One of the aspects that made this part of the build pretty quick was the knowledge that we would be replacing a lot of the bits, so little care was needed. This soon became apparent when it came to removing the panels. The easiest way of taking these off was to chisel the heads off the rivets that held them in place, and simply peel the panels off the chassis. It ain’t pretty and you have to be careful of sharp edges, but it is quick! By the end of the first weekends work we had an almost completely bare chassis, bar a few interior tunnel panels and the rear section.
It was only when we had removed these panels that we could see the true extent of the corrosion damage to our car. The most obvious place was around the side panels, where the pedal box meets the side skin. This is a known dirt and moisture trap, and it was evident that this area often stayed damp long after the rest of the car had dried out after a wet run. In some places the aluminium had completely dissolved away. Surprisingly, although the powder coat had often completely peeled away, the actual steel of the chassis was not as rusty as I had expected. A few of the smaller bracing tubes were perhaps in need of replacement in localised trouble spots, but generally the main chassis only showed minimal surface rust, which would clean up ok once the chassis had been sandblasted at Arch.
All that was left was the rear panel, pedal box, the tunnel panels, a few bits like gearbox mount, handbrake and the odd nut, bolt and light fitting.
We cracked on with the delicate chiselling and the pile outside the garage gradually grew!
Elsewhere the damage was less extensive, but everything was tatty. Wishbones and radius arms would need at the least a good blasting, at worse replacing. In fact it soon became apparent that we would end up replacing a lot of components when we rebuilt the car. This was partly because some were too far gone, but partly because it would be the ‘time to do it.’ Certain parts of the car would only be worked on at the total rebuild stage, so we needed to make decisions on what we would change, upgrade or leave. I can assure you that whatever you initially plan to do, and whatever budget you set yourself – double it – at least! As we found out later on in the story, once you have a nearly new chassis sitting in front of you, it becomes almost impossible to put ‘old’ and ‘dirty’ components back onto the car – upgraditis hits bad….but that’s for later!!
Wednesday was the big day, and after Mark had kindly loaded the chassis on the trailer, we were off…
This process is a great way to learn about how these cars are constructed – you see parts of the chassis that are normally well hidden from view. You also realise how many rivets are involved, particularly around the tunnel area. You notice all sorts of little details – on our car it was clear that when it had been first built, someone at the factory was not happy with the handbrake position – it had been cut out and re-welded into position on the tunnel top a few inches further forward. This would seem to confirm that our car was also perhaps the first fitted with the handbrake in this position, having been moved from the passenger footwell.
Taking the car apart was a team effort and Tessa was more than happy to lend a hand. We both enjoy the car and it felt nice knowing that we were going to revitalise her and make her good for another 10 years and 100,000 miles – (yes, that’s the car, not Tessa!) Of course none of this would have been possible without Marks help, both in organising the gift, and generously donating both his garage space and his time, and the incredible generosity of all our friends and acquaintances from with in this marvellous Club….