Fiat Dino Spider 2000 #726 Restoration
We've fully stripped the car down to a bare shell in preparation for acid dipping. We decided to leave the doors on as the hinges are made of cast iron and won't be affected by the dipping process (on a Coupe the hinges are aluminium and would be eroded by the acid). We obviously won't be able to dip the boot as Spider boots are skinned in aluminium. I expect we will have this soda blasted (the friction generated by conventional grit blasting can distort the panel).
The next task was to construct a frame to keep the shell true whilst its being man-handled in and out of the vats and transported. Also, once the car returns and we have it set on the rotisserie, removing panel work etc, the frame will be necessary. We made the frame adjustable so we can fine tune the door gaps.
We carried out a thorough inspection of the shell, which exposed the extent of the previous poor restoration work. It is also evident that the car has suffered a degree of accident damage to the front end. There appear to be brackets on the end of the front chassis rails - I suspect these were welded on to enable the inner wings to be pulled straight. The front outer wings appear to have had side indicator repeater holes which have been roughly welded up. This may be because the wings were replaced with later 2.4 items due to the accident damage. I suspect that was all that was available at the time. I would assume this accident took place in the early years of the car's life.
Having given some thought to the best way to repair this damage, I decided that after dipping we will remove the wings and front panel to gain access to the inner wings. We've taken measurements and have found that the front inner wings and front cross member have been moved out of line and it looks as though it would be very labour intensive to straighten the inner wings and chassis rails and repair the corrosion. I have therefore decided to utilise the front end of a scrap Dino 2.4 Coupe that I have, as the inner wings and front chassis rails are the same as the 2 litre Spider. As you well know, the Coupe and Spider share a very similar chassis, floor pan and bulk head. It is only outer panels which are unique to the appropriate coach builders.
You'll see from the photos how we've removed the front end of the Dino Coupe. We first removed the outer wings then cut through the landing panels that join the inner wings to the Coupe wings - these will not be needed as we'll have to fabricate new landing panels which are different on a Spider and are damaged on this one. We have then carefully unpicked the Dino Coupe bulkhead from the inner wings, also removing the landing panel and various other brackets and reinforcements that won't be necessary. As this is a 2.4 and has a cable operated clutch, the reinforcing panel for the pedal box is different so we will use the one from this car. One thing of note, the 2.4 Coupe has a modified reinforced bracket for the excelerator pedal mounting. We've saved this and will fit it to the Spider bulkhead because it doesn't have this panel and has stress cracked and broken away. This is obviously why they modified it for the later cars so can be seen as a factory upgrade or recall! We've left the Coupe front cross member attached to the Coupe inner wings. You'll also see we have left the box section that runs across the back of the engine bay connecting the two inner wings. This will keep all the dimensions correct. Also, the box section on this Spider is dented and damaged.
The Coupe front cross member is different to the Spider. We will re-manufacture a new Spider front cross member and fit it to this car once the inner wings are fitted and we're happy that everything lines up. We can then brace the inner wings with the engine/suspension cross member. This way, we should restore the car to its correct factory chassis alignment and take care of any corrosion in the wings at the same time.
The Coupe inner wing section will be sent away to be dipped, along with the Spider shell. This way we will be working with perfectly clean metal.