The Flood Survivor - 82 X1/9 Build

halr75

Daily Driver
Drawing inspiration/blatantly plagiarizing @Clatter 's great thread title I thought it post up some details of my X project.

A little back story, I have wanted a project/toy car since i was a teen, other priorities always pushed it down the list and i never pulled the trigger. In 2022 my Dad finish his retirement build of a 914/6 Marathon de la Route restomod tribute build and we did a father son trip to Le Mans Classic driving from Northern Scotland to Le Mans and back after he had only 300miles on the car. After that trip I got a bit more serious about finding a car but post covid pricing and life continued to conspire against me, I wanted something Euro 70's or 80's, as a Brit I am more of the Chapman school of thought than a muscle car guy. X1/9 had often been floated in conversation with my Dad as a viable option but I hadn't seen the right car come up.

Fast forward to October last year and I saw a post on another Italian F car forum, one whose subjects are far outside my means, listing an 82 X1/9 for sale with an intriguing story. It was being sold by the original owner, having babied the car in Texas for 2 years driving about 40,000 miles calamity hit and the car was inundated by a flash flood. The car was underwater up to the middle of the instrument cluster for about 10 mins before the water receded. The story goes that he jumped in and stripped the car quite thoroughly that same day pulling the full interior, disconnecting, and drying almost every part on the car. He moved the car from Texas to his Fathers house in Iowa and planned to rebuild the car and converting it from FI to carbs. The build never happened, the owner moved to Alaska, his Dad intended to pick up the project when he retired in ’95, many parts were procured, plans were made, but the car sat in its dismantled state from 1985 to 2023.

What attracted me to the project was a) the price tag and b) the lack of any bodywork or chassis issues – the car is almost entirely rust free. A combination of having been undercoated by Zeibert the day it was collected, never having seen a salty road and having been in heated storage for the duration of its dormancy has left it looking, for the most part, like a well kept 2-year-old car. I suspect that no 40yr old project car in the PNW can boast this! The seller was incredibly open about the state of the car and took the time to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into, later conversations have me suspecting the sale was driven by his wife, the car itself was in a storage unit costing $250 a month!

I tried to find the easiest way to get the car from Des Moines to Eugene, Oregon. My hope was that I could have it picked up and delivered but in its dismantled state there was no way all the parts would fit into the car and the risk of parts going missing etc. led me to the conclusion that I would have to collect the car in person.

(Picture from the original listing on F-chat below)

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halr75

Daily Driver
So plans were made for collection, my ever patient wife not only supported the buy but actively encouraged the purchase and said she would join me for at least some of the road trip. We set off Saturday morning the week before Thanksgiving, towing a borrowed trailer, for the drive to Iowa to collect the car. I knew the trip was going to be long, but I think I underestimated exactly how draining it would be. My wife and I drove day one to Salt Lake where we stayed over night with friends, the next morning I set off solo for the SLC-Des Moine-SLC legs. After a LONG day traversing Wyoming and Nebraska, I settled into a cheap hotel with plans to meet at the seller’s dad’s house for collection at 9am the next day.

Jim Snr was a charming ex-fighter pilot who flew F4 Phantoms during Vietnam, he himself had a long love affair with cars. It turned out that the X was a college graduation gift from Snr to Jnr from whom I was buying the car. All the boxed parts had been stored these many years in his basement and he happily walked me through the car and it various pieces. We got the car loaded (thanks for all the tips in my trailering thread!), Jim bid goodbye to “his favorite car” and I set off for the long drag back to SLC, finally pulling up to our friends house a 3.30am on the Tuesday morning. By the 4th day of driving I was pretty over it all, thankfully for me my wife stepped up despite some misgivings about towing such a large trailer and took over a good deal of the final stretch from Boise to Eugene, the sting in the tail of snow on the road after Bend just felt mean! But the car was home, 3700miles and 56hrs of driving, 84hrs door to door.

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halr75

Daily Driver
The Plans...

