Rat X, Outlaw X, modded X


True Classic
Whatever you call it, it's an X modified to enhance performance and have an attitude in looks. Not a racer but taking cues from one. Driven on the street but could track day it. Hard to define but the Dr. and I wanted to start a thread on the concept.

Best to start with a car that has minimal value as you may do things that destroy it's real resale value. These are cars to just mess with and have fun with.

Mine started as a Bertone parts car. The interior was shot or half missing. Electric window doors with no motors, no drivetrain, rust around the windshield and some other places. Importantly it was structurally sound. I would suggest initially the car should not cost over $1,000 to purchase, mine was $600..

Mine has the motor and trains out of the ITC racer I bought and then scrapped. The doors also came from that car (wind up windows). Originally I had no heater, no lights, no wiper, no turnsignals, no horn, no interior. You have no idea how easy it is to work on an X with no interior and the rear firewall and rear trunk floor removed (both rusted out). I did reinstall a heater IMG_0392[1].JPG IMG_0394[1].JPG IMG_0396[2].JPG IMG_0401[1].JPG IMG_0400[1].JPG IMG_0397[1].JPG

with simple controls, just a cable to operate the cowl flap. Once I sold my spider I added a single wiper and horn since this was my only streetable Fiat although I would never take it out in the rain. The cell phone on a magnetic holder is my speedo (plenty of speedo aps available). Shift light because....at 7,000rpm you shouldn't be looking at your tach. 124 fuel and temp gauges and a mechanical oil pressure gauge. Oil and alt. lights. Bought the seats used from a guy who had them in his Scorpion and they fit very nice.

Suspension are used, rusty red Konis with cut stock springs. Iron cross wheels with Federals although ultimately I would like more aggressive looking wheels.

Stock 1500 motor with 34DMTR, header and stock electronic ignition. Will probably go back to the dual DCOEs when the 77X is road legal.

Sorry about picture placement, they just seem to show up where ever they want.


True Classic
This will be a fun thread. There have been MANY such X's mentioned here over the years. Might have even been a thread like this before, but I don't recall one specifically. As Carl said, these are cars that were not worth trying to save as restorations or even "decent" drivers. Hopefully no one will be insulted by the desecration of these X's; just view it as saving them from the scrap crusher. These are the kind of projects where you can experiment with unusual ideas, designs, concepts, creativity and not worry about ruining them or lowering their value...as they have none already. A chance to play "designer", or "engineer", or "fabricator", or "mad scientist", or "pervert"....ooops, went too far.

Mine was also a parts car for very little money. It has a lot of rust and damage but not too much in critical structural areas. Overall more rust than worth trying to repair, beyond one or two places where it might actually matter (structurally). And it's missing a lot of stuff that would be necessary for a real road car (certainly not a safe one). So after reclaiming the useful bits for my other X, I view what's left as 'disposable' fun.

Like Carl's, mine won't be a true race car. But a track inspired street toy. Just enough to be legal (sort of, depending on the requirements where you live), but no comfort or convenience items. I have a set of decent used struts that will be converted to homemade coilovers. A set of cheap 'universal' fender flares should hide the fender well rust, and allow the wide wheels from an old track car to fit (they are 4x100, so need to either redrill or use adapters). That old destroyed (non-Fiat) track car will also donate some other suspension accessories, a race seat, couple of gauges, steering wheel, and whatever else can be reused. The goal is to cut out the rusty sections (weight reduction), strip anything not essential (more weight reduction), and try to get a little performance (relatively speaking) out of it, all without spending any significant money (my initial goal is $500 total project).

I don't have pictures and haven't even started on it beyond removing a few parts for the other car. As it progresses I'll add more to the thread.


True Classic
Now that I see what you are doing I think the aluminum door cards are a great touch.
Now all you need are a set of aluminum aircraft bucket seats.
Something like these.


True Classic
Janis, yours does fit into this discussion...feel free to give us a summary of the project with photos.


True Classic
The aluminum "bomber" seats are a tad too trendy now. Besides, I'm a scrawny fellow and seats without padding would be pure agony for me.
I do have a Sparco sprint seat but anyone here who has used high bolster race seats knows you can't easily get in or out of them in an X with the top on unless you are a 20 something kid. Us near 70 types are just not flexible enough anymore.

The scary part with my car is what I will do when the 77 is on the road and I don't need the rat X to be somewhat functional. I may toss the heater and wiper and possibly strip the door windows...right now the car is kept outside so it needs the windows for rain protection. Would be interesting to remove the windshield but unlike a spider with it's bolt on windshield frame, cutting the X windshield frame is a non reversible mod and as an ex motorcyclist (sigh) I know riding around with no full face protection is not practical or smart.

