When talking Strada, SFC pride of place must go to the 130TC Abarth...
Fiat’s second attempt to respond to the success of the Golf GTi
in one of their traditionally strong model areas. Fiat initially responded
to the Golf with a range of performance options in the Strada 105TC.
In 1983 the first of the later new body shape 2 litre Stradas arrived
in the UK.
In performance terms this 130TC Abarth immediately became the hottest
of the hot hatches. But could you live with it? And could your local
Fiat dealer keep up with it? The 130TC is the only eighties hot hatch
not to opt for fuel injection with their new engine management systems.
So more effort was always needed to keep them well tuned. Your family
relations were equally as unlikely to like the harsh ride - or lateral
‘g’ forces fast driving could generate. This car could only
become ‘cult’ to a performance crowd, and never a shopping
But you’d expect to be both shaken and stirred by a performance
car wouldn’t you?
It can carry the Abarth badges with pride – a true descendant
of the Abarth philosophy. In Europe its ‘cousin’ was the
125TC never officially marketed in the UK. Here we take a closer look
at the two Abarths – the 125TC Ritmo Abarth and the 130TC Strada
and 130TC History
Ritmo 125TC Abarth
During 1978 and ‘79, Abarth developed a class winning Ritmo for
the Tour of Italy. Using these as prototypes Abarth then modified the
Ritmo rear suspension, and uprated brake designs that were transferred
into the 125TC. Production began in the last months of 1981 and ceased
in 1983. But the car was not to be officially imported into the UK -
so we can't call it a Strada!
Documentation for the 125TC suggests that right hand drive versions
were prototyped with the intention of export. But the standard Strada
had been criticised by the UK motoring press - being dubbed ‘un-Italian’.
Its softer ride and heavy, chunky body did not find favour. And reports
at the time suggested Fiat UK chose to wait for the new shaped ‘Super
Strada’ hot hatch - the 130TC.
reason, the 125TC was not officially imported into the UK and the 125TCs
in the UK are all left-hand drive (as far as we know). The 3-door hatchback
had a 1995 cc twin cam engine (type AR1.000), Abarth badged Pirelli
‘One to One’ wheels (used on all the Abarth road salloons
then) and a mid-hatch rear spoiler. Its body shell was substantially
stiffened from standard and the interior was well equipped.
Here's a summary
of the 125 TC spec:
Engine 138 AR1.000 Twin Cam belt
4 cylinder in line, 1995cc, 9.45:1 compression
84mm bore x 90mm stroke
Output 125bhp DIN @ 5800rpm 124 ft/lbs @3600
Lubrication: rotary pump sump cap. 4.1kg radiator cooled
Coolant: pump, thermostat & electric booster fan cap 7.5li
Carburation 1x Weber 34 DMTR 51/250
Fuel Tank capacity 11 gals, electronic pump
Gearbox: 5 speed ZF all synchro, clutch: single dry plate
Final Drive Cylindrical screw, 14/50 ratio
Suspension Front: McPherson strut type, coil springs, with lower wishbones,
longitudinal tie rods
Rear: independent wishbones with transverse leaf spring & telescopic
Brakes Front: disc, single piston & swing arm caliper
Weight 980kg unladen
Wheels/tyres 14ins 185/60 HR Pirelli
Pirelli Plus One/Abarth badge wheels
Strada 130TC Abarth
It must have stung Fiat, so long the practiced manufacturer at putting
lots of power into a small car, when Volkswagen invented the Golf GTi.
Here was the one market segment they seemed to have so many alternative
models for (like the 127 GT, 128 Sport, 128 3P). Yet there was to be
no access to the huge numbers of Golf GTi's sold for Fiat.
The 1600cc 105TC was imported late into the UK, it simply lacked the
Golf’s’ pulling power – in all senses. So when Volkswagen
gave their updated second series Golf GTi more options and comforts,
Fiat went for all out performance and driveability. And we got the 130TC.
It was sold here between 1983 & ‘87. Just over 700 were officially
imported. The Abarth logo and rarity guaranteed this car’s classic
status from the outset. It was also the last production FIAT to be assembled
on a separate Abarth production line – the last of the true Abarths.
(Abarth were then to FIAT what Advanced Vehicle Operations were to Ford
UK, wholly owned but distinct).
