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 Abarth day 2017
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julian
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
3734 Posts

Posted - 21 May 2017 :  10:38:24  Show Profile  Visit julian's Homepage  Click to see julian's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
After last years aborted attempt I made it along to the first (only?) Abarth day for 2017 - this time at Rockingham Motor Speedway and I have to say I have rather mixed feelings about it.

First the good side of things:

There were a *lot* of cars in attendance. 99% were 500s (the new breed) with a handful of Grande Punto/Punto Evos along for good measure. Only two first 200s (including mine and the other one was looking very tired). A few with o/s rear quarter damage (if any of them had a dent, it was the same place every time...) something I'd like to look into a bit more.

Some heavily modified cars both aesthetically and performancewise. but by and large the cars are being kept standard (assuming a representative cross-section of the community).

The track time was tightly organised (even the whole day kicked off 20 minutes late) and split into grouped events. Demonstrations of the 124 Rally car expected to be the highlight of the day so it got a lot of time out on track - either as a pace car or for demonstration purposes. "Sales" rides were given their own piece of track (the main oval) with a forward only autotest running outside (I didn't take a look but I think it was supposed to be more demonstration rides - using a 124 Abarth).

On the surface there was lots to do - a VR suite for entertaining the kids. A heritage show (mostly TCM) of Abarth cars - including a very well built prototipo replica (mechanically just an X1/9 but the bodywork was all hand made in sheet metal) and one of the most original (and cleanest) 500s I've ever seen in the flesh.

Mopar were on hand selling (and fitting) upgrades and accessories - plus a repair wagon just in case something went wrong.

An Abarth powered single seater on show - just for the public to engage in timed wheel changes (indoors next to other exhibits making conversation almost pointless).

Autoglym had a stand showing off their latest, greatest products (and for once it was the factory experts rather than a franchised reseller so I managed to get a good look at what is really going on)

Unfortunately that is pretty much where the good stuff ends. It was clear that they had expected to host much more in terms of third party companies as the space given over in the paddock was big but only had four stands (two of which was food and drink), the other two provided by Abarth.

Track time was massively over-sold. The infield circuit isn't huge and the only saving grace is it isn't particularly fast either - 3rd and 4th gear all the way except for the hairpin. Each session was about 30 cars and closely packed together - fine for a sighting lap (but even that was cocked up as the second half of the queue couldn't see the pace car). The prevalence on total track novices meant few were looking at what was behind them so making progress was curtailed.

Only one session each in the morning and one in the afternoon meant a lot of walking around and chatting (not a bad thing of course) but after an hour or so of examining the limited side-show only makes a small dent in the 4-5 hour wait for the next session.

The next problem was simple enough and familiar to everyone who has ever been to a UK circuit - the lack of shelter. The weather turned rotten at about 1pm and the pit buildings, while big enough, weren't set up to accommodate a few hundred damp guests - there was the main café area on the spectator building but it isn't brilliantly accessible from the infield which is where most people were.

All in all it turned into a slightly boring, damp squib of a day. I'm sure Abarth would call it a success as no doubt many cars were sold (with a huge £500 discount to drivers attending the day). If I were buying a new car spending £40 to get a £500 voucher would be worth it and given many people are still following a three year cycle of swapping old for new at the dealer it isn't a terrible perk of the day. The rest though? A free coffee, and a trip out in the 124 spider, on the autotest and a 595 plus a passenger ride hotlap is just gimmickry. A free Abarth lanyard is possibly the most useful thing I received...

In the end it just felt a bit disorganised, over-ambitious in scale and slightly off-the-mark. I am very happy to have attended - any cheap track time is a bonus. Getting to meet up with fellow enthusiasts (some of whom might be slightly misguided but still to be commended for their enthusiasm) is always valuable.

A more focussed track-day event would suit me better but that isn't everyone's cup of tea. A straw poll in the briefing showed that only 4 out of the 30(+) people in the first group had any track experience so I suspect a proper track-day will be a long time coming but after 8 years back on the scene there are definitely a lot of Abarth drivers out there (in the UK) ready to get involved.

