The Ultimate X - Fiat X1/9

Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
One of the blue X's in that last video is Manuel Dondi's.
FM155 note he is using a NA Alfa Romeo 2-litre twin cam.

Quote ''From the Top 10 fastest Touring Cars at the HillClimb Masters in Gubbio, probably the most impressive was Manuel Dondi at the wheel of his "giant-slayer" FIAT X1/9. Against a field of 700+Hp Mitsubshi Evos, ex-DTM cars, Judd V8 powered machines and top spec GT3 cars, the tiny 320Hp/670Kg Alfa Romeo D2 powered machine was the 2nd fastest, only behind the mighty 630Hp/11.300Rpm SLK340 Judd V8 of Reto Meisel. And even that was even for only less than 1 second.''

 
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FM155

RMS Regular
Drives
Alfa 155
Exactly, light weight plus the D2 engine/box which would be very similar to the old BTCC super touring engines is a fantastic combination. I need to get more weight out of the MX5, its a bloody lardarse.
 

Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
I went to the engineers with the alternator and starter. The block had been fully stripped for the final build up - the last CR test showed 11:1 so I'm happy already. Marc said he was going to skim the head one more time and deepen the piston fly cuts one more time - so it should end up being a little higher than 11:1.
I quizzed him a little about the Tipo engine and he said he would look in to it further. One approach he said, would be to use his reference catalogues for head gaskets (with pictures) as a way of determining which blocks fit which heads, and that will tell us what cars the engines were installed in. Good logic, that.
We measured the height of the block and compared it to a Beta Volumex block - it's similar, but different of course. The VX block is considerably taller, but has narrower bores.
I went to Weymouth where I spotted a yellow Nuovo 595 Abarth. It had a badge denoting 70 years of Abarth history, 1949-2019. I thought, wow someone at Fiat has gone to the trouble of designing a badge which can be used like a logo might be, for marketing. It made me a little sad I have to admit. You'd think they'd be savvy enough to actually build some decent sports cars as opposed to this nonsense, but that's FCA for you.
I parked next to a Roller which cost probably more than most people round here earn in their entire lives. Sitting in the X, the tops of the tyres were above eye level.
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Exactly, light weight plus the D2 engine/box which would be very similar to the old BTCC super touring engines is a fantastic combination. I need to get more weight out of the MX5, its a bloody lardarse.
But positively anorexic compared to the Roller at least !
 

Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
FM155 said - ''I have a Lampredi 2.0 turbo 16V in my 155Q4'' - and also - ''light weight plus the D2 engine/box which would be very similar to the old BTCC super touring engine''.
I did a bit more research and found an old (2003) Alfa Romeo forum. I extracted the relevant information -
...........................................................................................................................................

1994 BTCC AR155 specs

- The 155s in the BTCC were limited to 2 litres
- It was a 4 cylinder 2-litre engine - NOT the Twinspark
- The engine was a mix of several parts from the alfa/lancia/fiat parts bin
- They used the 1.8 block and 2.0 head
- 2.0L Head was from the Q4 hence single spark
- It had a Q4 engine without the turbo, essentially it is the engine from the Fiat Croma, Tipo etc.

The engine was designed by Alfa Corse and built by Abarth from production castings.
The cast iron cylinder block is that used in the 164 Turbo while the aluminium alloy cylinder head is that from the 155 Q4. The block retains the 91mm cyl-bore pitch of the 2L production engine but the bore and stroke have been altered. The base production unit has under-square dimensions of 84mm bore and 90mm stroke while the race version has a 2mm larger bore and a different crankshaft with a 4mm shorter stroke giving a square engine with 86x86mm.
The head was reworked, turned through 180deg to facilitate installation of a forward-facing intake box; this supplies cooler air for the engine with density further enhanced by improved dynamic pressure in the intake. The engine is also canted rearward at an angle of 27deg from the vertical, to shift a significant amount of mass within the car's wheelbase.
Compression ratio was 11:1 meanwhile peak power is conservatively rated at 285bhp at 8400rpm while peak torque is given at 24kg.m (126lb.ft) at 5500rpm.

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FM155 thanks, looks like you know your stuff and you are definitely on to something.
I touched on the subject during my last trip to Auto Engineering, at least from the point of view of cross-flow direction in the X1/9 and mentioned to Marc that the blue Icsunonove Dallara (above) uses an Alfa Romeo twin cam, single spark DOHC, where the induction is to the front firewall, same as the 4V Dallara monoblock.
Marc said, flipping heads through 180% was no problem - 'we do stuff like this all the time'.
 

Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
In this project nothing is easy but that is the point.

I decided to buy one of those badges commemorating 70 years of Abarth.
In the end, I had to ring round the dealer network to find a dealer that actually had a 595, chat up the sales staff, persuade them to give me a VIN, go back to the parts desk, pay a hundred and forty quid up front (yes, seriously), wait for 2 weeks because it has to come from Italy (how reassuring) and then I'll have to collect it in person (2 1/2hr round trip because they aren't allowed to deliver). It won't make the car any faster but I've always been a sucker for a nice badge.

One of the things which will be happening automatically when the new engine goes in, is the clutch hydraulics will be drained, flushed, replaced and bled. The slave cylinder is on the gearbox and the master cylinder is on the pedal box. The brake master (also on the pedal box) has always been a bit weak (pressure dissipating past the seal) and also there is side-play in the brake pedal, and the noise the clutch pedal makes every time you push it (eeeeh, eeeeh e-eeh etc.) would probably drive most people round the twist (would explain why I'm here) - plus I've already mentioned the sticky front caliper.

It's all adding up to quite a big job, because on the X you have to remove the steering column undertray, the steering wheel, and the steering column, just to get to the master cylinders - so it would be daft to book ramp time in order to tackle the jobs piecemeal, working in the foot-well. I had a think, made a few enquiries to see if the entire pedal box + masters etc is a sub-component (it is), rang up Guy Cormack (he's got lots of X parts - [email protected]) - and bought a pedal box for £50, cheers Guy, which arrived today...

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That was the easy bit, haha.

It's going to take a while to turn this into a remanufactured part ready to go straight in, but when it's done it's just a question of undoing all the unions, replacing the low pressure lines, undoing the 4 bolts, bolting in the new box, connecting it up, and bleeding the brakes and clutch (as part of the engine install) - job done.

But even so, I read up a bit about the plastic bushing that goes eeeh-eeeh and (almost thankfully) they are no longer available, meaning a new bushing will have to be made and so why not improve it as well ? As is often the case, I'm not the first person to have drawn the same conclusion and after a while I found some engineering drawings for a bushing made from SAE660 bearing bronze -

exxe pedal box bearing dim.jpg

exxe clutch pedal shaft, 0.550 inch dia.jpg

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I have sent emails to various local small engineering firms (no response as yet) in the hope of finding someone who can make it.
When it's done, I'll order the rest of the other bits new - clutch block (the silver one), brake block (the bronze one), pedal rubbers, clutch master, and brake master from Eurosport.
In the meantime I can strip everything down, repaint the chassis and clean up all the bits that will be reused.
 
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Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
Some good progress with the motor, timetabled to be finished by Christmas / installation commencing beginning Feb.
Here's some pictures of the final build in progress...
A great deal is going to depend on whether this motor is any good in conjunction with the X1/9's OE 5-speed transmission.
The car will go on the rolling road before the engine is removed for comparison purposes.
Then it will be rolling roaded again (when the ECU gets mapped) initially with the close-ratio (Punto GT) gear set.
This won't make it any stronger, but it doesn't need to be - it is not a limiting factor but in balance with the power output.
The power output and power output characteristics of this engine should be spectacular in such a light car.
Will post some footage of the first start up idc.
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stevieturbo

RMS Regular
Location
Antrim
Drives
Old Ford
In this project nothing is easy but that is the point.

I decided to buy one of those badges commemorating 70 years of Abarth.
In the end, I had to ring round the dealer network to find a dealer that actually had a 595, chat up the sales staff, persuade them to give me a VIN, go back to the parts desk, pay a hundred and forty quid up front (yes, seriously), wait for 2 weeks because it has to come from Italy (how reassuring) and then I'll have to collect it in person (2 1/2hr round trip because they aren't allowed to deliver). It won't make the car any faster but I've always been a sucker for a nice badge.

One of the things which will be happening automatically when the new engine goes in, is the clutch hydraulics will be drained, flushed, replaced and bled. The slave cylinder is on the gearbox and the master cylinder is on the pedal box. The brake master (also on the pedal box) has always been a bit weak (pressure dissipating past the seal) and also there is side-play in the brake pedal, and the noise the clutch pedal makes every time you push it (eeeeh, eeeeh e-eeh etc.) would probably drive most people round the twist (would explain why I'm here) - plus I've already mentioned the sticky front caliper.

