General Franko the 1971 500L

Currently reading:
General Franko the 1971 500L

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
Hi all,
I have just purchased my latest project a 1971 Fiat 500L that has recently been imported from Italy. Of what I can tell from the logbook & history the car has been off the road for about 20 years! Unfortunately it appears to have been left outside and the sunroof has deteriorated & water has gone inside. So the restoration begins.
I used to have Mini's so I am used to small cars, but boy these are small.
Not sure where I am going with this yet, Original or tuned.
Look forward to any advice fellow members can offer.
 

Attachments

  • 105.JPG
    105.JPG
    4.3 MB · Views: 147
  • 180.JPG
    180.JPG
    3.9 MB · Views: 132
  • 186.JPG
    186.JPG
    3.2 MB · Views: 123
  • 126.JPG
    126.JPG
    3.2 MB · Views: 119
  • 179.JPG
    179.JPG
    3.2 MB · Views: 109
OP
OP
Franko500

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
Good progress made already!
Franko arrived Tuesday afternoon. I spent an hour assessing what was needed. Wednesday purchased a new battery & some fuel (did consider some matches) . That was fun, all I got from local part suppliers was "how old?", "what size engine?", "Chassis number?", "Our system doesn't go back that far!", "What does it look like?". Eventually I tracked one down and they even took £5 off for returning the old one (didn't tell them it was 20 years old).
The wife was out that evening so time to play!
thumb.gif

Checked the tank, looked ok so filled it with a couple of litres of fuel.
I knew the engine turned over when I bought it. So I hooked up the battery and checked for life in the electrics. Ignition on, no dash lights, but the headlamps worked & one side light. No Indicators, after a minute or 2 the interior light came on. This car was starting to come back to life. I checked the coil and there was live. Took off the dizzy cap, argh! one of the HT contacts was well worn. Points looked ok & got a spark jump when opening the points. Plugs looked ok, placed one on the engine and turned her over. There was a spark
slayer.gif
& then there was one from the other plug. Things were getting exciting. But hang on, no fuel getting through to the filter. Took the rock hard pipe off the pump with some cutters and sucked on the pipe. Nothing coming through there. So I put a new pipe on the pump and stuck it in a bottle with fuel in it (Don't tell health & safety!).
Ignition on, hand behind the engine, pulled the starter lever, it spun and then it burped then up from the ashes came the mighty roar of the 2 cylinder Franko. The 50% corroded exhaust became 70% as it chucked 20% of its remains on the floor. But Franko was well and truly ALIVE.
I had to take a video on my phone and it went straight on Facebook.
It still puts a smile on my face to think that little engine hasn't been run for 20 years and within an hour the 500 is up and running again.
cool.gif



Saturday I was to do some house jobs that I had been putting off for ages, but I cant believe how quick I got those done and was back in the garage in no time. Time to pull him apart. Interior out, windows out, bumpers off, lights out. Boy these things don't take long to strip even when rusted up.


Most of the parts that come off went into the scrap heap ready for the refuse tip in the morning. Mental note "few extra items weren't on my original list".
Stood there for about 10 minutes admiring my handy work, thinking my hips hurt from being in that little car & WHAT HAVE I BOUGHT?
banghead.gif
 

Attachments

  • IMG_4033.JPG
    IMG_4033.JPG
    719.8 KB · Views: 93
  • IMG_4027.JPG
    IMG_4027.JPG
    580.6 KB · Views: 108
  • IMG_4025.JPG
    IMG_4025.JPG
    633.4 KB · Views: 100
  • IMG_4015.JPG
    IMG_4015.JPG
    876.6 KB · Views: 98
  • IMG_4047.JPG
    IMG_4047.JPG
    572.1 KB · Views: 96
  • IMG_4048.JPG
    IMG_4048.JPG
    616.1 KB · Views: 101
  • IMG_4064.JPG
    IMG_4064.JPG
    525.4 KB · Views: 100
  • 116 1.JPG
    116 1.JPG
    3.8 MB · Views: 110
OP
OP
Franko500

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
Saturday night, had a drink and searched the internet for parts availability.
I had already found some really good sites before I bought Franko, so I had an idea what was available and what it was likely to cost. But most of all I found so many examples of 500's in similar or even worse condition than Franko (NO I hear you say). There were also some excellent examples which have been raised from the dead and were now beautiful little bambinos. And the modifications available are nearly as good as the Mini's. (Sorry I still have strong feelings for the little British motor). so this gave me some much needed motivation to get back in the garage.
A few more house jobs to finish and then within an hour I had the engine & box out(these are so much easier than the Mini's to work on & no engine hoist required.
I didn't even scrape my hands. That's one thing you always do on a Mini. And what a pleasure not to have to drain antifreeze and then spend the next hour lying in the stingy stuff trying to get bolts out. All the bolts came out without one snapping on me. I was starting to like this car!


