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Restoring the Immortal GTX

Discussion in 'Classic and Retro FIAT's' started by Italia-Linea, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. Italia-Linea

    Italia-Linea Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    2,123
    Pune
    Well I don’t know what should I call this thread of mine but maybe it’s a restoration log of the immortal Fiat Palio GTX.

    Flashback-

    Well the Fiat Palio GTX requires no introduction. Its a legend in itself manufactured by the Italian, launched in India at a very wrong time and was well ahead of the time, so much so that even today she fits into the market perfectly in many respects.

    Now why do i say - at a wrong time, a hatch with 1.6 litre engine which gulps fuel in a big glass instead of sipping through a straw , that too in a country obsessed with mileage. Sorry Fiat, that wasnt going to work for you, who cares about strong build, awesome performance etc when you are shy about mileage figures.

    Fast forward - 10 years. By now i own a petrol and couple of Diesels. Turbo diesels are fun to drive , being used on a daily basis and the very much VFM products.

    One fine day i happened to remap my linea and raced it against the TJEt. Voila she easily beats the tjet. While this was going on a GTX owner challenged us to beat the GTX. Till this i wasnt much curious about what the GTX is and how capable machine the GTX is. I just new it was some 1.6 lts NA engine and a good performance car from Fiat.

    When i drove her for the first time after accepting the challenge i was astonished and thoughts of losing against the GTX started hovering above my mind. Yes and when we pitched the remapped linea against the GTX the fears came true. The GTX flies off the block in 1st gear, keeps flying in 2nd gear till 80, continues in 3rd gear till 120 and then the remapped linea conquers over her till eternity 205kmph.

    The above drag earned a lot of respect for the GTX. Time passed by and one fine day i was discussing the same drag with the FASS manager and suddenly he said " Sir, do you want a GTX driven just 45k in top condition?" I was like whats the price. He mentioned around 40k. Horray i was overjoyed and kept dreaming about the GTX in my stable every day, The GTX was planned to be exchanged for the Linea TJET. So it was like exchanging legend with the legend.

    1 month passed by in the process and then the D day arrived. Till this time i want not even knowing the color of the car. The only thing i paid upfront for this GTX was the low mileage and feedback from the FASS manager. I knew i need to fix few things and as a machine i was confident that i can fix any damn machine thats working.

    I got the delivery of the GTX and the very first thing i noticed was that the engine was butter smooth, the interiors were totally virgin, well-kept car and all the documents were perfect.
    The other side of the coin was a totally dented car, never repaired under insurance and a totally damaged rear axle (cross rail).
    The car had a brand new battery and brand new tyres. But the rear tyres had lost its tread due to the axle issue.

    Getting it home : I got my GTX home and parked it silently. After a couple of hours I dared to ask my mom to prepare the Thali for Pooja and she was shocked that I bought yet another car without even slightest of the need.
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  2. Italia-Linea

    Italia-Linea Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    2,123
    Pune
    Restoration:
    1. The GTX straightaway went to the FASS.
    2. All the belts and bearings were replaced as I dint want to take a chance with a 11 year old car.
    3. All the oils were changed , except engine oil.
    4. The timing was set right.
    5. I am totally impressed with FIAT. They had each and every part in the stock and they were more than eager to get the GTX restored to its glory.
    6. All the above things brought the car to 80% of its real performance. Still there was a hesitation and miss in the performance.
    7. Disassembled the injectors and gave it for testing. Issue was found in one injector. Changed all the filters and got them calibrated. Cost: Rs.1800
    8. Changed the spark plugs even though mine looked good.
    9. Flushed the engine oil with Liqui Moly that I had bought in Germany
    10. Filled shell helix HX6 Diesel – again for flushing purposes.
    11. Bought a used rear cross rail from parts dealer – this was a major cost saver. Brand new costs 39000 and used ones costed me 3000 + 250 for auto.


    With all the above work 98% of the performance was restored. The 2% is still a miss due to the virtue that the previous owner never revved the car above 3000-4000 rpms. He used it mostly in the city for short travels. Only once he banged hard in a drainage hole and managed to damage the rear axle.

    I am revving the engine hard now to free it up a bit. I am seeing good improvements in the performance ever since.

    I haven’t calculated the mileage at all but I guess its not more than 10-11 kmpl.

    What next:
    Cosmetics -
    1. The color is fern green and even though its a good color somehow its not appealing to me. So color change is on my mind.

    2. I am a bit confused if i should restore to original GTX or should add some character to it by giving a dual tone paint with bright matte color and center stripe.

    3. I had made up my mind for matte black but experts suggested that it would be a pain to maintain a matte black car. I readily agreed as i have seen enough proofs.

    4. Plan is to get nice metallic matte yellow with black stripes in centre like the shelby GT500.

    5. Add spoiler lip to the front and rear and put the S10 rear spoiler/ similar

    Performance:

    1. Upgrade the brakes to adventure calipers and discs upfront + rear bigger drums (not sure)

    2. Manufacture own slotted brake discs ( We already do for export). This would add good braking.

    3. Add turbo to the GTX - add the TJET turbo with electronic waste gate actuator, unichip - piggy bank ECU, extra injector and the needed plumbing.

