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WORDS ROSS BOGAART & CHRIS THOMPSON PHOTOS LOU MARTIN & ROSS BOGAART

GARAGE GURUS

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ORIGINAL CAR

1960 FIAT 600D

LENGTH OF RESTORATION:

12 YEARS

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Email details to: uniquecars@bauertrader.com.au

FIAT 600D

ROSS BOGAART DIDNíT RECOGNISE THIS LITTLE ITALIAN WHEN HE FIRST SAW IT. CUE ONE OF THE LONGEST RESCUE MISSIONS EVER UNDERTAKEN

Iwas out walking my dogs and I saw this sitting on the side of the road in some long grass. I felt sorry for itÖ it needed a home. It appealed to me, even though I had no idea what it actually was when I first saw it.

Most people havenít got a clue. They think itís a small VW.

At first it was in a million pieces, all of it packed up into boxes in the car. It had windows which protected it from the rain, but that was about it. It was just a shell.

Before I got to it, it had the floor cut out and replaced with new metal. Iím led to believe a guy from Amberley Air Base who built bodies for the planes owned it. He did all that work and then gave up on the project. The next guy who owned it kept looking at it and procrastinating, but he just couldnít get his head around it because it was too much work. I must admit, I was close to that too. I was just able to put my mind to it and get stuck in. The way I planned it was by writing a massive list of tasks and just ticking them off. And finally, here it is. The finished product.

The reason for building it is that it was going to be a bit of fun. Something different. Everyoneís got big V8s in Chevys and whatnot, but you just donít really see little hot-rods. Theyíre just not around because nobody seems to build them. Maybe they canít be bothered, who knows?

The Fiat has been completely modified. For a start, the guards have all been flared, sills have been lowered and itís got a spoiler on the front. Interior-wise itís been completely redone. Different gauges, massive stereo, the back seatís gone purely because of the stereo. Plus, the motor protrudes into the back a little bit, so it wouldnít

have been very comfortable for anyone to sit in there.

I didnít get the motor with it, all I got were the gearbox and diff and so on with the standard wheels. I put a Suzuki twin-cam fuel injected turbo engine in it, which I got from Suzisport. Itís been completely rebuilt because it was a project motor built for one of their cars that was never run. What they did was take an 800cc block and marry a 660 Cappuccino head to it with fly cut pistons to make it all work. There was a single cam that was hooked up to the gearbox, but the twin cam was more appealing to me.

I had to re-do all the brakes so itís got Skyline brakes all-round. If you make something go hard, youíve got to make it stop hard.

Everythingís been done, every nut, bolt, bushes, you name it. The front end is completely as-standard, so itís got a trans-leaf spring in the front which is very unusual. Iíve never seen that before on a car.

The start-up was a bit of a mystery. What was going to happen? Itís got the standard computer in it, I had a friend wire everything up for me, and on the start it fired up first try.

Itís taken me 12 years to do, as Iíve had numerous troubles with panel beaters. A mate of mine painted the car for me, and heís done a really nice job with it. Itís a pretty nice paint job. It was mostly just trouble with panel beaters. It went away to one panel beater for seven years, and when I got it back off him he told me I was an impatient so-and-so. And Iíd paid him to do the job.

Needless to say, thatís a story I donít want to go into because it doesnít make me feel very good. An MG down the back of the shop and, call me stupid, but the exact same thing happened with a different guy. I paid him, sent the car away, and got it back exactly seven years later. Once I got the car back from the panel beatersÖ well the rest of it took me about a year. I had to build or make almost everything for it.

I did get a friend of mine to make the dash. Itís fibreglass now, but I almost left it as a steel dash. I changed my mind because it was a bit dangerousÖ You kinda want a bit of padding in case someone hits their head onto it. I think it looks a bit better than steel, too.

ďMOST PEOPLE HAVENíT GOT A CLUE. THEY THINK ITíS A SMALL VWĒ

The interior was done by Dave at Amax up the road from me, and I think he did a nice job. For what it was, I mean, because he had nothing to work with Ė no interior at all. He had to make everything for it, which was a big job in itself. The pedals are pretty much the same as standard, but I had to put a Suzuki master cylinder in with the Skyline brakes Ė something which I wasnít sure would work without a booster. I didnít know if it was going to pull up hard, but it does. It stops on a dime.

The wheels were off a Honda Prelude. I went for those because theyíve got that flat look which appeals to me, but I donít know if it appeals to anyone elseÖ But thatís it, isnít it?

I love the look of the carÖ Itís just a real head-turner. Thereís just nothing else like it around. I mean sure, youíve got all the big boys, but Iím into little cars. Itís just a bit too small while Iím getting in, and then itís pretty bumpy for me to drive. Iím 57-years-old and not getting any younger.

It also corners like a bitchÖ it actually scares you because you come into corners too hot since

everythingís so stable. All the weightís on the back so, if I could keep it, Iíd probably lower the front end a little and put a bit of weight in the front.

The other issue was the spare wheel Ė I couldnít buy one for it, and I couldnít fit one into it. The fuel tank is in the front, so I had to get a space saver. Itís quite an interesting fit.

When I wanted to get it mod-plated I didnít know what to do, because everythingís been changed. When I approached the engineer, his eyes went like saucers.

Still, he took photos of everything and eventually gave it the thumbs up and put a plate on it.

My son went to register it, but Main Roads had never heard of it. They tried to look it up but nothing was there, so they had to make a completely new listing for that car. Itís the only one I know of in Queensland thatís been registered.

There are a few others around, one guy has about eight but I donít know him personally. His are all in pieces, but he sells nothing. Apparently oneís a rally car which he doesnít rally, and oneís a road car which he doesnít drive. Or so Iím told.

This is the reason Iím putting mine up for saleÖ Because I donít drive it. Itís just a bit uncomfortable for me, so Iím going to let someone else enjoy it.

This little thing, when you drive it down the street, turns everybodyís heads.

Theyíve all got thumbs out the windows and everybody gathers around it when you pull up. I didnít do it for that reason, I just like little cars, but itís a nice plus. Itís a good feeling.

ďMAIN ROADS HAD NEVER HEARD OF IT. THEY TRIED TO LOOK IT UP BUT NOTHING WAS THEREĒ