Friday, 12 February 2016

Zach's Zero Mk2 - The Beginning...again

Having finally built up the courage to start Project V6, the Zero kinda needs preparing to reassemble the thing. First of all, having tried to save time/money during the original build, I decided the hub carriers should now be cleaned up and painted. Keeping it simple I wire brushed them all and coated with Hammerite Smooth Black. No need to be fancy or splash out on proper powder coating, just something to tidy it up and the smooth paint covers any cleaning imperfections!

Having taken an evening to clean and paint them, I realised how much better they looked and how simple it was. Kicking myself for leaving it so long, would 100% recommend doing it as one of the initial things. As it turned out, I had done this a lot and a variety of objects would look better with a bit of TLC and painting.

The standard cam cover paint job (I've done a few of these now on my various MX5s...)

Even the engine block got a lick of paint! Black would have hidden the oil leaks well, however the car is not subtle so why should the paint job?

For those perfectionists....don't worry, that rusty pulley is coming off!

Having tarted up the old and new components, the next stage is making sure the car is ready to accept the slightly wider V6. I have measured and measured however there is nothing like dropping the engine in to have a look and get a better view of where it's final position could be. It had already been suggested (as expected) that the two diagonal tubes in the engine bay would probably be too narrow to accommodate the wider V6.

 I find this image perfectly sums up the reasoning for the total rebuild during the engine swap. The wiring was bugging me initially and obviously being my first venture into the kit car world, I had learnt and improved my skills as I went. This meant early stages could be done better and other areas improved.

Anyway, ripped out the wiring and in with the angle grinder! The result....a much more spacious engine bay.

Obviously, nothing on this chassis is just for show. Every bar, every rail has a purpose. With taking out these bars, the rigidity of the chassis has been weakened (Motorsport Engineering Degree coming in handy every now and then!). To ensure continued triangulation of the chassis, I essentially reduced the length and welded in some new tighter bars that reached the sides of the engine bay much quicker.

One thing I did notice from the old bar was some very clear clashing from the old engine! I don't know which part of the engine this was but it was enough to remove the powder coating. This adds to the GBS argument of running individual throttle bodies rather than continuing with the old intake manifold from the MX5. Either way, some careful attention into what the issue was and spacing accordingly would probably resolve this.

As some of you may know, this post definitely hasn't been here since February 2016. I have just got slack with updating things as I go with work being very busy and my evenings/weekends are spent on the car rather than typing up. However as of writing I have a lot to catch up on which hopefully now, I will be able to do.....only 8 months late....but forget that, I did my time hitting deadlines at Uni....and this project definitely didn't hit any of my deadlines! Check back soon! Things are about to get interesting....if I keep the posts coming......................................

Friday, 15 January 2016

Lets Strip........Some More Cars.

So here we go yet again! I've been itching to go on this next stage for a long time but with a variety of circumstance changes it got nearly a year! Along with this blog getting somewhat neglected too, especially with the back dating that's about to occur!
Cracking on then, the first MX6 was selected for sacrifice to the car Gods and a brutal engine removal took place. I use the word brutal as my plans with the engine are simple. New wiring, new exhaust manifolds, new mounts. Wiring cut sawn through leaving plugs and usable lengths of wire, the exhaust seen off by the angry grinder and engine pretty much ripped out with the engine crane.

I have previously seen on various forums, there is a rumour the V6 is the same weight as the 1.8 MX5 engine and some bare weights that suggest it could even be lighter (now that would be impressive) however the increase in potential power (N/A then maybe with Forced Induction) completely outweigh (pun intended) any increase in weight. As you can see here, the 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder engines side by side give a rough representation of what spacing I should be expecting when I finally get it fitted.