Well the Mrs. has laid down the gauntlet that she wants me to take her on a date in the car for our 14yr anniversary. We were married on March 6th. How realistic that is obviously depends on a number of factors, not counting the ever lengthening honey do list which is falling a little by the wayside. I have started tearing in, getting cleaned up and ordering needed components, as i dig in the overal excellent mechnical condition is very encouraging - what i find as i begin putting current to electrics may be a different story. I am running off Matt's excellent Do it now or do it later post and trying to balance cost/time/necessity. My intent is to go OEM+ where ever possible but get the car up, running and bringing grins before I dive into any scope creep!

The car is as good or better than i had hoped, as is to be expected a couple of ugly suprises but mostly pleasant ones, especially with regards the the condition of all mechanical elements. I havent had a stubborn bolt or nut - most still have shiny yellow zinc, CV's packed with fresh looking grease, engine oil looked immacculate, fixed coolant pipes look pretty good, suspension all in great shape and have only discovered one area of minor rust concern on the body.

So far:
Stripped the peripherals out of the engine bay that remained, a lot had was gone but fuel and coolant system was mostly still in place.
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Dropped the fuel tank - thought it could be saved until i gave it a scrub and what i thought were spots of undercoat were dreaded tin worm.
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Dropped & stripped the rear suspension - CV and suspension bolts look brand new
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Dropped the engine
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Stripped the clutch - belhousing seems to have been home to some critter or other...
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Pulled the head
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Dismantled the fuel high pressure fuel assembly
Started clean up of mud residue from various other parts and components
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kmead

Old enough to know better
Great story and a great looking car. Its a rare and good color. Congrats on your safe journey and the start of a great project.

I hope your wife gets her ride. No pressure.
 

Clatter

True Classic
Nice!
Wow. Clean.
Clean Clean…!

Let me know if you want to trade. :p

Golden rule of car projects -
“Always start with the best one you can afford”.
 

halr75

Daily Driver
Nice!
Wow. Clean.
Clean Clean…!

Let me know if you want to trade. :p

Golden rule of car projects -
“Always start with the best one you can afford”.
Not sure I have the skills to pull off your depth of build!

She cost me $2,500 and the pick up mission another $1,000 give or take. Given the body condition and originality I am more than happy with that price!
 

halr75

Daily Driver
Some other miscellaneous shots of the car. The pervasive silt left from the flood can be seen in the final shot of the AC compressor bolts, it’s a bugger to remove!

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Mark_Toro

True Classic
Looks like it is in good hands. The sellers should be happy you are engaged in the process. I understand the long haul fatigue. My oldest son and I did ~2500 miles in the '88 F250 (no cruise, standard cab, IDI diesel, 4X4) to get our X from central New Mexico. (plus an extra leg to visit the youngest in Tucson). Our butts were noticably sore after the four days of travel! 😂

Like you, I am pleased with the purchase. My deadline is a bit further out. May of '25 for the New Glairus Hillclimb. (6 hour drive should be perfect for a break in run)
 

Clatter

True Classic
There's silt on hose bolt heads?
Can't see it...

There's another four-letter word starting with the letter 's' on the head of every bolt on my car.
And it's easily visible...

Looks like you did very well.
 

halr75

Daily Driver
There's silt on hose bolt heads?
Can't see it...

There's another four-letter word starting with the letter 's' on the head of every bolt on my car.
And it's easily visible...

Looks like you did very well.
😂 I know which i would rather be dealing with for sure!

All the apparent dirt around the strut top and the trunk lip is silt - it has a highwater line around the whole car!
 

Rod Midkiff

True Classic
The car looks to be in excellent condition!!

The quick tending to the water was a major saving for this car. I look forward to helping this get back on the road.

It looks like both Husband and wife are looking forward to driving the car!!

