Build Your Own Car – The Saga Continues

I have to say that when I lusted after an MG TF and someone had said to me “Why don’t you build your own car”, I would have thought they were crazy. Although both my father and brother were engineers, I was to put it mildy, useless. I was hopeless at school in both woodwork and metalwork. Give me a piece of wood and some tools and you would end up with a pile of sawdust and shavings. Give me some metal and tools and you would end up with a small pile of swarf and scrap.

Back to the story. From what you have read so far, you might be forgiven for thinking that this is all going rather well and the progress is quick. Wrong!! The build of the Gentry continued over two years, each week doing a little bit more.

Various brackets had to be fabricated, the brake and clutch pedals needed to be modified,, bumper irons were made. I seem to remember the body being on and off the chassis several times. One of the biggest challenges was finding an exhaust system that would fit. At a rally, I managed to find a complete system for a Bond 2 litre which was brand new and with very little modification was persuaded to fit. Another problem was the cooling system. I mentioned before that it used a Morris marina radiator and a Triumph Spitfire header tank. The header tank was required to get the water above the engine so that I would get a decent flow and the engine wouldn’t overheat. With this combination, it was impossible to get standard hoses to fit, so I went to a local motor factors and rummaged through their odds and ends hose box. I took away a selection of the correct bore and cobbled together the system, also using bits of copper pipe and some convaluted hose. All seemed fine and the engine stayed at the correct temperature.

Wiring was not too bad as I could use the original loom that came from the Bond with a bit of modification. The instrument panel used all of the original instruments, but the speedo had to be re-calibrated to match the GT6 diff.

Straps had to be made to hold the Spitfire petrol tank, but it fitted beautifully. Initially I used the seats from the bond, but had to modify the sub-frames to fit them.

The windscreen was fitted using the very nice cast alloy brackets that were supplied with the kit. Fitting the wipers was difficult. Getting the motor in exactly the right position and cutting down the rack to the correct length so the wipers wiped the screen and not the bonnet!!

All of the trim was removed from the car, along with the windscreen and was then taken on a trailer to a bodyshop to be sprayed. I had thought about the colour for a long time and had decided on Old English White, as far as I was concerned the classic colour for the TF. I seem to remember that the paint was a two part mix, as the bodyshop didn’t think it was a great idea to spray with cellulose and then bake the glass fibre body in the oven. The car was then re assembled with no interior finishing done and the old Triumph steel wheels. I was saving the wires to fit once I had done the interior trim.
By now, my other half was getting fed up with me spending so much time on it and said you’ve played with it long enough. Get it on the road.

So, I bit the bullet and booked it in for the MOT (UK road worthiness test). This was before you had to have an SVA (Single Vehicle Approval) test. The MOT was far less stringent. I set off for the test, with my other half and my boss following behind. The car drove like a dream, the only thing I didn’t like was the ride was a bit on the hard side and the rear end looked too high off the road. More about this to follow.

Next instalment, the MOT.
Meanwhile, why not have a, or check out Ebay to see what cars are available.
Are you looking for kit car or special insurance? These folks are specialists.

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