may ask me why a Fiat 125 – well, Dad used to
have a really nice red one that we used to run Christchurch
to Nelson in and do it in less than 4 hours –
I still remember the exhaust note and mum telling
him to slow down as all the 3 kids in the back used
to get car sick !!!! I also had one as one of my first
cars so when it came to a race car, it had to be the
back to the car. Once the body work was done, the
job of preparing the car was on in full earnest. And
was entrusted to the most knowledgeable Fiat guy around
in the form of Mal Simmonds from Dino Enterprises
in Cambridge (www.fiatparts.co.nz) – there is
nothing that Mal does not know about Fiats ! He also
runs a very quick Fiat 124 Special T in the Targa
had also decided early ( on Mal’s advice ) that
our 1st Targa was going to be one where we aimed to
get to the finish – being the 10 anniversary,
we wanted to get maximum enjoyment from the car and
being complete novices, we wanted to understand the
way the whole race ran. Hence, our goal was to built
reliability into the car and not necessarily straight
that in mind, we went to work starting on the suspension
and brakes. The rear is a standard Fiat 125 Diff running
with the Fiat 125T leaf springs which are basically
just another leaf on the standard setup and lowered
slightly. This give us more bite out of the corners
and makes the back of the car sit down lower as the
old Fiats tended to body roll when going quick.
with Koni’s all around, we replaced the front
springs with a set of after market Lovell performance
ones originally designed for a Cortina.
are also running 14” Lancia wheels which are
incredibly light as opposed to the standard 13”
the brakes department, the standard Fiat 125 setup
was used all around with race pads and race fluid.
We did put new disks all round but the rest of the
brake package is remarkably competent from the standard
vehicle. The only other addition was an in-car brake
bios adjustor – it’s the ‘set and
forget’ type !
the handling was sorted out, we went to work on the
electricals. The old fiats are a maze of wire and
if you have ever owned an Italian vehicle, you will
know that its typically a mess !! Again, Mal did a
great job with the car wiring and we are now running
electronic ignition and a few other mods (electric
fuel pump, electric radiator fan) etc to give us the
reliability. Tantamount to that is the only issue
we had all week on the Targa was a faulty starter
motor ! Of course, there were some mod cons installed
as we went like the Terratrip computer which is essential
for any rally (as we found out – once we all
worked out how to drive the damn thing !!!!) as well
as an intercom unit.
regards to the motor, we left it as a standard 2000
cc motor which cost me $750 including a 5 speed gearbox.
The old twin cam Fiats are built to last and the only
thing we ended up doing to the motor was to replace
the flywheel for a lighter one from a later model
Fiat 130TC as well as to put a new sump on it. The
lighter flywheel means it get up to revs quickly and
the revised sump arrangement allowed us to install
a sump guard to protect the front of the car.
with new sparkies, leads and performance oil, it runs
like a charm. We estimate it is producing about 100hp
in total (at the flywheel) and we kept it singing
along at 6000 RPM for the full 6 days of the rally
- it never even missed a beat.
is completely standard and we even ran a completely
standard single carburetor! In fact the only mods
to the fuel system were to put in a race fuel cell
and to run an electric fuel pump – other than
that, there were no changes.