Oh, one other thing, try to get a red X....Rustoleum Sunrise Red is a factory match!

My Fiats are always for sale....for the right price.


True Classic
I'm with you Carl on the fun factor, I call my car a Rat Rod because it's made from what I had on hand, and I don't care that it looks ratty. I know - it's not the kind of rat rod that folks spend big bucks on to make look like a "rat rod", but I don't care. Starting to feel my attitude?
I paid $300 for mine. It had a newly rebuilt stock 1300 that the owner couldn't get timed right. He never got it to run after the rebuild. I think he was in over his head just a bit. At least he tried! The interior was a mess, most of it was missing, but the seats had a custom recover job. The body looks like a bag of walnuts, and that's OK, I don't care. The PO was not a paint and body guy, but he did give it a go. He better keep his day job, he has no future in custom paint jobs. At least it's covered with paint (crappy job). He tried. I didn't gut the interior, but I didn't spend $ to make it nice either. I inserted what I had on hand.
I swapped in a 1500/5spd. The engine is a warmed over a bit. A little cam, a little compression, a little head work, dual 40 DCNFs, etc. It's got the stock Bosch electronic ignition and a massaged '74 exhaust manifold with a disintegrated Ansa muffler. It's really loud, but...
It's got cut springs on stock struts, with a front bar. Not fancy, but cheap. It's not what I would call a corner carver, but with decent tires, it's not bad either, especially for the street.
The very best part about this car is that it is FUN! (And cheap.) It feels very light on it's feet, and has what feels like much more power than it actually has. If Fiat had sold 'em with a drivetrain like this car has, the X would have reached legendary status. It's just plain FUN.
I see lots of similarities to Carls car (mine is a much better color :)), but it's not quite as minimalist. It does have a heater box, but no heater core. I used a '77 engine cover to get a little more clearance for the carbs, but I don't care for the '77 support rod/spring. I use a stick to prop the lid open, I keep it in the trunk. I know it's not high tech, but...
I really, really, like X's with nice paint, interiors, etc, etc. They are great. But this rat rod is just plain fun, cheap fun, and that's hard to beat. It usually takes a lot of hard work, and $, to make your X really nice, and that's great, but you can have loads of FUN with an X as long as you don't care what it looks like. But don't take my word for it - just ask Carl.
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True Classic
Yea, Mike, your attitude on that build is the same as mine.
Some notes:
A rollbar would add attitude but seems to always get in the way and adds a ton of weight. I desperately want a ducktail spoiler but can't find one. We both need better wheels but that can run into money. I always liked the four outlet exhaust that goes under the rear valence like yours more than the through the grill four outlet exhausts. In any event, if it gives max fun and min cost then all goals are met. Nice that we don't have to create fake rust on our Fiats!


True Classic
You guys are starting to concern me with how nice your "ratty" cars look. Both Carl and Mike talk like their cars are really trashed, but in the photos they look better than my "nice" X, let alone my 'outlaw' crappy one. I'll have to take a couple photos to show just how bad it is. Otherwise everyone else might get the wrong idea about this whole 'ugly car' concept. :p

One thing great about having a car with rough body/paint and nothing major invested in it, is when you go to the store you can park it right up by the entrance - squeezed between those two poorly parked cars by bad drivers that don't respect other people's' cars. Otherwise you have to park as far away from everyone as possible and worry the whole time you are in the store that there will be a door ding in it when you come out.

Carl, once you no longer need to use this X as your car, I still think the cut down 'race' windshield idea would be great. I thought I had pictures of one with a 1/4 windscreen; same angle as stock but much shorter. But all I found was the concept "runabout":


And these 'laydown' flat ones:



But these other examples may help give some ideas:

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Old enough to know better
A X club did build a clone, it wasn’t perfect but was quite nice since it was built on a larger car than the Runabout was. It was a trifle clunky but still very nice. It has been one of my fascinations actually to take a ratty X and make into a Runabout-ish car. Likely with some fiberglass parts, particularly the nose.

I have some pics somewhere of it.
The real thing, which has generous radii on its flanks and a very tightly integrated nose.

The copy is shown here


True Classic
The wonder of photography is that it makes even a 40 footer look surprisingly nice, even I'm impressed with the way my car looks in pictures. The paint is original and very thin on any crease with primer showing, rear lower corners are mostly fiberglass and bondo, doors are off an 80 racer and fairly beat up with a nice Rustoleum paint job, front hood has long deep scratches, spoiler looks like crap and the spoiler ears are mostly rust. Had side molding I removed...poorly and painted over those areas and the windshield surround is ugly. But other than that...………..


