Beater or Sleeper? FH3 Edition! Thanks for coming.

  • Thread starter Obelisk

So the AMC Rebel 'The Machine', with such a name you expect a car with character and this thing has it in spades.

With a 6.4 V8 and 340hp, Its not lacking for power and despite a close ratio 4 speed gearbox, still clocks over 140mph.

Handling is floaty due to the soft suspension, but it behaves itself until you say otherwise.

Most Rebels don't have a cause, this one does, Tearing up the Aussie outback in a cloud of tyre smoke and noise. ;)

Verdict: Sleeper 👍
Yes! The Rebel, for some reason I just love this car. I'll be sure to give it a shot later, in rivals this time:lol:
Haha, thanks. As of right now, my times aren't very good, and I keep having a 1-collision lap.

My suggestion: turn on Rewind, then go out and run. If you have a collision, rewind and try it again until you figure out how to get through that part of the track without the collision. I also always complete my lap, even if I hit something, just so I get more practice on the rest of the course. Good luck!
My suggestion: turn on Rewind, then go out and run. If you have a collision, rewind and try it again until you figure out how to get through that part of the track without the collision. I also always complete my lap, even if I hit something, just so I get more practice on the rest of the course. Good luck!

Well with that, I turned it off so I don't rely on it. I'll forget to turn it back off.

When I have a collision, I just keep going and I usually don't mess up afterwards. More like I can focus better after a mental mistake. But I'm gonna keep pushing for now. I'm at a 3:28 currently.
So, the Rebel. An AMC monster.

I'm only going to keep this simple. It's a hell of a car for what it is. Floaty it is, but careful throttle management and steering makes it incredibly fast.

Tugun Bypass Sprint: 3:17.464.

Sleeper. 👍

Not just a clean time, but a faster one as well. I'm more than happy to go back and take this challenge again because I love this car and I love this track. A perfect combination of challenge versus reward.
What happens when a struggling automotive manufacturer associated with cheap cars takes a mid-sized sedan and tries to turn it into an affordable muscle car for the drag strip in a desperate attempt to appeal to the youth of the American late 60s? Well, this happens.
The "Machine" is essentially a gimmick made car - the garish and offensively chauvinist paintjob (which in reality had a lot more to do with brand recognition), the overpowered engine (which is fed by a Ford carburetor, IIRC - oh, the irony!), the nonsensical details (a hood-mounted tachometer? Come on) and the terrible, terrible handling are all a product of a conscious effort to build a car which is muscle to the core.
Last week we had the Jalpa - a car born at the beginning of an era where the word supercar started to mean something. This Rebel, too, is a supercar - back when this meant "a ****** car which just got a lot faster thanks to a ginormous V8, but hasn't become any safer". Ask the Australians.

On the track, the Rebel's floaty and leeeeeeans and it won't steer, and on the tight corners of this track, using the handbrake to initiate rotation and torque to conclude it seem to be the only way to not leave red, white and blue marks on the wall.

And of course, I love it. If you ask me, it's a sleeper - you wouldn't expect it to be such a struggle, because you wouldn't expect a mid-sized AMC sedan to have this much power and torque; and you wouldn't expect it to be this fun, like you're always driving in the snow even when it's sunny.

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Last week Jeremy was reliving his forties in the mid eighties, and this week I, Richard Hammond, will rewind the clocks a little further to when things when I was just a wee lad and things were starting to get really groovy.

The fuel crisis hadn't yet hit, so American car makers were in a mad rush to install ridiculously overpowered engines in their family cars, all in the name of speed and attracting new buyers. AMC decided to join the muscle-car fray with this, their AMC Rebel "The Machine".

The example you see here is a 1970 model, and my does it look... AMERICAN. I love the hard to miss patriotic paint job which carried over to the center console and even the full size spare wheel.