Slightly lighter than the 125TC that it replaced, the 130TC also had
a stronger clutch and improved cam profiles giving it both better performance,
greater fuel economy and a significantly flatter torque curve.
Externally it is distinguished by expanses of black plastic trim, bumpers
with front driving lights and black wheel arch extensions. (All these
items are now in short supply.)
It is also the only performance Strada with transparent wind deflectors
on the front and tops of its door windows. These cut out wind whistle
from the front gutters at high speed. (The Strada ES – that’s
Energy Saving – also had ’anti drag’ deflectors but
they are a different shape.)
As with most Fiats the model number represents the power output - and
TC as always stands for ‘Twin Cam’.
The 130TC suspension is very similar to the 125TC - a heavy-duty version
of the standard Strada. I’d only note that the rear transverse
leaf arrangement works but consumes Koni Sport shock absorbers (in my
case) faster than any other car I’ve known. The rear lower wishbone
bushes also need to be regularly replaced for safety and enjoyment (every
Early 130TC imports had either two Weber or Solex side draught twin
carbs, later cars were exclusively Solex. Visually the main external
differences between the carbs are the red plastic trumpets of the Solex
(Weber having steel). If the air/fuel mixture remains poorly adjusted
or crank case pressures increase from worn piston rings and bores, you
may find the Solex trumpets blackened, blistered and even melted! Weber
carbs were offered on the Fiat spares list.
Some of the series 2 130TCs in SFC were retro fitted with the Weber
carbs (costing about £650). Solex steel trumpets were offered
by some carb specialists but exact copies have not been readily available
for some time. The spares situation with Weber carbs has always been
better and I would personally prefer them if only for the spares and
larger pool of tuning knowledge available.
Of course it’s the engine that makes the 130TC. Its 2-litre twin
cam represents the zenith of 20 years development by Fiat. Its cams
are the best production compromise between economy torque and power
of all the carbed twinks, its bottom end is as strong and robust as
they ever made.
The main problem is that, in my experience, the 130TC was beyond many
UK Fiat dealerships to maintain and keep well tuned. Likewise subsequent
generations of Injection & Engine Management nurtured enthusiasts
are unused and unwilling to invest the effort and money to keep these
cars in full tune. The 130TC needs a rolling road/ Weber specialist
if you were to avoid flatspots in the rev range and experience your
10-15% performance advantage over the Golf rapidly becoming negative!
The mark 2 or series 2 as some prefer from 1985 was a cosmetic update
with different wheels and interior cloth (now black with a red 5 bar
Fiat insignia pattern). The grill used was now the standard twin headlight
version of the Super Strada – (with a smooth plastic grill outside
of the headlights).
a summary of the 130TC spec…
Engine 138 AR2.000 Twin cam belt driven
4 cylinder in line, 1995cc, 9.4:1 compression
84mm bore x 90mm stroke
Output 130bhp DIN @ 5900rpm 130 ft/lbs @3600
Carburation 2x Weber 40 DCOE or Solex C40 ADDHE
Ignition Electronic Digiplex/ Marelli
Fuel Tank capacity 12.1 gals, electronic pump
Gearbox 5 speed ZF all sinchro, clutch: single dry plate
Final Drive Cylindrical helicoidal pair, 15/51 ratio
Suspension Front: McPherson strut type, coil springs, with lower arm,
anti roll bar & angled tie rods
Rear: independent strut type with transverse leaf spring & wishbone
Brakes Front: disc, single piston & swing arm caliper
Weight 950kg unladen
Wheels/tyres 14ins 185/60 Pirelli P6/P60
Series 1 Pirelli Plus One/Abarth badge wheels
Series 2 Cromadora/Abarth badge slotted alloy
130TC Buying Guide
Made without galvanised panels the Strada body shells are prone to rust
and flexing. Unlike the Unos, there were never large numbers of potential
low mileage donors around. Even by 1990 it was difficult to locate new
shells from anywhere in the world.
While a very good 130TC will fetch £4-5000, and really excellent
examples near their original list price, there are few left that approach
this sort of quality. Add to this their rather angular shape, and almost
total lack of external distinguishing features from the standard Stradas
– and the result is an underestimated, under-valued, rare classic.
