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Author Topic: S1 and S3 - compare and contrast  (Read 6178 times)
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DavidLaver
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« on: 21 December, 2007, 12:30:39 PM »


Back in 1986 Wilson McComb wrote "Dedicated Lancia fans will tell you that by the mid 1970s the Fulvia had moved too far from its original design concept and lost much of the build quality that was much of its attraction for the discriminating buyer".

Back then I was struggling to find bits of Beta and forever rebuilding Fiat 124 Coupe suspension and brakes.  Back then a friend had a lovely S1 Fulvia and it was chalk and cheese to the Betas and Fiats with its tubular wishbones and greased bronze bushes and details like the flash/hoot horn push and beautifully precise steering and gearchange.  It also held the road in a completely different way and could be trusted to drift over humps and bumps without getting into a slapper or throw some other 'nasty surprise' as a car full of half perished rubber is want to do.

So back then, 21 years ago, I'd have been nodding away and saying "not a proper Lancia" with the rest of them. 

So what of today?   For one thing I find myself looking back misty eyed at Dedras.   Just yesterday I was watching, make that listening, to You-Tube for Fulvia engine notes.  These days I like the white dials, that strange seatbelt pull, the seats are as attractive and comfortable as an S1.  I always liked the "tall" cars with eyebrows as much as the "low" cars with hubcaps - all Fulvias look fantastic from any angle.

The thing is there's an S3 Fulvia for the having.  To me, with my head still back in 1986, an S3 is something you park on a hill, pull on the handbrake, and if it holds its worth its money for a summers fun.  What are they today?   What does it take to put an S3 into a condition where you'd appreaciate its advantages over an S1?  A lot of the "handling not as crisp" of my own experiance would have been only having three out of six subframe mounts sound and an inch or so slop in the steering box.

The use it might see is a surburban runabout - Tescos, cubs, collect a parcel - longer runs to go and watch some motorsport - and perhaps a track day or hillclimb or a local navigational rally.  Alas don't have the roads locally for the "B-road thrash" on a Sunday morning and have grown up a bit now so more "GT use" than "road racer" for all it may be running up Prescot or lapping Lyden from time to time.

Is an S3 worth the time and trouble or do you think I would be better seeking out a RallyS?   Is an S3 "barn find" a gift horse or trojan horse?

David
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David Laver, Lewisham.
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« Reply #1 on: 21 December, 2007, 01:56:05 PM »

Good things about an S3 are a much better heating and ventilation system and a five-speed gearbox, both of which make the car more practical and usable. Bad things are the cheaper, weaker cylinder head bolts,  the disappearance of some engineering elegance, the fact that the five-speed gearshift isn't brilliant and the dodgy green carpets (unless the car itself is green). I am fortunate in that my early S2 HF contains many S1 bits but still has the S2/3's excellent heater, so the best of most worlds is achieved. The handbrake works, too.

Give yourself an S3 Christmas present, I say.

John Simister
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DavidLaver
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« Reply #2 on: 21 December, 2007, 02:54:01 PM »


Heating and ventilation is a BIG thing day to day : one point to the S3.

I remember the five speed shift as just an entirely different thing to an S1's "grandfather clock" pendulum.  The Fiat 124 had a REALLY nice shift - impossible to imagine nicer so the benchmark was pretty high.  Does the S3 have a taller top gear?   Does an S3 have a "dog leg first"?  I always used to like that as a "proper five speed" instead of the usual "overdrive top".    Five speeds is one more to play with - and gives a better chance of finding a "happy gear" for suburban light throttle "bimbling".  My memory is of a really chunky lever that moved up and down as the subframe shifted about but not obstructive and not imprecise.

This particular car is red with a black interior.  I remembered it as a tan interior and not a nice red but on reaquaitance my memory had played tricks or my tastes have changed but its an appealling colour combination which is always a necessary start.  Did they all have green carpets?  Black mats over the top and dye the rest back?  Are aftermarket black carpets available?  Do they look odd with the carpets out and the metal painted?  (not a bad idea when damp is the deamon...)