I have found that with 4 engine mounts, various cross bracing and bracketry, opting for just 3 mounts in the Zero may be somewhat optimistic! Will have to look into this come trial fitments and engine mount mock ups. Last thing I want is a record engine removal time as it ejects itself from the car! This led to a thorough investigation and having seen some V8 swaps with just 2 mounts as well, I feel a little more at ease with the idea of using two mounts. Needless to say the first few drives and months will be tender and constantly assessed to ensure no sudden failure is likely to occur.

Anyhow, the day had finally come where the Zero would need to be disassembled and prepared for it's transplant. Its had enough time getting to know the engine as they have been sat side by side for a while as a constant "I can't bring myself to do it" mood had settled. I had grown attached to the first MX5 having driven it for 3 months before breaking for the Zero, but this was much, much worse. Unfortunately, or more like, fortunately, my job situation changed again and leaving one job to start a new one I gave myself a week between to actually pull myself together to pull the Zero apart. It was hard taking those first bits off. Well, after the bonnet and nosecone as they'd been on and off more times than I care to remember, but still, the thought of making this car un-driveable for another few months was painstaking. Despite this, once started there was a 'no going back' attitude and this helped me push on. Anyway a picture paints a thousand words, so I'll let my GoPro video do the talking.

At this point with the MX6 stripped and the Zero now stripped back ready, the project is well and truly underway. Excitement is beginning to rise.........

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Project Returns - Preparation

Hello again Zero-Fans! Welcome back to the blog! I'll admit, since completing the car I have been very poor at keeping a blog running with updates. This is all down to the fact I could happily access the blog and write it whilst I was building and on placement. Then I went back to University for my final year and turning on a computer for anything other than university work became a weekly event! Following completing the car halfway through my final year I had also secured a job so went from poor student to slowly rebuilding my bank balance, again the Zero not getting much attention yet still running like a dream (why fix something that isn't broken right?) Well eitherway life and lack of funds stopped any major changes or developments.......until now!

With a previous post you saw my new project direction looking to incorporate the Mazda KL, 2.5 Litre V6 engine into the Zero. I am pleased to announce that Project GBS Mazda Zero V6 is now commencing!
Having found the engine a long time ago, I had quickly dismissed it due to the lack of the Jap-spec 200bhp KL-ZE version. However having looked into it again at a later date, I found this blog post:
This showed me it could be done and with Claire (the mastermind behind it all) willing to produce her adapter kits made to order, meant I quickly began trying to gather funds and research to commence the project. I read more into the project and found the KL-DE version of the engine (rated at 164bhp) was much more available and had also been proven to produce up to 200bhp with the modifications to the exhaust and intake.

So, first thing first, new house, new garage. I had built the Zero in a tight garage that leaked, had no power and was actually pretty basic. My new garage was not going to be the same. With electricity already installed, a tidy and a bit of tarting up was all that was required.

As you can see, pretty dull and basic. So off to B&Q for some floor paint!

Job done.....but something still isn't quite right. Back to B&Q!

Well now that is much better! White emulsion on the walls, another coat on the floor and around the base of the wall and suddenly it looks quite professional! What's next? A pit and lift? Maybe not....

I had been toying with the idea of racking or a tool cabinet. There is only so much you can do when working out of boxes. I was lucky enough to have been left the racks by the previous owners. They asked if I wanted them and if not, they'd take them to the tip for me. I thought why not. What is the worst state they could be in........?
 Well, a lot better after a clean up and wire brushing. I have no idea what some of the congealed substances were but gloves and a face mask helped.

I am quickly discovering I am becoming even more susceptible to making sure things look good and this was another case. It was an opportunity to test out my new compressor and spray paint attachment. I read up on the subject and decided this would be the perfect little project to test my learning and understanding. As a result I contemplated red (so any imperfections would be covered) and that I could get away with bad paint job as various other sections are red too. But I didn't think it would suit the garage and decided on a hammered blue finish. Yes I'd considered orange but that would be too much with the Zero in there too!

Not sure how well this will come out but one of the finished shelves (I'm not saying its the best or worst....its just a good picture of the finished colour....)

