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Old 2nd October 2009, 02:05   #1
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Default One more recent acquisition - Palio 1.6 GTX SP (Woo Hoo!)

Well this is my first (and really long) post on Team-BHP and I think this is the right thread to post on. Mods please forgive any rookie mistakes this time round but I really need to share something with you guys.

Ravveendra has got himself a real baby in the Palio 1.6 GTX and my story is similar.

Back in 2002 as a struggling lawyer in Delhi, I really wanted the 1.6 but for lack of a few extra bucks had to settle for the 1.2 Sport. Don't get me wrong, that was the first car I bought with my own money, I still have it, love it and it is in mint condition. (Even put the OE Alloys on them last year with Yokohama ES100 195 60 R14s). It still drives really well and only has 40000 kms on the odo.

Since then, I bought Scorpio 4WD (took it to Ladakh in 2004 and drove it down to Bangalore in 2006 when I moved back from Delhi), got a Skoda RS in 2006, but the 1.6 was this elusive beast, made worse by the fact that they are hard to come by. Also, it was the one that got away.

I trawled your forums extensively (which I have been doing for a while) and noted what high regard the car is still held in (which only confirmed my opinion) and made up my mind to buy one second hand come what may.

I have been looking for one for about a year now online (won't get into that whole effort – too long to narrate) – for a long time I fantasised about just getting my hands on a 1.6 engine and planting it in my existing car, but then my love for my existing car and my considerable lack of knowledge about too much technical stuff about cars, (sorry guys, I feel rather inadequate reading your forums) prevented this.

So about two weeks ago I was on the Net going through For Sale ads and saw this ad for a MH registration Palio 1.6 GTX SP (2001 December model, 46000 kms done). Immediately called the seller, who was a nice enough chap, and said I was interested. He was in Bangalore and said that he had already finalised the sale and was giving it to someone who would take it back to Mumbai.

Since that didn't work out I tried a couple of other sellers. Man when it rains it pours. I found about five others sellers just in Bangalore (and recent ads mind you!) in the same three day period of frantic online searching but I was totally out of luck as they all had either just sold it, or were too sad to let the car leave the family and were giving it to some sibling or uncle or whoever.

Finally I tried this last chap (like that saying isn't it funny that that you always seem to find things in the last place you look). Speaking with him gave me a sense of deja vu and after a minute it dawned on me that this was the same chap I had spoken to the first time. He also remembered me and it transpired that he had not sold his car yet. It was a Thursday evening and I told him to keep the car at all costs as I was coming to get it. His feeble objections about it being an MH registration were shunted off as I frankly didn't give a damn. I wanted that car.

He told me I could see it on a Saturday and I could not sleep the next two nights. Finally on Saturday while I was supposed to see him only in the evening, I somehow convinced him that I would be around his area in the morning for some work (his place was really far away incidentally)

Took my cheque book with me and got my driver (thank God for Mahesh that day) to take me around to the seller's house in my 1.2 as the seller had indicated that other prospective buyers would be around and I thought I would give him a winning smile, show him what a Palio enthusiast I am and he would then (presumably) let me take away the 1.6 for free with tears in his eyes knowing I would give it a good home. Sniff!

When I got to his apartment, I immediately spotted his car in the basement parking but thought it wouold be in bad taste to start examining it till the seller came downstairs. Eventually he did and when I saw the car I felt terrible. It was (is) charcoal black (the original colour) but the bodywork was in bad shape. It was dented at many places. Both wing mirrors needed replacing (one was broken during a test drive!). One headlight was faded and one taillight was busted. No antenna. Stuff like that. The paint had faded off the bonnet, the roof and rear hatch. The seller informed me that the car had not been used in 6 months!!!! Except maybe sparingly. Compared to his car, my seven year old Palio looked like it had come out of the showroom that day. He seemed a bit embarrassed and said that he was not much of a car person that that he drove sparingly. I felt even more bad about the fact that he did not appreciate what he had. He even asked me for my advice on buying a new car and how to maintain it!