A non Lancia friend expected that the 70s wireing loom would be more reliable bit I suspect he was thinking back to 1950s type wires with insulation that frays.   Are the column stalks reliable?  I expect on an S1 you could dismantle and service all the switches.

"Horses for courses".  Back then an S3 was to chase the rich kids in their GTIs - now its as much a substitute for a Citroen C1 or something as a change from the family bus.

In general do screens leak?  Quiet enough on a motorway?  Get hot and bothered in traffic?

David
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David Laver, Lewisham.
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« Reply #3 on: 21 December, 2007, 04:54:58 PM »

In no particular order: screens don't leak normally, side windows often do after a car wash or heavy rain especially if the seals are past their best. In which case there will also be massive wind noise at motorway speeds, but new seals are quite easy to fit with trimming the ends to shape the trickiest part. Otherwise motorway cruising is busy but bearable; fifth on the S3 1.3's five-speed is geared about the same (18mph/1000rpm) as fourth in a 1.3 four-speed. First is on a dogleg.

I think all S3s have green carpets but aftermarket carpets are available from Omicron or are easily made by any trimmer. Or you could go for the complete rubber flooring option as fitted to most Euro-spec S1s and S2s and available (inc RHD) via Peter Harding near Basingstoke. You could leave the carpets right out but it might be a bit austere and noisy.

The wiring is fundamentally OK provided it hasn't been bodged with crimped connectors over the years as mine had been. I replaced dozens of them with proper soldered terminals. The stalks can be dismantled and serviced, as I discovered when I had to replace the wire to the headlamp flasher button which had broken internally. The mechanisms seem to be robust enough. Many S2s and S3s have a broken temperature lever on the heater control panel, caused I suspect by too much effort being applied either because the control cable needed lubrication or the water valve was unwilling to shut off. I had to replace my car's valve after roasting during summer 2006. It's fine now.

And, of course, there's the spectre of the r-word. About 20 years ago Peter Gerrish and Tim Burrett wrote a buying guide in VL which included a test for a Fulvia's structural strength including the vital rear mountings for the front subframe. Jack it up on the jacking plate in the middle of the subframe's front member, just behind the front valance, and listen for creaks and groans as it rises off the ground. Once lifted, the rear outriggers of the subframe should be where they were at the start and the doors should still open and shut, albeit not quite as neatly because the rear edges are bound to have dropped a tiny bit. Also, with the car on the ground, there should be a gap between the bottom of the inner wheel arch and the whole length of the rear outriggers.

Hope that helps.

John
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DavidLaver
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« Reply #4 on: 21 December, 2007, 06:12:41 PM »


Thankyou - a BIG help.  What you been upto with yours?

This particular car "needs a bit of welding".  The rear subframe mount (of the front subframe) actually failed with me in the car as a passenger - one too many times back over the Hardknott pass in the Lakes one memorable week.  That must be at least fifteen years back.  The "bit of welding" for the mot was perhaps ten years back so who knows how bad it all was or has now become.  Its in a very dry barn, paper stays crisp, no mould on the interior.

The next question - anyone remember which issue that "buyers guide" was and which issue had the "ten steps to wake a Fulvia from its slumber" article.  I can remember something about water pump seals.  I can also remember something from Cundy-the-younger as regards "the places you'd just assume were rotten".   This one doesn't seem frowsey round the wheel arches etc, but all sorts of cars can look fine but then the back axle pulls out its mounts the first time it gets driven in anger.

Assuming "new brakes" any bits expensive or difficult?

Back to the S1 vs S3 - does the S3 get better wipers and washers?  A 60s car can be miserable on a wet winter's night with tiny slow wipers over a scratched screen.

David
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David Laver, Lewisham.
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« Reply #5 on: 21 December, 2007, 08:00:06 PM »

It's a long time sonce I've been described as Cundy the younger. My father lets on that I may even be older than you  Grin.

