MAJOR RESTORATION ON SPARTAN AOP 47K
RESTORATION STARTED 17/05/10
A LIGHT HEARTED TRUE STORY
Special requirements: a very understanding wife, the heart of a lion, the patience of Job and of course the God given skills, as all work will be undertaken by myself.
“MAJOR HAPPENINGS ALONG THE WAY”.
1. BODYWORK AND ALL EXTERNAL TRIM ETC. PHASE 1.
Main problem on all fibreglass front and rear wings; gashes, bumps, chips and scratches, warts and all.
After much filling, sanding, blending and lapping it was as near perfect as possible ready for priming and painting.
2. PAINTING: Matching was the problem, a big problem, ain’t no Halfords here in Spain as you all know. What shade of white the Spartan is nobody knows, after trying can after can of dupi-colour we finally cracked it. Gaynor my wife getting a bit sick and tired of it all, picked a can up and said “here try this bloody one” and ‘hey bingo’ a perfect match. Dupi-colour code no: 0-0111.
After spraying followed by weeks of flatting back, compounding and colour polishing the whole of the bodywork looks the bis. or the dogs bollocks as they say in the trade.
3. THE FRONT BUMPER ASSEMBLY: Hells fire and flames, I can’t even start to tell you, it was hanging and dangling, part fitted with enough old bed iron to rebuild the Forth Bridge. I decided to junk everything and replicate a full new 1950s style assembly. I spent two weeks fighting a giant octopus coming up a thousand times for air until I achieved what I think matches the period, complete with an original AA and RAC badge.
4. THE REAR BUMPER ASSEMBLY: Nearly as bad as the front but so simple to put right with two angle brackets, now looks so correct complete with reflectors.
5. BONNET: This two piece assembly just would not fit correctly i.e. large gaps meeting bodywork, I made a large wooden former and re-formed both sections as close to bodywork as possible, after much delicate work I’ve reduced a 2inch gap to a 1/2inch gap, not perfect but a 1000 times better.
6. DOORS: Drivers door not to bad, passenger door big gaps again, another delicate operation to correct.
7. REAR BOOT AREA AND LID: “Man oh man” would it as hell shut or lock correctly. I spent a week cutting, shaping, trimming and fine adjusting until it fully closed correctly and both locks activated easily.
Another giant octopus job which nearly had me demented.
8. PETROL CAP AND SURROUNDING AREAS: Now look here, it’s a myth, no they didn’t kill jaws, he’s just chewed a big jagged hole in the bodywork at the nozzle entry area. I had to fully retrim this area with handmade polished aluminium plate and rubber seals, a very time consuming tricky job.
9. EXTERIOR ALUMINIUM TRIM/FASTNERS: No real problem with any of this but it’s only half the story. It was all pitted, miles and miles of pure aluminium extrusions and hundreds of fasteners, of course the lot had to come off, then cleaned, fine sanded, compounded autosold and polished to a mirror finish, then replaced.
This was a long soul searching process, it went on day after day, week after week, I nearly gave up at this point, facing that lot everyday, I just had to take a deep breath and get on with it.
10. ROADWHEELS/TYRES: This Spartan has all genuine Ford RS Cosworth Dogleg Mag Wheels fitted, they are probably worth more than the car, don’t know how they came about, it was a marathon job fully refurbishing them back to as new, also fitted a new pair of fat rubber to the front
SUMMARY ON COMPLETION OF PHASE 1
Well that’s it, after 6 weeks, 7 days a week and 300hrs the full exterior is complete. The main letdown on all areas was the fine detailing or lack of it.
Now this was not Mikes fault (the original builder), after building and using this Spartan as an everyday transport for a large number of years he passed it on. This was the Spartans downfall, a lot of unskilled work was half carried out by a number of owners, then the fatal happened, as I understand it was dumped under a leaky old tarpaulin cover for years, the worst possible thing you can do to a car in damp old Britain.
Luckily Mike rescued the Spartan and had it shipped to sunny Spain, good on you Mike for saving this great old car.
