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Edward Tucholski, Ph.D., Physics Department
Fiat5 photo

1978 Fiat Spider Page

This car was built while I was a plebe at the Naval Academy. I didn't enjoy it much at the time, but 1978 wasn't such a bad year. This car proves it.


The Fiat Spider side pictureIn 1986 the previous owner stripped the car to bare metal and replaced rusted panels with new parts from the Defatta Brothers in Baltimore.  He realized the normal rust at the rear wheel arches was caused by moisture collecting between the fold where the inner and outer fenders meet.  Before replacing the rear fenders, he fabricated new inner fenders from fiberglass and glassed them in. It's been 20 years with no recurrence of rust.  Both rear fenders (inner and outer), the drivers side front, and hood were replaced at this time. The car was smoothed out with primer and very little filler and was delivered to Severn Auto in Annapolis for a two part acrylic enamel coat.   He replaced the stock two bar bumpers with single bars mounted to the original shock mounts.  He replaced the parking light units in the bumper with the early style mounted in the fender and also used the early style egg crate grill and enamel name plates.  The rear lights are the later style.  Other than one small area of rust behind the passenger side front wheel well, and some parking lot "dings," the body looks great.  Seldom used, the Pininfarina hard top is in excellent condition. A pair of Vitaloni Turbo Racing Mirrors replace the original side view mirrors.  The car has front and rear performance springs and anti-sway bars and bushing sets and KYB gas shocks.  The alloy wheels are by Compomotive and are shod with 205 60R 13 Yokohama AVS Intermediates.


The front seats are from a Porsche 924 (by Recaro) re-upholstered in black vinyl.  The shift knob is leather and the original steering wheel has been replaced with a 14 in. "Momo" style wheel.  The clock has been replaced by an oil pressure gauge from an earlier car, and a cooling fan over-ride switch was added to the dashboard.  The carpets have been replaced and the Sun Fast fabric top is brand new.  There are no cracks in the dash and the "wood" veneer all looks good.  The center console and door panels can use some work, particularly on the driver's side.

The Fiat Spider interior picture

Engine and Drive Train

The car has almost 100,000 miles with about 20,000 since the engine rebuild.  Many modification transform this roadster into a real sports car.  Points are replaced with Crane electronic ignition, and an electric fuel pump was installed.   It has the dual Weber conversion from Bayless Racing, including intake manifold and K&N air filters, oversize valves, high rev valve springs, "Autocross cam" from International auto parts, and metal timing gears.  While building the head, the ports were polished and flow tested.  When the block was rebuilt 10.1:1 pistons were installed along with all gaskets, seals, motor mounts, and oil pump.  The exhaust system consists of Bayless headers and an ANSA Freeflow exhaust. It has a competition clutch, and a new differential.

The Fiat Spider engine picture

The car is a joy to drive and you quickly forget is is almost 30 years old.

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