The real downside was personal - the intermediate driveshaft on my car destroyed another CV joint on the way home (third one in as many months) so I am now without transport and looking at another repair bill.

As a counterpoint I don't think I've ever seen so many Abarth's on the road. For the journey down to Rockingham I was within 200 yards of another Abarth for 90% of the journey (and only one of those cars - out of four - was going to Rockingham), the journey back (a big detour due to the M6 being closed) was much the same.

2009 Abarth 500

julian
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
3734 Posts

Posted - 25 May 2017 :  12:43:03  Show Profile  Visit julian's Homepage  Click to see julian's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
The replacement shaft turned up yesterday (from dealer stock - a nice surprise) and with enough discount to pretty much cover the labour needed. It should all be back together by this time next week.

Popped into the sales area while I was there and took some time going over the current 595 range. I've driven the tourismo edition a few times now but not sat in the competizione until yesterday. First impressions are that I have a big problem - the current seats are so high that I can't actually see the road. Completely removing the sun visor would help, as would swapping the seats for aftermarket ones. I saw some bride seats fitted to a demonstrator on Saturday and everyone was going a bit mad over them - now I understand why they were so popular... Why anyone would design a car to preclude anyone of average height seems like madness. There is an option to fit the car with the tourismo seats from the factory of course and with the additional height adjustment I end up about three inches lower enough to see out and have enough clearance for a helmet. The really interesting bit is that the 695 uses the same sabelt seats as the comp. but sits much lower so there may be an alternative subframe that can be used.

2009 Abarth 500
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coupegb
Moderator

United Kingdom
835 Posts

Posted - 25 May 2017 :  15:07:09  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by julian

I saw some bride seats fitted to a demonstrator on Saturday


What on earth is a bride seat?

1968 124 coupe AC torq
1969 124 Coupe AC 4link
1971 124 Spider BS1
1976 124 Spider CS1
2012 Abarth 500C esseesse and Monza
2000 Coupe Plus

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julian
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
3734 Posts

Posted - 27 May 2017 :  10:31:13  Show Profile  Visit julian's Homepage  Click to see julian's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by coupegb

quote:
Originally posted by julian

I saw some bride seats fitted to a demonstrator on Saturday


What on earth is a bride seat?



http://bride-jp.com/en/seat/

2009 Abarth 500
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fostertom
Net Member

United Kingdom
996 Posts

Posted - 28 May 2017 :  19:34:59  Show Profile  Visit fostertom's Homepage  Reply with Quote
There's a lewd joke in there somewhere
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coupegb
Moderator

United Kingdom
835 Posts

Posted - 29 May 2017 :  11:55:52  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by fostertom

There's a lewd joke in there somewhere




1968 124 coupe AC torq
1969 124 Coupe AC 4link
1971 124 Spider BS1
1976 124 Spider CS1
2012 Abarth 500C esseesse and Monza
2000 Coupe Plus

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julian
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
3734 Posts

Posted - 30 May 2017 :  14:21:38  Show Profile  Visit julian's Homepage  Click to see julian's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by coupegb

quote:
Originally posted by fostertom

There's a lewd joke in there somewhere






2009 Abarth 500
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julian
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
3734 Posts

Posted - 10 Jun 2017 :  11:44:49  Show Profile  Visit julian's Homepage  Click to see julian's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
After a raid of the parts bin at the local Abarth dealer my poorly 500 now has a new intermediate shaft - amazingly they actually had one in stock (in the UK) and I was even given a modest discount (about 20% - presumably because they had one in stock and it cleared a shelf somewhere). At just over £200 it wasn't cheap but given that is how much second hand shafts are selling for it appears to be a bit of a bargain too!

The strange thing in all this is how cheap the corresponding CV joint is - a mere £20 (pattern part - not original Fiat). In all the years I've been buying (and selling) car parts I've never known a CV joint that was so cheap - back in the early 90s the cheapest CV joint we sold was about £90 for a recon unit (admittedly a complete outside joint and not just the internals). It strikes me that there must be an issue with that joint for them to be so cheap but equally it is a pleasant piece of design that just that one little bit can be swapped out for the repair.