Very glad to see a new X1/9 enthusiast in the local area
 

halr75

Daily Driver
Minor progress update, weekend visit from my parents enroute from Scotland to my Sister in New Zealand and some pretty miserable weather here in Eugene has slowed me down! Some gentle heat and lots of penetrating oil got the fork lever out, wire brushes, WD40, brake cleaner and a lot of scrubbing got everything cleaned up.

Some marring on the shaft means it is a little tight in the plastic bushing. Going to clean it up with some high grit and replace the O ring.

What grease do you all reccomend on the various clutch parts (TOB, spline shafts fork lever etc...)? Was planning on high temp bearing grease, with the obvious high judicious application!!
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halr75

Daily Driver
Now on to the task everyone loves to hate, pedal box. With the interior completely stripped removal was a doddle, flair nuts all backed out with ease and i cut the soft lines as i already have bought MWB replacement.

I am left a bit perplexed about the best solution, this has sat undriven for 38 years and without a doubt the seals are spent. Reading through the many threads on this topic my understanding is that there are no reliable aftermarket replacement master cylinders, the available seals do not give a robust rebuild and the only good solution is the amazing @Rupunzell re-engineered overhaul. The last on the list is a little out of scope right now so I am thinking i should just buy a pair of Beck Arnley replacements and retain the originals for the thorough overhaul down the line. Thoughts?

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Mark_Toro

True Classic
I'll watch this with interest as this project will be one of the first on my car. I suspect White Post Restoration could redo them with stailess bore and piston. Probably a one-and-done job, but don't know about the cost. I've always wanted to try them as they have been around a loooong time. Maybe this will be the opportunity? Or maybe one of the experienced folkes will turn us on to low cost, high quality eastern European stuff. :)

 

Steve Thomas

True Classic
White Post Restoration could redo them with stailess
White Post use brass - which is fine as far as I am concerned and at the risk of inflaming debate - better :) My personal experience with stainless sleeving [late 80s] was poor results = leaking master cylinders on 2 cars. I am guessing it was not well done and I know plenty of people swear by stainless.
 

MikeHynes

True Classic
Did you try the brakes before you removed everything? I'm sure the calipers would be seized, but maybe not the masters? Not that rebuilding isn't a good idea, but you can easily overdo things.
What percentage of Fiats that are on the road today are using sleeved brake/clutch masters? 80%? 50%? 25%? 5%?
For those cars running without sleeved masters, are all of those cars spewing brake fluid on their drivers feet?
Sometimes you don't have to over build. I know, some folks seem to live to over do things, and that's great - for them. And its fun to watch too :) And best of all it gives someone bragging rights! What could be better than that?
 

halr75

Daily Driver
Did you try the brakes before you removed everything? I'm sure the calipers would be seized, but maybe not the masters? Not that rebuilding isn't a good idea, but you can easily overdo things.
What percentage of Fiats that are on the road today are using sleeved brake/clutch masters? 80%? 50%? 25%? 5%?
For those cars running without sleeved masters, are all of those cars spewing brake fluid on their drivers feet?
Sometimes you don't have to over build. I know, some folks seem to live to over do things, and that's great - for them. And its fun to watch too :) And best of all it gives someone bragging rights! What could be better than that?
The brakes did "work" but they felt exceedingly bad. The master is weeping fluid out of seals and has been for some time.

Given that the car hasnt been driven or worked on in so long the last place i want to take the easy path is on the brakes, $50 for a new master feels like money well spent. I would prefer to just buy the seals and rebuild it myself but i havent found any good feedback on here that is successful with the seals commonly available. One thing is for sure, the overkill approach is definitely a long ways down the road if ever!
 

jimmyx

True Classic
I have always used replacement cylinders with no ill effects. I am careful with initial bleeding not to pump a dry cylinder endlessly (kinked
reservoir hoses are easy to do!), or install anything hydraulic years before the car sees any road use. My cars usually see road use at least a couple of times per week, year round, and I rarely keep an X more than 2 or 3 years so I can't comment on longevity beyond that. All vehicles are designed to be regularly driven, and inactivity is the kiss of death, especially for hydraulic circuits.
 
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