Thursday, August 5, 2021

Looking for a Low Temp Thermostat?

 I'm here to tell you that's a bad idea.

Over the years, there have been a few folks who have pushed for FIAT replacement thermostats that open at lower temperatures. The factory specified a 190-195 degree (Fahrenheit) open, but some aftermarket producers have gone as low as 175 degrees.

What are the actual benefits of going lower?
Put your engineering hat on with me, and let's talk applied science. If you consider the internal combustion engine as an air pump operated by thermal expansion, *more* block heat is *more* power and efficiency. -- Every joule of energy sent out to the atmosphere as heat (through the radiator) is a joule of combustion energy lost. --
For proof-of-concept, look into the experiments in the 80s and 90s with ceramic engine blocks. They ran hot and achieved better efficiency (power), but nobody could make one last for obvious reasons. The temperature limitation we have come to expect of our motors is a function of the materials necessary (metals and gaskets) to build long-lasting motors.
Modern manufacturers regularly wait until 230 degrees (or so) before even turning cooling fans on. Many run up around 260 before there's any significant longevity concerns. That's mostly a function of superior metallurgy and higher pressure cooling systems.
Running motors cooler than designed (the FIAT DOHC included) is bad practice, with almost exclusively negative consequences. It puts manufactured clearances out-of-specification, because those specifications were set *at design temperature* for component materials that expand at differing rates. Which means that engine components tend to wear faster when too cold. Also, in more extreme cases, if engine oil is not allowed to reach a normal temperature, the condensation that occurs inside a crankcase (as a function of heat cycling) can create a significant concentration of water. Obviously, this has numerous detrimental effects.
Most people who swap in low temp thermostats do so because their cooling systems have other underlying issues. I would always recommend dealing with the problem over a potentially dangerous band-aid. You can see my post here on how to correctly burp the cooling system of a FIAT 124 Spider, to make sure you aren't chasing a simple problem.
Hope this is helpful,
Get a high-quality, OE temperature thermostat here!

Friday, July 16, 2021


2021 PHOTO CONTEST: Check out the story behind this year's Best Overall Photo winner! Don't miss his winning photo on our page:
I wanted to share a photo of my 1985 Alfa Romeo Spider. I bought it in 2005 as a sophomore in college, and I've driven it all over (Roughly 70k miles since I bought it). It's the first car I bought with my own money. The car started its life in Boston and eventually ended up in Michigan. I bought it there and brought it out to California. On snowy days in the mountains, I like to throw some sand bags in the trunk and see how far I can get. The most satisfying part is passing SUVs whose drivers can't figure out how to drive in the snow. 
This entry is a photo from my drive to Wrightwood, CA on the Crest Highway in the Angeles National Forest. The first photo is from Wrightwood proper. The second photo is what I drove through to get there. The engine, brakes, and suspension have all been beefed up. Now I just need to work on the interior.
Andrew N"

Thursday, July 15, 2021

2021 Best Overall Photo


2021 PHOTO CONTEST: The votes are in, and the winner of the Best Overall Photo is Andrew N!
This stunning winter scene sets off Andrew's dark 1985 Alfa Romeo Spider, which has been staged and framed wonderfully. There are plenty of signs that Andrew knows how to compose a photo, but we'll let you photography buffs spot those on your own. Share your thoughts in the comments!
So, Andrew wins Best Overall Photo on the sheer quality and beauty of this photo, but we have some fantastic prize-winning cars lined up for you over the coming days. Keep a lookout for our prize winner announcements through next week!
Andrew receives a digital Gift Certificate to Vick Autosports. Stay tuned to our Facebook to see if you've won!

Friday, July 2, 2021



Happy July 4th weekend! We're celebrating with the 1st Annual July 4th Weekend Photo Contest, sponsored by Vick Autosports. Enter at:

Send in your best photos of your FIAT, Alfa Romeo, or Lancia classic to become eligible to win one of EIGHT $50 Vick Autosports Gift Certificates!
One winner will be selected by our "expert" judges in each of the following categories:
- Best Overall Photo (judged on photo composition, background/scenery selection, and image quality & color)
- Best Story or Comment (share your history with the car; or share a great story of adventure, wrenching, and how VAS has been there for you!)
- Best Fiat 124 (includes all 124 derivatives, such as 2000 Spider & Pininfarina Azzurra)
- Best FIAT X1/9 (includes Bertone)
- Best Other FIAT (includes ALL other USA FIAT models)
- Best Alfa Romeo Spider (105/115 Series)
- Best Other Alfa Romeo (includes ALL other USA Alfa Romeo models)
- Best Lancia (includes ALL USA Lancia models)
Entrants may be eligible to win TWO awards per photo (i.e.: Best Overall PLUS Best Alfa Spider), for a $100 Gift Certificate! Maximum of two awards per entrant. Enter as many photos as you would like. ONLY photos submitted via email will be entered.
All entries MUST include: 1) a photo of an eligible car (see above); 2) at least two sentences about your car, your ownership history, or your experience with Vick Autosports; 3) Your real name and a valid email address - preferably the one you use to shop at Enter at:
For Pete's sake, please don't plagiarize! We will find you, and we will... disqualify you. (Phew!)
Winners will be selected at the sole discretion of Vick Autosports and our trusted judges. Winners will be notified and announced during the week following the close of the contest. All photo submissions convey consent to Vick Autosports Inc. for online use and sharing for any purpose. All customers' private information will be protected online, with the exception of first name, last initial, and pertinent stories and details shared in the submission. No purchase necessary, other rules may apply. Blah blah blah, you get the gist. Email Vick Autosports with questions.
Entries close at midnight CST on July 7th.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A New Star...

