[NTLK] OT - Off Topic - Re: Oil in Newton

Ed Kummel tech_ed at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 15 02:20:52 EST 2013

Fiat was well known in the USA for producing vehicles that rusted in the weirdest places...Whether it was the illfated Lancia, or the sporty x1/9 or the myriad nondescript coupes, you could pretty much be assured that any Fiat you purchased in the 70's would fall apart from rust before the warranty ran out! Heck, more than likely before you even paid it off! Because of this horrible reliability issue (I had a friend with a coupe who had a 2X4 piece of wood on the passenger floor that you had to put your feet on because there was no floor anymore. Eventually, on a particularly bumpy road, the entire undercarriage *FELL* to the ground and the body/chassis rolled over the engine, transmission and the seats including my friend who was sitting in the seat now sitting in the road. suffered minor injuries) Fiat left the USA and only last year has attempted to re-enter with this little flea of a beast they are attempting to pawn off as a Fiat 500. This is not a
 car I would ever attempt to drive on any American roads other than in town, back and forth to the grocery store. But people take them on the highway...scary though it is.

My first car was the family Oldsmobile that my father gave to me on graduation of Highschool. This was a 1972 Cutlass Supreme with a 350 cui engine (for those imperially challanged, this is a 5.6 liter engine). It was rated at a whopping 190HP! Of couse, some simple engine mods changed that considerably. I eventually swapped out that tiny little 350 for something with real meat. The massive 455cui engine! (7.7 liters) I bored this out to 496 cui (over 8 liters) and on a dyno, managed to get 590 horse power with over 670 foot-pounds of torque. Busted a driveshaft on that beast. A launch from a standing start could lift the front wheels of that 3,650 pound car off the ground by several inches. I later transferred the engine and transmission into a 1972 Cutlass convertible when some half-wit changed lanes right into my Cutlass. 
I still have the convertible...somewhere...it's been at a machine shop for a few years now getting restored as money allows. I'm currently into Cherokee jeeps...have three of them now. I still drive a convertible though. Tool around in a 1997 Chrysler Sebring.

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"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public’s own money."
               -1835, French political thinker and writer, Alexis de Tocqueville

 From: Frank Gruendel <newtontalk at pda-soft.de>
To: newtontalk at newtontalk.net 
Sent: Monday, January 14, 2013 7:32 PM
Subject: [NTLK] OT - Off Topic - Re:  Oil in Newton
Well, as far as your truly is concerned, MY first car was a Fiat Panda. Less
than four years after its birth it looked like this all over:


Of course, this wasn't covered by any warranty. Even though the car was
barely four years old. Still, being a company who value their customers
tremendously, Fiat kindly agreed to pay half the cost for rust damage
repair, provided the repair was done in a certified Fiat repair shop.
Unfortunately, my half would still have set me back 2500 German Marks (about
1800 USD in 1975). This was way beyond my financial means as a student, so I
asked Fiat to simply give me the body parts and let me do the rest. They
insisted on having the repair done in a Fiat repair shop because - believe
it or not - they feared that my work would be somewhat less than
professional and the result might thus cast a damning light on Fiat. So over
the next couple of months I bought a MIG welder, which at almost 500 German
Marks was an investment I was barely able to shoulder, two side doors, one
rear door, one sqare meter of sheet metal, a couple of cans of putty, a pad
sander and two liters of paint.

The up side is that - at least in Germany - all Fiat dealers celebrate an
annual spring festival. Back then, both food and drink served at those
festivals used to be good and attracted a lot of people.
Right opposite my dealer's main entrance is a parking lane. Of course, it is
not forbidden to park one's car there. Even if you do so the very night
before the spring festival to make sure the surprise will be as surprising
as a decent surprise should be:


Neither, of course, is it forbidden to stick the car documents (proof of the
car's age) and the entire written communication with Fiat (proof of their
amazing cooperation) to the inside of the car windows. And, since my dealer
had sent me a letter inviting me to their spring festival, I considered it
perfectly legitimate to enjoy their excellent catering while watching the
knots of people gathering around my car. I still think that for many of them
my Fiat must have been much more interesting than the new Fiat models.
Hardly ever had I seen that many people grinning while entering the sales
room. I had the impression, though, that my dealer's boss wasn't THAT

This, by the way, was the first and the last Fiat I ever owned. When I had
to throw it away after six years (even my MIG welder was unable to prevent
that), I bought my first Opel, which (at least rust-wise) was in much better
repair than my Fiat:


A couple of days later my best friend and me had made it look almost like a
car again:


Some days later we finished it and I had it for about seven years. At the
age of eight its condition was almost as bad as that of my Fiat, so I parted
with it. This, by the way, was the first and the last Opel I ever owned.

While my Opel was doing its best to fall apart on my daily 40km trip to
University, my in-laws happened to lend their Bedford Blitz to their son.
Here's the result:


The Opel shop (in Germany Bedford was sold by Opel) quoted repair costs that
made them gasp, so they gave it to me. I bought a very cheap Bedford Blitz
whose engine had died (which was a streak of luck since these beasts were
very rare in Germany), and my best friend and me turned the wreck into a car

After that came another Golf 1, which was crap, and yet another Golf 1 which
was the best car I ever had until my wife decided to challenge a tractor,
which resulted in the necessity to replace that car with a Golf 2.

Fast-forward 15 years...

In 2009 the German economy was shattered and the government came up with the
"Abwrackpraemie" (they gave you 2000 Euros if you wrecked a car older than 7
years and bought a new one). Being extremely satisfied with Volkswagen, I
went to a Volkswagen dealer to buy the latest Golf. My problem was that I
wanted a radio. Well, admittedly this isn't a problem per se even at
Volkswagen. The problem is that they won't sell you a radio unless you also
buy air condition. The cost of both is about EUR 2500, which I didn't have
at the time. Buying a car without air condition and without a radio would
have meant to not even find a power cable and speaker cables behind the
dashboard hole cover, let alone an antenna terminal. Bye bye, Volkswagen...
When I brought my Golf 2 to the Toyota dealer to pick my brand-new Yaris
(the first new car I ever bought), I felt like a traitor. My Golf 2 had
never let me down in almost 15 years, and the total repair cost (apart from
the cost of parts subject to regular wear and tear like tires or filters)
had been less than 200 Euros.

So far, though, the Yaris has been extremely reliable. But if somebody comes
up with a Hybrid car with an electrical range of 150km or more that I'd be
able to afford... who knows...



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