to certain systems in order for it to survive and be reliable (keeping in mind that "reliability" is a relative thing with old cars).

    All that being said, the suggestion of considering something a bit more modern than the X is a good one if you are not willing to do regular repairs/service. Either the Miata or MR2 for example would be better, but still require attention.
     
  14. dragonsgate

    dragonsgate True Classic

    Location:
    arkansas
    Not saying no Ac, just make sure everything is in good working condition as stated.
    When I was a kid my mom and dad would make their yearly summer trip from Ca. to Mo.and back.
    Dad took good care of his cars and didn't mess around when it came to traveling, rolling those 53 and 55 Buick's at a good clip with the Ac blasting all the way and never a problem.
    From the the mid 70's through 90's I traveled the US pulling a 16 foot travel trailer with my 70 land cruiser.
    It didn't have air so that was a help engine wise but on roads like the Grapevine and the steady clime from Phoenix to Flagstaff among others in summer heat newer cars with hood up and steam coming out was not uncommon.

    It is hard to think of anything more fun than being able to go through those turns 74.jpg in a souped up X1/9.
     
    Dr.Jeff likes this.
  15. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    Its funny how often I see newer cars broken down on my frequent trips between Vegas and SoCal. Most people don't service their vehicles properly, so even with 'modern' systems problems exist. But the ones that really make me laugh are the Tesla's that ran out of charge half way there.
     
    AKimball92 likes this.
  16. dragonsgate

    dragonsgate True Classic

    Location:
    arkansas
    The drivers probably do not realize the faster you go the more energy you use be it gas or electricity.
    I am sure Tesla's are way quieter than my X19 conversion so drivers may be lulled into a false since of energy consumption trough negligence or ignorance.
    I know better so drive conservative most of the time for better range but on a couple of occasions have kicked it in the ass when a driver gives me discerning look on the four lane only to sweat the last few miles on the way back home.
     
  17. Eugene Harvey

    Eugene Harvey Daily Driver

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ
    Had a bit of a smile when I see your GF's car is a Fiat 124 Abarth when toffee's backup alternative is a Miata, now that the current Fiat 124 Abarth and Miata both come out of Mazdas Hiroshima plant and both cars share the same chassis and many parts.
     
    aarpcard likes this.
  18. aarpcard

    aarpcard True Classic

    Location:
    NJ
    Haha we call it the "Fiata". The only true fiat part of the car is the motor (which apparently is assembled in Michigan; go figure) - even the transmission is from the Miata.
     
  19. toffee

    toffee Low Mileage

    Thanks guys for all the input. I drive up Hwy 74 quite regularly either in a Ford C-Max Energi, a plugin hybrid; or a Lexus SC430. The hybrid is easy drive up and I always cruise down to recharge the battery. SC430 with her beefy 8" wide wheels and 245/45-18 tires, is a difficult and not so enjoyable drive. It's a 3800lbs car with 290hp but the shifting is slow and suspension too soft, very reason why Jeremy Clarkson called it the worst car in the world lol. A fast car that doesn't handle well, recipe for bad things on a road like Hwy 74.

    I fancy a "slow" car, so I could really push it and sort of drive closer to edge of car's performance without doing insane speed, if that makes any sense. I almost went for a Lotus Europa which was sitting on Hwy 74 with a for sale sign on it .... someone grabbed it before I made up my mind .... partly because that car sat for long time and I wasn't sure if I wanted to do a complete rebuilt.

    One thing that I like about the x1/9 is her narrowness, MR2 and Boxsters are all much wider, hard to pull an apex in road lanes with a wide car.

    By the way, Hwy 74 is still 2 lanes, but VERY WELL paved, and super fun to drive. It went from 100ft elevation low desert with zero vegetation to 4500ft elevation with tall pandersoa pines in 20 miles, make that 20 fun miles. My best time going up was a little less than 20 minutes, following a M5 in the SC .... dude in M5 was a good driver, following is easier.
     
  20. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    So you're saying the only problems the car will ever have are engine related. ;)
     

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