Lancia Fulvia – Traumatic Bonding

I watched the new Petrolicious video this morning. It’s called “Traumatic Bonding” and it’s about a guy who bought a Lamborghini Urraco back in the 1980’s and subsequently spent a whole bunch of time and money fixing the car up.

I could only nod my head as I watched it and trembled ever so faintly with fear for the future. Excitement, too, but just a little bit of fear.

Here’s the video. It’s about 8 minutes long.


Right now, I’m at a tipping point with the Fulvia. I’m dismantling the car but nothing that I’ve done has made the job of restoring it any harder. I haven’t spent any real money on it yet but that’s just about to change (read below).

I have no intention to walk away but if I were thinking about it, now would be the time. The car is still in a condition where it can be restored. It’s 99% complete but everything needs fixing. It could be sold as-is. In fact, I’ve even heard of a prospective buyer who has the skills and the resources to do the job. I could even make a tiny profit if I were of a mind to do so.

I’ve made my first enquiries about replacement panels for the floor and the sills and the costs are a little scary. Just a little. I’m going through Omicron, in England, because they’re the ones with the best reputation and the most comprehensive range of in-house parts and services, and price comparisons with other, similar companies were competitive. The sections I’ve been quoted on – front and rear floors, sills, quarter panels and two rear light housings and lenses – come to just under £1,400. That’s $2,500 Aussie dollars.

What’s scarier is the freight. The supplier has obtained one freight quote so far and it’s £453!!! That’s more than A$800 just to move bits from one place to another.

I’m waiting on him to get a few more quotes.

I also took the top dashboard pad to a restoration company in Melbourne last weekend while visiting my family. The cost for restoring and re-covering – $395. Not unexpected. Maybe $100 more than I thought it would be.

I don’t want this to be a five-seven-ten-twelve-year process. I want to get this car fixed and use it as often as I can, as soon as I can. I want to do as much of it as I can myself, but I know that I’ll have to pay skilled people to do a LOT of the work.

I’ve set money aside and I’m emotionally invested in this process already, but I’m not made of money and I have to try and be as financially responsible as possible. When I see $800 freight bills I start to wonder about my own sanity.

Thankfully, this will probably be the biggest single parts purchase for the car (at one time) and getting the floors replaced is a significant part of the body repair. I just hope the rest of it is structurally sound and fixable without having to resort to a life of crime in order to get it done before I’m dead.

Again, we come to that idea of the tipping point. Maybe I should try and get one of the Bocchino brothers out to see the car and tell me if the rust is terminal, if the seized engine is fixable and whether or not the car’s skewed front-end can be realigned.

Can this job actually be completed or am I nuts to even try?

I’m committed to my little Lancia Fulvia and I want to enjoy both the process and the end result. Maybe I just need to know a little more about what the process is going to entail. And maybe I need to start looking harder for supplies that aren’t going to blow a third of my budget on freight. I’ll use Omicron for the crucial custom made parts because they make the best stuff – and they’ve already been a valuable source of advice – but there must be a way to source some generic stuff at a more wallet-friendly price.

Traumatic bonding, indeed.

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  1. Hi steve ..
    My first thought would be to get the bocchino boys to look it over …

    Second … And this is info from friends and reading a lot of car mags (English) … In fixing floor pans and sills etc .. You CAN use other makes of cars as donors .. Just needs more fettling and finicky work with the welder.

    So .. To releave the monetary issue … Once you know the condition of the body shell … I’d be welding in floor pans and sills myself … Even if they are from a magna … $500 welder … $100 of metal parts … 7 days and nights practicing ……Priceless ….

    If the body is good … Go with it … Just factor in some more guitar making type lessons ..

  2. …. Oh .. And great clip on the uracco …. Always love them … And love the line about restoring it (any car) … ” it’s not an event. .., it’s a continious process” …

  3. SWADE

    I was afraid you were going to be shocked by the cost of this fabrication work when outside people have to do it for you.

    I wish I lived closer to you! I would be happy to help out.

    replacing that sheet metal is not that difficult, just time consuming.

    I learned the drill from a friend who had done a bit of it and I just dove in and did it on my 911.