The full restoration cost on Phase 1 was only about 200 Euros max, this included a nice pair of new front tyres, it was all labour intensive, about 6000 Euros worth, the full exterior is bordering on concours condition now and looks the part.
PHASE 2 THE INTERIOR AND TRIM.
This is the Spartans biggest letdown, the seats, the dashboard (this is new) all the trim and fasteners, the wiring etc, etc.
It reminds me of a fantastic hamburger I once purchased in Calpe, I asked the big German man what he was putting in it, reply “every F...ing thing” that said it all, here goes.
11. THE SEATS: Man alive, they were removed direct from a 1970s scruffy old builders van. How could anybody do this. ‘Easy solution as follows’.
Myself and Gaynor scowered the local breakers yards (I took Gaynor for the Spanish lingo) after many visits we came across this magnificent pair of Recaro black leather sports seats, unmarked as new, a find in a million, lucky boy.
With 8 small hand fabricated plates they fitted in as though they had always belonged there ‘wow’.
12. THE DASHBOARD: This is a beautiful new walnut dash which has been worked on by a tree feller with his giant chainsaw, or has jaws resurfaced again, now Gaynor has a theory that this Spartan was once an aluminium and fibreglass fishing boat, I’m wondering myself.
Anyway, with much fine sanding and a furniture restoring kit along with clear nail lacquer this fine looking dash is as good as new again.
13. VINYL TRIM AND FASTENERS: I didn’t have to take this off, it was already hanging off due to the damp in Britain.
Everything had to come off, including dozens of once bright fasteners and then restored.
The re glued, re fastened and polished, it all looks fair dinkum now, it will have to do.
14. EXPOSED DOOR LOCKS: Minor little things but took 3 days to remove 4 layers of paint, underneath was a nice bright polished metal finish. I can’t understand why they had been painted, but that’s how it goes, 3 days, 5 days, 1 week spent on minor little items, it just goes on and on.
15. CARPETS: Black is the colour, thick clingy pile is the texture, you guessed it, a white feral cat has taken up residence, what a bloody mess, no damage but man oh man ‘cat hairs’ millions of them.
It took me 4 days to strip out, industrial hoover, vacuum, shampoo, dry and replace them all, what a job. Still some left in you just can’t remove them all.
16. UNDER DASH WIRING: The best till last, yes he’s back, the octopus, Paul’s his name, he’s just opened Pandora’s box, only he’s grown another thousand tentacles, dingling and dangling, all colours, see you all in a week or two.
SUMMARY ON COMPLETION OF PHASE 2.
Full interior looks the bis, those magnificent Recaro seats take your eyes away from bits and bobs, 2 weeks = 100hrs.
PHASE 3 FULL UNDERSIDE/SUSPENSION; How do we start on this long forgotten, out of sight area of a car, often neglected, never cleaned, caked with grime, mud, oil, grease and loose black kack.
I hate this part but I intend to do a full concours refurbish of all parts, here goes.
17 FRONT SUSPENSION/STEERING; The black kack man has been here big style, the nice new light blue Monroe shocks look like a zebra half coated with tetraseal. Off they came, every nut, bolt, bracket and member was covered in the stuff.
I just had to remove every square inch of it, lo and behold everything under this kack was brand new. I just spent weeks on this area, repainted every part with black gloss hammerite, reclaimed every nut and bolt, greased them all, refitted the now clean new shocks and checked everything.
It now all looks better than new and very detailed.
18 REAR SUSPENSION/AXLE; As per the front but not so muck work.
Again it now all looks better than new and detailed.
19 MAIN CHASSIS/FLOORPAN; The main event, my main fear but I need not have worried, to my amazement after spending 2 weeks scraping, wire brushing, sanding and cleaning this area was in perfect rust free condition. What a tribute to Mike the original builder, I’ve never seen so much rust protection, not forgetting the Spartan has seen 40yrs worth of British winters and road salt.
After preparing all I had to do was repaint the whole lot with black Hammerite gloss paint.