True Classic
Karl (with a K, or 'Special K' as he is known in the celebrity circles), that clone looks fairly well done. It might be the angles of the photos but the general proportions seem decent. I think some design aspects from the Runabout could be fairly easily integrated into a outlaw/rat project, without necessarily trying to replicate it. That would be fun.

Carl (with a C, or 'Classy Carl' as he is better know), I know what you mean how photos can make it seem much better than it really is. That is the classic scenario when buying a car online without going to see it in person. Or for that matter, only seeing it from a distance at an auction. I've had friends get caught up in the excitement of the auction and spend way too much for a car. Only to later realize it wasn't nearly as nice as they thought. The popularity of car auction events in recent years has lead to sellers purposely building cars just to sell at auction, knowing they can take huge shortcuts and only make the car seem nice from casual observation. And I'm constantly amazed at how much people over-pay for cars at auctions. The ones really making out are the auction houses, getting a percentage from both the seller and the buyer.


True Classic
I think I'm better known in close circles as "confused carl".

I build cars for me and hope at some point down the line someone like minded will buy it from me when I want to move on. The one time I bought a spider for he express purpose of flipping, the project totally bored me.


True Classic
I've never bought or built any car or bike with the expressed intent of selling or flipping it. Similar to you, everything I build is purely for my personal pleasure. I don't consider whether anyone else would want it or not, frankly that does not matter to me. This is why it does not bother me to modify, customize, or otherwise desecrate any car I own. The only reason I sell a vehicle is either because I get bored with it, or I want to move on to another project and need the space and/or funds. Fortunately I've managed to recoup most/all of my expenses, or even make a little profit, with the cars I've sold (despite it not being the intent). Although that does not account for my time and work, otherwise I'd be hugely upside down.

I think the fact my projects are only for my own benefit is one reason I never photograph any of my vehicles nor display them at shows. In the past I've been approached to present some of my builds in magazines but declined. I know what they look like and that's all that matters to me. But I appreciate those that do build cars simply for show and/or have great photography skills to display them. That's what makes this hobby fun for everyone, we each have our own preferences and tastes. And I respect them all, no matter how bad :p. Seriously, while they all may not be my thing, I really admire the craftsmanship skills I've seen on lowriders, offroad trucks, antique/vintage cars, big rigs, stock restorations, wild customs, street rods...you name it. Good work is always enjoyable to look at.


True Classic
I finally took a moment to snap a couple pics of what will be my "Outlaw X". I have not done any work on it yet, other than remove a few things.

There are some severe rust issues in odd places, and none in many of the usual locations. Structurally it is in decent shape; strut towers, bulkheads, windshield frame, inner rockers, front and rear trunks (other than the rear outer corners), floor pans (other than at the drivers feet), etc are all solid and pretty much rust free. On the other hand, the driver's door and adjacent area on the upper driver's side door sill are badly cancered. Fortunately it came with a really good complete replacement driver's door. I'll have to patch the upper sill. There are some bad areas around a couple of the wheel arches. Rather than patch them I plan to cut the arches out and cover them with some generic fender flares I found online (super inexpensive). Aside from the rust and crappy paint, there isn't any body damage beyond a couple dings.

Here are the worst rust spots:
Driver's door...

Driver's side door sill (top of rocker). Oddly the rest of the rocker isn't rusted...

The worst fender lip...

The usual corner rot on either side of the rear trunk...

By comparison, the passenger's side door and sill/rocker are rust free...

Likewise for some of the other fender lips...

The interior is sort of decent (but extremely dirty here), however I plan to strip it and do more of a 'track car' interior...

At the moment it is on jack stands with some of the suspension and engine/trans removed. Unfortunately it isn't in a position to shoot the whole car, but you have seen the worst of it here.

All of the paint is bad and I haven't decided if I will even bother doing anything about that. The targa top has some damage. A lot of the rubber weather seals are shot. I might go so far as to eliminate the glass and make it a roadster (leave the top off). That may depend in part on what I do with the interior; it is certainly saveable and has power windows and all the other Bertone extras, but I'm not sure I want an interior. Who knows where it will end up.

It came with VAS coilovers, aluminum radiator, aluminum overflow tank, Euro grind cam and adjustable pulley, and other assorted stuff. I need to do some engine and trans sorting to get them in proper order. Being a '85 it has fuel injection, but no AC. Mechanically I'll likely keep it relatively stock...I think. Although this would be a good platform to experiment with things like swapping brakes from other vehicles, or even a complete engine/trans swap (have a built VW 1.8 and 5-speed, but that is likely too big).

So Carl, there you have it. Mine's a lot rougher than your rat. But I see you will be doing a body swap soon anyway.