Future reference....cover the ground too when spraying!

 And then put into place in the garage to dry fully before I move any parts/tools into the garage.

And here is the Zero, in it's new home. It looks happier already! Just need to sell some wheels/car parts and organise this tip properly!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Classic, Kit and Retro - Castle Combe 2015

Classic, Kit and Retro used to be just classic and retro, however with the declining number of car shows, kit cars were allowed to join and merged into the show. It has the usual static stands and market stalls/manufacturers but what caught my attention was the opportunity for track time. I've never had the chance to do a track day, money and timing being an issue and finding the confidence to do it. After a lot of thought I decided I would attend and decide on the day if I wanted to have a 15 minute slot on the track.

With my parents living in a small village in Wiltshire only 40 minutes from Castle Combe, it made perfect sense to make the journey down from Coventry and visit them, 2 birds one stone and all that. This was my only other kit car show appearance other than Stoneleigh so I was keen to meet a few other Rhocar members and maybe introduce the family to the world of kit cars I have become addicted to. In the end it was just me and my Dad that went to the show, my Brother with work commitments and Mum deciding a Father-Son day would be better as it wasn't quite a family day out in the end. (Secretly I don't think she was at all keen to go along....soon I'll change that!) So here I am, parked up with the Rhocar crew!

The worst thing about the day was all the passers by who kept asking my Dad what engine is was, how good it looked, did he build it....however the look on their face when he pointed them in my direction was priceless! Still can't get over the look I get when they realise a "youngster" built it!

 I had decided to take the plunge and have a go on the track. Having looked into track day insurance briefly I had been put off by the "prices starting at £69" which with being a young driver clearly would be higher. For a 15 minute blast on track (costing £35) I decided that over £100 for 15 minutes just wouldn't be worth it as an actual track day would be say £200 for the track time plus insurance costs but get many more sessions on track. However finding that the insurance was not compulsory and you were only responsible for your own car no matter what the circumstances, I took the risk.

For those who have ever been on a track day, here are the obligatory snaps from the track day photographer that captures your track action. First time on track, it would have been rude not to!

Despite being only 15 minutes, it felt just about right. I was rather nervous at first and with my Dad in the passenger seat (extra ballast) his last words before we started were "take it easy". So the first couple laps I used as sighters having never driven at Castle Combe nor even on a track before. However a few laps in I started to gain confidence and push the car a little bit further.
Overall with my Dad in the car I could not push the car to the limit (even on my own I don't think I'd have gone in search for it to be fair) however it was a very humbling experience. Having only ever driven on the road and not going out on a fast run with other kit car owners, I felt my car was pretty quick....I was so wrong. I would be flat out in the power band coming out of the corners and still have someone drive by me like I would do to an old 1 litre Corsa! Eitherway I still managed 2 overtakes so I wasn't the slowest person out there at least!

One thing I have also learnt about myself is my extraordinary ability to leave something to the last minute and still pull it out the bag. My dissertation, finding a job, even father day gifts. What you see here below is the result of realising Fathers Day is on the weekend of Classic, Kit and Retro but also the face of not having a present organised.

And here is why. My Dad helped me a lot during the build financially when I ended up spending my final year course fees and also postponing rent payments when cash flow was tough. I always managed to pay him back but without the loans/periods of credit, I would probably have been delayed in my build or even forced to sell up. So for fathers day I let him drive the Zero on track - he's never driven it before!!!

Luckily just after my track session there was a slow parade lap so he was able to at least begin to get a feel for the car before unleashing it in all its fury.....or at least that was the aim!

The parade lap was a few laps of the circuit at "30mph maximum" and built up his eagerness to drive the car a bit quicker. Plus it reassured me that he'd be able to cope with driving the car as he's never actually done more than pump the brake pedal for me before!

I hated sitting in this side of the car, however I did notice the cameraman and get a cheeky photogenic snap. Shame I'm not in the drivers seat, I would have loved that!