20 PROPSHAFT/GEARBOX/ENGINE SUMP; All in good nick, just spent days removing paint, grease and oil, then repainted the whole lot, easy eh?
SUMMARY ON COMPLETION OF PHASE 3
All sounded easy, not the case, it took 6 weeks = 300hrs of backbreaking, neckache, skinned knuckles, contortionist hard work to achieve the finish.
PHASE 4 ENGINE BAY/EXHAUST;
You know that BP Mexico oil spill, I think it originated here, does anybody know where I can purchase a few gallon of gunk? I can’t explain how bad this area is, yet everything works perfectly, what has happened here Mike? It’s been out to sea, you’ve been out fishing in the med. How the hell am I going to detail this lot, I know I’ll just strip the lot out and start afresh, easy peasy.
21 ENGINE/ENGINE BAY/ALL REMOVABLE PARTS; that’s exactly what I did, all I was left with was an engine block.
FIRST HORROR; Every internal area within the cooling system had turned into a wobbly hard jelly, the water as well, I’ve never seen anything like it, this must have occurred when Mike marinized the engine, possibly an octopus had squirmed up the exhaust and dissolved.
SECOND HORROR; I now know how the oil slick developed. The rockerbox cover and gasket just lifted off, oil must have been spraying round for years, and also the dipstick entry hose was loose, dribbling oil all over.
WHAT’S THIS a maze of wiring with open ends, other wiring just dingling and dangling, oh my god, to cut a long story short I just spent the next 4 weeks putting everything right, cleaning, refurbishing all parts, painting and detailing.
22 EXHAUST SYSTEMS; Not much to do hear, just a weeks work cleaning, sanding, painting with high temp silver and adjusting hangers but I just had to install another dummy exhaust system, this makes the rear end look spot on. This was purchased from Carrefour for 10euros.
SUMMARY ON COMPLETION OF PHASE 4
Well I think the engine bay looks ok, clean and bright with no oil leaks, it’s fully detailed with what I had to work with. I purchased no new parts, what came out went back in. 4 weeks = 150hrs.
PHASE 5 MECHANICAL;
Mike had already carried out a major amount of mechanical restoration prior to me acquiring the Spartan, so his work is included in this section, along with my items.
23 BRAKING SYSTEM;
1 Both front discs skimmed and refurbished
2 Fully reconditioned callipers fitted
3 New set of front disc pads fitted
4 New pair of rear brake drums fitted
5 New set of rear brake shoes fitted
6 New set of rear brake pistons fitted
7 New handbrake cables fitted
8 New brake hoses fitted all round
9 New rust resistant fluid lines fitted all round
10New seals fitted to master cylinder
Note: The full braking system is now ‘as new’ all round
24 FRONT SUSPENSION/STEERING;
1 Pair of new Monroe gas shocks fitted
2 New pair of front proprods fitted on tie bars
25 REAR AXLE/SUSPENSION/PROP SHAFTS;
1 Pair of new Monroe gas shocks fitted
2 Checked axle hypoid oil level (ok)
3 Greased universal joints on axle
1 Rectified bad oil leak on casing joint bolt
2 Changed oil to hypoid 75/90 along with slick 50 additive
3 Checked clutch adjustment (ok)
1 Set inlet/exhaust tappets correctly to 16/22th
2 Changed engine oil to Castrol GTX 20/50
3 Changed oil filter
4 Fully degreased engine exterior
5 Remove fuel tank, repair, repaint and reinstall
6 Fit new in line fuel filter
7 Fit new air intake filter to carb
8 Fit 4 new spark plugs and gap 25th
9 Fit new distributer cap
10Check gap on points (ok) 25th as new
Note Engine starts first time, runs fine and idles correctly, with no oil leaks (all new gaskets fitted).