At this age you should be budgeting for a rolling restoration. I’d
advise not to buy on a whim, or for a season. Panels are available through
the club and specialists – but you are unlikely to see any large
financial gains afterwards. They do make a good DIY restoration project
for their driving pleasure and performance, providing you check the
insurance premiums first and can arrange for the bodywork and general
maintenance. If this is your first restoration project, they are a bit
of a handful. (I'd recommend re -shelling an Uno Turbo as an easier
warm up exercise!)
Future increases in value will depend upon a change of heart within
the Abarth buying classic communities – who looked upon the numbers
of Abarths produced in this period with alarm and prejudice. Whether
the 130TC is perceived as an Abarth as opposed to whether it factually
is one is important. Time, I hope, will moderate the perceptions that
the only real Abarths were made before 1971 - before Fiat bought out
the original company. The 130TC is almost unheard of in the States too
– and that doesn’t help.
the Strada is in every way a thoroughbred Abarth.
Body – look at the car’s stance it should not be low at
the rear (sagging rear leaf spring). A full seam inspection is needed
from below – so get it on a professional garage ramp.
If the structural seams are rusting (lifting the under seal along the
seam) then the panels need replacing even if they are solid elsewhere.
Take someone who can cost this along. Here’s the Strada top ten
- anywhere under external plastic trim
- fuel tank, boot floor and seams
- outer panel at window above rear wheel arch (then suspect the rear
suspension turrets too)
- front inner wings, esp. below battery box & front turrets
- A posts/B posts especially around floor & inner sills
- Engine sub frame
- Windscreen scuttle (stone chips & clumsy screen changes)
- Floor at gear box & seat mounts
- Door frames - especially the rear hatch
- Sun roof surround (if fitted)
Interior – if it gets damp long enough, the roof lining will part
company from its backing, check this hasn’t begun… difficult
to glue back. Sit in the back seats and check for bulging & partial
detachment of the roof lining.
- Front seats & door cards the Recaro’s can look warn after
40k, the material is difficult to source, especially the later black
with red Fiat insignia cloth.
- Check to ensure plastic push fit parts are present.
- Check switch gear, switches and dash warning lights.
- Rev counter is electronically fed from the Engine Control Unit suspect
the Digiplex unit if its jumping around (non trivial and expensive a
good ECU box costs up to £300.) Don't let water get behind the
Digiplex unit - corrosion on the terminals is a common failure point.
- Check all electrics operation, dash warning lights & suspect the
earth points & loom
- Column controls and plastic items are difficult to source.
- Don’t expect main dealers to help or care. Budget for a rolling
road session annually with a Weber/ Solex specialist to get the best
performance. The accelerator cable is prone to stretching so check that
with the pedal pressed to the floor, the carb butterfly valves are fully
- Check for induction and exhaust leaks. Carbs are mounted on composite
blocks and the rubber cracks (every 30-40k miles). Replace with all
aluminum mounts and MISAB plates (don’t use the plastic spacer
and ‘o’ rings they always end up leaking). The vacuum servo
take off hose from the induction manifold needs to be good quality preferably
- Carb jet & gasket kits are still around but scarce
- The oil breather pipe blocks up every 80k (mesh filter) but much quicker
if the crank case is over pressurising. Check in the carb air box for
- Budget to replace all the suspension bushes – it’s only
half the car without new ones.
- Bushes need to be press fitted to the rear suspensions arms –
the arms can be badly weakened through corrosion too. Check bushes carefully
for seizures. Don’t rely on a MoT inspection spotting this one.
- Shock absorbers - Konis work well on this car if no Fiat shocker available
and they can be rebuilt by one of the UK Koni specialists. Leda no longer
list shock absorbers so they’ll be expensive. Rear shockers play
a big part in the dynamics of the rear suspension, as there are no coil
springs – check for wear, adjustables are a good idea.
- Rear leaf spring can be re-tempered, remember it is acting like a
beam axle and springs in other makes of hatchback so be careful to stay
close its original flex characteristics if re tempering. Note by how
much the spring has sagged, I'd suggest lowering the front coil springs
by the same amount (When new there was about 30mm clearance between
the top of the rear wheel arch and the top of the rear tyre.)
- Budget to replace the electrical ancillaries every 70,000 miles or
6 years of life.
Brakes – are basic but competent. Heavy use appears to deform
the alloy caliper bodies around their steel swing arm or piston bore.