    Oops - i forgot to mention that i already got the OEM 4X2X1 headers + automech FFE done already. The exotic sound from the 1.6 long stroke engines is to die for.
  3. asimpleson

    asimpleson Esperto

    Messages:
    3,000
    Heptanesia
    Linea 1.3
    Wow what a great deal and to the point write-up. :happy: You brought in some much needed boost to TFI today with this new thread. ;) Congratulations for the deal (or steal?) Italia-Linea. :D Will be glued to this thread. The car is begging for you to go nuts over its customizations. You gotta explain the last bit of OEM headers and automech FFE a bit further if possible. :)

    Thanx.
    Italia-Linea likes this.
  4. Italia-Linea

    Italia-Linea Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    2,123
    Pune
    What happened next –?

    The zest of making this car unique and perfectly upto the mark mechanically and cosmetically kept hovering over me every now and then.
    I used to find some or the other reason to drive to the office in the fuel gulping monster for the sheer pleasure it gives one while blasting all the high end cars on the city roads.
    I finally decided that the GTX would stay with me till eternity and I need to restore her to the full glory.

    Dilemma – Outside Garage Vs Fiat Authorized Service Centre (FASS)-
    Well this was due to purely a financial point of view. It was but obvious that restoring a car in a FASS would cost me a BOMB.
    We did a thorough inspection of the GTX and found that she is badly wounded in many places. The cowl panel, the firewall and the flooring had heavy rust. The cowl panel had heavily disintegrated and one could see thru from outside into the cabin. During rains the interiors used to get flooded due to this hole in the firewall.
    With all such complications I decided to restore my car at FASS as they are equipped with right labor and right tools to work on fiats perfectly.
    All the formalities and documentary work was done and I handed over my car to Pandit Auto, Bavdhan which is the biggest and most reputed FASS in the country. Apart from being a FASS its like a comfortable home for FIAT cars, thanks to the courteous and experienced staff at Pandit. TFI pune members can surely vouch for this.
    The stripping down of my GTX began and it was close to opening can of worms. Some pics below show the rusty cowl panel and floor panel.
    It was decided that the engine and the windshield glass too needs to be taken off to weld the cowl panel. We decided to order and new cowl panel and the lower part instead of trying to stitch repair the old ones as I wanted total reliability without any compromise.

    Below is the disintegrated Cowl Panel

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  5. me_at_fiat

    me_at_fiat Regolare

    Messages:
    258
    Mumbai, Pune
    italia-Linea i am not liking it...reason..show us the freshly baked car which just came out of the oven..and smelling like hot choco :cigar:..dude post those pics!!!! she looks awesome. Congratulations!!!..its a pride possession. I love Punto linea but Palio has that special place in my heart. Its an ageless design and a perfect hatchback. Now, after this thread really missing my 1.9 D:dead:
  6. Italia-Linea

    Italia-Linea Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    2,123
    Pune
    The parts arrived in flat 3 days until the stripping work was going on.
    The car was full of dent and I had total apprehensions about how these will be fixed. I knew the thick sheet metal was difficult to work with. But to my surprise the Pandit body shop denters fixed all the dents perfectly in just 1 full day – yes you read it right. All dents fixed in 1 day.

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  7. me_at_fiat

    me_at_fiat Regolare

    Messages:
    258
    Mumbai, Pune
    I am glued to this thread..:watching::watching:
    Italia-Linea likes this.
  8. Italia-Linea

    Italia-Linea Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    2,123
    Pune
    Next the cowl panel and the bottom part were welded to the firewall. I would like to make a special mention here. Unlike other garages Pandit did a factory level work by SPOT Welding the panels with a “OEM” finish. Here itself my decision of getting the work done at Pandit was paid off.
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  9. Italia-Linea

    Italia-Linea Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    2,123
    Pune
    The next work that started was stripping all the wirings and every minute part attached to the body. This was quite a laborious work but was done perfectly without breaking any of the plastic parts.
    After removing all the parts and the carpet there were traces of rust all over the floor panel. I decided to treat it with a product called 3M- Bondo which is a antirust + rubberized thick coat which has good damping properties as well. Below is a pic after applying 3m all over the floor panel. 3 cans were required to cover the whole floor with a thick layer.

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  10. Italia-Linea

    Italia-Linea Staff Member Janitor

    Messages:
    2,123
    Pune
    The next and very confusing part was the selection of the color. I knew I wanted something in matte. I browsed for days, downloaded sample hatchback photos and discussed the same with as many people as possible. The end result – everyone had a different opinion and the confusion increased further. With all sorts of permutations and combinations I decided that I need a matte grey color with a combi of red.
    I discussed the same with Mahesh Kulkarni who heads the body shop at Pandit. He has a very in depth knowledge of paints and is an enthusiastic person. He revealed to me that they have never painted a car with a matte color ever. I was kind of shocked and disheartened. But again Mahesh Kulkarni came to the rescue and showed a willingness to go ahead with matte. He decided to involve the DuPont engineers to create the paint for me. This was quite a relief.
    The DuPont engineers were very knowledgeable and recommended the newly launched water based paint series from DuPont. I showed them some sample snaps for the matte grey shade but guessing the right mixture of colors by looking at the snaps was quite difficult. They tried different combinations and used to prepare a sample panel as shown in the pics below.

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    They had quite a good patience and never hesitated to re-try. The main pain area was to decide on the clear coat- matte and clear %. They painted the body structure barring the doors, bumpers and other panels. Somehow I was not satisfied by the way the car was looking. It was looking very dull as if its painted only with the primer.

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