Speaking of the interior, it's not a bad place to be. There are pleated door cards. Chrome window cranks. A left-to-right horizontal speedo, which reads to 120mph. More on this later. The seats aren't going to hold you inplace on hard corners, but that's not really what "The Machine" is about.

The Machine has another nice feature under its brashly colored skin: A MONSTROUS 390 cubic inch V8 resides under the "hood" (as the American call it) that pumps out a thundering 340bhp along with 430 torques.

The standard trans residing behind it was a 4 speed manual which put the power to a "Twin-Grip" differential and finally out to wide 15" Goodyear tires on special "Machine" mag-styled wheels.

The Machine was targeted to young, affluent, style conscious buyers (like me) who wanted big horsepower and dragstrip dominating performance. We didn't know if we'd be able to test the last part of that marketing since this particular model, while pristine in every way, suffered a strange hood-hinge malfunction which caused it not to want to close. Fortunately the owner knew another Rebel owner in town, (an incredible coincidence, since there were only a couple thousand Rebel Machines ever made.)

He's called John, and it was still early morning when his "Big Bad Green" Machine rumbled up to the desolate airstrip we had chosen as our meeting point.

We waved John in to a nearly empty building so we could take a better look at his beast.

It had clearly seen better days, but like Han Solo said, "it's got it where it counts." John's car was very healthy, capable of easily breaking the back tires loose on the wet pavement and barking fire when the mighty V8 de-revved.



All told, the not closing-hood issue turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as John's car was already a little bruised and a little beaten, so he had no problem exercising it's rebellious nature by taking out some moldy crates and boxes:

Running down the muddy, dirt roads in the nearby town:

Or showing us how capable this barge is in the water.

After all the morning fun it was time to find out how fast I could wrestle one of my childhood favorites around our chosen course: The venerable Tugun Bypass Sprint. With a wide variety of mostly flat corners and unforgiving walls, not to mention the proximity of families homes we'd be racing next too, I was admittedly more than a little nervous. John assured me that The Machine wasn't like those in the Terminator movies, sent here to kill me. Have some respect for the tires and brakes, and I'd do just fine he said.

All in all, it took a few practice laps to build up my nerve, and truthfully I did swipe a few mailboxes and even scraped the wall at one point. (John couldn't tell as scrapes already existed on the corner of the bumper) but I fianlly managed to run down a respectable 3:13.627.

It doesn't look like much compared to some of the other more well known muscle cars of it's day, but was capable of outrunning all of them back in 1970. While the suspension is soft (the rear springs did come from a station wagon) and the brakes aren't super grippy, it all manages to work well and John's example, which he swears is stock down to the factory air pressure in the new-old-stock tires, managed to hit near as makes no difference 140mph according to our radar gun. This thing screams Sleeper in the most non-subtle way possible. And I love it.
I forgot to post my time, whoops.

I managed a 3:13.760

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I would say that this car is a sleeper. It can seem slow at first, that is, until you get used to it. It has potential as long as you keep the rear in check. It feels like it would be slow because of how heavy the steering feels coupled with the weight transfer, and usually understeers into a turn until you give it a bit too much gas, but it definitely did surprise me once I placed my time.

Never really cared for how it looks though.
AMC, being as small as they were, didn't have a lot of money for engine development. They needed a V8 to compete, so for 1954 to 1956 they purchased V8s from Packard. That was too expensive, so starting in 1956 they started making their own V8, a single block that came in three sizes: 250, 287 and 327 cubic inches capacity. It was a good engine, but not a performance engine. So in the early sixties, they started development of a new V8 that would be much more amenable to performance tuning and especially racing. The new engine was originally available as a 290, 343 or 390, each was later upgraded to 304, 360 and 401. They were very good engines and were capable of some impressive performance. AMC won races in NASCAR, races and championships in Trans-Am, and was a credible drag racer, too. It should be pointed out that all six sizes of the second AMC V8 were all built on a single block. The 401 was no larger than the 290, so every AMC V8 fits in every AMC (that was designed to hold a V8).
Thread is coming alive again!