There are three different variants of the front caliper, they all mount
the same bolt holes but their brake pads are different. take a photocopy
of the back plate with you … because the others don’t fit
yours! Bendix and Girling supplied calipers for Fiat. They are expensive
and rare enough to consider upgrading if you aren't looking for a concours
car. This design of calipers was also put on the rear of the Renault
Engine/ Box and Transmission
We’ve already discussed the likelihood of abuse to these cars
as they are cheap to buy, and quick yet expensive in time and money
to maintain well. The engine generates high torque – so it will
keep on going with some fairly major problems. Lumpy tickover can occur
for trivial and serious reasons. They DON’T do it if everything
is right! Test drive the car through all the gears past 5,600 rpm. At
around 4,700 revs all four trumpets on the carbs will ‘sing’
or ‘whistle’ - and together on the same note only when it’s
in proper tune.
Engines will happily run to 160,000 to 180,000 miles before re build
providing they are well maintained. Then top & bottom-of-bore wear
and piston ring breakage is usually involved. Before then the head and
valve seats will need overhaul, and before the head, the carburation
and fuel system, and oil cooler circuit. Check all of these.
The valves’ high lift comes very close to piston crowns, especially
on worn engines. So over revving or old cam belts will result in bent
valves. The sodium filled inlet valves are expensive too…
- Inspect the cams, cam box and oil filler cap. Black deposits on all
of them mean the oil has not been changed regularly enough - bad news.
- Check the air box. Extensive oil deposits in here means oil driven
up the breather pipe...
- Compression test for both bore and valve leakage. Anything below 180
psi across all four cylinders is doubtful below 170 psi there’s
a problem. A good engine will give 190 – 210 psi. The cylinders
should of course give similar pressures. A full engine re build will
cost from £1000 upwards – finding oversize pistons &
rings can be a challenge now.
- Fiat say change the cambelt at 35000mls, change it at 24 to 28000
instead, and don’t buy a cheaper one from the motor factors. Use
the Fiat cambelt.
the yellow belt cover, there should be no signs of belt particles when
you inspect. Change the cam belt as soon as you buy anyway.
- Don’t skimp on the head gasket either – cheap motor factor
ones won’t last. If the gasket blows have the head checked –
if skimmed flat make sure the chambers are the right volume too and
don’t have too much removed (re: piston/valve clearance)
The ZF gearbox is strong and well up to its task throughout the life
of the engine BUT every 70k miles the seals need replacing. If this
is not done and the box looses oil then expensive problems result. It
is known for the selector shafts to stick and select two gears at once.
Also the weakest part of the gearbox is probably its synchros. Check
if over-keen drivers have tried to force changes and beat the synchro
in third and fourth. Box re builds would start at £600 and go
to around £1200
The transmission is robust so there should be a supply of good second
hand ones still around if needed. Clutches are ok and fairly cheap.
Clutch cable problems are most likely due to hot spots by the engine
or a distorted attachment fork at the top of the pedal. It is less common
in the 130TC than with other Fiats.
Driving the 130TC
The 130TC gave the least amount of understeer I’ve experienced
from any production hatchback during the ‘80’s and ‘90’s.
It’s setup when new could best be described as on the understeer
side of neutral. The nearest comparison would be my 205 GTi, but this
was a much lighter and smaller car.
Tyre choice is critical. The slip angle and side wall performance from
the standard Pirelli P6/P60s seemed to give the car most of its understeer
– until it ‘cocked up’ its inside rear wheel at ‘the
limit’. I liked the feel of those tyres and their directional
responsiveness, but disliked their tendency to surrender loads of sidewall
support at around half tread life. The later Yoko 500 series gave less
feel but more grip and consistency throughout their tread life for me.
The car felt less ‘together’ with their extra grip though.
The main point is the 130TC’s impression is of rock-like solidity
while its tyres actually did most of the ’giving’. Choose
tyres carefully to eliminate understeer and retain feel. It doesn’t
suit wide wheels/tyres either.
The 130TC shoud have NO play on its steering when new or renewed (like
a Caterham 7). It’s bushes have little give anywhere. The brakes
really do stop if they are working well and a good one NEVER pulls to
either side on the flat under braking, turning or acceleration. (I’ve
heard some really guff excuses from mechanics, sellers and owners alike).
If it pulls wobbles or twitches then have it fixed!
