Almost 70 and beautiful again
A skilful hobbyist transforms his 1940 Fiat into a 2008 sports car
Published on January 9, 2008
Russ Barnes, an American property developer in Thailand, likes to restore and modernise old cars. The transformation of an old Fiat into a two-door sporty car is his latest project.
"I like to blend out-of-date things to make them look modern. It's like the way I do business: some properties are in remote areas, but they look modern when we develop them and might become the talk of the town. Adding value by modernising is the key to developing land, and I applied this concept to restoring my 1940 Fiat," he says.
His Fiat originally was a four-door sedan powered by a four-cylinder, 1.1-litre engine.
"The original engine was more than six decades old, and I had to restore it after I bought it. Its condition when I bought it could be compared to a scary movie like 'Zombie'. My friend recommended I buy it, as he believed that I could restore it from 'Zombie' to look as good as Brad Pitt. I took two years to restore it," he says.
He searched for parts for his Fiat on the Internet.
"I mainly ordered body parts from my home country, the US, as the model still keeps its popularity there. Many people in the US, particularly farmers, still drive this car, because it's beautiful and classic," he said.
He says that given lingering demand, spare parts for the Fiat are available there.
However, he took almost a year to gather spare parts and worked on restoring the car's body during the waiting period.
"I admit that car painters here had the ability to salvage what had rusted. I also changed it from a four-door to a two-door car to become a sporty car that looks more modern than the four-door car," he said.
To modernise the car, colour was also a key and he chose to paint it red.
"Ferrari is the favourite brand among males, and red is its hallmark, so I decided to have my car painted in the same colour as Ferrari. I picked genuine leather for the upholstery. The cabin is the important part, and I tried to make it feel like you're driving a new car. For the engine, I replaced the original engine with Toyota's rear-wheel drive," he said.
"I completed the restoration in two years, and I think it was worth the money."