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Old 23-02-2014   #1
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Former 124 Owner & Rally Driver Seeking 124 Spider 2000

My wife and I were "dinks" (double incomes -no kids) and stopped working in our mid 40s. We spent over 20 years travelling, the first 10 years aboard our bluewater cruising catamaran which we had built in England. After bringing the yacht across the “pond” in 2003 and selling it in Maryland in 2004, we purchased a travel trailer to continue our travels ashore.

In 2012 we decided we had reached the point in our lives where age and physical limitations dictated it was time to settle down. To this end, in 2013 we purchased a manufactured home in Coaldale, Alberta for our summer residence and parked our 36 ft 5th wheel on a permanent basis in an RV park in Mission, Texas and now use it as our winter home. We traded our 2007 GMC Sierra 2500 8.1L CrewCab on a 2013 Sierra 1500 5.3L and purchased a 25 ft Ever-Lite ultra lite travel trailer for the north-south-north annual migrations plus occasional touring whenever the travel bug bites.

With this change in our situation, we are now in a position to pursue our long time ambition of owning a vintage sports car when travelling full time came to end. We have a strong tie to Fiats going back nearly 50 years. To explain:

I met my wife Linda shortly after arriving in Toronto in 1968, and she introduced me to TSD (Time, Speed & Distance) road rallying. Within a couple of years European style “performance” or "stage" rallying was introduced to Canada and the USA. We prepared a Datsun 510, moved to that format and over the next 10 years competed in CASC Ontario regional and national rally championships, selected events in the North American Rally Cup as well as a number of US and Canadian rounds in the WRC (World Rally Championship). With the exception of one year, we almost always competed together.

We had purchased a Fiat 124 Spider as a daily driver and joined the Fiat Auto Club in Toronto in 1969. That year I won the FAC Rally Championship for Drivers which led to being offered a ride in 1970 as the contracted "works" driver for the Squadra Fiat rally team, formed by Fiat Canada to promote the introduction of the Fiat 124S sedan into Canada. The catch was they wanted the club’s Champion Navigator/Co-driver, who had a lot of national and international experience, in the other seat.

My year with the Fiat team was fraught with the type of mechanical and structural failures not uncommon in the first year of competition for a new car model and was disappointing to say the least. During that year Linda often competed in our Datsun 510 with my co-driver's wife who was a top rally driver in her own right. They became the first (and maybe only?) all female crew to win a stage rally in North America.

Linda and I teamed up again the following year when Fiat bowed out of running their own car in favor of a substantial contingency program for privateers. Fiat sold us a rally prepared 124S, which had been the team back-up car, for $1500. I promptly upgraded it to European 124TC spec by fitting a rally spec 1600cc twin cam engine and 5 speed tranny as well as reinforcing the frame rails, suspension and mounting points based on the failures experienced with the Squadra Fiat car in 1969. This proved to be quite successful and that year we placed second in the Fiat awards program.

We continued to campaign 124TC sedans in Canadian and North American championship events, with sponsorships from a Toronto Fiat dealer and an importer of Italian auto accessories, until 1974

In 1971 we prepared a 124 Sport coupe for the BC Centennial Rally, which was run from Ottawa to Victoria, B.C. to commemorate the 100th anniversary of British Columbia becoming a Canadian province. Unfortunately we had an engine failure in Saskatchewan while running in 5th place and in contention for the win.

In late 1971, we prepared a Fiat 128 to have the advantage of front wheel drive for the winter rallies where grip meant more than power. Even so, we had our engine builder uprate the engine with Abarth parts and it was quite quick. We rallied it for 2 winters before selling it to a former Fiat regional sales rep who campaigned it occasionally for 2 years.

We sold the last 124TC sedan in 1974 and resurrected the 124SC which had sat in back of our shop since arriving back from Saskatchewan on a car transporter in 1971. From 1974 to 1976, due to ever increasing demands on my time from business commitments, we gradually scaled back our competition schedule, entering only selected events. Linda had a 124S as her daily driver from 1972 through 1980, maintained with the abundance of accumulated 124 parts in our shop.

In early 1977 we sold the 124SC when we put a sponsorship package together for dealer support, with help from VW Canada, to rally a VW Golf in the newly introduced Production Class for stock powertrain rally cars. We hung up our helmets at the end of 1978 after capturing the OPRC Production Class Championship that year.

However, the highlight of 1978 for us was placing ninth overall and third in Group 1 with our 78 hp Golf in the Criterium du Quebec, a WRC event, in a field of 61 cars including over 20 Group 4 cars entered by European and American “works” teams. After over 300 miles of special stages we finished less than 27 minutes behind the class winner Carlos Torres, of Portugal driving a full Group 1 Ford Escort RS2000 with over 200 hp. The overall winner was Walter Rohrl of Germany, in a Group 4 Fiat 131 Abarth, with Markku Alen of Finland placing second in another Group 4 Fiat 131 Abarth.

So, as you will understand from this bio, the sentimental attachment to Fiat 124 models makes the Spider 2000 a strong contender on our prospect list provided we can find a low mileage, rust free example to fit our budget.
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Old 26-02-2014   #2
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varesecrazy has donated!
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Re: Former 124 Owner & Rally Driver Seeking 124 Spider 2000

Hi, and welcome to FF,

as you've probably guessed ,we are very much a UK based forum,
with limited knowledge of pre 70's FIATS, or Overseas models,

BUT it sounds like you know what you need in the car.. and there will be a few on here with the experience to assist in some technical aspects,

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