This is what I wrote about rust:

"Where to look for or to expect rust

Areas on the outer skin of the shell will be readily apparent (wings, sills, rear sub-frame mounts, front and back lower wings) but areas covered by trim or easily “bodged” will not be so apparent. I would advise to look (or expect to find) for rust in the following areas:

Bottom of rear panel – this is easily hidden by filler and fibreglass and is easier to see or feel by running your fingers around the inner seam inside the boot. It should be smooth and follow the natural contour of the panel. Any lumps or unnatural contours will probably suggest filler of some sort. Unless very localised this will require the replacement of this panel.

Inner B pillar channel. This is covered by trim and cannot be seen but it collects water from the rear ¾ window and rusts from the bottom upwards. If bad it can be felt by pinching hard through the trim – you will feel it give. This is a very complicated doubled skin structure and is not easily repaired. I would suggest (and I am doing) using bits cut out from a donor car and replacing the bottom three inches with this.

Back of ¾ window aperture. Where this meets the C pillar at the bottom I have often found small pin holes from local corrosion. These I will weld up locally. The are difficult to see as they are covered by trim strips.

Inner A pillar. The point at which the A pillar joins the front bulkhead (and upper valance) at the bottom corners of the windscreen are vital to the structural integrity of the whole car. Hidden by trim it can be felt by pinching through the trim. Again it is a very complicated structure that is difficult to repair, and is better replaced by a section from a donor car.

Rear window bottom frame. This is hidden by the window itself and the rubber trim. It is of a shape (convex with a backward slant) specifically designed to trap water in the corners and at the centre, and then rust! If bad it may be possible to see it by lifting the trim with a credit card and looking under. Alternatively it may be possible to see by looking from the inside, pulling back the trim. If not too advanced local repairs are possible but in advance cases (like mine!) the solution is to cut the old bottom frame out and fabricate a replacement. Note if this is rusty water drips into the box section underneath which causes more problems.

 All suspension pick up points must be checked, two at the back and three at the front on each side.

 Rust in the floor pans, inner sills and cross members should be readily identifiable be lifting the carpets and inspecting inside and getting underneath with a light.

The underside of all the subframe arms should be inspected from underneath.

Check inside the front wheel arches – where the brake pipe bracket is you can see a diagonal weld about 4 inches long. This is a poor design and I have never seen one on an un-restored car which is not split. It is the failure of this weld which I believe contributes to the wings cracking at the top. Most people say this is caused by the failure of the rear subframe mount system, but I think this is equally to blame. It can be welded up, but the correct solution is to grind the weld off and put a plate over both sides of the joint (inner wing and inner engine bay) and seem weld around it.

There will be other areas I am sure but this is a summary of what I have found in the course of my Fanalone, two previous Fulvia’s and my brothers full (no outer panels !) restoration."

Just from our experience so if anyone wants to add or contradict then please do.

I did help strip an S3 once - my only thoughts were that it was mechanically the same but FIAT accountants had done a Value Adding exercise (I can feel all the engineers shuddering as I write !) and changed many of the fixings from enginering cap head to DIY hex head, and there were plenty of choice words as we rounded heads and freed off siezed threads.

The wiper system is better than on S1 cars with two speed wipers and electric wipers. Regarding the light switches I think the trick is to make sure the a) nothing is broken and the contacts are clean(rather obvious !) and b) all the little set screws in the switch are done up tight - otherwise you will be treated to a light show thet Jean Michel Jarre would be happy with when you go over the first bump!
I think S3's are the best value coupes because they are the same as S2's just with a different interior which may or not be to everyones taste.
There are some differences to the head and valves (again part of the VA exercise I guess), but I don't think they are significant today.
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« Reply #6 on: 21 December, 2007, 08:47:15 PM »

Who says the five speed gearbox is better than the original four speed. I find that in my 1600HF both cumbersome and slow with an inability to hit 60 in second which on fast night road rallies is a pain in the backside, on the other hand my first series Sport felt absolutely right when pressed hard. On the Stelvio during the Classic Marathon it was pure delight, maybe the combination of 1300cc and four speed is how it was always meant to be. Why mess with perfection?
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« Reply #7 on: 21 December, 2007, 11:22:51 PM »


If I was "looking for a Fulvia" it would be a RallyS with its four speed box.  The one I knew and got to have a go in was lovely and no way did it need an extra cog and in no way was there any problem at all with that long lever - although thinking about it I've heard of them being prone to slip out of gear...

