Can this ABANDONED Fiat 124 Be Saved?

May 16, 2022 5 min read

On this preservation episode, I drive to Passaic NJ to meet up with Aaron, the owner of a 1981 Fiat 124 Spyder in desperate need of a detail. Aaron showed me his unique property and extensive collection of model cars. After perusing the collection, we took a look at the very real Fiat which had been parked for 10+ years in a dilapidated garage. Dust, storage boxes, and garbage bags covered the car so getting the Fiat out the garage turned into its own project. Little did I know that getting the car onto Aaron’s trailer would be even more hazardous. With the trailer parked in the middle of a one way street, Aaron pushed the Fiat onto the trailer with the nose of his van. Needless to say I don’t want to try that again in the driver’s seat. 

Fiat 124 barn find

The following day after the crazy pickup, I gave the Fiat a closer inspection under the Studio lights. The fabric top was covered in dirt, the windows caked with animal prints, and the paint + wheels were falling into disrepair. Step 1 was to get the Fiat up on the lift to remove all the wheels. The bolts were really rusted so I soaked them in Boost Anti-Salt to fight the years of corrosion. I inspected the wheel wells, brakes, and suspension components which had become the home to many insects over the years. To make any future mechanical work easier, I agitated these areas with Plum Wheel Cleaner and a Two Tier Wheel Brush. 

Fiat 124 barn find detail of brakes and suspension

Afterwards, I filled the foamer with Brute Wheel Soap for some additional cleaning power on the undercarriage. After giving the under tray a good scrub and power wash with the AMMO Power Washer, my floor was covered in dirt and under coating that had delaminated over the years. Next, I lowered the lift to focus on washing the topside of the vehicle. The convertible top was in pretty bad shape so I cleaned it up using Titan 12 Degreaser and a Dual Density Scrub Brush. Finally, I washed the paint with Foam Paint Cleanser and agitated the various badges. Woah… was my floor soiled so I gave that a good clean afterwards as well. 

Disgusting convertible top cleaning on Fiat 124

For the engine bay, I used the Pro Foamer and Frothe Anti-Salt to effectively cover everything with a gentle cleaner. The AMMO Two Tier Brush came in handy again to agitate the tight spots and then used Plum Wheel Cleaner for extra power on the metal components. For the final rinse, I increased the temperature of the pressure water and the grime just fell off the engine. As a last step, I blew out the pockets of water with compressed air so the engine looked 100x better. Unfortunately now I needed to clean my floor AGAIN…

Larry cleaning engine bay of barn find Fiat 124

With the messy wash complete, I turned my focus to the interior by lowering the convertible top and removing everything from the car. As I was removing the drivers seat, I found a bunch of giant nut shells which confirmed my suspicion I’d find a nest somewhere. I removed the steering wheel for a repaint and move to the rear of the car which had chewed up seat belts. I wasn’t surprised when I lifted up the rear bench to find a giant nest. Still completely gross, I disposed of it immediately so I could vacuum the interior.

Interior detailing with seats out of the Fiat 124

Now that the interior had been stripped, I moved to the trunk only to find more nests. I removed everything, vacuumed, cleaned with Frothe, and disinfected with AMMO Restor. Restor is an EPA registered disinfectant, sanitizer, and deodorizer. After I cleaned the disaster in the trunk, I used Restor’s full abilities allowing it to dwell for 2 minutes before wiping off. I repeated the same steps on the interior surfaces with AMMO Lather, Scrub Pad, and Dual Density Interior Brush. On the door cards, seats, and other soiled areas, I used the AMMO Steamer to fully clean up the grime. Once the seats were clean, I disinfected with Restor and let them dry in the sun. 

Disinfecting car interior with steam and RESTOR at AMMO NYC Studio

I turned my attention to the carpets which were stained, discolored, and overall really bad. First I vacuumed the mouse droppings off the carpets then pretreated the mats with Shag Fabric Cleaner. I scrubbed the mats with a Dual Density Fabric Scrubber and used Titan 12 to spot clean some grease stains. Next I used the AMMO Steam Vacuum to remove the smell and extract all the nastiness. On the really soiled mats, I took it a step further and foamed it with Brute Soap before agitating with a drill brush. I then power washed the mats before using the extractor again. With the mats and fabric surfaces cleaned, I disinfected everything with Restor as a final step. The interior was now fully cleaned and disinfected so I set about reassembling the interior. I was super stoked as the Fiat’s interior looked rejuvenated and smelled so much better. Finally safe enough to take my respirator off!

Larry cleans the floor mats and carpet of the barn find Fiat 124

As mentioned earlier, the wheels were toast so I loaded them in the Taycan and headed down to Proformance Industries early the next morning. I wanted to really surprise Aaron so I opted to have the wheels and steering wheel professionally refurbished. Proformance does amazing work and super excited to see the final product. While the guys worked on the wheels, I was back at the Studio performing the paint correction. I narrowed down the polish to a 1 step with a Rupes Yellow Wool Pad and Blue Coarse Compound. The green paint really popped as the little roadster was getting it’s shine back.

50/50 paint correction on Fiat 124 at Ammo Studio

After the successful polishing session, I applied the soon to be released Reflex Pro Finishing Wax as a final step. Applying wax was super satisfying and just seemed to fit this vintage of car. I polished up the bright work by hand with steel wool and Rupes DA Fine which did the trick. Finally, I got the call from the guys and picked up the wheels. What a night and day difference! With the new wheels installed and Mud Tire Gel on the tires, the Fiat looked ready to get back on the road. I invited Aaron to come pick it up later that day and his reaction was priceless. He was absolutely speechless but after taking it all in, he confirmed the plan was to get it back on the road asap. Success!!! Thanks so much for supporting AMMONYC and stay tuned for many more exciting detail stories! 

Finished detail on barn find Fiat 124 by AMMO NYC

Written by Larry Kosilla & Jordan Walker


JOIN AMMO