Reader Submissions: Driver Yearns for a Few More Horses, Fiat Steps In

Driver Yearns for a Few More Horses, Fiat Steps In

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
November 25, 2014
22 comments

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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Carlos FerreiraRaymond moorheadOlimpiuFredriksvardstenRobert Maes Recent comment authors
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Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira

When I see the ridiculous prices people are paying for some over hyped classic cars I immediately think of the barn full of unique classics I could buy with the same money, and this is in that fantasy barn. Simply gorgeous,elegant and understated, with a perfect balance of femininity and masculinity, confident enough to not have to look angry and wanting to kill you off like 90% of new cars.

Fredriksvardsten
Fredriksvardsten

Well done Pascal! In my opinion the BC is the most beautiful car Fiat has ever made and you have done a great job.

Robert Maes
Robert Maes

Hey Pascal,

did you ever looked for a FIAT 850 special?
Because your story sounds familiar to a guy that wanted to buy my fiat 850.
Nice 124 though!

Rudi Timmers
Rudi Timmers

Very nice car Pascal.
I also own a 124Bc with the same motor as you have, with the double weber idf carbs. Very nice sound.
My car is lowered and indeed it is not confortable anymore. I will get the originals springs back under the car this winter (they came with the car when I bought it). My other 124 spider bc1 is also a nice car but completly different look & drive! Most of the friends prefer the looks of the bc above the bs1.The bc is running on Firestones and cromodora cd19 rims the Spider has original
cd30 magnesium rims

Nick
Nick

I remember my BC several years back. Used to impress my passengers with that 9000 RPM tacho! and the dash layout, all those gauges…In my opinion, the AC and BC were the best looking 124 coupes. The CC was too “fat” and soft.
I own a Spider now and although I love the Pininfarina shape, the Coupes had a better looking and better finished interiors.

Stephan P
Stephan P

The only car I ever regret selling. I will have another someday.
This one is beautiful.

Chris Wright Australia
Chris Wright Australia

Hi Pascal,
Sharp car! I have a mirror image of it in RHD down here in Oz. The previous owns spent big dollars prepping it as a dual purpose road/track day car – fuel inj big valve 2L engine, Quaife LSD, 4 spot front brakes etc. It’s a blast but the 15″ wheels and low profile tyres are too rough for daily use so I will use 14″ wheels too. What offset are your Wolfrace wheels and what size tyres are on them?
Thanks in advance from “Down Under”.

Pascal Bruyland
Pascal Bruyland

Hey Chris, my tire-setup is 14″ – 185 – 60 (Uniroyal) Total diameter (height wheel + tyre) is almost the same as the standard setup (13″ – 165 – 80) Your harsh ride will not only come through the low-profile tyres, but perhaps also from a lowered suspension setup ? Mine still has the “normal” original suspension + springs, which is pretty high, consequently quite comfortable. The Wolfrace Offset value is -0,105″ (= ET-2) + I also installed spacers of 1cm. I found some lowering springs too (4cm), but my mechanics warned me that it would result in a “very”… Read more »

Chris Wright
Chris Wright

Thanks Pascal, you’re right, the springs are shorter high-rate units with dampers matched and this will have a lot to do with it. 205/50×15 tyres also have a big effect and look too modern in my opinion, so changing to 14’s with higher profile tyres (I will use 175/65 and 195/60) will give a more appropriate look and a little more ride compliance at the same time. It’s also easier than changing suspension components…;) Thanks again, and happy motoring.

Stephen
Stephen

Hi Pascal, you don’t necessarily want to lower it, certainly not 40mm. Mine is on quite chubby rubber, Spax adjustable dampers, but stock ride height and spring rates. A rear antiroll bar can help the BC a lot. With the 124, if you lower it too much, the lower control arms dip below horizontal at rest (inboard pivots below the outboard end) and this massively increases bump steer. Cheers, Stephen

Brian
Brian

I’m wasn’t familiar with the 124, but it reminds me a lot of the Lancia Fulvia. Very sharp car.

Morgan Andreasson

I like all three models and I have one of each..! I havent rebuild a car for over 10 years so I started to rebuild ” the ugly one” in case of a disaster..! It is a CC modell and I got the car painted this summer. In Fiat original paint “Bronzo Metallizzatto”
Next year it will be back on the streets for the first time since 1984…

Artur D Lara-i Vàsquez
Artur D Lara-i Vàsquez

nice car.. i would have kept the cromodora’s, and lowered the car.

Tom Richardi
Tom Richardi

Very nice report. I too have a BC coupe from 71 that I am doing a running rebuild on. I must say that this little coupe begins a smile to my face when driving it in the same way my 75 Spider does.

BiTurbo228
BiTurbo228

I love these old Fiats, especially the BC generation here 🙂 such a clean-cut design, very timeless. Every bit a competitor to the ’02 and the GTV 🙂

Stephen
Stephen

The Wolfrace wheels are nice, but those 4-spokes really need to go on. They look like the little brothers of Stratos coffin-spokes.

Pascal Bruyland
Pascal Bruyland

Stephen, yes, I did hesitate long about that, but imho they look just a bit too futuristic for the 124 + I did a stud conversion for my Wolfrace alloys (nuts instead of bolts)…
The 4-spokes go really well with the X1/9 for example.

Olimpiu Androne

Does any of you guys have some more info about those coffin design rims? I have bought a set about a year ago for my Capri and here is the first place online where I could find a picture of them. … I guess because I was not looking the right place 😀 It would be nice to know some more about them.Thanks!

Raymond moorhead
Raymond moorhead

Im in NZ and scored a set of CD40 rims 13″ x 5 1/2, they consistently gave me a 1/2 second advantage in track racing at Manfield. I know this as i passed them on to another club member and his times showed the same. History / rumour sayes these wheels came from the 72 or 73 abarth rally campaign when the Maxwell motors mechanics hosted and got the race crew pissed and they sold this spares set under duress . Couldnt confirm this with Chris Wilson from Wilson motors at Hunterville at the time. These rims at a kilo… Read more »

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson

I too would have to agree that the BC is probably the prettiest iteration. It’s like a more sensibly priced Dino. Money not a concern, I’d probably have to go with the Dino, but since we’re actually living in the real world, the 124 Coupe would be an excellent option.

I also have to agree on the wheels. Although the Cromodora wheels are absolutely beautiful, the car does look more purposeful with the Wolfrace on. Hmm.. wonder how much modifying a set of/custom made Cromodoras would be.

Tim
Tim

My first car was a 124CC, it was probably the least pretty of the three, but the 1800cc was fabulous. To this day, 10 years later, I regret selling that car.

Larry Brantingham
Larry Brantingham

My brother had all three variants when new, and I liked them all, but I agree with you – the BC version looks best. Beautiful car.