Poor quality nuts and bolts is one cost saving that can result in "lost" afternoons struggling with a component.  That's a Fiat memory not a Lancia one.  A point against the S3.

What else was "cheap" on an S3?  Do they get an oil cooler?

Another irritant with the Fiat, and I saw recently a Strada Abarth still the same as a 124 - were the "single sided" brake calipers that were supposed to slide to grip the disk evenly rather than having a piston each side of the disk.  "Single pot" against "twin pot".  What's an S3 got?

A memory that may be false is the different way an S1 and S3 held the road.   With the benefit of experiance I can look back and think that narrower and lower grip tyres would make a car feel sweeter than something that is loading up and rolling.  I also know that tyre brand and size can mess about with the damping and that a damper or two that's shot can throw the whole thing out.  An S3 is going to have a higher centre of gravity.  Is the steering the same?  Is there any more rubber in the system or are the subframe mounts softer or different spec dampers?   Are there tyres available that suit a box-stock S3?

David
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David Laver, Lewisham.
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« Reply #8 on: 23 December, 2007, 12:12:59 AM »

Useful article in April 2007 Classic & Sports Car page 256. Lancia Fulvia - Starter Classic. Contributed to by James Parry and David Honeybun.

Have you considered a saloon? S1 is a delight, S2 very practical and both eminently suitable for everyday use. Loads more room than a coupe and rarer!

When I purchased my 2c Saloon Michael Newberry told me that in his opinion the saloon was by far the nicest Fulvia to own and I would not disagree with that.

Robin.
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« Reply #9 on: 23 December, 2007, 12:52:41 AM »

While my Series 1 2c Berlina was being restored back in 1997-1999 I was running a lovely 1.3 Rallye Coupe that came from Michael Newberry's collection, which I loved, I took it up to Omicron to get the carbs balanced, and Martin was of the opinion that the series 1 was the nicest of the coupes to have.

When my 2c was finished and ready for the road I had to decide which one to keep as I couldn't afford to keep them both; I chose the 2c and with a heavy heart sold the coupe, a decision I have never really regretted apart from the fact I would have liked to kept them both.
Without a doubt the ride of the 2c is much better than the coupe & indeed many modern cars, of course the coupe was snappier, 1.3 as opposed to 1091cc, & the road holding was superior to the 2c, but the 2c isn't half bad, as a few who have ever followed me we tell you, once up to speed it will hold 70-75mph all day, we came back from Portugal in 2004, one days driving was in 90f heat from Salamanca to Pamplona, over the Pyreness via Roncesvalles to St Jean Pied de Port, about 400+miles at a steady 75mph (except for the mountains, but that's another story!) and as Robin says, bags of room for passengers & luggage & extremely well built.

Brian Hilton
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« Reply #10 on: 23 December, 2007, 09:56:43 AM »


There's going to be very few who'd argue the Sedan's virtues on looks alone.  While "keeping up with the traffic" is easier year on year they will be a chore on a trunk road incline and lack the pep and fizz of a coupe.  For all that they have a very loyal following and, for the last twenty years at least, have been said to be "the better car".

What I'm trying to put my finger on is what being "the better car" actually means.

As the Fiat accountants won each skirmish and battle what was lost?  They'll be some nuts and bolts answers, literally, but much will be a challange to describe. Conversely how much of a late Fulvia being "worse" will have been a lack of maintenance? ....and not being on the right tyres? ...and in what ways was it "better" for ten years development?