Not surprisingly the car is now much smoother and noticeably quieter and I can now feel how soft the engine mounts are going (next on the list of things to fix - after a new alternator).

The worry is that there is still a problem with the drivetrain - the car has destroyed three of those CV joints now within the space of four months (consistently removing one lobe from the joint each time). There is also the matter of how it got like this in the first place - my best guess is a failed CV boot that went undetected until the situation became critical, coupled with the abysmal roads around here (the local council's interpretation of a speed bump is a low wall in the road - preferably with pot holes all around it) and maybe the sink hole I discovered at the end of last year. For now at least all is well and I'm pretty much ready for the next track day that comes along.

2009 Abarth 500
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Smartint
Net Member

United Kingdom
27 Posts

Posted - 11 Jun 2017 :  11:49:55  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
There was a recall for the Abarth. Did you get it done? Also the Abarth built I think from 2013, have modified steering shafts, and drive shafts.
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julian
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
3734 Posts

Posted - 11 Jun 2017 :  20:47:07  Show Profile  Visit julian's Homepage  Click to see julian's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Mine has never been recalled - I'm the only owner with no change of address so no excuses for not receiving the letter.

According to the DVLA there have been four recalls for Abarth 500s but nothing that effects the early versions - only cars built after 2011. No mention of steering components - just lighting and seats/seatbelts.

I do have an intermittent problem with the power steering but I believe the fault is actually the alternator. The car is due a timing belt change this year so I plan on getting that job done at the same time as it is a full front end off affair (the garage must be getting pretty sick of that at the moment as they've stripped it down four times this year already).

Edited to add:
As an afterthought I took a look recalls for the new 500 in general and there are a lot more, including the Abarth but it is more of the same thing. The only vaguely relevant point is the steering column on slightly later models had a possible assembly fault that meant it could detach from the steering rack (pretty serious as these things go).

2009 Abarth 500
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julian
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
3734 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2017 :  18:11:24  Show Profile  Visit julian's Homepage  Click to see julian's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Spoke too soon - 60 miles after getting the car back it feels like a driveshaft is slipping on its spline... getting really tired of this!

2009 Abarth 500
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Smartint
Net Member

United Kingdom
27 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2017 :  21:13:57  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Get the fu***rs made. Race spec, and hard wearing.
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coupegb
Moderator

United Kingdom
835 Posts

Posted - 13 Jun 2017 :  21:22:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by julian

Spoke too soon - 60 miles after getting the car back it feels like a driveshaft is slipping on its spline... getting really tired of this!



What on earth are you doing to the car?
Mine has been perfect.

1968 124 coupe AC torq
1969 124 Coupe AC 4link
1971 124 Spider BS1
1976 124 Spider CS1
2012 Abarth 500C esseesse and Monza
2000 Coupe Plus

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julian
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
3734 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2017 :  07:40:12  Show Profile  Visit julian's Homepage  Click to see julian's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
I suspect that the retaining clip on the end of the driveshaft has either broken or was not fitted when the shaft was replaced a few weeks ago. The real answer is that I need a new garage as this one is making mistakes...

2009 Abarth 500
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julian
Forum Admin

United Kingdom
3734 Posts

Posted - 22 Jun 2017 :  17:47:26  Show Profile  Visit julian's Homepage  Click to see julian's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Turns out I was very wrong - spline is fully engaged but the engine and gearbox are trying to escape from the engine bay! The gearbox end mount has failed (the nylon donut in the centre has split in two) and the bolts through the middle of it has snapped off. Now looking at another set of replacement parts but at least it wasn't the driveshaft this time!

2009 Abarth 500
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Smartint
Net Member

United Kingdom
27 Posts

Posted - 22 Jun 2017 :  19:44:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
There are companies who can make bomb proof mounts. No doubt there are race mounts available.
Also think you are over driving a bit too lol !!
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