Driver Yearns for a Few More Horses, Fiat Steps In
Owner and photographer: Pascal Bruyland
Year, Make, and Model: 1970 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe
Location: Pollare, Belgium
Like most oldtimer aficionados here, my love for oldtimers developed at a young age. Mine sort of started when I was eight-years-old and one of my dad’s friends was looking for a place to store his MG for a while. Consequently, dad gave up his garage and I had the opportunity to take a peek under the tarp every now and then.
Once sixteen, a classic Vespa 50cc came along and later on a 125cc that I finally ditched in the garage after having kids. Once the kids grew a little older I sold off the Vespa and with a little extra money, I bought a nice little two-tone Autobianchi Bianchina Panoramica (Fiat Giardiniera-based 500cc) that was (and is) a real head-turner!
Alas, it was also painstakingly slow to drive in traffic and after four years my right foot yearned for a few more horses. That’s where the Fiat 124 Sport Coupe entered the picture and I went from 17hp to 110hp! There are three generations of the 124 Coupe: the AC, BC, and CC version, originally designed by in-house Fiat coachbuilder Mario Boano (best known for the 1956’s Ferrari 250GT). My 124 Coupe is the second (BC-version) with the original 4-cylinder 1608cc Twin Cam block featuring double 40mm Weber carbs. It has a custom made spaghetti-manifold and four-wheel disc-brakes (unusual at that time).
Engineered by Aurelio Lampredi (ex-Ferrari engineer) this strong Fiat TwinCam engine was the base for various cars over a span of thirty years including rallycars like the Lancia 037 and Delta. I bought the coupe from a questionable scrap dealer in Walloon, but luckily it turned out to be [mostly] sound for the price I paid. That doesn’t imply that it was faultless, on the contrary.
It was all taped over with Abarth decals (even though Abarth has nothing to do with the Coupe), Italian stripes, and the side windows had broken hinges. Additionally, it suffered from short circuits, had faulty electrics, wrong windscreen-wipers, missing horn, brutally oversized stainless exhaust, wasted differential gears, modern plastic mirrors, chrome side-strips missing, worn inner headlight-shells, poorly calibrated carburetors, and worst of all one of the spark plugs was bolted in crooked!
Although I’m no mechanic, I fixed most of that myself, except for the differential gears, carburetor tuning, and retapping the spark-plug thread. Therefore I enlisted Marc D’Haeyer and Dirk Desmet, two passionate Fiat mecanics. Marc is like a live Fiat-parts catalogue and he helped me out very much. He and his wife Bea are still very active in the Fiat Club Belgio.
The original coupe came with 13″ lightweight magnesium Cromodora CD9 wheels which were nice ofcourse, but I didn’t like the positive offset (ET-value). The wheels are consequently “tucked” too much inside the wheel arches giving it a more “classic” look.
In my humble opinion these do not really fit the aggressive styling of the Coupe, so I replaced them with 14″ Wolfrace Mag Slot wheels (rare to find in 4×98 PCD, but I was lucky) and polished them to a chrome-like shine. These wheels have a negative offset which fill out the fenders better. Handling is a nice compromise between sporty and comfortable, which was the intention as it’s a “family” sports car. Light steering and a high revving engine make it a joy to drive!
Amusingly, I always wanted a classic Alfa, but I quickly discovered that was out of my budget. The Fiat 124 Sport Coupe nonetheless is certainly an affordable alternative and looks [almost] as good. What I love most about the BC version is the Dino-nose with double headlights. Couple that to a clean bonnet and curved front sidewings and it brings about kind of a “stylish subtle aggressiveness” that grows on you more and more.
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