First things first!

Congrats, @Vic Reign93!
Vic Reign93: 3:11.258
SLP950: 3:13:627
RMedia Obelisk: 3:13.694
ImaRobot: 3:13.760
Populuxe Cowboy: 3:14.328
ClydeYellow: 3:23.303

Aliens, robots...we've seen a lot. What's next?

Congrats, @ClydeYellow! You've won!
Oh god, did I?

Anyways, looking at the list of cars done so far I've noticed a disturbing lack of Abarths.
I find your taste in cars disturbing...

What a crying shame, how about...


Photo courtesy of Turn 10!

It's the 2016 Abarth 695 Biposto!

This week's time trial will be at Byron Town Throwdown, a Street Race!

I've always liked Hot Hatches (okay, so it doesn't actually have a hatchback, whatever). It seems like I keep finding more time on this run. Despite a couple of very tight corners, it's very fast and flowing. Sleeper.

I didn't care for the silver color it came in, so I went with a two-tone polished combination of two old AMC colors, Fresh Plum Metallic and Wild Plum Metallic. Base is .86L/.49L/.37L, secondary color is .91L/.41L/.50R. It might be a little tough to see in this early morning light, but the only graphics are the GTPlanet logo over the rear wheel, and an Italian flag under the A pillar.
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Good evening readers, and many apologies for the late submission of this review. James May, or, "Captain Slow" as I'm also know, here and ready to discuss my time with the car of the week.
Upon landing in the wonderful "Land down under", I was immediately greeted by the producers with directions to the Byron Bay Horizon Festival. It was a lovely drive down the coast, and I was excited to review what I was told was a simple, red italian hatchback. I pulled up and was overjoyed as I huge fan of the Fiat 500.

However, before I even had a chance to check it out, I was directed inside the main tent to see the actual car I'd be driving and writing about for you, dear readers.

And here it is.



Yes, ladies and gents, it's a hot hatch, the Abarth 695 Biposto. Now, some of you want to know more about the flashy bits and strange bobs, such as the carbon fiber components, the plexi-glass windows, and the bright red Brembro brakes. Well, now I've told you.

I suppose I should also tell you about the Sabelt race seats matched with four point harnesses and the cargo net hanging over the scaffolding in the rear where the bench seat used to be, and well, I suppose I just did.

As I'm sure you all know, I'm not a fan of these, track inspired, Nürburgring tuned sporty versions of normal, sane, sensible cars. So with that said, I decided to continue my employ here, fall into the tightly bolstered seats and fire up the a-little-too-loud engine and head out to do a road test.


I decided to stop once we got outside to get a better look at the vinyl wrap the head car wrangler at the Horizon Festival, Warren, decided to use to dress up the Abarth.

It really is a nice color, but a little too flashy for my tastes. Okay, on to city, where little cars like this are usually a real joy.

Usually. That was the operative word. This little tre o cinque porte (hatchback, in italian) was stiff, loud, and generally unpleasant.

It even barked rudely when I accidentally hit the gas getting my phone out to tell the producers how displeased I was with them for having to suffer in the Abarth.

Rather than ride around all afternoon in the Biposto, I decided to stay in the Byron Bay Restaurant and Bar until I was able to go home, but I wasn't allowed to drink as I was told that once night fell in a few hours, I HAD to take on a local street race course, known to the locals as the Byron Town Throwdown. Lovely.

As I rolled up to the line, I was nervous. I had studied the course map diligently while killing time in the restaurant, so I felt confident I wouldn't embarrass myself and subsequently give Richard and Jeremy new material with which to mock me.

Unfortunately, things were not meant to be. I missed the first turn. Whose bright idea was it to mark the route with flares?!

I wish I could report that being the only turn I missed, but alas, I also overshot the hard left about halfway through the course. Oops, sorry Warren, I'm sure the finish will buff out.

