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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Making a Classica into my perfect roadster (Enkei, Eibach, Good-Win, etc)

(Some of this has been covered before but consolidating now...)

I walked into the dealer back in December pretty well set on picking up an Abarth. Lined up back-to-back test drives with the basest of the base model Classicas (in brown, no less), I figured it would be a slam dunk...

... but that brown Classica really grabbed me, even more than the Abarth. In all, I think it was just the subtle simplicity of it... not a high-tech luxury car, not a mean high-performance machine, no touchscreens, no driver aides, no automatic anything. Just a radio, simple hvac dials, a shifter, and three pedals. A simple, near-perfect roadster. But not quite perfect.


2017 FIAT 124 Classica - "bronzo magnetico" by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr

If I'd been able to order a Classica with a saddle leather interior, that would have been nice (but my hatred for the touchscreen trumped everything else), so in the interest of adding both some color and some subtle vintage roadster feel to the interior I added black/terracotta Coco Mats (thanks to tips from this forum) as well as a beautiful mahogany shift lever (from Arrive Japan via Rev9).


Interior - Cocomats + Arrive Mahogany shifter by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr

On the exterior, the first detail was the offset towhook-mount front license plate holder from Cravenspeed. This is really more of a vintage-Alfa placement of the plate... but it feels right. Also added the Cobalt hood struts to get rid of the prop rod.


2017 Fiat 124 Spider Classica "Bronzo Magnetico" by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr



OK... that's all well and good, but enough nickel and diming. Time to really make this something special.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The stock suspension from the Classica and Lusso has a very smooth, comfortable ride. However, it's hard to call it sporty. Between the somewhat vague-feeling electronic power steering and the tendency for the car to "float" at higher speeds or while changing direction on uneven pavement, it was clear that was the next order of business.

I didn't want to sacrifice the generally comfortable ride too much, nor did I want to significantly drop the height (most of the kits I saw were in excess of an inch lowering). Figured I'd take a gamble and go with the US-spec Eibach springs (advertised as 0.8" drop) but retain the stock dampers.

While waiting for these to arrive, I had to veer off road to avoid a collision and wound up bending my stock wheel. I actually liked the appearance of the stock wheels... but... this was a good excuse to get something a little different. Opted for the reissued Enkei Compes in 16x7 with a 38mm offset. This would allow me to keep the stock tire sizes (just my opinion, but I think wider 17" wheels and tires run against the grain of the whole roadster vibe).

The results were perfect. The Eibachs lowered the car by just under an inch and evened out the front and rear ride height (stock, the front sat about 1/4" higher than the rear). Higher-speed float was eliminated, and the car feels planted in tight turns while still providing excellent ride quality over questionable pavement. Thanks to the great Pete Sarmany at Tru-Line (Bellevue, WA) the car was also thoroughly re-aligned (these are not very well set up from the factory) including dialing in more caster angle to create a much better steering feel with a bit more resistance and return-to-center.

The Enkeis really add to the vintage roadster vibe, and seemed ironically fitting on a Euro-branded-Japanese-made-Euro-inspired-retro-roadster as they're re-issues of Japanese-made-Euro-inspired wheels (late 70s/early 80s clones of the old Minilites). Also like how the gunmetal matches the grey of the Classica rollbars.


Front - stock by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr


Front - Eibach + Enkei by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr


Rear - stock by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr


Rear - Eibach + Enkei by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr



Front 1/4 - stock by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr

Front 1/4 - Eibach + Enkei by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr

Front 1/4 - stock by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr

Front 1/4 - Eibach + Enkei by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr


Lastly, I wanted just a *bit* more exhaust noise (subtlety is the running theme here). The Classica/Lusso is notoriously quiet, and as audiences had become used to the 500 Abarth, this was somewhat of a disappointment in the initial press. I owned a 500C Abarth "GQ" which had a small muffler and a slightly more subdued tone compared to the standard Abarth, but still let out a bit of low-end resonance and off-throttle burble to let you know it was there. Opted for the Good-Win muffler delete only, retaining the OEM bits between there and the engine. Not only does it sound much better, but it looks tremendous.


Rear 3/4 - stock by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr


Rear 3/4 - Eibach + Enkei + Goodwin by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr





new wheels and springs... by Jeff Conlin, on Flickr


So now it feels great to be in... it drives great... it sounds great... it looks great. Maybe not quite as subtle as I'd originally intended, but this is *exactly* what I wanted - first time really doing that with a car.


