Car of the Month October 2007

  Submitted by Bruce Robinson



'Albert' was the result of a spontaneous mid-life decision to have some fun-on-a-budget motoring and re-live some great memories of a gold 1980 X1/9 that I used to own. Two weeks after thinking about it I had bought the car through Ebay (as many are these days). I don't think the owner was a Club Member but the car had certainly been in Club ownership at some time in its life as there is one of the older Club stickers in the windscreen.


Fortunately, the advert and seller were both honest so I knew pretty much what I was getting for the limited money I was paying (not perfect, but certainly not inches away from a Scrapyard); although it was obvious the seller had limited knowledge about the idiosyncrasies of X1/9s. The car had been re-sprayed some years ago, giving the car a nice paint finish for its age, and is structurally solid. It has also been waxoyled, but unfortunately not from new so it has only stopped the rust getting worse.

I collected the car from Kent and drove it back to Cambridge without a hitch (first Exxie challenge achieved), although it was starting to get a tad warm in traffic! I wanted to spend as little as necessary so, with help and advice from the Forum, I started the process of fixing the faults and making Albert more reliable.

I have updated a number of things including: electronic ignition, an electric fuel pump with inertia switch and manual cut out, a 65 amp alternator, iridium spark plugs, driving/fog lamps with warning light in the instrument cluster, manual choke and a battery condition meter. I had the radiator re-cored with a double core (I have to work really hard to even get the radiator fan to cut in now) and shortened the gearstick.

Not surprisingly I have done a number of electrical improvements including putting relays into all the lighting circuits, the 'Brown wire' mod and removed the ridiculous 'dim-dip' function. I have also implemented my own Pod-Mod so the Pods only rise when the headlights are on and stay down when sidelights are on.

Albert got his first outing on the 2006 National Meet in Snowdonia and never let me down, although waterproof is not a word I would use in his description. He now resides along with three motorbikes in my climate-controlled garage (it's much easier to keep the water away than replacing the rust!) and comes out to play whenever I can have the roof off (and heater on if necessary).

I was hoping Albert would re-invigorate the joys of X1/9 ownership and, as long as I don't leave it out in the rain, it's done that. Being quite rare on the roads now and having Bertone badges it also gets loads of people interested (and it's not an MX-5 for a change) and a lot cheaper than a Ferrari.