However, as I said earlier, I was going to get my grubby mitts on this car any which way so I asked for the test drive. Car did not start on the first couple of attempts and when it did, it felt like a diesel engine gone bad. The car was jumping vibrating all over the place. Still fixed in my resolve to get it, I drove off with the seller. While cruising, the car felt almost okay (no missing/ vibrations from the engine) but if we stopped at any signal, the missing/ vibration would start again.

Felt I was running out of gas as the car was showing signs of stalling (this was quite prohetic as you will realise later) and stopped for gas. Went back to his house, car still feeling very ominous and not roadworthy at all. Since I had brought my chequebook, I said I will give him a cheque for what he wanted and some cash (as security) but that I wanted to take possession of the car that day itself (he had been getting calls while on our test drive from the other buyers – remember I was the first to get there, and for good reason). I told him to tell the other chaps to take a hike and that the car was sold. He got quite an earful from a couple of prospective buyers who were already on their way.

We went back to his apartment where I parked the car and I left saying I was going to get some cash. It took me an hour to find an ATM as there were no operational ones at that area. Came back, gave him the cash, collected the documents and keys and drove off into the sunset. Well almost. Car quit on me as I rounded the first bend from the seller's apartment, right in the middle of the main road - mid-traffic. Called the seller who came running up. Real nice chap actually. He felt really bad and said that I could give the car back and he would return my money. I said no way. Actually what I said was “Dude go back home, leave the car with me for five days. If it is realley messed up I will return it, if not I will keep it. Being the swell chap that he is, he agreed and even said he would not cash my cheque. I was in no mood to return the car however.

My driver meanwhile who had jazzed off in my other Palio realized I was not behind him and came back looking for me. For those who have read P.G.Wodehouse, you can imagine the dagger eyes Jeeves gives Wooster when he does something really stupid. I got that in spades from Mahesh who, while trying to look unconcerned was actually sending silent signals that I was a dumbass. I studiously avoided his look of course as I was set in my ways for that day. It was the Palio 1.6 GTX SP with or without some egg on my face, or nothing.

To my luck I got the number of a known mechanic in the area who immediately sent someone to check the car out. As I suspected, it was the ignition coil.

We towed the car to his workshop with my 1.2 and left it there. The mechanic said that FIAT would not supply the part to him since he was not an authorised service point. Being a Saturday, I could do nothing but wait in frustration for Monday.

On Monday morning I called a TATA FIAT A.S.S and asked them for the ignition coil, the cable set and new spark plugs. Expectedly, they declined to supply it to me and asked me to bring the car. I said that it was for my friend who was stranded on the highway far away and there was no way I could get the car. The ploy worked and the dealership told me I could pick up the parts.

In the meantime the mechanic with who I had left the car called and said he had done some kaccha pucca work on the coil and that the car could be driven a bit. So I had it brought to my office where my next test drive did nothing to instill confidence.

The coil was a lot more expensive than I imagined as RedMM540's post said it cost in the region of 1850/-. These guys charged me 3850 for a BERU coil.

As the service station was shut or something for some reason, my driver picked up the parts the next day and my regular mechanic came over and fixed the plugs, cable set and coil. When we started the car and drove it, it was clear that while the car was driveable, there was another problem. One injecter needed to be replaced and only three cylinders were firing. Got that replaced too and the car started running beautifully.

I am glad I stuck to my guns and decided to take the car anyway as both my mechanic and the FIAT mechanic (Hariprasad Auto by the way, who do the work on my other Palio) who I gave the car to for a service later said that the engine is in great shape and I have no worries on that count.

