Car of the Month September 2007

  Submitted by Gordon Fogarty



F764 was ordered by a family friend in Nov. 1988 and delivered in Jan. 1989. The order form states that it is a SE (special edition) and it has the Oz route alloys and spoiler (now re-fixed facing the correct way) of the Gran Finale, but none of the GF badging. It also has one “Bertone” sill trim in bronze and one in black, but I suppose that’s Italian charm!


In 2001 after a number of years of driving my X1/9 as a road car I decided to do something a little more serious with the car. I am not a fan of standing and looking at parked cars - I like to see them used.

The cheapest form of motorsport I decided was Hillclimbing and sprints. As such I decide to convert my x1/9 to run in the Northern Ireland Hillclimb and Sprint championship. (see Hillclimb racing in NI is run on closed public roads, and attracts around 65 entrants per event.

I have owned the car since 1997 and always take great pride in its appearance. This pride has continued into the race car. Thanks to the internet parts were sourced from far and wide, mostly 2nd hand. Parts include Roll cage, seats, Leda race struts, Alloy fuel cell, Uno Turbo brakes, lightened flywheel, uprated clutch, x3 core radiator, 1300 bumpers, Luminition ignition, Facet fuel pump Maserati wheels & a gearbox with a close ratio gear set and low final drive, Avanti build stage 2 head + DCNF carbs and a CSC 4-branch exhaust.

The class in which I run

The class is very competitive with around 12 class entrants at all meetings. Cars are diverse but Nova's, MkII Escorts, Peugeot 106s and Minis are order of the day. The X1/9 has to date run well and normally in top 6 but only occasionally top 3. Conclusion for better results…. More power required. (Engine was previously dynoed at 100 hp at the wheels).

I read that years ago a company called PBS in the USA had a stroker kit (long stroke crankshaft) to increase engine capacity. They were last sold about 16 years ago however.

Again thanks to the internet I found a company in Macedonia (Jupiter Race Engineering) who still manufacture specialist Fiat SOHC components for Yugo racing. So after an initial trial order I took the plunge and ordered enough parts to build a good engine with increased capacity, they were predicting 160 hp at 9000rpm. The crank chosen is a heavily lightened (skillit cut) long stroke crank variant from a Fiat Florida (?). This goes with modified OEM pistons, polished and balanced rods, big valve head race spec, steel race profile cam, undergeared crank pulley, lightened flywheel, baffled sump, uprated clutch. Locally I had the block bored and lapped to the correct size for the new pistons and decked to the calculated height to give a CR of 11.5.

I then assembled the whole lot and refitted the DCNFs. The ran the car in the 2006 season with this specification but, despite excellent coaching from Jupiter Racing in Macedonia, carburetion was always an issue. The DCNFs proved expensive & difficult to get parts for. And the engine would not rev comfortably above 7000rpm.

Eventually I decided to go for something else. I had read of the Bogg Brothers and their business manufacturing manifolds to fit bike carbs to any engine. I sourced a set of Yamaha R1 carbs in California for £40 and had them shipped in (piggy backed to a shipment with my employer). Bogg brothers did a beautiful job in manufacturing a manifold. After a minimal amount of cutting and shutting in the engine bay the carbs were fitted along with Pipercross filter socks. Cable was made from Honda bike throttle cable mated to Fiat standard system. Jetting of the carbs is easy as there is only x1 jet per each (£2) and are readily available. Excellent investment however was a wide band Lambda sensor and data logger (Innovate) which allows you to data log the engine, most notably the A/F ratio.

The car is currently running well and, whilst not winning in its class yet, is substantially closer and is now a real top 3 contender. Jupiter racing had advised the red line should be 9000 rpm but I generally change at about 8000rpm, the only limiter being my ear! I am currently experimenting with higher octane fuel >104.