My fear is making a start on it, the "quick patch" turning into a 100hour structural rebuild, and at the end of it thinking "why didn't I put the time into a better car than this".   Is the S1 vs S3 comparison as stark as rev happy and sharp Frogeye Sprite against a rough running ship-on-a-swell 70's Leyland Midget?

David
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David Laver, Lewisham.
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« Reply #11 on: 23 December, 2007, 11:12:26 AM »

I can not think of any mechanical differences between the S2 & S3 cars. My brothers car was a S2 bodyshell, but it had got beyond repair so he bought a good bodyshell that just happened to be an S3. There are no differences that we have found. Mechanically the same (apart from said fixings !). The brakes I think are readily available (or repairable).
If the shell is in good nick, then the first thing you must do is drill a load of 10mm holes and fill the thing with Diantrol. That will keep everything at bay. I have copy of the C&S guide (10 pages odd) by Peter Gerrish. If you would like I can copy it and send it on.
It is difficult to repair the rear subframe mounts without doing the sills and lower 3/4 wings at the same time, as if rust has got one it has the other. The sill dives behind the wing and welds to the bulkhead so just putting a patch on would not really keep the integrity.
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« Reply #12 on: 23 December, 2007, 12:38:40 PM »


Thank you for the offer of the C&S guide - no need quite yet.

Just had a look at the Dutch "Viva" Q&A - there's an interesting comment about "classic" and "modern" 165 section tyres.   Anyone able to compare perhaps a pre-restoration S3 with a car with everything tight, on the correct tyres, and all alignments spot on?

David
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David Laver, Lewisham.
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« Reply #13 on: 23 December, 2007, 01:46:04 PM »

David. Nice thread this one.  I have only driven a s1 once and found it nice, everything fell into place easily, gear change 1st to 2nd the lever moves ever so lightly, same 3rd to 4th, steering nice and precise, and light also. Brakes, Dunlop, non servo, HMM. Huh? I have had lots of s2 1300 coupes, and they are great fun and on the whole very reliable. I have had 1 1300 s3, that was bordering on a concours entrant,( too nice for me) it was rebuilt by a ex Mugen Honda race engineer ,(not for me), this car was the best s2/s3 coupe i have ever driven, the steering was spot on, tyres standard size, no mods to suspension, and was just as i imagine they were like when new. I now have a s2 1600 hf, that is in a different league altogether, heavy steering when going slow, but precise when playing chase the vectra, and the extra power/ torque is a bonus, but all in all, any series fulvia, coupe, or sedan, or sports, will not disapoint, bite the bullet and enjoy. p.s. there is a s3 coupe on ebay which needs work, . Regards Roger.
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« Reply #14 on: 23 December, 2007, 06:19:06 PM »


Thinking back maybe I can remember the S1s brakes not always being on top form.  The past is a hazy place, but in my mind's eye his lovely Fulvia was always running like a train and my Fiat 124 Coupe was always on axle stands waiting for joints or calipers or a bearing.  Any work on his car and it was always "oh that IS nice" and jobs tended to go to schedule.  Much later on my Aurelia (now gone) was always a good car to work on like that as well.

Those early Fulvias are something special.  Big wheels - think of a touring peddle bike against a shopper.  No-slop in the suspension like a good prewar car but with the harshness taken out Flamina style with a subframe.  Perhaps the twin-fear along with 100hrs of tinworm chasing is then to find its a car you feel needs the "MaxPower Magasine" type treatment and be dropped an inch (like an S1) and have polybushes (like an S1) and bigger wheels (like an S1) but of course having done that to an S3 its then harsh and bump steers.

My suspicion is that on the right tyres and everything as it should be the advantages will then come through.  Seems a small point but a bit more ride height over a speed bump can be a really important one round here...

The car on ebay could be this one's twin.

David
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David Laver, Lewisham.
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