Project Car Hell, Fun With Fastback Fiats Edition: Dino or 128 SL Coupe?S

Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! Let's celebrate Fiat's triumphant return to North America!

Sure, sure, you could wait for the Fiat 500 to show up in dealerships here, but who needs all that heavy sound insulation and mollycoddling safety gear? Not you! What you need, Giovanni, is a classic high-performance Fiat, made back in the day when an American had to be utterly insane really serious to buy one!

You've got a few grand burning a hole in your pocket and you've got your eye on vintage Italian sports cars. Now, you could get a pretty decent Alfa Spider for that kind of money, a very nice Fiat X1/9, maybe even a Lancia Scorpion. But what you really dream about is a Fiat Dino, the Ferrari-engined machine that 93% of you thought was nicely priced at $15,000. Find a Dino on an X1/9 budget? You might as well start looking for Picassos in the Salvation Army… but what's this? A genuine 1970 Fiat Dino 2400 coupe (go here if the ad disappears) for just $3,500! How could such a thing be? Here's how: the original Ferrari V6 has gone AWOL, along with the transmission. Otherwise, the car seems to be in pretty good shape, and it lives in rust-free Southern California. Face it, you can't afford to buy a replacement Ferrari engine, but you could get even more power and stay Italian, simply by picking up a beat-to-crap Alfa Romeo 164 with the 4-valve V6 and doing a little engine swappage. That's right, 208 horses instead of the original 180, and only the most obsessed of Fiat zealots (Fiat zealots do exist, right?) would be sufficiently offended by such a swap to stab you in the eye with a screwdriver.

You'd have a great time driving that Dino around town, but what happens when you take it to your local race track for some track-day hoonage? It'll sound good, no doubt, but you'll be eating the dust of them goddamn kids in their 10-year-old Civics. You need a Fiat race car! In fact, what you need is a Fiat race car that you make quasi-street-legal, so that you can squirm through rollcage bars every time you make a run to the convenience store, then be unable to carry on a conversation because your ears won't stop ringing. Everyone will know you're the dorkiest geek on the face of the earth a first-rank wheelman when they see you blatting down the boulevard in your new daily driver: this 1974 Fiat 128 SL Coupe racer (go here if the ad disappears). It appears to be ready to race as it sits, but getting it street-ready might take some doing. You'll need to install all the gear that nanny-state socialists- the sort that would get a quick smackdown from the Founding Fathers, were they to rise from the dead and see what weaklings Americans have become- demand of drivers: wipers, turn signals, horn, etc. Then you'll need to befriend the helpful folks down at your local DMV, because it's a sure bet that the registration paperwork on this thing will be impossible challenging. And, unless you feel like waiting in line behind Cessnas at your local airport's Gas-N-Fly every time you need some go-go juice, you'll have to do a piston downgrade; 14:1 compression, though awesome, might be a bit extreme for the street.


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