The Birth of Cruella
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After finishing the restoration of my Triumph Herald, The dragon aka the wife felt she was being left out, but to match her personality she wanted something unusual. Being a dog lover, but not quite a 101, she wanted a car like Cruella Deville's. After several visits on e bay, a cry of ' I want that one' pierced our ear drums, so a Triumph based Spartan was purchased from Clacton.
An eventful drive home made me realise that the whole suspension needed to be replaced, this was done and the problem solved. After the dragons first drive, she said the pedals were too close, so
after a lot of head scratching, several cups of coffee, a cutting and welding solution was found, Removing the brake pedal plate and relocated to the left, but her dumpy feet still couldn’t cope and she refused to drive it any more. She still loved the car, so an unused ford based kit was found in Bury St Edmunds, mostly in boxes, so the birth of Cruella was now in progress. Unfortunately some parts were missing so another one, number 3 was purchased from Sunderland with the sole intention of breaking for spares.
I'm always being reminded the dragon wanted Cruella to be an automatic, a small detail I always seemed to forget, not sure whether it was selective hearing, or my age but she made me convert it!. I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to find a Ford automatic box. Every scrap yard I know was visited and many blank expressions were thrown my way with “Don't do any thing that old mate” trying to explain this to the dragon was a completely pointless task, and a total waste of time. Eventually a rumour of one was heard, and yes some rumours are true, so for the time being the dragon stopped breathing fire.
I was told the gear box was working fine when removed from a Ford Sierra. Cruella's engine and the gear box was removed and to fit an automatic box we had to move the gear box cross member as an automatic is longer and shorten the prop shaft, her replacement automatic box was fitted. Only first and second gears worked so the engine and box was taken out again and the gear box was then sent to a specialist. After a few days it was returned and refitted, no reverse so it had to be taken out again and go back to the specialist. When I got the bill, I realised how much I loved the dragon.
The wings were now ready to fit but the rubber seals were missing, I found out where I could get the seals but telling my friend Worzel, he looked at me and said why bother.
“To make it water tight” I said
“He looked at me and said mastic them”
I said to him “paint don’t stick to mastic”
“it does to mine” he said
So I told him “Do it”
Two days later he turned up with his special mastic and did a very good job. The wings now looked like part of the car car, no joints.
Looking at the car it seemed very low at the back, checking on the forum, I found that I wasn’t the only person to have this problem. Thinking about what other people had done and the mixed results and costs, I decided to make a box frame from scrape coz i'm tight for the top of the spring to sit in and it worked. How happy was I, no money spent, problem solved.
Now the dragon decided she didn’t want handles on the boot so a cable release was designed with a land rover door lock and bicycle brake cable .Hey presto cable release boot, only a week taken to solve that one.
One evening, I was asked where are you going tomorrow love, why I asked. I have just brought the seats on e bay. I then found out they were in Kettering, fortunately I was out that way delivering so I picked them up. The next problem was how do I fit ford puma seats into a Spartan. It was more simple then I was expecting all I did was remove the ford runners and lowered the height then re-welded the runners back to the seats,then we had a problem with the seatbelt anchorage as they made the seats to wide so sod it cut them off and mount the to the tunnel, sorted seats fitted lovely
After many changes of her mind the colour blue was decided upon, after an hour of going through a local garages paint swatches, Vauxhall cornflower blue was chosen. Ringing my paint supplier he said he could not do it as the code brought up a totally different colour. Dreading the next conversation I told the dragon and all I got was why not? It still rings in my ears to this day. The next day, she came home saying she liked the colour of a peugeot in the garage down the road so off I trot and with a little bit of grovelling I persuaded him to let me have the paint code and ordered it on the way home.
While all this was going on my son Chris who is a builder made all the panels for the interior, and the-blue vinyl arrived which I knew nothing about, the dragon beavered away covering everything, I mean everything. I kept moving so I didn’t turn blue. The car was now primed with etch primer on the alloy which reacted so had to be taken back and painted again. This time no reaction so this time a high build primer was put on, flattened off, the car painted and lacquered so the interior could now be fitted, which Chris and the dragon did a great job very quickly.
Now I realised we didn’t have any bumpers so a call to Worzel who runs a classic spares company with his brother, unearthed of choice a Triumph Dolomite or Vauxhall viva hc. On seeing the Viva bumpers, another cry of “ I want those ones” was heard and a deal was done.