  4. Swade, I have known you a long time. You have a passion for driving cars (which I have seen first hand), telling the story of car, researching the history, finding unique original manufacturer or dealer advertising on vehicle, weaving a fascinating story of the owner history of a vehicle. You are a gifted story teller.

    I don’t picture you as a restorer of cars, which tends to be a long tedious process. A labor of love that keep you going through the setbacks of a project like this. You only have so much time and it may be a misuse of your time.

    I see you more like a Jay Leno who leaves the restoring the vehicles to someone else and the driving to Jay and YOU. Help out with the restoring of X1-9 which is a great project. Of course this is just one mans’ opinion.

    A more prudent person (me) would start with a more common easier project for my first restoration. One where I could parts locally or at least from Melbourne.

    I decided long ago when I worked at a Porsche dealer, I would rather just drive them, then spend my weekends fixing and maintaining them.

    You have always enjoyed “the hunt and the chase” of the next vehicle.

    You will know best… I suggest you go with your gut.

    All the best on your adventure wherever it may lead you.

    Your Canadian mate, DJ

    1. You have summed it up pretty well, DJ. I do enjoy the search, the chase and the story as much as the drive. And yes, it’s killing me that I don’t have a fun driver right now.

      But I’ve also wanted to do something like this for a long time, too. I’ve wanted to learn how to work on these things and I’ve wanted to bring one back from the dead. You’re right in that maybe I could/should have started with something simpler 🙂

      I think more than anything right now I’m…..

      a) frustrated that I don’t have a proper garage (yet) so I’m working on it outside. When the weather’s OK. Which it isn’t today.
      b) impatient – I don’t want to rely on other people to do things but on some aspects of the car, I have no choice.
      c) dying to get it going.
      d) scared that the mission will fail.

      1. I echo DJ. The “hunt and the chase” is spot on. It’s about the search for the Car that has its special place in your past or in the automotive history. It’s about the ownership of that Car and how it feels. It’s about the itch for yet another special Car that start immediately after a purchase. And it’s about putting ones thoughts about the whole thing in writing, and trying to understand what this obsession about the process is really all about. Your are not about steadily tinkering in the garage for years with a project while missing out on new experiences and new Cars to enjoy, are you? So I was surprised about the state of the car you towed home and that it was not something you could drive within a month while making minor adjustments in preparation for its inevitable sale within a year…

        That said, I guess anyone can be hooked on car restauration. But in most cases that probably involve 1) a fully equipped garage that makes the process convenient and effective, 2) a close-by community of other addicts for inspiration and support, 3) plenty of time with no other major interests or hobbies that distract you, and 4) lots of money so that the process is not one of constantly making sacrifices in ones ordinary life.

        1. CTM,

          This is a whole new side of Swade, although the guitar-making thread gave us a preview. Should be interesting.


          I guess the standard reno rules apply: don’t cheap-out, you will regret it every day; expect to go 50% above budget, provided your budget is already twice your initial estimate; in the end, it’s still cheaper than buying a new one.

  5. Swade
    I think it’s time you went to Tafe and pick up some welding and fabrication skills.
    Aussie labour rates plus mostly shocking freight quotes are the two main killer of restoration projects.
    Everything is doable and think you should stick with it.

    1. Am definitely sticking with it.

      It’s just a matter of setting the goals at a more realistic level in terms of the time it’ll take to learn everything. I’m obviously going to have to learn to do more of it myself if I’m going to keep the cost down to something reasonable (around $20K).

  6. I’m 11 pages into the Lancia Fulvia thread at Retrorides (51 pages in total) and it’s already doing my head in. And this is a car that was a good runner before he started!

    I’m not shying away from doing this car, though. I want to build it. I’m just wondering whether I’m setting expectations too high when we haven’t built the garage yet. This will be a lot easier to do when the garage is built and I have the space and acquire the equipment to do it. All I’ll need then is time and some instruction.

    Going another year without an interesting car’s going to be a pain, too.


