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Ian T's 'never say never' car

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  • Ian T's 'never say never' car

    Well I said the grey one was the last Mk2 I would bring home. I wasn't lying, but then this happened...

    In short, it has some project value. Many will recognise it as Brian's Champion and it looks pretty much just how it did when it last came to Billing with the club. When he bought it, the car had a Safety Devices full roll cage fitted, but after enduring it for a while, Brian (rightly in my view) decided to remove it. That meant that a number of things had to be removed (trim etc) and replaced, also a number of bits need to be replaced (rear seat mountings for one).

    Sadly, Brian did a lot of the hard work but didn't get to finish and enjoy it. It has many of Brian's hallmarks too - shiny painted suspension parts, rust free shell and lovely clean engine bay. It has been off the road since at least 2010 though, the last MOT expired in June that year and Brian set out to replace the aged steel fuel lines (with nylon) and do a number of other jobs underneath while the bolts were coming out of the cage etc.

    Last weekend I went round and refitted the wheels, had a quick check round underneath (finding a perished-right-through fuelpipe between the pump and the damper) and removing a few bits that were likely to get in the way of moving it. The brakes are drained by the look of it (pedal inop) and the seats weren't fitted, so I bolted them in for safe transport. After replacing the perished hose, I connected a battery but it wouldn't start and it wasn't always obvious it had a crank pulse (ECU light goes out when a valid crank signal is received).

    I went back today with the trailer and really wanted to drive it on for loading, so set to... Tank to filter pipe perished at both ends, replaced. Fuel pump spade connectors loose, squeezed up a bit and refitted. Intermittent crank pulse, removed sensor, found the strain relief on the cable all crumbly so I removed it, refitted and wiggled it a bit. Old fuel (and not a lot of it), I added 3 gallons to dilute it with fresh. After all this time not running and with a compromised pipe underneath, the whole fuel sysyem was dry, so bypassing the fuel pump relay was to draw fuel to the rail (and bleed it).

    And then she started. Pretty tappy, but that's when I spotted the front pipe was disconnected from the mid section. Tightened that up and it fired up and ran pretty normally. Surprisingly well really, no hunting or missing. Tapping subsided quite a bit as the engine got warmer.

    Running out of daylight, TiMmY was driven onto the trailer, tied down and brought home.

    Job list as I see it today (in no particular order!):
    1) Replace all rubber fuel lines
    2) Investigate and recommission the service brake
    3) Replace ABS loom (some lines cut, I'll reinstate them)
    4) Secure all fuel, brake and ABS lines under the car to original clips
    5) Plug cage mounting points and seal.
    6) Spot weld rear seat mountings to floor and inner arches.
    7) Replace cambelt
    8) Refit all trim
    9) Tighten front tie rods
    10) Refit front anti-roll bar links
    11) Oil change (current oil is new, but...)
    12) Refit remaining removed parts under bonnet
    13) Replace rad fan thermostat switch
    14) Replace one front wheel bearing (I have a note from Brian, with a new bearing and drive flange).

    After that, I'll be off for an MOT and get polishing. My target is to have it turned around and in fine fettle by the end of spring (2017!). There isn't much more than a couple of weekends work here really, but I rarely find that much time at weekends these days, particularly at this time of the year.

    Attached Files
    Last edited by Ian T; 13-11-2016, 10:39 PM.
    See my project car HERE.

  • #2
    Love it Ian another stunning example, Well done Brian for keeping it so good. Cant wait to see it at the shows any idea where our summer event will be this year?
    1800 GTE turbo project!!


    • #3
      Originally posted by 1800turbogte View Post
      Love it Ian another stunning example, Well done Brian for keeping it so good. Cant wait to see it at the shows any idea where our summer event will be this year?
      Thanks Chris.

      I don't know where the summer event will be yet - I do know the VBOA was holding an Extraordinary General Meeting this month to go through the options and potentially select a site, so it looked like it was in hand. Steve or Ben probably know the answer or at least when the meeting is / was.

      See my project car HERE.


      • #4
        Nice buy Ian and super rare body kit!


        • #5
          Well done Ian keep it nice & looked after


          • #6
            I did wonder what happened to this car, I remember Brian taking it too a few shows. Good work saving it, it's good to know it's in good hands. Is this another keeper?

            I remember from when Brian had it that it was in stunning condition but then as as now I'm not sure of the bodykit!


            • #7
              I'm not sure about the long term plan really. The body kit is very rare, but perhaps something of a Marmite addition to the car. I have to say that it is in surprisingly good condition in the Mk2 weak areas and I have yet to find any corrosion.

              In conversation I was perhaps a little unsure about this car - the cage was always a step too far for me and I have always been a 'keep it looking standard' kinda guy, not sure that it would drive well on its bigger wheels for example. Brian's response was that it really was a good car and it drove as well as the grey one, but of course gave some opportunity to modify bits without doing it to the other car.

              For now I will concentrate on getting it carefully returned to the road, safe and tidy, then make my mind up based on space at home. I'm not sure how many got fitted with this kit in the UK, even the Quicksilver has slightly different (round) rear arches and Google doesn't return many results.

              It is on standard springs and dampers, so the ride height is still sensible, yet it has the Calibra equal length driveshaft conversion, Calibra front legs, either Cav or Vectra front brakes and (possibly) Cav V6 rear hubs and brakes, all making a matching 5 stud conversion. All the mechanical bits look sensible and remain pretty faithful to the originals, simply uprated.

              So you see, I am keeping an open mind.

              See my project car HERE.