The driving position is high and hard in the racing Recaros. The seat
has massive adjustment so long as you can sacrifice the rest of the
backseat leg room. Pedals are aligned for heal-toe action and you might
miss the slight seat offset from central straight ahead position.
All the car wants you to do is GO YES and YES AGAIN and MORE and YES
and YES MORE. Feedback is immense. Noises magnificent and informative.
Smile and Warp factors score 10 for the driver – but your elderly
back seat passenger will hate it for all the same reasons.
Whoever did this at Abarth is a master of his trade, a Mozart. His work
spoke to me from the very first instant I drove it. He talks to me down
the years still.
rev range130TC has three distinct stages of torque and does not need
to be 'red lined' to achieve its best acceleration figures - the last
700 revs don't appear to make much difference so I'd change up then.
I bought mine
for £8k new. Since then I’ve driven rally cars with four
times the power costing ten times as much and not once approached this
sort of experience. The computer designed and tested Japanese fire breathers
of today just don’t appear to have the right program for it. Driver
feedback is superb but without ‘500 megawatts per channel’
of an all out competition car. Try one of these twice and you’ll
end up hooked or hating it. As for the GTi lovers, sorry, no contest.
Hatch Comparison Specs for ‘83/’84 - UK
engine capacity (cc)
max power (DIN)
max torque (lbs/ft)
max speed (mph)
| 0-60 time (secs)
So we are looking
at the models just before the arrival of hot hatch turbo-charging in
the mid eighties. The 130TC's 2 litre engine delivers a lot more performance
than the others. The 130TC is let down by its weight. One of the areas
where the 130TC can be much improved is in weight saving but this
is expensive as the additional weight is in the main components - notably
the body shell, gearbox, drive train and suspension. The table shows
the Golf GTi has a 90kg advantage over the 130TC. The 130TC is also
45kg heavier than the 105TC.
a straight line or round corners, the fastest of the rest - the Golf
GTi - is significantly slower.
Numbers of UK Registrations
1168 Series 1
| 204 Series 1
381 Series 2
| 585 130TC
What makes the Abarths different?
The independent and world class Italian tuners Abarth were purchased
by Fiat Group in 1971. They were very successful at creating their own
brand of fast competition machinery from small engined small cars -
very often Fiats. When Fiat took them over, they still ran as a distinct
factory and car preparation premises into the mid 1980’s. In fact
with Fiat's rally investment in the 1970's, The Ritmo/ Strada Abarths
were the last Fiats to be designed and prepared in this way by Abarth.
After this point Abarth existed increasingly in name only with badged
products as Fiat Group rationalised their production and competition
Why isn’t the 105TC on this page?
It wasn’t an Abarth – see the Strada Ritmo model page. The
cars also differ mechanically. I know the distinction is a small one
but I’ll include the UK figures for both the UK Strada cars (105TC
and 130TC) on both pages.
It was late at night on the very twisty Fort William to Mallaig road.
It flashed past us with no hesitation. I think my father was more surprised
than I was – as he thought that this Colt Mirage Turbo was quicker
than most. Feelings of sympathy passed through me for my Mirage as I
tried to catch up with this thing. Straining the last gasp of boost
from the turbo I managed to get near enough to catch a glimpse of the
badges on its tail. Fiat Strada something. The shape entered my long
term car memory. I knew at that moment I had to have one. And seven
years later I did.
Eye contact was made. Each immediately knew the other’s intent.
18 miles of A road lay ahead to Aberdeen. A slight depression came over
me as I contemplated having to deal with thick traffic. More depression
as I wondered if my ’85 130tc could hold its own against a ’91
1.9 205 GTi. They were supposed to be very quick weren’t they?
He exited the roundabout with his foot welded to the floor. I worked
the car to stay in touch. The first few miles were fairly traffic free
and the Strada still kept him in its sights. We began to work as one.
The gear lever and clutch became one fluid rapid action. The 130tc was
beginning to enjoy the task, stirred to action by this city run-about
with the big engine… into 3rd on towards maximum revs, the “whistle”
could be heard clearly, quick change into 4th, “whistle”.
The 205 was getting bigger! I was feeling elated, listening to the Twin
Cam having probably more fun than I was, if that was possible. I was
impressed with his over-taking calculations. Like me he was safe. Will
you get by with certainty? Yes, do it… No. don’t.
