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John O's Scorp Insanity

Scorpion in Action!

Water Pump Showdown
Overflow Bottle
Stainless Expansion Tank
Hood Release Cables
Tractor Seat Mod
Hardtop for Big
History of 1194
Original Condition Reports
Contact, Links, and Boilerplate

Careful what you wish for...



My search for a Scorpion began as a reaction to my disappointment with my 124 Coupe. Not that the Coupe was bad, just not ultimately satisfying for what I like in a Fiat (read more on the 124 Coupe page).

I first looked to eBay and found a Scorpion in Atlanta that I looked at. I won’t review here the ordeal it turned into, but in short, I learned a lot about Scorpions in preparation for that trip.  Ultimately I didn’t need my newly gained Scorp knowledge, only what I’d learned in 25 years of owning old Italian cars to know enough to walk away.

Reading on the Mirafiori forum of my trip to Atlanta, what I now refer to as "The 29 Hours of Atlanta", Bruce Matthews dropped me an e-mail inviting me to come look at his Scorpion in Southern New Jersey at his store Bruce’s Parts Bin. I drove 2 hours to Bruce’s early on a Monday arriving around noon and staying most of the afternoon. It was everything I like in a transaction: low pressure, easy conversation, he felt he’d lost a little on it, I felt I’d paid a little too much …and we both went away happy.


At the time of purchase, the car had no battery and I made no attempt to start it. Definitely a gamble as an "as is" sale. With a battery installed at the time of pick-up, the engine would turn over but not start and was adequate for running the hazard flashers while trailering the car home.


Once home, I spent some time going over the car and, while being nearly rust-free by east coast standards, it has a lot of what I now know are typical Scorpion issues. The following reads like a daunting list of things to do, yet the car has not failed to impress casual observers - it presents itself well and, even with it’s flaws, looks good close up. Though a bone stock Scorpion throughout, the car’s biggest virtue beyond it’s relative "rustlessness", shiny paint, and unobtanium Koni struts, is the obvious care, or better, lack of abuse it’s has seen in it’s 29 years and meager 36 thousand miles.

Engine and Mechanicals
I’ve gotten the engine started, but only just.  The points needed cleaning and I’ve replaced the wires and plugs.  Once it had spark, there was no fuel delivery.  I’ve relocated the after-market Facet/Purolator style pump from the "hole" between the carb and the passenger firewall to a temporary point near the fuel fuel tank and also installed a temporary fuel filter.  I replaced the 32 DATRA carburetor with a 34 DMTR I bought from Mike Mudge.  Once all was in place, it fired right up! The emissions control air pump had been previously removed and the air injection holes crudely closed off, but a clean up of all that can wait.

The water temp gauge doesn’t function and I’m hoping it’s the sender.  Thus I haven’t brought the motor up to operating temp …as far as I know!!!  I won’t know if the radiator fans come on properly ‘til I have a working gauge.

The shifter/linkage is pretty sloppy, with the ball on the tranny lever needing a spot weld or brazing on the back to secure it. I suppose I'll also be getting good at replacing bushings as well.  I now have those on hand.  It’s also been recommended to me to re-weld a couple other standard items which are known to fail on the shift linkage.

All the hydraulics are dry, brakes and clutch. I now have replacement parts on hand for the clutch hydraulics.

The car is equipped with an air conditioning system (York compressor).  It’s condition is unknown, but likely not functioning.

I’ve purchase a fair condition quad tip Ansa rear can (needs a little welding) and I have a complete CSC Primaflow exhaust system on order.

The wipers run slow at all speeds and don't wipe to the "park" position, but stop where they're turned off. I’m advised by experienced Scorpion folk that a good strip-down and cleaning may resolve the problems.  If not, a new one will be needed from the Monte Hospital.

The coil was relocated by a PO to a position where it’s pretty much guaranteed to get soaked when driving in the wet, so I need to find a better home for it. 

There’s some PO wiring in the engine bay that needs to be traced and undone.  #11 fuse blows easily indicating a serious short somewhere on that circuit. Gauge lights are not working.

