Archive | Readers E-Mails

Readers e-mail from Luigino

Many thanks to Luigino for the following e-mail:

Hello, I’ve been searching the Internet on Fiat 1100, and all the various makes.

I specialize in the Fiat 1100D models.

Currently, I’m in South Africa, from South Africa.

I also belong to the: www.millecento.it website forum, and have put ina few technical articles, and manuals, which some of them are only assesible to members. Unfortunately, the membership was free, but then they made a membership fee.

Anyway, it would be good to hear is anyone has any archives or dispatch books on the number of various Fiat 1100 cars assembled in Australia.

MY Fiat was also assembled in South Africa, Durban, similar as yours, as a CKD kit.

The Fiat 1100D is actually a 1221cc engine, bored out version of original Fiat 1100 models with 1089cc engines. Basically, the Fiat 1100D engine, is the same engine as fitted on the Fiat 1200 models, although with only 1 x single choke downdraught carburetor.

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Readers e-mail from Christy

Many thanks to Christy for sending in this e-mail:

I bought one of these cars in 1968 for £95.00.It was my first car,and was first registered in Westmeath in July 1960. The registration was ALI-747.

I remember buying a set of Dunlop C41 cross-ply tyres from John Brown,(RIP)who had a filling station in Kilcock. I drove this car for around 4 years, in that time doing lots of starter and engine repairs.

I also put a lot of miles on in that time.My late brother and Father drove it till 1981 when my Dad passed away.

I still have this car which is parked in a shed. I have the best of intentions of having it restored but just never got round to it.

(Usual story)Its only when I see one thats been so well minded that I regret not having it done years ago.

These cars seem to be very rare now,especially at Vintage shows,you would rarely see one on show.Your car is a credit to you.

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Mrs. Hansberry’s Fiat

By Ean McDowell, March 2010

“1965 Fiat Sedan, unable to get spare parts, is unroadworthy, so cannot be sold. I would give it to anyone who is interested in restoring old bodies. Has done approximately 40,000 miles. White in colour and quite dusty as it has been sitting in a carport for several years; Mrs Lorna Hansberry, Landt Hostel.”

The faded notice was in frail handwriting taken down from a noticeboard long ago. It was said the car was given away four times but no-one ever collected it and sadly Mrs Hansberry passed away in late 2009. There was no family. Eventually the house was sold and to help out one of the nurses at the hostel and her “Uncle Frank” moved the car so the new owners could take possession. One can only imagine the contrast of this sad ending to the day the new Fiat came home for the first time on 7th April 1965.

Frank was a Stock and Station Agent in the Warracknabeal area… the type of guy who knew everyone within 100 kilometres. He didn’t know Mrs Hansberry well but he was aware that she and her husband owned a successful plaster business in the town for many years. Long since retired he had time on his side and started to clean up the Fiat to get it running again. It needed a windscreen and he sourced one in Bacchus March, about 300km away. When the windscreen arrived it had “round corners” from the earlier model so it was returned and replaced. Such is the way in the country. The Fiat also needed a water pump. Enquiries were made and eventually it was removed and sent to Portland, 200km in the opposite direction, for repair. Frank had spent a bit of money which he hoped to recover and his friend Dirk suggested they put it on eBay. Dirk obviously had a way with words and despite all the car sales pitches in history, here was the genuine case of “Driven only to church by a little old lady”.

To every old car purchase there is a story. I happened to be browsing on eBay only an hour after the advertisement was placed. The advertisement said it needed a clutch and my initial thought was that clutches don’t wear out at 40,000 miles on a Fiat 1100… it has probably done 140,000miles. The bodywork looked average in the photos on eBay but the interior looked very clean. I thought it was worth a try and I hit the “Buy it Now” button. The adventure was about to start.

The Fiat 1100 Riviera comes home.

The Fiat 1100 Riviera comes home. Click for bigger.