              • #8
                Today I had an hour or so free, so I thought I'd take a closer look at the fuel pipes for general condition. When I moved the car home, I had to fit a piece of silicone pipe, of course unsuitable for fuel and I wouldn't have even temporarily tried it in the high pressure side of the pump. As it was, it did it's hob just fine, but the garage smelled of fuel and when I went up today it had swollen a bit and the outside was smelly (of petrol). Meanwhile, I had bought a metre of correct fuel pipe (11.5mm ID for tank to pump) and I fitted that this afternoon, at the same time renewing the short piece between the fuel filter and fuel damper and also the short piece between the filter and the solid pipe that routes around the underbody. On this car, Brian had begun replacing the steel pipes with nylon, which will now need the clips refitting to the bottom of the car.

                After priming the fuel pipes again until the air could no longer be heard passing through the fuel pressure regulator, I went to start the engine and it wouldn't even turn over. Good old cold weather - alarm remote battery was too cold to transmit the disarm code and the immobiliser was having none of it. A few seconds holding the remote battery in my hand to warm it up again sorted that and it started first turn of the key.

                What next? I'm not sure really - it's cooold outside and not much fun. I need to weld in the rear seat mounts and make a decision about how to treat the holes in the floor where the roll cage was previously bolted down. My gut feeling is that the best route would be to weld these holes up, which means the car needs to be at home first, or I need a big generator. This job will delay everything else pretty much, because the bolt locations are in the floor where the brake and fuel lines pass underneath and I can't finalise them until any welding or other rectification is complete.

                At the front end, I need to have a decent look at the grey car to see what the standard routing of the fuel pipes is at the front, up into the engine bay. At the moment, the new nylon lines are passed up inside the bay between the engine and tie rods, whereas my memory is they should come up against the bulkhead, then bend forward towards the rail from somewhere near the brake servo. On the V6, I brought them up the corner of the bay and behind the servo itself, which looked neat and avoided any possibility of chafing anywhere, but on this car I'll go for the standard routing if it is practical.

                While the brake system is currently inoperative (there isn't any fluid in the master cylinder reservoir) it doesn't look like any pipes are missing or in poor condition. I will have to inspect them more closely, check everything is tight and then fill and bleed the system to see what is what.

                A friend also came round while this was happening and witnessed the end of the fun before I went on to (I hope) rectify the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) fault on his friend's 11 plate Corsa. After resetting it, driving it a junction on the M25 and then running a Service Regen (high ish revs under Tech2 control with alarming smoke), the fault was cleared and the car apparently no worse for the experience. Next time, I suspect the answer is not to reset it first, but this one should stay fixed, providing it keeps getting some long runs.

                What have I learned about it? (recorded here for later reference)
                - Front suspension is Calibra front strut bottoms with standard Mk2 dampers and springs, Mk2 top mounts.
                - Rear beam is a powder coated mk3 Astra item, fitted with Cavalier V6 rear ABS hubs and standard Mk2 dampers and springs. 20161113_130240.jpg
                Last edited by Ian T; 22-11-2016, 11:14 PM.
                See my project car HERE.


                • #9
                  it seems fitting for you to own both, as you were good friends and be a completely trustworthy custodian of both vehicles !

                  a random picture the last time i saw it, which is now scarily nosing towards 10 years astra-mk2 southeast rolling road day


                  • #10
                    Thanks Darren. :-)

                    I remember that photo well. Mark T's blue 3.0 V6 on the left, next to it James's (then), but now your, silver GTE 16V, my grey 2.5 V6 near the middle, plus among them, Sipo's white LET-powered monster over towards the right of the centre. The Irmscher Champ as you spotted, then far right, Tony K's red 8v with Irmscher wheels.

                    I was looking for photos of it, actually any photos of Brian, but they are few and far between. I have a couple of Total Vauxhall articles where he made appearances, mostly Rolling Road events, but would like to lay my hands on as much material as I can, simply to keep with the cars.

                    Such a shame (IMO) that the cage was fitted to this car as it was bolted through the floor - the car wasn't rusty, so was a shame to drill and plate it there if not being used for track purposes. I expect it stiffened the car up nicely, but at what cost?

                    What I need now is some decent warm weather.

                    Last edited by Ian T; 20-11-2016, 03:50 PM.
                    See my project car HERE.


                    • #11
                      yeah i remember saying to him it was a shame about the cage on that actual day, wasnt any spread plates from memory so was quite intrusive for a "cosmetic" roll cage

                      (ps this was 2008 when i owned it) i remember brian bought a big bag of boxed "matchbox" type cars and handed them out like santa claus


                      • #12
                        That brings back memories.

                        I've not paid any attention to the floor really yet other than to see that it's rust free. The holes drilled looked like they were in thicker material than any of my previous Mk2s but certainly not what I would judge to be structurally significant metal in most places. I expect I will just weld them all up and that way it goes back to how it was before the cage. Just don't want to risk heat damage to the sill kit as it will be very few mm away from the nearest holes. Last thing I want to do is set fire to it!

                        See my project car HERE.


                        • #13
                          Trippy memories, I'm certain I was there but may have been a gap for me in mk2 ownership. J410 was definitely Darrens by then.


                          • #14
                            Look what I found in the lock up... So I brought it home for some love this weekend. I plan to take it to Bromley Pageant, last year it was the blue Elan Plus 2, the year before that was my old red Elan, which I sold that day to someone who walked up and made a good offer.
                            See my project car HERE.


                            • #15
                              Looking very nice indeed Ian. Although its on my list of shows to go to I've not yet managed to get along to the Bromley Pageant despite it being fairly local for me. Looking at the date its on 17th June which clashes with another show i'm already booked in to go to on the same day just the other side of Ashford.

                              Hope you have a good day at the Bromley show i'm sure the car will get plenty of attention.