Home-Spun Auto Wrecking

This photo section chronicles the demise of a '79 Spider 2000 that was purchased for parts. All components that were usable, or not riddled with rust were saved. I purchased this car in Marin County, and drove it to its final resting place. The crossmember was cracked, and the car was a roach, but IT DID DRIVE acceptably up until the very end. It's amazing how stout these cars really are. This example was actually a nice car up until about 2 years ago, and regularly serviced... The previous owner had this bad habit of smashing the front into things. Two ersatz body repairs, and a failing crossmember put it on the death list.

Myself, Courtney Waters, and Jason Ural dismantled this car over the course of two weekends. Actual time was two people the first Saturday, and three on the second. We used ordinary hand tools, a 7" Skil saw with a metal blade installed, and a Radiak. A Radiak is like a chain saw, but has an enormous metal cutting blade installed in place of the regular chain. It's a very effective tool, but can be a handful in operation... A car can be sectioned using an ordinary Skil saw if you have the time, and a pile of the metal cutting blades. To give you an idea, it took 6 of the 14" blades, and 8 of the 7" blades to cut this 124 into three manageable sections.

The Car, as it was driven. I compression tested the engine, disconnected the battery, and said Good-bye.

Jason, hard at work. At this point, we have stripped most of the front suspension, and are preparing to remove the engine from the car.

Jason again, enjoying a moment of merriment after the tough job of lowering the crossmember/engine combination from the car. If you try this at home, bring a friend or two to help stabilize the assembly as you remove it. It can get dicey if there are only two of you.

Your Humble Author, pictured on the second weekend. We have stripped the Electrics, Interior, Suspension, and about everything else usable from the car and are beginning to section it. It is not seen in this photo, but I had taken a few colossal (and inexperienced) whacks at the bodywork...
I decided to take a break when the Radiak tried to take off my left arm.

Now I was getting the hang of it. The Radiak is a fearsome thing, but it is also powerful. It cuts through complex box structures like the rocker panels of a 124 like butter. If you try this with a Skil saw, you will need to attack it from two different directions to complete the cut through the difficult box structure.

We finally managed to cut the car in half. The front section was light enough to carry, and also small enough to fit in the bed of a short-bed Chevrolet (our goal), but the rear section still needed to be split in half. Our camera ran out of film at this point, but enjoy the last images...

We finished up cutting the tail section right down the middle. I don't recommend this to others, as the battery box presents a real challenge with only a (worn) 7" blade to use. We had expended all of the Radiak blades at this point, and ended up 'worrying' the two sections of tail apart. 30 minutes of hard work later, we had the desired result, but I think I might have done it differently had I known what was to come. Thank God we all had our Tetanus shots that day!

Perhaps the Tail section could be cut in the same way as the front. There are no thick sections to cut through, and you would still end up with sections that can be carried by two & fit into the back of a basic pickup. The carcass of this car is on it's way to the crushers, and we certainly learned quite a bit about the Fiat Unibody during the course of its dismantling. Most importantly, I have a store of parts (some already used in crucial projects & for friends) to work with. Given the opportunity to do it again, I would take the challenge, and do it differently.

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