Ultimately, I did figure the course out, and it only took a few tries. I found the raucous exhaust note annoying, and the engine buzzy. The brakes were very grippy, nearly throwing me through the windshield when I applied them before entering a corner. The differential Abarth installed in this car did a fine job of putting all 188hp down in the bends, and the reduction in curb weight made the rear end more eager to rotate under braking. All in all, the attitude of the 695 Biposto was simply dreadful. I'm sure the 133 owners of this limited production, $37k "mighty mouse" will disagree with me though.

As the sun was nearly coming up, I called it a night and went back to the hotel, content with my 2:42.898 laptime.

I really wanted to dislike this car, as it represents everything I think is wrong with tuning, but I have to admit, it really did take me by surprise and even defeated more powerful and more expensive cars on the course. I suppose then, that makes it... a sleeper.

I am giving everyone until Monday to get their times in, since it seems this week's been slow. Gives me time to find a winner tomorrow night as well.

Another time to add to the list. :D

As for the 695, in reality you would have to be quite nuts to buy it as brand new they costed over £30k and with quite a few options added can be knocking on the door of £50k. :eek:

In forza however, it can justify its 48k price tag by having very high levels of grip and a 5 speed gearbox you can really bangshift with and get quick changes (especially if you're a clutch user. :))

If you use it on short tracks, it's not one to overlook as it'll catch out unsuspecting racers.

The road legal version of the 695 Assetto Corse track car is a Sleeper. 👍
Oh, wow. I lost track of time. Sorry about that!

So a cursory look at the standings...

Congrats, @Vic Reign93!
Vic Reign93: 2:39.860

Populuxe Cowboy: 2:42.863

SLP950: 2:44.898

I feel hungry...

Congrats, @Gotbeefboy564!

Lol lets try the...


Image courtesy of leopauldelr from the FM forums!
It's the 1975 Fiat X1/9!

This week's time trial will be ...

Error: Obelisk cannot remember the tracks! Rebooting obelisk_fh3.exe...

Okay, then. How about the Archways Meadow Circuit in Surfer's Paradise?

Good luck!

The great thing about the X1/9's lack of power is that you can drive it at 10/10ths all day long and no one will ever notice. Truly a fun little car with excellent handling. Good choice of track. Tight but with corners open enough to allow you to keep speeds up and lap times down. Sleeper.

I started a Martini livery for it and then sort of abandoned it. But now I'm thinking I didn't really abandon it. I just finished without realizing it.

I started a Martini livery for it and then sort of abandoned it. But now I'm thinking I didn't really abandon it. I just finished without realizing it.

Livery looks cool! I dig it man! I haven't driven this car stock yet so I'm curious as to how it'll do. I bought mine in the Auction House super cheap but it was already S1 class.
Been very busy lately, sadly missed out on a few. I'll try and post a time later! for now hopefully this picture I took is alright. From first impression this car seems to have potential considering it's class it may just be a sleeper, a run on the selected track will tell.
FIAT X1/9 - Bottle Rocket from Futures Past


Sweet handling balance when chasing lap times, but trying too hard gets the car out of its comfy stride. It doesn't become hazardous, it merely loses momentum, which is an issue with the modest engine output. Like many Italian classics, the engine has that lovely on-cam feeling, however in third you're only really there from 6k RPM to the redline in the region of 7,500.


When I first used this car, in a festival race, I wasn't too enamoured. It felt underpowered and too much of a handicap against its modest opposition. Running it in isolation against the clock, it felt a lot nicer to drive. If anything, I actually enjoyed it a great deal.


Finished in ever-so-seventies orange, I gave the Abarth wheels a touch of gunmetal attitude. Quite a fetching little wedge.

My time was 1:14.041 after ten laps. I didn't feel I could eke out much more, which is a reflection on my pace rather than the car. Overall, given my previous misgivings about the X1/9, it's a definite sleeper for the rivals driver.

