While we may love the Fiat 124 Special here in The Garage, the sporting nature of that sedan did not survive the trip from Italy to Russia. The turd that came from the former Soviet Union was decidedly less cool. Even still, there are still some running around Russia. The guy in the video after the break must have thought he was pretty cool, blasting around in his 30 year old shoebox. Cool that is, until it decided to blow its lid.
Alongside the great Porsche discussion on the Canadian Motorsport History group on Yahoo, there has been another thread about some early racing Alfa’s in Ontario. Our old friend George Commachio’s Alfa was brought up, as was the Fiat 124 he raced prior to the Alfa.
The car was a late Sixties (George thought ’67 but wasn’t sure) Fiat 124 Special. Twin cam, 5 speed, 4 wheel discs. A neat machine that did indeed later become the Lada, but missing a cam, a gear and had drums in the back. George eventually sold his 124 to Lloyd Service who then raced the car. There is a tale that perhaps he had a major crash with the car in turn 3 at Mosport.
I can’t remember the name of the guy Lloyd sold the car to, but I think the next guy only raced it once. It was then sold to a guy named Neil Burns. In fact, we met because of the car, when as a teenager I poked my head into the shop where he kept it.
Years later, I convinced Neil to finish the car up and race it. I don’t recall any evidence of heavy crash damage at that time so I’m not sure about Lloyd crashing it. Neil was on a tight (ie none) budget and struggled to get the car to keep running without blowing head gaskets. Even then the car ran in the high 1:50’s.
One of the coolest thing about publishing The Garage over the years is that we’ve had the opportunity to make some great friends from all over the world. Fortunately, some of those friends are closer than others. We first met Andre Rousseau through The Garage, while he was publishing a build blog that followed the restoration of his rather stunning Triumph GT6. A trip to the vintage festival at Watkins Glen, driving the Triumph, sealed his fate: he had become hooked on racing. The GT6 was far to pretty to be turned into a race car, so the hunt for a race car began.
Regular readers might recognize the name AndreGT6 from his comments here in The Garage. Andre’s post name comes from his mint ’68 Triumph GT6. His pride and joy. Until now that is. Last summer, Andre made the mistake of going to the annual vintage race at The Glen and fell in love with vintage racing. The search was on for a suitable ride. This past weekend, the new toy came home and the poor GT6 has been relegated to the driveway. I have offered to keep an eye on the little coupe, but for some reason Andre isn’t responding!
Given my past with Fiats of the 124 Coupe and Special variety, I am feeling some pangs of jealousy over this nice Spider. I just commented to Mrs. G that this would be the perfect car for us. It is far from being a show winner, but looks perfect from a distance. Not overly fast, so moments of
brilliance stupidity behind the wheel aren’t likely to prove too damaging. Reliable. Mrs G just rolled her eyes. She is used to me coveting every car I come across.
Along with the new car, comes a new web site. 124racer.com may not be fully up and running yet, but Mr. Rousseau has already loaded up tons of pictures of the wee beastie. He has even posted a quick video from the driveway, which you can find after the break.