So Girlfriend often has insights.

She pointed out a good reason to have a Dog. ( Or Dogs. When I met her, there was one, & now there are four: Sydney, Stilton, Skorpan, & Nipper. But that is another story. )

If you have a Dog, you can talk to it & no one thinks you're crazy. Try talking to yourself in public verses talking to a Dog, & we have an example of this theory.

Many years ago I learned tht if you actually write things down as opposed to just thinking about it, you get better results in life.
I think it was Napolean Hill that pointed that out in a book I read back when I was trying to conquer the world & battle the Sun.

The habit remains, & I thought for variety I would scan some analog writing to freshen up the website format.

Writing things down is probably similar to talking to your Dog in terms of it's cheaper than therapy, & arguably may give you some insight anyway.

On that note, here are some writings I made to myself this morning wondering why on earth I would buy an old & dead Lancia Fulvia coupe &
 tow it to my shop when I am already completely backlogged with obligations in a variety of arenas.

I pondered the word why, & made the following observations:

& there we are. Thoughts for the day.

Off to put out fires, make phone calls, return emails.

The Question:

Will the lettuce get planted this morning ?

Will the Fulvia get some attention today ?

Will things go sideways & a whole new set of obligations surface before either of these interests ?

Well at least I started a new page.

This Fulvia needs lots of assistance.  For example the previous owner didn't mention there were no keys until after he cashed my check.


I wonder what goes on inside Fulvia locks ?


No locks ?  Anxious to see how the engine is ? Well you can hot wire a car to get it started.

Hmmm. no action, no sparks, no voltage anywhere..

Let's look for t the fuse box. It's hidden under the glove box in a tray.



It appears rodents have made a home there.

Even they left when it got this nasty. Corrosion everywhere, No wonder there's no electricity in the chassis.


Hmmm. Searching on ebay yields a Ferrari  (N 308 GT4, love those ! ) box that may fit.

Good fortune finds an original clean Fulvia one however.


Time for a little swaperoo......


Of course one of the relays failed.  Nice old school hand made pieces inside.

Coming along.  There was corrosion on every connector.

Alright.  There is now electricity.  Let's try to start it !

Hmmm.  There appears to be tar in the carburettors.

Another delay.

Darn it., & late for another obligation.

At least the parking lamps come on !   I'll have to sort out the grille sometime & bring back it's smile.

Back another day ............

Aah. better.

Carbs apart & passageways sorted.

It took three tries to finally get them to work as they should.

Ready  to go.

Well, the engine starts on a fuel can as a substitute for the gas tank that is filled with sludge. One more thing to fix.  I drove it up & down the cul de sac.

Wow ! It's a Fulvia !  What light steering !

A magnificent car. I instantly decide to keep it & fix it up.

Is that smoke in the rear view mirror ?

What's really noticeable is wheel bearing howl at 25 miles an hour.  Darn it.  That's a nasty job on a good day.

& then the gas can runs out & it's an uphill push back to the shop.

Ah yes. The glory of old things.

Nice Lancia speedboat:     Dinner in Venice anyone ?

I have a brief 24 hour window between customer obligations & finally got the Fulvia on the lift for the first time.
I've owned it a month !  Never enough time  it seems.

Well, it badly needs wheel bearings. On an old Fulvia or Flavia It's always a terrible job & leads to tears, so I may as well start before I get scared off.

6:00 pm Tuesday night & away we go:

There it is, guaranteed frozen.

An attack with a variety of tools has the castleated axle nuts off.

Axle out, time to see if the ball joints will release.

Nope. of course not.

Time to go home for dinner.

& there goes two weeks...........

OK: Here's the Devil. A crazy amount of heat & effort to get this bearing out of the hub.

Time for reassembly before the phone rings again:

It looks so easy when everything is clean.  Try that in a driveway without a lift, a torch, a press, a bunch of unobtanium Lancia tools & an attitude.

OK, hub going back in, & a break to enjoy the cactus blooming out front. The flowers only last 24 hours & come out once a year....

Unbelievable smell.

Hey, the car is together, but the engine smokes. Oh no.

Do I have the time to get the pistons out ?


 Isn't this the weekend I had some obligations ?  Darn it.

Well, I pulled them out anyway. The head was only moderately frozen.