Interior and Trim
The original maroon interior has been re-dyed black. Pulling back some edges, its clear the interior had faded badly to a red-brown and that a PO had actually done me a favor by re-dying it.  There is a small tear in the dash that had be "concealed" by a large foil Lancia logo sticker leaving adhesive residue behind.  The center console between the seats is ripped up at the driver’s seatbelt connector and the driver’s bottom seat cushion is split at the seams. The seat belts are a bit tattered, especially the driver’s near the retractor. The rear view mirror had been re-glued and as is typical the windshield cracked at the point of attachment.  The passenger side interior door handle doesn’t operate and there is a miscellaneous PO wiring project hanging from the door handle pod. Lancia stickers attached to the driver’s wing window and to rear window removed leaving adhesive residue behind.

Exterior and Bodywork
The car has been re-sprayed at least once in what I believe to be OEM Silver, however the current finish is base/clear as opposed to an OEM single stage paint and does appear brighter than the original color. The hood and nose band are currently painted black.  I have no way of knowing at this time if the car was an original "black hood" car, but my guess is that it wasn’t.  Also, there are large black after-market Abarth scorpion self-adhesive stickers applied to each rear sail which have been clear coated over making their removal very difficult. 

The convertible top operates very well and doesn’t leak, but is missing the notorious "top straps".  The seams look a little old and I anticipate having to replace the top in the next year or so especially since all three of our cats seem to like to sleep on it!!! though not at the same time…

Door keys fit but won’t turn in the locks.  Seized or wrong keys?

The driver’s side mirror is loose and needs work from inside the door to secure it.

I took out the heat shield on the rear deck and as promised by other Scorpion owners, water poured out of the shield itself.  Only a little rust through the sheet metal under the heat shield, but a lot of surface rust.  I suppose the heat shield on the underside next to the exhaust is just as bad - lots of heat shields on this car! 

The belly pan and the air duct air missing from the car.  Both will need to be replaced to ensure proper engine cooling.

The right rear turn indicator lens is cracked and will eventually need to be replaced.

I’ve purchased from Jim Keller a very nice later Beta Zagato grill and quad-headlights to convert the car from the stock goofy quasi-pop-ups (hate ‘em).


I’ve been picking away at the car, so it’s time for an update. 

Parts Acquisition
I now have on hand clutch hydraulic parts, temp senders, and shift bushings from Bayless Fiat-Lancia.  After the first oil change, I realized what a pain future oil changes will be after I fit a new Belly Pan, so copying Allen Lofland’s idea, I bought a remote oil filter kit from IAP.  I’m squaring up a fairly large order from Chad at the Monte Hospital and I hope to get that paid for this week.  Included in the order are the missing Engine Bay and Front Air Ducts as well as sport springs, camber adjusters, and brake upgrade parts.  I also expect a Whoa Brake kit from Jim Fierst to be hitting the door step any day now.  I’ve sent off a check to Tom Balon for a set of his reproduction roof straps.  I recently won a set of used door handles on eBay.  They have a working set of keys and will (I hope) simply swap-out for my frozen lock set. I received a set of valve covers and a Beta intake manifold from Val Danilov that I’ve started prepping for use on the Scorpion.  They are generally cleaner and have none of the emissions fittings present on their Scorpion counterparts.  Finally, I've purchased a spare Scorpion motor and tranny from Bruce Matthews.

Engine and Mechanicals
I’ve installed new senders for water temp and water over-temp. However, both of the lead wires were identically marked: green w/ white stripe.  By trial and error, I’ve gotten what I think is correct hook-up for the gauge. But when I kill the ignition, all the gauges zero out except the temp gauge. It keeps reading unless I unplug the lead wire, then it zeros out until I kick the switch over to battery position again. That can’t be right ...right?  But it does not seem to drain the battery.

Once I had a working temp gauge,  I ran the motor up to and passed operating temp.  The radiator fan did not come on. I metered the switch at the fan and it was closing properly. The relay seemed to be closing when I touch the fan switch leads. I suspected a bad ground at the fan.  However, I also suspected the off brand relays stock on the car and I replaced all with Bosch units of the same value previously stripped from my ’85 X. 


I’d initially removed the shift linkage to simply change the end bushings and repair the one loose pivot ball. However, once I got a look at those 30 year old dainty little girl scout welds that hold the bushing rings in place, I knew I wouldn’t feel very confident hard shifting through the mountains of western Maryland and Pennsylvania if I didn’t beef those up a bit, as well as add tack welds to the reverse side of the other ball pivots. My welding is still a little heavy handed for this sort of task, but here are the results:


All the pieces have since gone through the blast cabinet, are painted, and ready to be bushed. I’ve been advised to use the "boiled bush" method of installation.