It's all adding up to quite a big job, because on the X you have to remove the steering column undertray, the steering wheel, and the steering column, just to get to the master cylinders - so it would be daft to book ramp time in order to tackle the jobs piecemeal, working in the foot-well. I had a think, made a few enquiries to see if the entire pedal box + masters etc is a sub-component (it is), rang up Guy Cormack (he's got lots of X parts - [email protected]) - and bought a pedal box for £50, cheers Guy, which arrived today...

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That was the easy bit, haha.

It's going to take a while to turn this into a remanufactured part ready to go straight in, but when it's done it's just a question of undoing all the unions, replacing the low pressure lines, undoing the 4 bolts, bolting in the new box, connecting it up, and bleeding the brakes and clutch (as part of the engine install) - job done.

But even so, I read up a bit about the plastic bushing that goes eeeh-eeeh and (almost thankfully) they are no longer available, meaning a new bushing will have to be made and so why not improve it as well ? As is often the case, I'm not the first person to have drawn the same conclusion and after a while I found some engineering drawings for a bushing made from SAE660 bearing bronze -

View attachment 250957
View attachment 250958
View attachment 250959


I have sent emails to various local small engineering firms (no response as yet) in the hope of finding someone who can make it.
When it's done, I'll order the rest of the other bits new - clutch block (the silver one), brake block (the bronze one), pedal rubbers, clutch master, and brake master from Eurosport.
In the meantime I can strip everything down, repaint the chassis and clean up all the bits that will be reused.

Not local ( south England ), but Ralph will be able to sort you out with small fab parts no problem

 

Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
Not local ( south England ), but Ralph will be able to sort you out with small fab parts no problem

Thanks for that info (y):cool:
 

Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
Instrumentation Installation...

Because I'm now on a 55 section tyre (OE was 70) the speedo was way off, so I looked around for a programmable speedo which would fit the OE dash in terms of dimensions and appearance. The tach was also under-reading, a lot.
I decided to fit a programmable tach so as to have matched dials.
After a considerable amount of time with my head in the footwells, including removing the centre console entirely, rewiring most of the relays and getting rid of other peoples previous hacks, I'm proud to announce the dash is all back together and looking to all intents, the same as it did before !
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Ben

RMS Regular
Location
Lurgan
Drives
E90 DCT M3
This is splendid, very enjoyable to read and witness this coming together. Can't wait to see the complete car.
 

Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
Hello again and thanks for the positive feedback and the likes etc.

I've been preparing the D-reg X, relating to all the jobs that need to be done as part of the engine installation coming up shortly.

1. Instruments are installed and tested, wiring looms routed up the centre console between the carpet and the carpet underlay, terminating in the area just to the right of the spare wheel nacelle. The tach will be wired to the Omex ECU here, also I will mount the Hall sensor on one of the driveshafts and also connect to the ECU.

2. The engine is easier to remove from underneath, requiring the NS rear lower wishbone to be unbolted and although the strut along with the hub carrier can be swung aside, it's also very easy to take the caliper off the disc and suspend it, take the hub carrier off the strut, and remove the strut altogether, and do the same on the OS.

3. Springs I will be changing out at this stage. I started with 300 lb/in, then 250, now I want to try 225, fronts likewise were 300, then 250, then 200, now I want to try 175.
I'm very hopeful I'm at or nearly at, the optimum, with F/R 175/225 lb/in, and keeping the front ARB.

(It wasn't easy to find any 7'' x 2.5'' springs, in the end I had to order the 175's as a special from D. Faulkner, the 225's they had. Interesting they said they hadn't had a request for a 175 spring like this 'since the early '90's'. Great, this is a light car already, can be lightened further, and the engine isn't in the front of course. I think I'm on the right track, could even end up with 150 fronts idc.)

4. Hubs, generally the castings are very robust but getting the right bearings and a perfect fit into the carrier, is a challenge. The OE bearings were exceptional quality SKF (Germany) but often these are either very worn, or have been replaced with unbranded bearings some of which are too loose, or too tight, or simply inferior. It is foolish to book ramp time for the weeks or months it can take to have the carriers properly remanufactured, so I bought a complete set of hubs and a complete set of SKF (Brazil) bearings which the engineers will fit to the hubs. These need to be supplied as parts ready to fit, before the car goes on the ramp.