No photos as the torch, hammers & tongs were out & there was cursing.

Look at the gap on the original oil control ring.

Here's a new one. No wonder it looked like a plane going down  with that smoke trail.

Interesting cylinder head casting:

The receipts I got indicated someone had bought two valves & a head gasket in 1975.  I guess the valves got tangled in cyl # 1 &  this looks like the original piston.

Going together...

Note the interesting shape on the rods & pistons. Good old Lancia eccentricities...

Car pictures only ?

Let's break it up a bit .   How about............

Sunset on the levee.

Sydney anticipating:

Maybe something will falll off the table..............

Afternoon driveway shot this week:

OK:   The motor is coming along assembly wise.

Nice to clean things up a bit  while I was in there.

Cam timing was out, someone broke a timing pin & seized a sprocket previously.

Snapped off bolt in the block, all the usual issues.

If I ever take it apart again it will be smooth sailing.

When I fired it up there was no smoke, & the classic Fulvia exhaust note that had been missing appeared .

Cool !


Like Rock & Roll ?

Me too.

Hard to find contemporary Bands that are any good at it though.

The Nocturnals are actually darn good, & their front person has simply got it.

As pictured below, a bonus that she looks great too.

 This Band would be worth checking out if the Singer was just some Guy that had as much charisma as this Chick does.

Look into it if they tour your area.

So the engine got assembled, the Fulvia is a daily driver, & why not fuss with it some more.

The endless pleasure of enjoying a cool old car.

The back panel doesn't look bad in this photo, but in person it was scruffy, miscolored, had rust marks creeping in around the stainless, overspray on rubber bits, & generally bothered me to look at.

Let's dial it in  !

It may look like it had more patina above, but it wasn't the right kind of scruffy.

I shot the color below after work on Friday, but before I left, I decided a little more green would really make it feel warmer.

I mixed up a little batch of paint & misted it in, but shot it at dusk so I didn't get a photo.

I think I got a great pigment, but I won't know until daylight tomorrow..

I once purchased a 1969 Alfa GTV at night ( In the rain no less...) & when I got it home & saw it the next day it was a different color than the car I thought I had bought.


Note to self: Don't buy cars after dark.

I'm going to buff  down the paint with a 3M scruffy pad, & try to match the light refraction of the original.

Somehow, a very satisfying project.

Hope I didn't over-green the  paint on the back panel, but I think it's gonna look great.

We shall see tomorrow !

Tum dee dum, sound of Jeapordy music............

OK: Looking good.

With the camera the color looks the same but there is a big difference in person.

That little extra bit of green really helped, but at night it looked like I went overboard a bit.

I had the fantasy of assembling it Saturday, but Girlfriends car died ( 3 times ! ) with intermittant fuel injection issues, so it got priority.

At least I got the bumper & stainless trim on.

What a change from how it looked last week !

OK: More obligations here & there for the weekend.

Somehow... Any chance I can reassemble it before Monday ?

It looks like a few lenses & badges to bolt on, but of course 14 of the 17 fasteners that hold all that stuff on were rusted solid.

Even with a torch,  secret sauce penetrating oil, & finesse, those little 3mm & 4mm studs gave up the ghost.

Tin Worm;  entropies' best footman.

Getting those parts back in will entail silver soldering, fabrication, maybe a hot glue gun if no one is looking and some time.

Oh well.

 In the meantime:

Here's a formula some of you may find interesting:

Alright !

Good enough for me...

Looks much better, but by using enamel with no clear coat it still feels correct & not overdone.

Maybe I'll do the nose next.

Or touch up  the wheels

Or just commute in it & enjoy driving a Fulvia again................

Check out this young cliff swallow.

The last of four in the nest, it's been living outside the back door.

Cute little thing.

 Maybe today will be the day it gets its wings.

Well, didn't make it out tonight to see if the Swallow learned to fly, as I stayed late at the shop.

As I was leaving I grabbed a few snaps of the now running & driving Fulvia.

Did I mention as I attempted to drive it to the shop this morning it left me stranded & I had to walk home to get another car ?

Came home for lunch & figured out my brand new old stock, rare as rare Bougicord red ignition wires had an intermittant coil wire failure.


Coming home last night it ran like satin on the freeway. (  or is that a Saint. just reshuffle the letters. )

Well, never a dull moment.