In our eagerness, we ended up being first to the pitlane...which meant first out on track....I'm not sure how the rolling roadblock went down with other users but track etiquette was complied with generally and I became less and less worried about being rear-ended. Dad's speed wasn't enough to reach the crash barriers if he came off!

Note: Those tyre tracks are not from Dad, however with a sneaky bit of photoshop...anything is possible!

We finally managed to get a shot of just Dad and the car. Not sure if everyone else had finished and gone home or we had found a space on the track. Eitherway as the lap count increased, so did Dad's confidence and soon he was working up to a reasonable speed. Still think he was anxious about pushing too hard, just in case....would it be possible to put your Dad up for adoption? Lol.

Anyway after his blast around the track he was determined to figure out how fast he'd gone. Unfortunately this was a complete oversight by both of us and he'd tried to use his running app....this seemed to give sporadic readings and not really ideal for a track attack.

Parked up safe again. We all survived!

Using the videos I estimated lap times around 1 minute 27 for me and around 2 minutes for Dad. Not bad considering the lap record for the similar class Caterhams (little less horsepower and better semi slick tyres, oh and minus the extra ballast of Dad  heavier total weight) is around 1 minute 21 seconds! Not bad considering they're clearly experienced racers! Best get practising, is it too late to get to F1?!? 

Track videos can be found below. All raw footage and unedited.

My Lap

Dad's Lap

Friday, 5 June 2015

Yet again, a blog forgotten...

Well here I am again, doing a catch up post. Some blogs have a constant stream of things...this one has random dumps of sporadic updates. Life has kinda taken over quite significantly with the new job at JLR (and not benig able to access this at work) and with other things on going too. The Zero had been parked up since December 2014 due to the insurance running out and plans for the future taking shape and put on hold.

As I still had access to the garage in Tamworth, I decided to strip an Mazda MX5 mk2 1.8 (approx 146bhp) and had planned to drop this into the car to up the power whilst fixing some minor niggles along the way...however talking to a few builders who were already building with the mk2 donor, it became apparent that the engine would not fit the chassis without a strengthening bar relocation. I queried this with GBS to confirm this was the case and told they had 3 going through with them for IVA no problem. I found this strange so asked for pictures and received 1 with individual throttle boddies, one with a custom intake for the supercharger and 1 without any intake manifold at all...clearly nothing with a standard intake.

So my plans changed. The MX5 was stripped and nearly every bit sold, including the shell, over October to January. Made a nice 50% profit overall from the purchase price....and winning a bet with the 2 guys at work, so not a bad little exercise really.

However I have now lost the garage in Tamworth due to the flat being rented out and I began my search for a unit to rent with my flatmate. During this time I had purchased the next donor vehicle for my Zero....a Mazda MX6! Well, 2 to be precise....

The original owner was planning to restore the red/silver one using parts from the black one. As I only wanted the engine, he said I could have an engine for about £250...or both cars for £600. And I would still have to bring the stuff to take the engine out myself. So easiest thing was to buy both, and sell one, recouping some costs and then selling bits off the 2nd as I broke it for parts. Well I have not begun anything due to the unit falling through and not having anywhere to work on the cars currently, so the cars are now in storage until I can find a place to do the work. Both cars are running the 2.5 litre Mazda KL-DE V6 engine. These put out around 164bhp and I was made aware of these thanks to
Following the same path of bike throttle bodies, and possibly and even more free-flowing exhaust, I should be able to comfortably see around the 200bhp mark, making any modifications to the chassis much more worthwhile (this is not just modifications to make it fit, but also to strengthen areas to ensure the chassis can handle the power/torque).