(only things left are a long-term project of adding vintage-style rally lights in front and possibly a reflash for a bit more engine output and response)
 

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Those wheels look made for the car. How much toe and caster are you running?

Also, how tight is the fitment given the lower offset of the wheels? Do you think 205/55 tires would be able to fit without rubbing (I think that would add around 1" to it's diameter)
 

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Jeff,

You have done some really nice things there and I really appreciate the photos and video. That is the best exhaust comparison I have seen and GWR should treat you really nice for doing that. I agree that the wheels look made for the car.

All that said, I have a question. When you say "high speed float" what level of speed are you talking about? I have driven my stock suspension Lusso over 12,000 miles, most of it at 75 - 80 mph. The only time I noticed any float was when I tested the speed limiter at 138 mph. There was a little float at that speed, but not such that I felt out of control. When you say high speed, are you talking about those kinds of speeds, or does the Classica front end provide significantly less down force than the Lusso?
 

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(Some of this has been covered before but consolidating now...)

I walked into the dealer back in December pretty well set on picking up an Abarth. After back-to-back test drives with the basest of the base model Classicas (in brown, no less), I figured it would be a slam dunk...

... but that brown Classica really grabbed me, even more than the Abarth...

OK... that's all well and good, but enough nickel and diming. Time to really make this something special.
Bronzo Magnetico was one of my preferences. It's my understanding fast car aficionado, Steve McQueen, preferred brown cars, for what it's worth. ;)

I've got a Good-Win-Racing RoadsterSport Fiat 124 Exhaust Combo on order. Good-win's rep, quality, and product backing won me over, plus their enthusiasm and support for the new Spider. It sure sounds good in the videos and it looks close enough for what I want.


Brian really looks like he enjoys it. :) Heh, heh, "a baby Maserati." :cool:

I'll probably be doing some more things to Little Spidee. Time and my wallet will tell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
When you say "high speed float" what level of speed are you talking about? I have driven my stock suspension Lusso over 12,000 miles, most of it at 75 - 80 mph. The only time I noticed any float was when I tested the speed limiter at 138 mph.
That's the fun of subjective things like ride and handling - vocuabulary isn't always consistent. Best I can describe is occasional front end "lightness" around 85, getting more vague from there. Highways here are poorly paved, deeply grooved, and are prone to uneven patches making it much more noticeable... but even at lower speeds, the stock springs just seemed to be a bit slow to respond to changing conditions, compounded by the vague steering due to lower caster angle.

I'll post the exact specs we used for the realignment later, but the combination of springs and a bit of alignment tweaking has been absolute magic.
 

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Oh my goodness those wheels.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Those wheels look made for the car. How much toe and caster are you running?
Front
camber : -0.5 deg (-0.8 stock)
caster : +9.6 deg (+7.7 stock)
toe : 0mm (-1mm stock)

REAR
camber : -1.2 deg (-1.7 stock)
toe : 1.7mm (2.3mm stock)


Also, how tight is the fitment given the lower offset of the wheels? Do you think 205/55 tires would be able to fit without rubbing (I think that would add around 1" to it's diameter)
The wheels are out roughly 1/4" further from stock position and wheel gap with the top of the wheelwell was reduced by about 7/8"... no issues with clearance that I can see the 195's, can't imagine 205's would be an issue.
 

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That's the fun of subjective things like ride and handling - vocuabulary isn't always consistent. Best I can describe is occasional front end "lightness" around 85, getting more vague from there. Highways here are poorly paved, deeply grooved, and are prone to uneven patches making it much more noticeable... but even at lower speeds, the stock springs just seemed to be a bit slow to respond to changing conditions, compounded by the vague steering due to lower caster angle.

I'll post the exact specs we used for the realignment later, but the combination of springs and a bit of alignment tweaking has been absolute magic.
"Lightness" around 85? I have passed cars on curves at well over 100 and never felt the least bit light. My car is stock, from a suspension standpoint, and is very stable at high speeds. Maybe it's not the suspension or aerodynamics of the car, but maybe your own adversity to speed. I was well over 120 before I felt what I would consider "lightness" or, as I would describe it: aerodynamics affecting the cars stability.
 

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Postscript... had to add one of my favorite vintage Abarth emblems. I'm sure some would take issue as it's not an Abarth trim level, but I like scorpions and checkered flags, so... tough.
I don't have an issue with the emblem. In fact I love it. The car does have the Abarth spec engine, and historically Abarths were modded Fiats, which is what you are driving.

I also love you car, there is some logic to modding a Classica vs. a factory Abarth.

