A (very) amateur mechanic

I was on another Fiat website recently where a thread was asking what tools were included in their car’s toolkit, which got me thinking (having little else to do!)…

When I first became interested in cars most came with reasonably comprehensive quality tool sets (think Jaguar, MG etc), and most fastenings were Whitworth & BSF. Both used the same size spanners, albeit one size different. My spanner set consisted of Williams spanners, comfortable, well made & quite a thick profile.

Moving on and a change of allegiance to Rootes required a new spanner set in AF sizes. Rootes bean counters dictated that bolts in general be dropped one thread size smaller. I also found that the engineering, although pretty basic, was simple, logical & easy to work on with 4 spanners (3/8”, 7/16”, 1/2” & 9/16”) covering most fixings. Some special tools were needed for major work but a 1/2” drive Elora socket set proved to be a useful purchase.

Fast forward a few years, maturity(?) and available finances produced a Peugeot 205GTi. A magic flying machine but gone is the easy access to anything and the increasing use of mastics, single use plastic fastenings & clips. Hidden locations didn’t help & necessitated a set of removal tools.

Of course, a set of metric spanners was now needed together with On Board Diagnostic Readers & computers. It’s now becoming nigh on impossible to fix problems without needing a visit to the local dealer.
Now retired it’s back to the future & I’ve free time to indulge in a 1964 500D. Quite surprisingly the official toolkit comprises 2 open ended spanners, a wheel nut spanner, screwdriver, plug spanner, pliers, in its own plastic box I found to be perfectly adequate. A couple of BA spanners for the electrics & a test light cover the essentials. Obviously, life is easier with a few extra sockets for the more adventurous jobs.

Now I’ve learnt over the years that quality counts and you get what you pay for. I was disappointed to find that now I could afford Britool tools they had been sold off to Draper/Stanley eventually to become a 2nd string to ridiculously expensive Facom with a certain loss of quality. Searching the internet tool shops I’ve managed to buy the original n.o.s spanners I wanted and have never regretted the extra cost; after all combination spanners double as both open ended and rings and all the main sizes needed are 8, 10, 13, 15, 17 & 19mm. Add some 3/8” sockets and Bob’s yer uncle.

Once upon a time a bolt was just a bolt which fitted a certain size of spanner. Now we are confronted with an increasingly large range of fastenings including hexagonal, socket, spline, cross, Philips, Pozi, et al; all of which confusingly require a different spanner type.

Thank goodness for simplicity of FIAT 500’s for “a simple life”.

Derek Baty