  7. Welding ain’t rocket science. Actually rocket science isn’t all that tricky when you look closely at it. Some say that welding is a dark art. They’d be right. Adjusting the Amps, grinding back the tungsten tip on the TIG, fairing and blending the seam. But you can say that you did it, and that it was done proper. I have to ask, though. Does the floor actually have holes in it? Does it really need to be cut out?
    Doing my own resto myself, I am in a very similar position. Interior half out, glass out, de-rusting and all that. It sits in a carport that is not weather proof and it really bothers me that I can’ t do work on it every weekend. So much to do. So much to do.
    However…I could sell the car for twice what I paid for it right now. And if it was ‘smick’ and actually a manual car, then it would be highly desirable and sought after, pushing up the value and importantly the cachet of the car.
    What others have said is very true. Go with your gut. But use your head too. If it isnt worth the hassle and all the grief that is yet to come, then bail now. Get your money back while you can. If you can. And here is the nub of the matter…
    Is the Fulvia a ‘desirable’? Will it ever be? (I don’t know myself, of course) but if there is a market for it and prices are climbing in Europe, the UK and the US, then push on and do it up.

    1. For sheet metal MIG welding is the preferred method NOT TIG.

      That makes things much easier. MIG welders are much cheaper and very much easier to use. A MIG that would do a great job is $500 to $700 USD..

      MIG is preferable because you don’t want to get too much heat in the metal and and warp it. The MIG method is to spot weld the replacement pieces in place and then go back with a series of spot welds to fill it in. With this method you don’t get too much heat in the work. You can let it cool between spot welds.

      TIG is overkill and NOT suitable. Running a long bead of weld just puts too much heat in the metal.

      Everyone doing sheet metal; restoration work prefers MIG.

      Also Swade if you go this route don’t overthink the education part of this work. I would just get a MIG welder and some sheet metal and start. There is tons of great information on the internet and Youtube videos as well. The education part would help with safety procedures and some theory.

      I took a welding class, but it ended up being more focused on stick welding which i never use.

      I know it is a tough decision, and don’t under estimate the man hours in this work.

  8. I think the key to a home restoration is to have an achievable time frame, budget and storage, Tackle 1 part at a time for example suspension not body work and suspension. as you remove a part clean, service, repair and store said part, you will get a sense of satisfaction when you complete a small item. Finally i think that the real key is to do somthing, anything to the car at least once a week. if you are struggling with a task ask for help and complete it before you move on. Driving a brumby is a lot more enjoyable whwn you are driving to collect your bumpers from the electroplaters. Goodluck it will be worth it.

    1. Good advice, Stuart. I am trying to dismantle something every week, just to keep the momentum up. I love doing it, too.

      One of the unanticipated challenges I’m now facing is the falling dollar. Given that I can source most parts I need, getting them is relatively easy. The problem is that they’re mostly in England or Europe, which means it’s likely going to cost more in 6 months from now compared to buying something today. Sourcing stuff locally is likely to be much more piecemeal, sadly.

  9. Hello, Swade. Alastair here (metallic red Series II X1/9). I source a lot of my stuff from Joe (Guiseppe) at Alfauto (AKA Mille Miglia Motors) in Melbourne. He’s not always cheap. However, he is super-helpful and quite resourceful, as well as being really honest. When he couldn’t provide me a pop-up headlight switch for the exxie, he manufactured one from another matching rocker-style switch that he did have in stock. He must have sensed some skepticism on my part when I asked if the switch would actually work. His response? “I’ll send it to you and, if it works, you can pay for it. If not, don’t.” (By the way, it works a treat.) He also brokered the re-grind of my cam through one of his contacts and then phoned Steve Caplice at Fogarty Auto just to make sure that he was up with the vagaries of fitting it (he didn’t know Steve specialises in Italian cars). I think he really just loves his Fiats, Alfas and other Italian marques. The point of this rambling mini-essay is, I suppose, that Joe or one of his contacts may know a few lateral tricks that might save you a few $$$. I note that it’s not uncommon for Lancia & Fiat parts to be interchangeable, sometimes with the latter versions more easily available or being cheaper. X1/9 door handles fitting Lambo’s is another example of Italian interchangeability. If you were interested, Joe’s number is 0425 859 674; his email address is Even if he’s not helpful for your Lancia, he might still be a handy contact for the person who bought the blue exxie at the same time you got your car. Freight’s gotta be cheaper, at least!