Build Your Own Car – Rear Suspension & Trimming

So the Gentry was finally on the road. I proved that it is possible to build your own car.

Although she was now legal, she was still not finished. Various bits of chrome needed to be re-done, the rear suspension needed sorting out and the wire wheels were still waiting to bit fitted. Below are a couple of pictures before these things were done.

Before the chrome Another view

Sorting out the rear suspension was a priority as the ride was putting it mildly, somewhat uncomfortable!! The rear suspension on all of the Triumph Herald based cars is somewhat unusual. It is a weird form of independent suspension, but unlike most IR, instead of having separate coil springs and dampers it has a tranverse leaf spring. Anyone who has cornered any of this range of Triumph cars at speed will tell you that it is to say the least exciting. It isn’t like any other car I have driven. It will stick to the road like glue, no sign of the backend sliding, so you can’t get it to drift like other cars. Then, all of a sudden the rear wheel will tuck under and you completely lose control. I did this in a Spitfire I owned while I was going rather quickly round a roundabout. The backend let go and I ended up with the car facing the wrong way. Fortunately it was early morning, so there weren’t too many people about and there was no major harm done apart from my wounded pride. Back to the suspension of the Gentry.

In the build instructions it was suggested that from a Vitesse spring which I seem to remember had twelve leaves you should remove three of them. They also said that it should be flattened by about one and a half inches. I took it to a local blacksmith and had this done, but the rear still sat very high and the ride was hard. I then removed two more leaves re-fitted the spring and took the car out for a test drive. The difference was amazing. A more comfortable ride and the ride height now looked OK. The old steel wheels were taken off and replaced with the re-furbished wire wheels. It was starting to look more like the MG TF.

The interior trim was next. The original modified Herald seats were replaced with new ones in a red leatherette. I recall the company that made them were called Cobra. All of the interior paneling was covered with a matching leatherette. She was starting to look great. I had also purchased a hood and sidescreen kit from RMB so that she could be used in inclement weather!!

Below are some pictures taken by a friend of mine, Rob Large on Ashdown forest when she was finally complete. I think anyone would agree that the Gentry is a very pretty car and is and excellent way of re-cycling a donor that has seen better days.

The completed Genry 1 The completed Genry 2 The completed Genry 3 The completed Gentry 4

I ran her for about two years, until finances dictated that I had to sell her. I had a great time building and driving her and was sad to see her go. I would love to know what happened to her and where she is now, if she is still around. I believe that the person who bought her from me fitted his own personalised number, but I have no idea what it was.

Next epsiode, the Locost!!

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