You might note the tiny  1 1/4 inch exhaust pipe.

Studying old Abarth exhausts over the years I noticed they often used small diameter exits.

Heck, those pipes sounded good, why not experiment.

Taking out the rear resonator & welding on this pipe gave the car a marvelous burble that is very subtle & just makes you smile as you rev it up & shift.

I'll see if I can figure out how to post an MP3 file or video  of the tone.

It really is delightful

Assembled !

Heading home for dinner......................

& there goes a few weeks.

So how is it to enjoy life with a first series Fulvia coupe ?

Well, the car that ran like a Saint  turned into the car from Hell.

Ran so smooth on the way to dinner. Just delightful.

Next morning it goes up the street, around the corner, coughs, hacks, sputters,  I'm late & walking back home to get another car.

Come home at night, & it runs great.

OK:  Cut to the chase. over the next seven days, a NOS Marelli cap & rotor, new wires, another coil, distributor on the machine & recurved, plugs burn great, Oscilloscope patterns perfect.

Every darn morning I end up walking home & running late, not to mention good & cranky. Even when it runs  well I don't trust it on the freeway.  ( Does your Dog still bite ? It bit me twice already, I'm a bit suspicious. )

Every time I replace a part, it runs great. Fixed !

Do a little dance.  10 minutes later I'm walking again....................

OK, try another coil wire. The one I had was ultra rare, new old stock . I should scan the label for the cognescenti, rather like a Macau fireworks label for those who appreciate the tone of a tightly wrapped Peony brand firecracker.

Dead again.

Possible carburation isues ? I've drained the tank twice. I have seen a main jet suck up a speck of dirt, & have it return to the bowl when sitting.

Sure. Let's rebuild those old Fulvia carbs on the shelf. There's three hours.

What does it do ?  Runs great, & then leaves me stranded.... Again!

Gradualy I retrace all steps.  Another coil, coil wire, rotor , cap..................

Finally it is cutting out under the slightest load. Leave a stopsign, or the flatlands of the freeway, & the slightest incline gives you a three cylinder 1300cc car that can't get out of it's own way much less match traffic.


Final conclusion ?

Faulty new spark plug. Thermally intermittant. Haven't seen that in 20 years since Joi's vintage mercedes ( creme  with green leather ) refused to climb hills with new Bosch spark plugs. Where is she now ? last known as a high end clothing designer in Los Angeles, I still have her Juki 555 I use for fabricating drapes. Please call home when you need it back for testing patterns.....

Those spark plugs were new. It didn't occur to me to question them.

Four new plugs & the car is running smoother than the Juki 555. Such an incredible pleasure to drive !

So happy to be in Fulvia dreamland.

There are several routes I can take driving home. If I am really enjoying a car there is a long way that takes a bit longer, but let's one savour a delicious special car for another ten minutes.

There I am, exhaust bleating, satin motor, gauges glowing,  so foolishly happy I am smiling & marveling at the simple pleasure of it all.

Pulling up the long hill around 75mph, heading towards the Caldecott tunel..............  It runs out of life & I pull over on the side of the freeway under a streetlamp.

Cars flying by, cold, 9:30 at night, hungry. Wondering why I didn't take the short route as I could have been in the kitchen reveling in celebration  by now..

Darn it.

To be continued..............

So I'm by the side of the freeway reflecting.

I have just come back from IKEA & it's too bad I didn't stop at their food section on the way out as I'm good & hungry.

Girlfriend has decided it's time to tear out the old kitchen & fix it up.

Within an hour of the sink coming out I appreciated how often it gets used. Cup of tea ? well, first empty the tea pot, fill the kettle, rinse a cup............

Wait a minute. None of this stuff is possible without walking to the garden hose or across the house to the bathroom, & someone is in there taking a shower..

Well, this is not so exciting, so off to IKEA & for $20 I got a garbage can & a sink drying rack. The plan is to put a 3 1/2 inch hole in the can, install a drain, mount a garden hose valve, & a drying rack so I can be up to speed on the food front.

here's how it ended up looking the next day:

Bachelor primitive, but affordable & functional.

Having said that, I'm still on the side of the road.

I don't know how long I was there, but I was in line when IKEA closed at 9:00 & I got home at 1:00 am

What did I learn ?