5. Driveshafts, likewise, will be overhauled with new CV joints and rubber boots.

6. Gearbox, was built by Frank Rizutti (Avanti Motorsport) and is ready. The internals are supposedly from a very low mileage Punto GT (close ratio) but it remains to be seen if it's any good, or even an improvement in terms of usability. This is a worry, yes.

7. Pedal box, the chassis is away being powder coated. The new phosphor bronze bushes are made, ready to go in along with all the other pedal box components I've got the new master cylinders and the OE pushrods for them, oversized and rebushed to exactly match what's on the pedals. When it's all back together I'm hoping there will be more or less zero free play in the brake and clutch pedals, in any plane, and be strong, silky smooth, and silent.

8. Hydraulics will be completely overhauled, I have new EBC brake flexibles, matched front calipers, clutch slave, all the low pressure reservoir lines, clips and sundries ready to go on.

9. Front struts, will also be removed and checked, resprung, and the carbon PTFE steering bushes inspected for wear (10,000 miles done) and two copies made, one as spares for this car and one in reserve should I purchase another set of Gaz struts in future. Anyone currently ordering Gaz for an X1/9 will have to make their own bushes or purchase the struts through me).

10. Engine, has been tested on the static bench and is running really well. The exhaust manifold has been wrapped. This is what a completely distributorless SOHC looks like...
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The grey foam filters are temporary. Oil filler cap to be replated. When the engine is in, we'll measure the clearance to the firewall and make the airbox to fit.
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Large increase in flow rates and the necessary appearance of achieving it.
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Engine development will be based on rolling road mapping and then another 10,000 miles of road testing.
It's not yet clear, exactly what improvements can be made.
To those of you who're clued up, yes, being pedantic, this engine isn't strictly an X1/9 engine it's a Lancia Delta Mk1 with the added head bolts near the sparks, ie it's also the 'Tipo' head as used in the Fiat Tipo.
Either way, I intend to get a scrap head for Marc to core, to get exact measurements of all the wall thicknesses of the oilways and waterways inside the head.
Very probably, capacity will be increased in the next build to 1900cc.
Also, very likely it will be supercharged. In fact the Ultimate X (which is a fast road car, not a race car) would most likely use a blown 1900 Tipo, 8V SOHC.

But of race cars, then here's a link to the naturally aspirated class of the International Hillclimb Monsters Championship. Please enjoy, comment, or share as you feel appropriate...
Perhaps it was only a matter of time. Someone would put a twin-Hayabusa V8 in a Lotus Elise, or the D2 Alfa Twincam and Hewland 6-speed sequential from the 156 SuperTouring, in to an X1/9, or god knows what else, except you can't really be surprised to see some of the coolest production cars ever like the 2002 (still with BMW M-Power) or the Alpine A110 (always a favourite).

 

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svensktoppen

RMS Regular
Drives
S3 Elise P*
Love that engine!

Slightly softer suspension front than rear should help this car turn :cool: Another way to achieve that is playing around with adjustable arbs. What they really do is allow you to adjust the effective spring rate (spring + arb = effective rate) without swapping out springs. Especially when fine tuning balance front/rear.

You might try 5mm higher at the rear compared to front as well if that's an option.
 

56oval

RMS Regular

I know they are temporary. But NEVER run those air filters. Particularly if you need to churn rpm and move cfm.

OK for low revving low cfm applications but in my experience dynoing many of these they are just bin fodder.

They collapse when airflow increases and choke the engine to death. Terrible lumps of foam.

Absolutely fantastic project BTW. 👍
 

Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
I know they are temporary. But NEVER run those air filters. Particularly if you need to churn rpm and move cfm.

OK for low revving low cfm applications but in my experience dynoing many of these they are just bin fodder.

They collapse when airflow increases and choke the engine to death. Terrible lumps of foam.

Absolutely fantastic project BTW. 👍
Thanks, appreciated.
Don't worry, those filters are just to stop off the trumpets during transit.
 

Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
Love that engine!

Slightly softer suspension front than rear should help this car turn :cool: Another way to achieve that is playing around with adjustable arbs. What they really do is allow you to adjust the effective spring rate (spring + arb = effective rate) without swapping out springs. Especially when fine tuning balance front/rear.