Well that's it for this week. Back to work so I might get an evening or 2 out there to strip out the tank & electrics. Leaving suspension & steering until I need it out.


Bad news is the floor looks bad in the centre. I have searched the internet and found a couple of pictures from another country where they fitted a whole floor pan. If I can find the site again I will add an image. But after searching all the 500 part suppliers I cant find one. Guess I will have to fabricate one or repair the old one.


My nearest 500 supplier is Ricambio.co.uk in Croydon. So I rang them this afternoon for some advice. To my surprise a really nice & helpful person answered (cant be the usually car trade that I know), his name was Franko. Now there's a sign!
We had a chat about all things 500 and suggested I send him a list of parts I need ( I assured him I need a lot) and he will see what kind of discount he can offer to help.
smile.gif

So now I need to do is get the list together and see the accountant & what other jobs need doing around the house
wink.gif
 

Attachments

  • IMG_4056.JPG
    IMG_4056.JPG
    514.2 KB · Views: 100
  • IMG_4059.JPG
    IMG_4059.JPG
    466.4 KB · Views: 87
  • IMG_4062.JPG
    IMG_4062.JPG
    472.3 KB · Views: 104

Vitesse

RIP
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
2,055
Location
Westerham
Hi Franko, I saw your car on Ebay, with a number of other 500's. I am a bit of a lurker on this site. I am close to the end of restoring my 500 which is the same colour as yours.

I know Ricambio really well as they are not far from me, they let me go around the back and choose my replacement bonnet from a pile of them. Franko and his mother are normally there.

I will send you a PM as I have a bit of advice.

Regards
Tony
 

Giardiniera1969

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
125
Really cool. I sent Ricambio a facebook message a few days ago and Franco was the one who sent me a nice note as well. Looks like good progress so far! Are you planning to make it stock?
 
OP
OP
Franko500

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
Cheers Tony, appreciate any advice at this stage.
Not sure which way to go, but after talking with Franko, I might keep it looking fairly original but upgrade engine & brakes etc. plan to keep a good blog of my progress as never had the opportunity years ago when I was into mini's as we never had internet access back then.
 

Vitesse

RIP
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
2,055
Location
Westerham
Yeah Franko mine is restored as original as it can be, same colour, original engine, non synchro gearbox. I used to drive it in to London everyday 20 odd years ago. Then it was vandalised by someone, paint stripped!!!! And sort of has laid abandoned for 17 years in a outbuilding I have in the garden, at least it was dry. Then I realised how much they are worth nowadays, I think I bought it for £500 20 years ago, I don't plan to sell it but though.

They are really simply engineered little cars, most jobs are easy. A few a right pain. I am not allowed to post URL's until I have posted 5 times but there is another forum called old classic car. There is a thread there of my restoration 1966 500F. There is another guy called Peter doing a 1969 500F restoration and he has had to do some really serious metal work to get his car back in one piece. Top quality it is too. I believe he is also on this forum.
Regards
Tony
 
OP
OP
Franko500

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
Tony, I went through that whole post the other day. that's the one in Scotland in a chicken shed,taken about 6 years. Major work around the roof rails. I think that would have put me off. I used to be a panel beater years ago and have rebuilt some serious stuff but that just looked like too much hard work for my liking. He done most of it in the winter, that's not nice to do. Excellent work though.
 

Toshi 975

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 30, 2009
Messages
1,480
Hi from another "suverner" & good luck with the restoration. I got back into the small world of 500s about 7 years ago and have used/investigated many parts suppliers as well as stock up on a load of parts so I also have thoughts about options for spares if you ever want to share them.
I built an engine for my 500 and fitted 652ccs barrels to the original crankcase plus a few other internal mods so it looks standard on the outside but has a bit more zip.
Looking at your pictures it looks as if the car started with 500R wheels then appears with 500F/L ones.
 
OP
OP
Franko500

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
We'll I spent ages going through about 8 sites doing price comparisons. Can't believe how much difference there is. Sent a list off to all suppliers to see what discount they will give & delivery charges. Thanks for all your recommendations.
 
OP
OP
Franko500

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
Removed the fuel tank, dash & wiring loom last night. Not much left to go now before Franko is naked. Bulkhead looks ok, its covered in oil so will be messy to clean but at least that's not rusty (the only part that isn't!)


Heres a link to a couple of adverts I found for the early 500.
http://www.lifeinitaly.com/italian-cars/1957-Fiat-500.asp
 

Attachments

  • IMG_4254.JPG
    IMG_4254.JPG
    520.3 KB · Views: 65
  • IMG_4253.JPG
    IMG_4253.JPG
    504.4 KB · Views: 80
  • IMG_4252.JPG
    IMG_4252.JPG
    521.8 KB · Views: 83

Vitesse

RIP
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
2,055
Location
Westerham
Sean, Are you going to all the welding, replacement panels etc yourself?