28 COOLING SYSTEM;
1 Remove full system (everything) and bin most of it
2 Remove heating system and bin everything
3 Flush every part for hours on end to remove ‘jelly’
4 Refurbish radiator and thermostat housing
5 Check thermostat opens at 88c (ok)
6 Check fanbelt condition (ok) as new
7 Renew top and bottom hoses on radiator
8 Fit a recirc system on removed heater
9 Reinstall fully refurbished cooling system
Note The cooling system was run up to maximise temp, left ticking over for 30 minutes with no over heating.
29 OTHER WORK;
1 Fit two new left hand drive headlights
2 Fit two new front tyres
3 Repair sticking passenger side seatbelt
30 NON URGENT JOBS STILL TO DO IN 2011
1 Refurbish side screens (no damage on them)
2 Fit hood (this looks in very good condition)
3 Purchase and fit spare wheel to boot lid (this was missing)
4 Fully carpet boot out (non fitted from new)
5 Purchase and fit door mirrors (non fitted from new)
SUMMARY ON COMPLETION OF PHASE 6
Well everything looks safe and sound, I’ve been through every single item with a fine toothcomb, and expect the Spartan to run perfectly for the next few years with normal servicing. Mechanical work 5 weeks = 250hrs.
The Spartan is on the long, rocky, expensive road to becoming an historic registered Spanish car. Ron assisted me with a Certifico Que Examinando (thanks). A Spanish engineer is coming to my house 22/12/10 to give it a full onceover, Industria is investigating what it is (eh a Spartan?) Then an ITV. Then the registration, then the suma, I just want to drive.
After one year and 1100hrs I’m all in, I just want the wind in my hair.
John & Gaynor's Spartan in Spain
Just a little story on our Fantastic 1971 Spartan AOP 47K and our life in sunny Spain.
We acquired the Spartan in early 2010 from it’s original builder Mike Pearce, it was built in 1980 from a Spartan chassis and a 1971 Ford Cortina Mk111. The engine is a Ford 1600cc Kent Crossflow. The Spartan has kept the original Cortina registration AOP 47K.
Mike ran the Spartan as an everyday transport for a large number of years, and then passed it on to a friend, who then passed it again, this is when the problems started. I understand it was parked under the dreaded leaky tarpaulin for a long time, enough said, damage done. So any of you Spartan owners beware, take the cover off once a week let the air in and start the engine or your wife will pester you to scrap your motor.
Luckily Mike rescued the Spartan and had it shipped to sunny Spain, carried out some major mechanical work, had a hip replaced, and then passed the Spartan on to me for completion. Our Spartan story now begins, will we ever have the time and guts to finish it.
Our intention is a full restoration to contours standard with the aim of using the Spartan 52 weeks a year. We are members of the local Classic Car Club and Gaynor is Club Secretary.
As you will have gathered by now the Spartan needed intensive care from top to tail, every square inch has a horror story to tell, I’ve no money so every item will have to be refurbished by myself with the bare minimum of purchases as possible.
I can’t possibly note down the full itemised restoration as it will fill 8 pages but if any members want a copy of this give me a call and I will post it for you, if nothing else you will have a good old giggle.
It was the fine detailing or lack of it, one year and 1100hrs of it, yes backache, neckache, headache, heartache and gashed knuckles, the bloody lot, not to mention paint fumes and thinner burns, man I was in a mess after 1100hrs, it was me who needed a full refurb. No more restoration for me, after 50yrs as a semi pro I’ve had enough.
Anyway the Spartan is completed, magnifico, W.A.P.P.A., admired, concours, I know every square inch and I love her or him (not sure).
My only main purchases were, one pair of front tyres, one pair of chrome number plate holders, chrome steel/aluminium sections and paint(plenty of it) plus a full engine service kit, cost on full refurb £500, all I want to do is drive “another story”.
“Another story continued”. The dreaded, long, rocky, very expensive road transferring the Spartan from UK plates onto Spanish historic plates, you have to have a lawyer, involve the police, sanction from a detailed engineers report (“Eh” a Spartan). The list goes on and on, a very long process which can drive you insane. You lot be very grateful of the D.V.L.A. you are all spoilt.
Will keep you all informed (if I’m not in a straight jacket) on final progress.
John & Gaynor.
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