You might try 5mm higher at the rear compared to front as well if that's an option.
Thanks for the feedback.
Interesting you said I should try 5mm lower at the rear.
I am expecting to have to lengthen the rear struts anyway, by about that, to accommodate the increase in wheel travel caused by lowering the spring rate.
I didn't know about adjustable arbs, thanks I'll look into this, if I cannot get the front rates right using custom poundage main springs.
In terms of stance, I will most likely raise the front 5mm also and retain the slightly tail down attitude I'm used to.
This car isn't a racer, I've got to consider things like usability and practicality as well.
Example, I can lose a bit of weight at the front, if I fit a one piece (low-temp) carbon nose with fixed position driving lights, as per the Dallara. They found they had to move the fuel tank to the front luggage compartment, to compensate.
I'm not so sure this is a good solution for me... losing the stowage and having the weight always changing as the fuel is used up.
I noticed that the Stratos, used a slightly wider rear tyre compared to the front, I'm thinking of trying 7J x 215/55/13 rear and 6J x 185/55/13 front.
 

svensktoppen

RMS Regular
Drives
S3 Elise P*
Fuel tank up front doesn't sound like a good idea for many reasons, not least safety...

The "stance" is really a matter of playing around to find what works for you. I don't know how much adjustability you have. Slightly higher rear compared to front helps "move" suspension load, and hence grip, forward in corners which can be useful on mid-rear engine cars to curb understeer. A higher front generally goes the other way.

But we're really talking fine tuning here, like you say there are other considerations too. Not going to argue against Dallara on suspension setup :cool:
 

svensktoppen

RMS Regular
Drives
S3 Elise P*
As for tyres, for comparison, the Elise (similar weight and engine layout to yours) runs 195/55 R15 front and 225/45 R16 rear. OEM sizes were 185 and 215 respectively.

The slightly wider front tyre really helps turn-in and reducing understeer. The slightly wider rear is mostly because it is the nearest available size in R888 tyres to be honest. With the power levels you are looking at a 215 rear should be just fine.
 

Mark Bowden

RMS Regular
As for tyres, for comparison, the Elise (similar weight and engine layout to yours) runs 195/55 R15 front and 225/45 R16 rear. OEM sizes were 185 and 215 respectively.

The slightly wider front tyre really helps turn-in and reducing understeer. The slightly wider rear is mostly because it is the nearest available size in R888 tyres to be honest. With the power levels you are looking at a 215 rear should be just fine.

You asked about the adjustability available in the suspension...
It's fully adjustable front and rear other than for spring rate.

I drove both the (modified) D-reg and the (stock) E-reg today, by way of a comparison test. It was cold and dry.
Both cars dyno'd at 62 and 63 rwhp respectively.
D-reg has 185/55/13 Avon ZZS on 6J, E-reg has 185/60/13 Yokohama on OE 5.5J.
The E-reg is nice to drive, has the original quite compliant and fairly long travel springs, OE shocks, no ARB. It's balanced but there's a lot of body roll, and the front yaws a bit... it's not that reassuring near the limit.
The D-reg is something else altogether. It's almost 3'' lower, has a wider track, wider tyres, a front ARB, polybushed all round, smaller steering wheel. It corners very flat, it's impossible to describe the balance, unless you've driven something very similar.
I say that because words like oversteer or understeer, simply don't apply to this car with only 62 horses at the wheels and not much under 900kg at this point.
I'm not talking about piling into a corner way too fast, turning in without much effect, and crashing off the back edge.
I'm talking more about what's happening where there's enough speed to unstick the tyres, think I've mentioned before that all 4 corners let go simultaneously and the car begins to drift under full power, with no discernible change in attitude. It absolutely doesn't feel as though it wants to rotate.
There is no discernible understeer up to this point, or oversteer beyond it.
I've experimented a lot, as to what happens when you back off mid-corner to see how much the front wants to come in and it doesn't, much, but ultimately the steering angle is a function of the steering wheel, brakes and throttle, so I drive it with my left foot on the brake pedal always unless cruising or changing gear.
Often I'm on the brakes and the throttle at the same time to varying degrees, so as to smoothly overlap the two, ie braking against the throttle and vice versa, helps keep the car planted.
Things will be a bit more interesting when the new engine's in, lol.
On the front suspension setup, you might agree or disagree over what you called weight transfer (going forward) as in turn-in characteristics.
I have zero toe-in at the front, but I kept the factory toe-in settings on the rear.
I think I've traded straight line stability against turn-in speed - the drive's a bit involved at motorway speeds, keeping the car exactly where you want, but on twisty roads the turn in is pretty fast.
 
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