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have passed cars on curves at well over 100 and never felt the least bit light... Maybe it's not the suspension or aerodynamics of the car, but maybe your own adversity to speed.
Heh... if only.

I found the stock springs to be excessively soft. Just my opinion, and now with minor tweaking I'm exceptionally happy with the setup.
 

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Jconli - Absolutely love what you've done with it. After having and modifying dozens of vehicles I'll be the first to admit it can be almost impossible to get it "just right" and say its exactly what you want. Obviously no factory spec car can do that as they need to appeal to the masses in order to sell them. But the 124 is definitely close enough for many of us. I think you hit the "subtle" tone just right. Having an Abarth, I am taking a slightly different, perhaps less subtle path, but I do believe I will be procuring a set of matching rims to yours. They absolutely look perfect. And the slightly lowered vice slammed Eibachs may as well just be a part of the process to. The roads around my area don't lend themselves well to lowering a vehicle to far. We have potholes here that celebrate birthdays!


Great job!
 

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Hello jconli1,

I have been a casual browser for a couple of weeks as I've been narrowing down my options for my new car (currently in a 2014 Audi A4). I literally made an account just to tell you that this build is awesome. I love the concept and reasoning you went forward with, and I think you really nailed it. So spot on.

The exhaust comparison is what really wow'd me. It's exactly what you set out for: subtlety but a little more oomph and ability to breath. And as everyone else said, the wheels were a great choice and they come off as customer-made for this car. Very nice job. Also loved the shift lever--this might be a stupid question (and one that's easily googled) but how easy was that to do?

Also, I had another question: can you school me a little on that vintage Abarth emblem you shared above? I don't know too too much of Abarth/Fiat's history, but that emblem instantly caught my eye and would probably be a must for me if I got the car. Can't find anything about it online!

I'm going to test drive tomorrow by the way; been waiting for this since the car was originally unveiled. Very excited :D
 

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Great choice on those wheels! And good photography too.
Best regards
Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Thanks for the kind words. I love how flexible this platform is - it can be a comfy GT car, a throwback roadster, a surgical track attack vehicle, and a perfectly practical daily commuter (all at the same time).

this might be a stupid question (and one that's easily googled) but how easy was that to do?


Super easy... just rotate off and rotate back on. And as a bonus, my boring molded rubber shifter from my dog/ski hauler Honda Element has the same thread... so it magically became a 6-speed overnight. :)







Also, I had another question: can you school me a little on that vintage Abarth emblem you shared above? I don't know too too much of Abarth/Fiat's history, but that emblem instantly caught my eye and would probably be a must for me if I got the car. Can't find anything about it online!
That particular emblem is one I came across two years ago looking for something to take the place of the gaudy "GQ" emblems that came with my 500C.




Decided the repro "Campione Del Mondo" emblem fit modern 500 better, but picked up the other one as well. Glad I did, because I think it really suits the 124. It was advertised as being used on some early 500 and 600 Abarths, and looks almost identical to the steering wheel horn button used in the late 60s, but I am not sure of the exact years. I think MrFiat.com still carries them.

I'm going to test drive tomorrow by the way; been waiting for this since the car was originally unveiled. Very excited :D

Awesome... take a lot of time, really get a feel for it, and be sure to try the different trim levels... you might surprise yourself.
 

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Your exhaust comparison rocks! I've been thinking that the "delete" option was the way to go, but concerned that my neighbors would hate me. Thanks to the turbo, the harsh component of the exhaust energy is absorbed. Why bother with a rear muffler? Save weight too.
And that 500 is a real butt-kicker!
best regards
Pete
 

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I love the look of the wheels on your Spider JConli. My path into a Spider was very similar to yours. I test drove an Abarth and then a Classica and the Classica came home with me that day. Mine is identical to yours, Bronzito Metallico with zero options. So far, I've done the Good-Win exhaust muffler delete with quad tips and the GFB Diverter valve. I'm not sure what direction I'll take with the suspension and eventual chip, but my inspiration is my '69 Jerrari Spider. I intend to make a Jerrari II of sorts out of my Classica. To do that, I'd need to address the suspension, exhaust, power output. I'm happy with the exhaust note now, but need to work on the suspension next.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm not sure what direction I'll take with the suspension and eventual chip, but my inspiration is my '69 Jerrari Spider. I intend to make a Jerrari II of sorts out of my Classica.
Super cool! I totally forgot about the Jerrari's... even better that you actually have one. (Congrats!) Really is the perfect reference point for a modern 124 upgrade path.
 
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