How many panels need replacing?

Tony
 
OP
OP
Franko500

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
That the plan Tony.
I used to be a panel beater years ago so i am fully aware of what's ahead of me.
I counted 21 panels need replacing plus a few repairs. Not sure at the moment if to order 2 doors or repair the old ones. Lower internal frames are rotten, however a fellow member has advised me he may know a company who sell the repair panels for the doors (i cant find them anywhere!) Just concerned over the quality of the new doors?

Plan to attack it with a grinder & cutters this weekend before deciding which panels to repair/replace.
 

Vitesse

RIP
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
2,055
Location
Westerham
Yeah I think you would be better off repairing the doors if you can. Van Der Laan and Axel Girstl both sell repair panels for the door bottoms about €20 each.

Peter the guy up in Scotland repaired his but had to do quite a bit of fettling to get them to fit. It's on page 2 of his thread on the other forum. I have heard quite a few people before saying the replacement doors are a bit naff.

21 panels that's quite a lot. :eek:

Tony
 
OP
OP
Franko500

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
They only list the door skin part, but i need the frame part.
It will certainly be cheaper to repair them if i can.

Lucky enough all the panels are available & reasonable price.
I figured that if i paid £3000 for a 500 that was in fair condition i would probably still end up changing panels & painting it. So i might as well buy a cheap one and change the panels. hopefully save me money in the long run as i can do the work myself.;)
 

Vitesse

RIP
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
2,055
Location
Westerham
Oh right I don't I have ever seen the frame repair panels either.

Yeah at least you then know that if you are doing it yourself then it's not a bodged restoration. You see a lot on Ebay that are described as "the best example around" etc. but if you know anything about 500's you often see short cuts have been taken, bits that have been over-sprayed. Or rubbers missing. They might have had a resprayed but things like the engine bay are overlooked and they want silly money.
 
OP
OP
Franko500

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
Decided to get the grinder out today and make a start.
Cut off the front panel (didn't take long) & the nsf wing. Its clear that the wing and inner arch have been replaced before as there is remains of an old wing underneath. Removing the wing made my mind up to replace the inner arches as they have heavy surface corrosion on the inner side. Good news is the upper A post looks ok. It has light surface rust that will clean up, especially if I get the shell sandblasted before fitting the outer panels.
I also cut out a section of heavy corrosion on the ns screen pillar and made up a new section & welded it in place. This turned out quite nice, a thin spreader of filler is all that is needed to finish this off.
I have cut out the lower scuttle panel rust as well and have decided to repair this rather than replace the panel, that's £100 saved, Hoorah!
 

Attachments

  • IMG_4260.JPG
    IMG_4260.JPG
    447 KB · Views: 72
  • IMG_4019.JPG
    IMG_4019.JPG
    523.2 KB · Views: 57
  • IMG_4267.JPG
    IMG_4267.JPG
    479.8 KB · Views: 75
  • IMG_4269.JPG
    IMG_4269.JPG
    391.6 KB · Views: 64

Vitesse

RIP
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
2,055
Location
Westerham
You are not hanging about are you Sean. ;) Looks pretty tidy underneath now you have cut the rot away and a very nice little repair.

I think the jury is still out on sand blasting 500's. I have read before that it is a bit of a no no, as the tin work is so thin and can distort the panels. I don't have any experience of it personally but I am sure others on here will be able to comment one way or another.

Tony
 
OP
OP
Franko500

Franko500

New member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,634
Location
Herne Bay
I know what you mean Tony. You do need to be careful as when it comes back you could be looking at a new shell.
I will be replacing the sills first to make sure the shell has some rigidity first. It does depend on what material is used for the blasting as some are more abrasive than others. Also the guy i use will only blast the main body structure and wont go near any flat panels as it can have a tendency to distort the panels. But apart from the chemical dip process which dissolves the rust, blasting is the best way to get into all those areas that i could not do with sanding & wire brushing.
The way i see it is if its rotten enough to fall apart under blasting its not going to be that strong if i had an accident, therefore needs welding/replacing to make it strong again.
Too many classic cars look nice on the outside where they have been patched up/filled over, but a rot pots undernieth. These can be really dangerous. I was at a salvage agent a while ago and there was an MGBGT there, they lifted it up by the roof and it just ripped it off at the screen pillars as they were rotten inside. You could only see a few bubbles in the paint prior to that.
Im a little off that stage yet so i may yet change my mind.
It was nice to see a new bit off metal in Franko. One of many to come. LOL.
 
Top