The electrics was just a loom with no instructions. My friend martin had mentioned that he had been an auto electrician, so he got the job. At one point I thought martin was almost a cyborg as he always had a multi meter in his hands. Mostly this went well all the lights were working. The dragon brought a set of angel eye spot lamps. Martin said he would need a relay, so a trip down to Halfords and he had one. I’m a bit short of time today he said, but I will try and get it done. It was wired up and tried but they didn’t work. After half an hour of head scratching, panicking and a small amount of mickey taking from us he said he would come back later to finish off, as he had an appointment. Wozel pipes up “I bet he wired it wrong” this had been said before but martin was insistent he hadn’t. Wozel then said to my other son, Andrew get the instructions out of the bin, and lets have a go. So all the wires were pulled off and the job was started again. A miracle had happened we had light. When martin returned a look of disbelief was on his face and he wouldn’t believe we were right and he was wrong. The next evening Wozel who also organizes Norwich classic vehicle club fun day, was there when martin arrived and said that he would turn the 2012 show on the 3rd and 4th June into an Olympic themed event but it would not be fair on martin, a very blank look descended on his face, and Wozel said because your crap at the relay. Well the tears rolled down my face, two other people had to sit down or fall down and that’s the story how martin ' relay' Roberts got his nickname.
A tow bar kit came with the car but on fitting the ball was so close to the body work nothing could be hitched up, Wozel came up trumps again with longer bolts and spacers, another problem solved.
Funds were running low at this point so instead of the nice new alloys she wanted the old ones were stripped back and painted.
A call was then made to DVLA on how do I register cruella and I was told to MOT and insure it by using the donor cars vin number ,not the registration. So I booked in for a MOT I was a happy man. The MOT tester was not happy, and refused to test the car over the fact, that it had no number plates. A call to the DVLA and this was cleared up, however nearly all day I was there and finally with a list of advisories, I could of papered my front room with, it past but I suppose he was only covering himself in case it needed an SVA test. On returning from the MOT station, the windscreen wipers didn’t lay flat. I couldn’t figure it out, again Wozel came to the rescue. Leave it to me he said, about an hour later, what do you reckon, perfect I thought but said not bad mate that will do.
Now back to the DVLA, should only take take a couple of days I was told so I paid for the tax from the start of May but many heated phone calls and letters followed, they then decided they wanted to inspect it. An appointment was made, the officer looked at it for about two minutes and said fine not a problem I will sort it very soon. The car was then taxed from June, the day before Norwich classic vehicle show, great, but a further eight week wait for the log booked followed, and we managed to keep the donor cars number plates all we had to do was prove it was a brand new chassis. Easy? No problem I spoke to the previous owner who purchased the kit, confirmed the kit was new and never has been used, This was acceptable with the DVLA and hay presto and registered Spartan, So what was quoted 3 days turned into 13 weeks.
We realised on the way to the Norwich classic vehicle show that Cruella wasn’t going into top gear until it reached about 50mph, far to high I thought but I’m not taking it out again. I called the gear box man, he said bring it up when ever and we will have a look at it. Having no hood we had to wait, , as he keeps the cars outside over night.
Unfortunately we were unable to take it to the Newark show as it was damp and horrible here in Norfolk so we did not want to take the chance as we had no hood but fortunately the summer was here so we could use her on the good days. The weather forecast was our favourite programme or so it seemed. During the summer we used the car, and paid the price with high fuel consumption.
Living near a racing circuit, I had the opportunity to take cruella round .I took her up to 110mph ran and handled great, no vibrations.
We tried just about everywhere to get a hood and were told at the Newark show that they all have to be hand made. A call to a local trimmer, and he said no problem. Three weeks later the hood turned up, he is good but takes his time.
The roof was made and fitted
the gear box repaired
So how long did it take, spare time only with lots of help, 12 weeks. Then we got bored a total rebuild of a Triumph Herald convertible 10 weeks so what’s next!!!
My son Chris said what are you doing with the rest of that one, O no I thought, so I asked why. I wouldn’t mind doing it myself he said. So now he has it and it is progressing nicely. Full story to follow, will it make the Newark show? Turn up to find out
Coral 'The Dragon' Heaton would like to thank:
Les 'The grumpy old fart' Heaton “welding,mechanics,spraying”
Chris 'bob the builder' Heaton “ interior”
Andy 'Hos' Heaton “ mechanics”
Martin 'Relay' Roberts “auto electrician, valeting”
Lewis 'Wozel' Turner “wheels/tyres body preparation”
Mark ' Bling' Clark “chrome work, tuning”