Thought I'd give this a try this week.

This is the first time I've driven this car in FH3, it previously was one of the cars that I won in a wheelspin that I forgot about and let sit in my garage unused. This car's pretty fun to drive on the selected track. Feels very balanced and easy to drive hard thanks to it's low power. What seems to make or break your lap times IMO is how much you stay full throttle in the lap since it takes a while to get back to speed if you lose your momentum. Powerband seems pretty broad so luckily you can get away with not being on the redline the entire time. After about 15 or so laps I managed to pull a 1:11.011 with the X1/9. I just wasn't able to break into the region but I'm gonna give it a go later and see if I can.

Edit: after some more laps I've managed to pull a 1:10.632
Forza Horizon 3 2_2_2017 10_29_15 PM.png


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Thought I'd give this a try this week.

This is the first time I've driven this car in FH3, it previously was one of the cars that I won in a wheelspin that I forgot about and let sit in my garage unused. This car's pretty fun to drive on the selected track. Feels very balanced and easy to drive hard thanks to it's low power. What seems to make or break your lap times IMO is how much you stay full throttle in the lap since it takes a while to get back to speed if you lose your momentum. Powerband seems pretty broad so luckily you can get away with not being on the redline the entire time. After about 15 or so laps I managed to pull a 1:11.011 with the X1/9. I just wasn't able to break into the region but I'm gonna give it a go later and see if I can.

Edit: after some more laps I've managed to pull a 1:10.632
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A very respectable time there. 👍


(Clears throat and cracks knuckles)

It's my turn.. :D

Good evening loyal viewers, and welcome to a very special "Forza Horizon" episode of Wheeler Dealer! I'm your host, Mike Brewer, and I'm joined as always by my co-host, friend and master mechanic Edd China. We've set up shop in the Land Down "Undah" to seek out old, forgotten classic cars and trucks, bring 'em back to the workshop, set Edd loose fiddling with them, and then try to sell them on at a profit.
So, let's get on with it shall we? We decided to look for a car that is very nearly impossible to find in the UK that might be more readily available and therefore in our budget of $5000 USD. There were many potential makes and models but Edd and I decided for our first choice we would look for a mid '70s Fiat X1/9.
We'll get into some of the neat bits about the little Italian but for now let's try to find one.
Reviewing the local auction turned up lots of great examples, but they were too pricey and Edd's spanners weren't likely to get much use had we been able to afford one anyway.

We asked our "mate" Warren if he knew of any place else we could check and as luck would have it, Warren is a bit of a rare car blood hound. Within a few hours, we at a house in the country checking out a 1975 model.

We pushed the non-runner out into the sunlight so we could see how the Bertone-designed body had fared under the harsh Aussie climate.


To my delight, the powerboat inspired body was in great shape apart from some minor surface rust. A fresh battery and some petrol and surprisingly the plucky little thing popped and sputtered to life. I was ecstatic! Edd's gonna love this...

I decided to try and drive it back to the shop and as I was passing the train tracks that ever present in the outback, I wondered how many poor little Fiat's back home had been crushed and recycled into other kinds of things? Oh well, it's sunny and the little 128ci SOHC engine was purring so no time to fret now!

Edd was quite pleased with the overall condition of my find which was well and good, as an angry tall man is not someone you want to be in opposition of! As we opened all the various panels, boots and trunks Edd remarked it looked a bit like a rusty little insect. Oh ho Edd, don't insult it now!

Straight away Edd was all about getting the engine looked over, and after a few gaskets were replaced everything was given a good steam cleaning, and the engine bay looked good as new!

Next on the list was getting the body prepped for paint. After much sanding, a coat of primer was laid down, followed by a beautiful blue plus a surprise accent that I can't show you yet! Edd also tackled restoring the near mint interior. Don't you just love the classic style of the '70's interiors? I know I do!