Rainbow, the town where the car was located was about 450km from Melbourne. Dirk said there would be a bed if I wanted to stay but I reckoned I could get there and back in a day. I was on the road by 7.30am on a day that was so typical of Australian summers. The weather forecast was for the mid-30s in Melbourne… probably 37 at Rainbow on the edge of the little desert. On the Western highway the speed limit was 110kph and it was no trouble at all to maintain that, the trailer was empty but the back of the ute was well loaded with ramps, extra wooden beams and blocks, trolley jack, ropes, tools, and two spare trailer wheels. Many people say the western plains are boring with gently undulating broad-acre grain farms as far as the eye can see. I think the opposite and enjoyed every bit of the trip. I pulled into Rainbow just after noon and there was the Fiat on the side of the road … parked as arranged so I would recognize the house. I did a U-turn and pulled alongside…. It was rusty and dirty… not at all as I expected. I had paid too much! I met Frank and Dirk, and Dirk’s wife made us a coffee. Pretty soon we were laughing and joking. Dirk had worked all his life in mines in North Queensland but said “they found two young guys for the cost of an old guy like me”. He and his wife looked on the internet for the cheapest house in Australia and they found it at Rainbow. They had never even heard of Rainbow let alone been to that part of Australia. Within three years they had transformed the dry and sandy block of land into a mini rainforest by recycling everything. It was a fantastic garden. Frank told us stories of the land and the characters of the past. They knew nothing about Fiats but hoped I would save it. Soon we went out to load it up. I set up the ramps and Frank started the car to drive it on… he didn’t make it… he never even looked like making it. I took over and as I felt the steering and eased it into gear it was very obvious that the 39,100 miles showing on the speedometer was genuine. I brightened up. Frank suggested I navigate down the back roads and small towns rather than going via the highway and with a touch of genuine country hospitality came out with two cold soft drinks for the trip back home. This was most appreciated as the temperature was probably well over 37degrees.

Mazda Ute towing the Fiat 1100 Riviera in the Western Plains of Victoria. A 900km trip on one day.

Mazda Ute towing the Fiat 1100 Riviera in the Western Plains of Victoria. A 900km trip on one day. Click for bigger.

The ute with fully loaded trailer still pulled well but 90kph was enough. The back roads were rough but the scenery was great. I was watching the Fiat in the mirror and thinking about it. I stopped for fuel and people came over to look at it. I brightened up even more. About 150km out of Melbourne I was glad to rejoin the highway but then it happened. The inside trailer tyre blew out, the tread came loose, and it flopped around and dragged the mudguard firmly into the wheel. I had all the equipment to jack the trailer and replace the wheel, but the heavy steel mudguard was so firmly jammed against the wheel. To make things worse it was late afternoon and the damaged tyre had ripped out the trailer lighting. With some effort I eventually managed to lever the mudguard away with the trailer ramps, change the wheel and reach home. I drove the Fiat up and down the road and put it away.

There are little things that show Mrs Hansberry cared for her Fiat. The boot is in perfect condition… almost never used you would say. The rubber mat in the boot was unmarked and in the little wells on each side there was a plastic “mat” to create a floor. I have never seen a car that still had these. In fact I made a mental note to look in the parts book to confirm they all had them when new. The rear seats and carpets cleaned up and are also like new although the sun has taken its toll on the top of the back seat and the vinyl has cracked and faded. I will try to find a seat from a similar model as there is sufficient vinyl in the lower squab to cut out and replace the damaged section. The tools are all there and the original driver’s handbook and guarantee are in the plastic bag they were delivered in with “Fiat” printed on the front … probably opened once or twice when the car was new but then untouched for 45 years. Being a country car there are a lot of stone chips and some small rust holes that will have to be sympathetically repaired but most of the rust and grime has polished off.

I am in no hurry… in fact I enjoy I leisurely cleaning and refurbishing each bit of the car. I will continue to clean and detail the exterior over the coming months and to run and tune the motor. The clutch is strong but sticking and hopefully it will come good with some use. The rear brakes are also binding. Maybe it was left for 10 years with the handbrake on or maybe the flexible hose to the rear axle is blocked. Generally the need for refurbishment is lack of use rather than wear.

Mrs Hansberry’s Fiat will be looked after in the manner I am sure she looked after it.

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Readers e-mail from Australia – part 2

I always say how great it is to be receiving e-mails from Fiat 1100 owners and enthusiasts from around the world. Last week, I published a readers e-mail from Australia.

The reader kindly followed up with some more details about their cars, and the Fiat 1100 in Australia:

I’ll come clean now and tell you I am an absolute Fiat 1100 nut. I have the following:-

1953 1100 103 series. This was made in the first few months of production and you are right. They are nice and light and they go extremely well. Much better acceleration than the later cars. I found this car in Canberra, capital city of Australia and about 800km from where we live. It was a garden ornament for 10 years just collecting leaves and rust unfortunately and it was given to me free of charge if I would restore it. I got it running but still have not finished the body.

1958 1100 TV Spider. I imported this car from Mexico and it is being restored at present.

1959 Stanguellini Formula Junior racing car which was based on Fiat 1100.I imported this one from France. Car 40 in the photos above.

1959 Moretti Formula Junior racing car. I imported this from Florida.

Readers Fiat 1100, Australia

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1959 Fiat 1100 Export… bought in Brisbane and cleaned up carefully. I had to travel 4000km to collect it and bring it back. It is a 70,000 mile original car. I use it in events.