It appears that the car was not getting gas.

I had rebuilt the fuel sender & I have been watching it go down steadily from 3/4 tank to 1/4.

I know the red low fuel light works as I fixed that too, & I was going to ad gas around 1/8 of a tank  before the light comes on just to be safe.

Did the fuel system suck in some more dirt from the tank as I was going up hill ? Will that schmutz fall down from the pickup & back to the tank if I just wait patiently & disconnect the suction from the pump ?

No.       It didn't.

Not looking  so good.

I finally yield to seeking help from fellow man.

Hood up, trunk open, under a streetlamp, clearly in need of help with a nice old car  ( I had just finished painting the back & it did look good at night . A little too stressed to remember to take a photo though. Where was my journalistic common sense ?...)

 I walk back 30 feet, sit on the rail with my thumb out & wait for opportunity.

Good thing I'm well dressed at the moment. Let's see who shows up.




Cars just constantly fly by.

Alot of time to think & reflect.


Finally someone stops.

What type of person looks out for fellow man ?

I'm sure a good one or two hundred cars must have driven by, so obviously this person has something that less than 1% of the people around me have, lets call it empathy or compassion perhaps, but it certainly appears to be in short supply tonight.

It's an older Arab gentleman, with wife or daughter wrapped up in cultural dress. They both ask how I am & what can they do to help.


Culturally we have been taught to seek scapegoats, & folks from this part of the world have been the target of western aggression for quite some time now.

Certainly no problem for Mohammed ( his actual name ) & his companion, he posesses traights that we seem to be breeding out of our society.

There's something to think about.

We figure out I need fuel & he has about 1/8 of a gallon left in a fuel can in his trunk.

He gives it to me, refuses payment, waits to make sure the Fulvia starts & gets off the freeway, & they both wave goodby as their car slips away in the night.

Sometimes it's good to take the long road as you can learn things you might not have noticed on the path well traveled.

& the Fulvia ?

Limped into a gas station, gave it five Gallons, & noticed the gas gauge is still stuck at 1/4.

Well how about that !

Gotta love old cars...................

Post Script:

Some demons exorcised, the car has been running glass smooth.

Took it to a far corner of Marin the other day, a longer journey than it has seen since it was  beached in 1984.

Nipping accross the San Rafael bridge at an indicated 80, smooth bleat from the exhaust, perfect weather.

Rollie, a fortunate friend of mine has found & bought a factory Fulvia HF Rally car.

It seemed appropriate to drive a Fulvia to the greeting of his new project.

Big fenders, big gas tank, huge carburettors & a racing log book.  It has been sitting dormant for years, & he beat me to digging it out of its' slumber in an undisclosed warehouse.

Couldn't of happened to a nicer Guy: He was into Lancias before me when I met him  30 years ago.

His brother lived on a ranch & had a four door Flaminia he had hollowed out & put in a nice big matress. Used to sleep in it on warm summer nigths.

I wouldn't be surprised if the gauges were hooked up to 12 volts so they could glow in the evening............

Now those folks are true enthusiasts.

I was on a tight schedule that day, & while I was in paradise driving the Fulvia home, I had trepidations if it would act up again.


Just one of the most satisfying little cars to drive ever.

Took a snap of it tonight before leaving the shop:

If my neighbor has had as much fun enjoying his leased Lexus SUV, he's a lucky guy..........

Days later:

Took it out for coffee this morning.

What a delightful car. Fires up instantly, light steering, runs great.

Here it is parked in the driveway afterwards..........

June 8, 2014 update:

Does it have some rust ? Yup.

So what.

Thank goodness I got over the folly of selling it when I needed a parking spot for another project.

It has become my daily driver, and is so immensely rewarding on a variety of levels it is hard to describe. Now stone reliable, & no hint of overheating even on the worst hot days in stuck California traffic jams.

I cannot believe I ever thought of selling it. Of the five  Fulvia coupes & three Fulvia Zagatos I have owned it is the most magical of them all on the road.

As a matter of fact it is a delightful Sunday afternoon right now and I am going to drive to the shop  for the sheer pleasure of it.

Happy motoring !

December 2014 update:

It is still a magical car.  I am off to fire it up right now.

Here's to enjoying life........