I removed the flaky wiper motor to tear it down..  Once in hand, I thought it looked more familiar to me than your average Marelli wiper motor.  I opened up the hood on my 124 Coupe (currently being de-commissioned) and it looked very, very close to the Coupe's wiper motor.  I took out the Coupe’s wiper motor and it is physically a dead match, identical six pin multi-plug, and the number cast into both motor transmission housings is 727159. Pretty cool, since I'd rebuilt the Coupe's motor less than two years ago.  Installed in the Scorp, it works like champ!

While nice 124 Coupe's are rarer than Scorpions, there are plenty of rust-bucket Coupes (like mine) that come along throughout the year where these motors could be salvaged.  Trouble is, Coupe owners want 'em too!

Interior and Trim
I removed the adhesive sticker residue left on the rear and wing windows with some Goof-Off on a cotton rag.

A Rough History of Scorpion #1194

My friend, neighbor, and fellow Fiat owner Richard Ridge has been encouraging me with my cars to take more interest in there ownership history.   Due to the special rarity of my 1976 Lancia Scorpion and the welcoming community of Scorpion and Montecarlo owners, I’ve felt moved to take Richard’s advice.

I have a number of receipts for insurance, registration, etc, from which I’ve put together a loose but far from complete ownership history of the car.  I can’t honestly say how many owners there have been for Lancia Scorpion #1194, as there are gaps in the paper record I’ve been given.  If any of the previous owners happen to stumble on this page, please feel free to contact me if you can offer anything which might complete the picture more.

According to the original "Owners Warranty and Service Book", Scorpion # 1194 was originally purchased from Whitehouse Imported Motors LTD of Whitehouse Station, NJ. Rose P. Steinberg, the absolute first owner of the car, of North Brunswick, NJ, took delivery on September 26 1977. It was sold to her by Whitehouse salesman Derrick Graham.  A free warranty service was performed by Whitehouse on October 27 1977.  Then Continental Motors, Plainfield, NJ,  performed warranty service on December 5 1978 at 17,986 miles.

The next owner I have record of is Victor R Steinhart of Caldwell, NJ, who first insured the car on June 3 1982.  The first registration and tagging I have record of under Mr. Steinhart is for the following year on April 13 1983.  The plate number was 364PYN.  Last record of insurance is June 1986.

1194 then came into the hands of Allan and Karen Crabb of Franklinville, NJ.  The first registration I have for them is on June 29 1987 and the last for May 1988.  Their plate number was CBM63L

At some point the car came into the hands of David Lafferty Imports in Newfeild, NJ, where it was sold by Lafferty Imports to Martin Sollish on February 5 1992 (according to the Bill of Sale for $4500 "as-is" towed).  Mr. Sollish insured the car the same day, registered and tagged it two weeks later on the 19th.  At the time of registration and titling by Mr. Sollish, the car had 34,764 miles on the odometer.  During 1194’s life with Mr. Sollish, the car resided in Pomona, Marlton, and Pinehurst, NJ, respectively.  Though the car was insured through October 1997, the last valid NJ inspection sticker on the car is dated February 1996.

Roughly nine years later in March 2004,1194 was purchased by Bruce Matthews of Bruce’s Parts Bin of Newfield, NJ as part of an estate sale, but was never registered or tagged by him.  As told by Mr. Matthews ("Bruce" to those that know him), the car was one of four different models of Lancia that were being sold together.  Bruce bought two: the Scorpion and a black/gold 1982 Zagato and he listed them both for sale on his business website.  After reading on the Mirafiori Forum of my aborted attempt to purchase a Scorpion in Atlanta, Bruce contacted me about his.  Interestingly, Bruce’s Parts Bin is the previous location of Lafferty Imports.

At my first visit to inspect the car on 25 April 2005, I gave Bruce an initial deposit, with a final payment mailed on 28 April. 1194 was insured, titled, and registered by me in Maryland on May 9 2005, so as to be "legal" for the trip home from Bruce’s. The tag is "historic" with the number L91101.  The car was then trailered from Newfield home to Rockville, MD on Tuesday 31 May 2005.  When registered by me, the car had 36,520 miles on the odometer, it now reads 36,660 from the event-free trip to Maryland via tow dolly.

The irony is not lost on me that Scorpion #1194 was twice towed from the same location by different "new owners".

John O.

 Updated 19 July 2005

 Nothing else to see here. Move along.