1962 Fiat 1100D. I only got this a month ago… 39,000 miles from new and just fantastic. I have attached an article I wrote about getting it.

You are right about the nostalgia. Every time I drive an 1100 someone will come up and say “I learnt to drive in one of those”, or “we went for our honeymoon in one of those”, etc.

I might also tell you I have a large collection of other Italian cars but I really enjoy the Fiats. We used to have a farm where I had lots of sheds and could store cars. The Australian climate is reasonably favourable provided they are covered. When we sold the farm I bought a factory in the city to store my cars and to restore them.

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Readers e-mail from Australia – part 1

This most recent e-mail from a reader of this website came from Australia – making it three e-mails from three continents. I’m thrilled already at the responses I’m getting from people about the little Fiat 1100. This e-mail came from quite a Fiat nut in Australia. This was the first part of our correspondence:

Readers Fiat 1100, Australia

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I found your web site today and wanted to let you know I have several Fiat 1100s in Australia. From 1959 through to 1962 they were imported in knocked down condition and assembled in Sydney.

They were quite popular here but you never see them now. My earliest is a 1953 103 model and just recently I have purchased a 39,000 mile one owner 1962 model.

I have a very large quantity of new parts if you need help. I will be happy to send you details and photos of the cars if you wish.

I know of about 12 others in Australia.

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Readers e-mail from Michigan, USA

This Fiat 1100 in Michigan, USA, must be a very rare car. It was brilliant to get this e-mail from a fellow Fiat 11oo state side.

Readers Fiat 1100, Michigan, USA

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Hi, I just found your website. I also have a 1959 1100 Millecento, not as nice as yours, but it spend most of it’s life in a barn here in Michigan, USA. Most of our cars rust away, but this one is pretty solid.

I have only driven it about a 1/2 mile since I bought it last year, I hope to drive it a bit further this year. I have fixed the brake master cylinder and front brakes, I am having trouble getting the rear brake drums off, but hope to replace the rubber parts in the rear brakes, and the driveshaft rubber joint soon.

It’s nice to meet another 103D owner.

I asked a few questions about the car, and what work was being done to it. The reader kindly responded again, and sent on a few photographs as well.

Readers Fiat 1100, Michigan USA

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Yes, my Millecento is rare in these parts, I don’t believe I ever saw one before. I found it for sale on the side of the highway and since I did not recognize it, I almost had to buy it.

I have been working to make it mechanically sound and hope to drive it around a bit this summer. I have been working the brakes but so far have not gotten the rear drums off, and I certainly do not want to damage them. I have a couple of pullers that I have used on other cars, but they do not fit the bolt pattern on the Fiat.

My current plan is to drive the car a little bit with the big nut that holds the brake drum on loosened up a couple of turns and see if that does not break the drum loose from the axle spline. If not I will have to come up with a different puller. And different bolts, on my car the left side wheel bolts are left hand thread.

My car has surprisingly little rust, I think it spent a lot more time in a garage or barn than it did on the road. The speedometer cable is disconnected, but it only reads 10,583 miles. I doubt it has 20,000 actual miles on it. I spent many years working as a mechanic, so I am pretty well equipped to deal with it.

Readers Fiat 1100, Michigan, USA

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I do have a service manual for it, but getting the master cylinder off was a bit of a challenge. It is very difficult to find any spare parts for the car. So far I have obtained front brake cylinder seals from Australia, brake hoses from Argentina, and I repaired the master cylinder using repair parts for a Wilwood racing master cylinder, only slight modifications were needed to make it fit.

I have attached a few pictures that I took when I first bought it, I hope to have some better ones soon, at least a little bit polished up.

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Readers e-mail from Pune, India

This was the first e-mail I received from a reader of this website. It’s great to hear from a fellow owner. The car in the picture they sent looks in fantastic condition as well.

I was surfing online for more info on Fiat 1100, and was delighted to find your excellent page.

Readers Fiat 1100, Pune, India

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I’m from Pune, India (100kms from Mumbai), and a keen 1100 enthusiast myself. I’m sure you would know of the Indian connection with the 1100 – they were made in various guises from 1954 to 1997 in Mumbai. Mumbai city still has around 40,000 of them running as cabs, but they will soon be ordered off the road.

Between me and a dear friend, we plan to own every model of the 1100 available in India, and we are quite close (14 cars so far – only one to go!). Only a couple are presentable though all are runners.

Your car really looks like it has been well looked after, and I see you’ve owned it from new. Was this the original colour? Would you have any literature/spec sheets on the original colours and upholstery options supplied?

Attached is a picture of my friend’s prize winning 1957 1100 ‘Elegant’ (as it was called in India). He also owns a 61 and I own a 60, both identical to your car.

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