That five-spoked beauty is brand new to the lineup at Vick, and I'm proud to have been involved in getting them made as a VAS exclusive. It's cut for the 4x98mm bolt pattern, and fits Fiat 124 and X1/9 (hub centric!) without modification at 15"x6.5".

We're calling them the "Autostrade", and they're selling for $440 a set for Fiat 124/2000 and Fiat/Bertone X1/9. Can't wait to get a set on my car!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Day!

In Texas, we normally get one brief spate of snow a year, if at all. So it was quite a surprise to find THIS outside!

The roads are pretty much impassible, so I'm homebound today. In fact, so is most of the metroplex here. Thankfully, at least Matt and Andy made it in to the shop today. That's dedication!

Of course, I had to get my daughter out and take her trash-can-lid sledding. This is still Texas, so this 'snow' is more like a hard-packed sleet. Perfect for our purposes!

And I can't say I didn't enjoy a bit of spirited driving on this ice. O what fun!


Monday, September 30, 2013

The NeXt Big Thing (Warning: X1/9 Content)

I'm monstrously happy to announce the completion of my most recent project: the Prima Brake kit for the Fiat/Bertone X1/9!

This kit utilizes the exact same tried-and-true brake parts (excepting bracketry) as the Prima Brakes for 124, and boasts the same awesome feature-set. The price is a cool $450 under the current sale.

I've already put a set on my X... It's a VAST improvement, if I do say so myself.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New, Used, or NOS - How It Matters To You.

From Matt,

We are often asked what the best buy is between new, used, or NOS (new old stock).  The short answer is that NEW is the best bet in almost every case.


New parts are always of recent manufacture.  Now, some people may question the quality and origin of new manufactured parts.  Well, fear not, in most cases our New parts are produced by the original manufacturer in Italy, even though it was not FIAT or Alfa Romeo!  What I mean is that FIAT and Alfa Romeo contracted a number of other companies to make various parts, and then they simply assembled many of them to build their cars.  This is not uncommon with auto manufacturers; in fact it is much more the rule than the exception.  Now, can a company really say that these parts are OEM?  They all do.  Does this mean that everything that comes in a FIAT or Alfa Romeo bag or box is an OEM part?  Certainly not!  In most cases, the auto maker did not make that bag, either.  So, when you buy a new Fiat part or Alfa part you can certainly bet that 99.9% of the time that part will be just as good or BETTER than original.


Used parts are always exactly what they say they are: USED!  So, lets say you've just purchased a car and the column switch is bad, which means you don't have turn signals.  With modern technology you can go to an online auction site and find a used part to fix your problem.  Or you can take a little more time and search for new parts vendors, such as ourselves.  You'll ask yourself, "Do I want to pay $90 now, or do I want to get that one from the 'Sanford & Son' style junk yard on eBay for $70?"  Many people will opt for the cheaper of the two options, which means sacrificing new for used.  They'll read that lovely product description that says the "car only had xxxxxx miles when parted out" and that the "part just looks great."  Well let me break down the facts: Used parts cost 1/2 - 2/3 cost of new, but... Buying a used part requires the death of a car...  Used parts share their age with that of the car: 25-45 years old, or older...  All used parts have degraded with age (especially rubber, plastic, and electronic parts)...  Used parts are USED and it simply doesn't matter if the item is advertised as Grade 8 out of 10, or Grape Ape out of 10 -- it is still USED.


NOS parts are unused, leftover old stock from original inventory when FIAT & Alfa Romeo were in the country selling parts at their dealerships.  Many people have gone to the new dealerships looking for parts from FIAT USA, but just because FIAT is back does not mean they are making parts for our cars.  In fact they simply haven't done that, almost ever.  This refers back to the new parts section of this post.  When the cars rolled out, FIAT and Alfa didn't make the replacement parts. That was left to the original manufacturers, and they were sold through dealerships like us, or landed on shelves in hot, dusty warehouses.  So, NOS or New?  You say, "I found a NEW WATER PUMP for $50, and I found a NOS WATER PUMP for $50.  Which is better?"  The answer: the NEW WATER PUMP every time.  Not only are the bearings and alloys in the new pump NEW, you can rest assured that it was made on superior modern machinery.  That NOS rubber bushing?... Is still 40 years old, hard, degraded rubber that is ready to crack with the first hard use.  NOS plastic part?... Unless it was kept in an air conditioned "clean room," (which it wasn't) that plastic has become brittle and hard with age, too.  These old parts just can't stand up to the same level of use that a new part could.  In other words, most NOS parts have already lived out the majority of their serviceable lives on a warehouse shelf.  So, the simplest way to think of NOS is: NOS is the best answer when NEW is simply not available.

New, Used, or NOS...  Now you know the truth behind the branding.  NEW means great quality, made recently. Used means its USED regardless of what someone may "grade" it.  NOS means it is unused BUT it is 25-45 years old.