12 miles gone, and the 130tc was now fully heated up. This is easy work
we thought. Might have crawled by on a race track, or if my girlfriend’s
8.5 stone wasn’t adding to the weight the Abarth engine had to
propel, but on this occasion I remained permanently in his rear view
mirror all the way to the city. Love that car!
Clubs and Advice
As the Fiat
Twin Cam Register we have often been guests of the Fiat
Ritmo TC Register of Holland and look forward to meeting them again
Willems has been providing enthusiastic spares sales and advice
from Emmer in Holland for longer than this clubs existed! Rare Abarth
Fiat and Lancia parts may just be available - including some second
• Desira Parts Force quote
your membership number for the club discount. Body panels, suspension
and mechanical items have been supplied to the club over many years.
Based in Norfolk, you are after the Fiat obsolete parts section. Try
the general parts guys on 01379 650131.
• Located within
the M25 (just) Recambio can
often help with OEM suppliers.
• In London
R Proietti Ltd and associated parts
and advice .
Barton Garage at Chipping Norton near Oxford. Abarth and 500/600
specialist with modifications and Abarth parts galore. Very much in
the Abarth tradition very capable. Also do a large catalogue for the
Moerenhout 'does' Abarths in a big way. And his 500/ 600 offerings
• Deep in the
heart of Detmold Germany is part of the Holtmann Niedergerke Group.
For the 500 and 600 they can be very useful indeed! There are second
hand spares available sometimes too. They should be on your shopping
list. H&N Online Shop
they are in the process of extending the online spares list here.
Local retail outlet is Gettingman & Niedergerke on +49 (0)5231/6179-0.
• Retail outlets
for H&N products also include Gettingman & Niedergerke a Detmold
Company (D 32758)
• Bielstein also
supply tuning and performance items for these cars. The Bielstein brothers
can still be seen occasionally 'pedaling' their race cars around - including
a 125! Bielstein products include very nice supportive reclining and
traditional seats worth a look. Website is www.bielstein.com
• Bielstein are
part of the Recambi Group - who are wholesale suppliers. Recambi will
probably only supply you direct with Abarth parts. You will need to
find the Bielstein part of the organisation - and the brothers who started
this excellent business. Telephone +49 (0)5066/3074. Email email@example.com
• Also Betacar
can provide advice and parts for the Stradas.
advice for Koni is now available near Silverstone (Glebe
Farm), and are your best bet for re building Koni shockers. Sportsline
Suspension is on The Konis suit this car but rears should be up
rated to sports spec level to help cope with the rear spring. They are
now the only Koni agent in the UK and are basically over run with work,
so completion times will be long.
can be given a drawing/dimensions of the required bush and will make
it for you. The front and rear lower arm bushes, and the engine stabiliser
bushes need to retain some flexibility, and this can also be selected.
Expect an 8 - 10 week delay when ordering specials.
• Bendix are now Australian
• Solex are
now Australian based but modern kits are stocked by Webcon agents in
the UK, and....
• Weber - Webcon
have now relaunched in the UK
• Brake calipers
- especially the front ones can distort. Fortunately Girling and Lockheed
made patterns under license. There are three types of front caliper,
(Girling Lockheed and Bendix in the UK) and early and late versions
of these too. So make sure you photocopy the pad back plate and get
the right ones.
engineering have moved to Bradford, but they are still a good starting
point for brakes, pipes, stays struts and bushes - and they are still
specialist Fiat and Alfa motor factors. I'll have to check if their
outlet in White Hart Lane still exists. Used to stock a range of tuning
International in Rochdale (for on line ordering) and Brakes
Int Ltd (for a closer look at their range) are a good bet for eighties
and nineties brakes - if Girling or Lockheed were involved in making
the original calipers. They provide an exchange service for many types
of Fiat calipers.
Engineering for wheel refurbishing prices start at about £30
per rim - North of M25 J21 on M1.
Wheels in Reading
after market parts supplier
• Sachs BOGE suspension site
• HR Springs handling components
• Power Alfa After market parts
• Body kits from Autotint Design
Tuning body kit retailers including Cadamuro and Novitech
• Power Fiat after market
offer tailored stainless steel exhausts
On Cam Timing:
anti roll bar bushes........ http://www.sfconline.org.uk/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=447
and improved handling.....