I'm getting ahead of myself though! I told Edd from the get-go that I wanted to rip the cheeky little rascal around a local track, the Archways Meadow Circuit. We agreed it'd be best to do so before the paint and body work. I greatly enjoyed the car and track, but found I had to abuse it a little by cutting off road to turn a truly fast time. The suspension is fairly soft and the engine doesn't produce too much power so it was very manageable and I was able to put in a respectable 1:10.404

I had a blast on the track but let's jump back to the resto!

Edd has finished the car and my is it fun! The light weight, skinny tires, and mid engine design mean throwing the rear end out is easy, safe and can be done even at low speeds whilst staying in your lane!

Don't tell the Aussie Rozzies or the next owner what I did to the rear tires, alright?

Sadly though, our time came to a close as we listed the finished product on the local auction boards and sold it within minutes for double our total investment of $3000 USD. Not bad for a weekends work eh Mr. China?

I'll miss the X1/9, as it was a true sleeper, but I'm glad we were able to save it from "sleeping" in the weeds until it inevitably rusted away. Oh, and how about that fantastic blue paint and bronze wheels?

Well, that all for now, from me and Edd thanks for watching and tune in next week for more diamonds in the rough, rescued, restored and resold here on Wheeler Dealer!

Ahhh, the Fiat Icsunonove. There is so much I could write about this car! It's a semi-forgotten piece of Italian history - the perfect car for a public which was more concerned with terrorism and rising gas prices than it was with saving money that was going to devalue in months - thanks to double-digit inflation rates. Like Italodisco and Silvio Berlusconi it offers criminal levels of flamboyance and not much else, and even through we may not want to admit it in front of ze Germans, we love it exactly because of its outrageous attitude.

Originally intended to become a sporty model in the Autobianchi range (a role that would go on to be served by the equally excellent A112 Abarth instead), it was eventually noticed by Sua Maestà Gianni Agnelli instead... And immediately became the protagonist of a Cold War-esque spy story in which de Tomaso found out about the project and convinced Ford (which, back then, was locked in a losing battle against Turin for the hegemony of the European car market) to assist in developing a copycat prototype just to unveil it before Fiat, and steal its thunder.

The X1/9 both has humble - the engine, transmission and most of its running gear come from the 128's parts basket - and lofty - it shares its underpinnings with the Lancia friggin' Stratos - origins. Even today it looks like a supercar or a powerboat on wheels, but is a frugal, approachable car. It invented the "mid-engined, two-seater cheap sports vehicle" genre twelve years before Toyota created the MR2, but outlived the first generation of the MR by almost a year. And there is no middle ground when looking for a used X1/9 - it's either going to be a well-preserved car, or a survivor of years of hillclimbing and rallycross which has been chopped up and modified almost beyond recognition.

Ssooo, how does it drive?


Well, it's no Ferrari, no doubt about that. The 1.3 litre SOHC 128 engine isn't very powerful, and struggles with a narrow powerband which is worringly close to the redline. And the mix of stiff chassis (remember? Lancia Stratos stuff!) and suspensions which are a perfect metaphor for the Italian work ethic (remember? Fiat 128 stuff...) make for an interesting ride which will reward white-knucles, Brambilla-like driving with copious amounts of body roll and side slip - while at the same time scoffing at a gentler, more reasoned approach
Is it a bad thing? No, not really - for its PI ratio it's a very competitive and thorougly fun package, once you learn how to get the most out of it (a process which is, in itself, a blast). And hey, if you really need to go fast, it's very easy to turn it into a corner-tackling machine - the light weight means that achieving blistering acceleration is kid's play, and once you get the suspensions sorted, you have a pure-bred racecar which is easily adaptable to any situation the game may throw at you, from twisty gravel tracks to highway races.

Fiat's most successful sportscar's a sleeper which will entice you with its midget-supercar looks, low price and a high growth potential. Whether you are in the market for a fun ride, or the base on which to build the definitive leaderboard monster - the Icsunonove has plenty to offer.
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