Q: I own a second series Fulvia coupe that could do with various bodywork replacing. I've been quoted some rather horrendous prices by specialists but since I'm a fairly competent DIY (MIG) welder (although not really with bodywork) I thought I might be able to tackle the problems myself. So here are my questions ! :
Am I biting off more than I can chew ?
Is Fulvia bodywork more difficult to deal with than bodywork on 'normal' cars ?
I can get away with using half wing panels which I know Classic Panels in Wrexham can provide. Is it sufficient to spot weld these along the natural swage line that runs down the side of the car ?
I've heard that while the subframe mounts take most of the brunt of any stress the front wings are still subject to a certain amount of strain. Is this true ?
Do I have to do any special strengthening to the wing or is the standard 1mm thickness of the wing panel sufficient to deal with this ?
I wouldn't mind checking the rear subframe mounts as well. These seem fine and the car doesn't rattle or squeak and handles fine. If I do work on the off-side panel I can check the mount this side but the near-side wing doesn't need touching. Is there any way of reliably checking the mount without damaging or removing bodywork ?
I hope you don't mind me inundating you with all these question ! Any tips on Fulvia bodywork you think are relevant would be appreciated - the above are just questions that have sprung to mind.
A: Thanks for your comments. First of all, I am not an expert on bodywork repairs but in general the advice is that a great deal of non-structural work can be done by any competent welder. As far as I know there is nothing more difficult on Fulvias than on standard cars. Spot welding panels is OK but seams must be fully protected against rust. In addition to eliminating any residual welding material, one should apply plenty of metal sealant (not the rubber foam Zagato used to fit under the wheel arches with consequently rapid development of rust!). The outer parts (and rim) of the front wings are not really bearing any major structural strength. Rally cars which took severe beating on unpaved tracks were reinforced by steel plates inside the engine bay. I am afraid I cannot provide positive or negative comments about panels and body sections sold by various suppliers who advertize in magazines. Of course, not all panels are the same or of the same quality.
It is difficult to establish the existence of any hidden damage to the rear subframe mounts. You can try to examine the area very carefully with a torch light and to repeat the same inside the car after removing the trim and rubber carpet. The obvious solution is to remove the subframe: something perhaps you will anyway have to do to repair the other side of your car. It is also advised to have a suitable flat, long and strong support on which you can rest the bodyshell after removing the subframe. Weakened bodyshells are know to sag!
In summary, the best tip to repair a Fulvia is to read what others have done before you. Reports are to be found in the special issue of the Lancia Motor Club on Fulvias, in the book Lancia Fulvia HF by Altorio and especially in a series of very detailed articles which appeared a few years ago in the Viva Lancia magazine of the Lancia Motor Club. I think to remember that they were written by Douglas Ellis who himself completely restored an S2 Fulvia coupe in his garage. I don't think that, due to copyright rules, I can simply photocopy them for you. You should instead contact Dr. Paul Mayo who is the Lancia Motor Club librarian and will be able to help you. His E-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax (or phone) at 0141-946 2906 (Glasgow, Scotland). Paul is a busy man so that he may not be able to offer instant help. Hence, be prepared to be patient. It might be necessary though that you join the Lancia Motor Club, something I would strongly advise if you wish to keep the Fulvia for any length of time.
Good luck, - Andrea -