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500 (Classic) '65 RHD F Restoration

Introduction

Hi guys :)

My name is Steve, and I'm a rusty-old-car-aholic :p

I've been quietly browsing the forums for a while, and slowing collecting knowledge while looking out for a 500 project. A few weeks ago I took the plunge and bought a project, it's definitely not the best starting point, but it's also far from the worst.

It's a RHD 1965 500F in dark blue. It appears to have been off the road since the mid 80s, and was recently purchased by a trader who was clearly looking to getting running and flip it for a profit before he realised just how much was wrong with it (and there is quite a lot wrong) beneath the surprisingly shiny paint job.

This means it's come to me already mostly disassembled. I'm aware this is a bad idea, especially as this is my first 500 and so I'm not familiar with how it all goes back together... It can't be that complex though can it?! :p

In the photos you can see how it looked as delivered to me, and also how my other classic (also resurrected from a 30+ year lay up period) dwarfs it!

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Latest updates

Just dropping a quick update to say 'so far so good' on the Frankenstarter! It's starting better than ever and with the LED headlight bulbs and heater ducting all finessed, as in the past couple of posts, the 500 has surprised me with it's winter usability. 🙂

That said, after some internal debate with myself I have decided to spare the old girl from the salt this winter. I love using my classics all year round, but seeing how my nicely refurbed mechanicals on the (now sold) Daimler had suffered from a few years of that, did give me pause for thought. So I decided to let the 500 rest this winter and have bought a winter hack to knock about in instead. Can confirm that as it's a shade faster than the 17hp of my 500! haha.

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I'd toyed with the idea of one for years now, and you only get to live once so whilst had the opportunity I thought I'd go for it. It was only a cheap one and is a bit tired in places, but I'm not scared of taking it out in the salt so I'll have some winter fun with this for now and will worry about then future later, worst case I can sell it in spring when the 500 is ready to come out from hibernation.

In theory I'd like to do a few jobs on the 500 between now and when spring comes round, mostly cosmetic bits and bobs that I didn't do this year as I would always chose to spend my time driving it than working on it... How many of those jobs I get through might be an indicator of how much time I'm out having fun in the Abarth or not! haha.
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I’m pleased to report that the cheap starter core I picked up on eBay arrived a few days ago. I was able to swap the front aluminium casting with my broken one and I once again have a functioning 500! 🙂

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The starter sounds smoother and better than it ever has, so that’s good news.

I also fitted a hand throttle cable, which is helping to keep it idling when starting on these last few cold nights / mornings. Worth the £20 and 1/2 hour of fiddling to fit it, I think. 🙂
I'm pleased to report that the new engine has been a success. Several hundred miles in and there's no sign of the bearing issues I was suffering with the old engine.

I've been out driving as and when I can, used it to commute a few times and generally any time I don't need to take the family with me. 🙂

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With autumn underway and the nights drawing in, I've got a few things I want to attend to to help get the car ready for the coming months.

Firstly, I need to do something about the lights. I'm perfectly happy driving with the standard lights at night on my own... but as soon as someone is coming the other way in anything modern, especially SUVs, then I'm left blind. So an upgrade is in the works. My Daimler has been upgraded to 60w H4 Halogen bulbs, which is more than adequate, but I'm aware that to do that on the Fiat I'll need to set-up some relays and run new wiring. I can do that easily enough, but in order to keep the original wirings redundancy (with separate circuits and fuses for left and right headlights which seems a sensible idea) then I will need 4 relays, and 4 new fuses and the associated wiring... it starts to add a bit and soon the cost is similar to that of a pair of decent LED headlights bulbs.

I've always avoided LED bulbs due to the horror stories of poor beam pattern and the dubious legally. But I think things have started changing, with better beam patterns now available, along with a range of softer warmer colour tones. Also looking at the MOT manuals, the rules have changed and LED bulbs in cars first used prior to 1986 now appears to be acceptable. I may well order some in the next few days and see how they look.

I also need to investigate the headlight adjusters, mine wont quite adjust to where I need them, they're a touch on the high side at their limit of adjustment. Not a problem with 35w tungsten bulbs but if I upgrade I think other drivers might be happier if I fix the aim! haha.

The other thing I think I should look into is the heater/demisting. I can feel it working, but I can also feel a big draught of hot air escaping round my handbrake and out of various other joins in the system. So I think I will need to investigate sealing things up as best I can, to make the most of the air flow available if I want any chance of the screen clearing on a cold morning!
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