It feels like much more than 2 months since I collected the Fiat X1/9. Little did I expect to be buying a scissor lift and changing a clutch when I agreed to look at a car. This week marked the end of the cars journey with me as it was collected to be shipped to Australia. But before we could do that it needed to be cleaned up and ready to ship out!
Something I didn’t fancy tackling myself was properly cleaning the car. With little use and a spell living at a farm, the X1/9 had collected quite a bit of organic matter. Despite a good bath and cleaning up the exterior, it was going to take some skill to get into all the nooks and crannies.
I opted to use the local(ish) services of CannDetail. Not someone I had used before, but I’d seen the success they had made of cleaning a neighbours car. As the car is going to need some paintwork when it reaches its destination, there was no point trying to achieve a showroom exterior finish. In fact, we agreed that cutting back 10-year-old paint to remove the odd mark or swirl was going to do the car no good. What it needed was a thorough cleaning so it could be shipped and accepted by customs.
Unfortunately, the pictures don’t do justice to how much work went into the cleaning on this car. Gallons of filthy water was created, mostly with the steam cleaner. CannDetail spent nearly 10 hours in total, 6 hours on the top, 4 hours on the underside of the car. Pretty much without stopping. The final result is a credit to the work ethic applied.
A few finishing touches where completed after the car was cleaned before it could be shipped. A few were to meet the requirements of the import permit such as draining the washer fluid bottle. I think the Fiat X1/9 has the biggest washer bottle I’ve ever seen, taking quite a while to empty with a high flow pump!
Other finishing touches included sealing up the boot area in case the car had an unexpected period sat outside. I was really tempted to fire up the MIG and let in some new steel. In the end, I opted for a bent metal bracket, duct take and loads of sealant. The matting in the boot was also replaced after the original had completely dissolved sitting in water for a long time.
One unusual job for exporting a car was to do some packing. Most countries around the world no longer allow anything to be shipped with a car, and deal it an illegal import. As such I have a huge amount of spares awaiting shipping to Australia separately. But we didn’t fancy trying to get full body panels posted, so we declared them on the import permit.
Will it or Won’t it Start?
For me, the nightmare scenario in shipping is trying to get a car with a flat battery off a transporter before it reaches its destination. I’ve been there before, and it was -30c in the back of the lorry. The battery on the Fiat X1/9 has already gone flat a few times and looks incredibly old.
So, taking no risks, a decent battery was purchased from Tayna. I would have liked to take a drive out to their warehouse in Abergele, but Covid restrictions put an end to that! Instead, this massive capacity battery was shipped over in Tayna’s usual over the top packaging.
Beginning its journey around the globe
And that was it, months of preparation and the car was ready to be collected. The handling agency, AutoShippers, had managed to secure a transport slot a few weeks early. And so, one sunny morning, the X1/9 was loaded on to the back of a lorry.
I had mixed views on its departure. On one hand, it’s out of the garage and now I can get on with my own projects. But on the other hand, this little Fiat cleaned up really well and was enjoyable to work on. It was nice to get back to spannering jobs that could be done in a weekend.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sit at the window and watch it drive up into the distance. The end of another adventure, well nearly. The garage needs to be cleaned, the spares need to be shipped, and a replacement toy car needs to be found!