The battery is almost new and so are two tyres. However like Ravveendra, I propose to get either Linea or Punto alloys which some rich kid has cast off. I have already left word with my tyre guy, [the same chap who sourced me original OEM FIAT alloys for my Palio 1.2 for Rs. 6000/- (brand new) and NHC OEM alloys for my Mum's OHC for Rs. 8000/- (bless his heart)] and hope to get some good news soon. My Michelin LTX2's for my Scorpio are also from him.

Next steps – replace all the broken bits and bobs, a full repaint (original colour). I wll then have two Palios that look identical, leather interiors (Stanley perhaps), new tyres (since my old one has the Yokohama 195/60/R14s, I thought I try the 205's this time - maybe iraghava can advise me on this). I see from these forums that this may not be the most ideal upsize but suggestions are welcome.

Later – K&N performance filter

Much later – Turbo Kit. I am going to contact some friends in Turkey and see if there is something I can import (I read that the Palio is used extensively for rallying there and the 1600 engine generates 215 bhp – I could be wrong). I also saw the FIAT forums where I found out that there is a company in Brazil called SPA TURBO, which makes turbo kits for the Palio.Hell, if the car can do it, why not, right? Already my wife, who loves the 1.2 is showing dangerous signs of claiming this new additon for her own ("I love how easily I can overtake" she says!)

This turbo obsession is only because I have gotten used to the boost in my Skoda RS and miss that in the Palio 1.6. Again, if someone knows someone really good reliable here in Bangalore, or even other cities for this sort of mod, please let me know.

I know this has been a long, rambling post but I am excited about this project. There is something special about taking an old, unwanted, unloved thing and rejuvenating it back to its pristine glory. Whether electronics, furniture, computers whatever, it always gives me a good feeling. That is what I am aiming for here. For those interested, do watch Discovery Channel's Wheeler Dealers to know what I mean.

Finally, I have to add that this is a great forum and resource for all things automotive. The mmbers are polite and very helpful. I for one am very impressed with the standard of quality that this forum has maintained. Also, you guys really add to the collective store of knowledge, which is the most important thing. Any time I need to check something I usually direct Google to search within the Team BHP site (just say search term site:Team-BHP - The Definitive Indian Car Community - Home in Google). This is how I do all my automotive research including for when I got the correct Aura alloys with the correct offset for my Scorpio 4WD after seeing Mr. Behram Dhabhar's post.

Cannot wait to get the car back to my default standard – mint condition, no less.

More updates later.

Cheers, and thank you for taking the time to read.
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Old 2nd October 2009, 11:20   #2
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WOW @ Zaia,

That is one heck of an experience and I can understand the depth of passion that drove you to buy the GTX.

I suggest you open a thread dedicated to your ownership experience(s).

Wishing you all the best.

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Old 5th October 2009, 15:43   #3
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Thank you Ravveendra.

I am waiting to get lucky like you did with the Linea alloys. I guess it will take some time. How are you finding them incidentally, have you put 205/55R15s on them, and if so, is that working out okay for the car ? I also wonder of the offset of the Linea alloys match that of the Palio. One headlight and two wing mirrors have been sourced from the Gujri yesterday.

As soon as these are fixed (probably today), the car is going for a complete tinkering and painting job. If anyone has recommendations for a good garage for this job, who is also reasonable, please let me know.

I am still not able to find a left tail light at the Gujri and a new one costs Rs. 3174/- at Concorde Motors - seems a bit steep.

Since I am changing the alloys (incidentally this car came with 5 alloys. I thought most cars came with only four and I think the new Palio's which have alloys only come with four. Maybe it is because this one is the SP edition that an extra one was thrown in.) I am not buying new tyres for now which will just be a waste. One alloy is in mint condition but the others, while not warped or anything, look a bit dinged and scratched and hence my need to change them. Two rear tyres on this car are quite old and of the tube type so I am just not confident about driving the car the way I would like to. So I have put the word out for some semi used Yokohama ES 100 195/60/R14s.

Once I figure out how to post photos on this forum, I will upload pictures of the car.

Till later then.
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