Unfortunately due to the lack of work space, the project has been left until winter....not to miss out on the summer though, the Zero was retaxed and insured to use over the summer. Especially as I discovered that the law regarding MOT is 3 years from registration, and despite being an age related number plate, the car was registered in March 2014, meaning no MOT is legally required until March 2017! Result! On the road it went!
I had already begun looking at putting it through an MOT so had addressed a couple of issues, however the major ones still remain:

  • Leaky fuel tank - solved by using chemical metal to fully seal the sender into the tank (potentially getting a new one when I rebuild anyway so happy to be a temp fix)
  • Speedo doesn't work - MX5 speedo cable is still snapped, the mk2 was electric so was hoping this would solve that...plans have changed though. New digidash bought early to fit and will work for both the current engine and new engine.
  • Cycle wings were not attached - these would have been needed for MOT so were refitted and now fit over the wider wheels.
  • I also found out from the GBS forum that the rear wishbones had notches in to signify which way round they were meant to go. You can just about see the notch on the cross bracing. This is meant to face to the front of the car....mine face backwards...still no answer to what difference it will make other than the rear geometry is probably out but no major issues yet so this can wait until the rebuild.
  • Windscreen Wipers - still not on, was going to remove the windscreen for MOT so wasn't an issue, however that has gone back on now. I have decided that I will sort these in the rebuild as well, my wiring is....well shocking and I have no desire to tear it apart to figure out what goes where.

View of one of my wishbones with the notch.

 Another discovery having the rear wheels off; remember how they say at IVA not to have the bodywork rubbing on cables etc in case it rubs through? Well here is my handbrake cable that has slipped it's grommet and begun rubbing through the aluminium rear panel at the back under the wheel arch. The other side is much worse...I'm just glad its out of sight. The cable however is perfectly fine.

So now we move onto some of the other things I have done whilst bored. I have bought an Mazda MX5 to use as a daily again. The Punto I had has now gone to my brother who needed a car and as I am working, I was in a better position to buy a new car...instead I bought a £750 MX5. LOL. 

 This was before the Zero went on the road so my theory was having a "sensible" car that I could still enjoy through the summer. Plus I know the car quite well and kinda wanted it to be another project.....but that died a death when the Zero came on the road and my plans changed again! - Seeing a common theme here?

Boredom, a project car and a job providing disposable income...

I have come to the decision where the Zero is a very conspicuous car...why not make it even more so. Boredom at work and a cheap eBay offer and viola! I have now bought a rear wing. I firstly received some stick about the placement and actual effectiveness of the wing at this position, however I pointed out I knew the aerodynamic effect is minimal to non-existent, firstly due to the standard positioning and secondly due to the fact that at the speeds I drive, not producing any meaningful downforce. Add that to the fact that these cars are incredibly un-aerodynamic due to the front end design, the airflow at the rear is all over the place! This was a bit of fun, purely decorative and actually....I quite like it! I have designed some brackets that should raise it up a bit higher, size wise I think it works reasonable well....maybe one day I'll go even bigger! Also considering designing my own end plates too one day....

This also goes for the white tyre writing, bit of boredom and a paint pen from eBay. Again, one of those, try it and find out moments that actually I quite like.

I took the car to work one day, bit of travelling to suppliers and meant to be glorious sunshine when I was travelling. When I got to Gaydon, the carpark and overflow was full. Only space I could find was the edge where people regularly park too...but in their Discovery or Range Rover, not a low sports car. Eitherway, it handled it beautifully and the picture does not do it justice!

Another valuable lesson learnt. Always carry ratchet straps. You never know when the rear diffuser you rushed back on may fall off on the M6 slip road! Thankfully I managed to retrieve it and stopped off at the next services to strap to the back and return home, tail between my legs.
Note to self, never rush a job again - secure things properly! The cause was hitting a bump and the rivnuts in the GRP coming out. New method coming up.

 I also took the car to Coventry Motofest to join the Rhocar stand. As I live only a 10 minute walk from this place, I didn't have much of an excuse not to go. It was a very enjoyable day and lots of great cars to see. Wished for a bit more ring road live action and an opportunity to drive the ring road too but I can wait until 10pm and go for a blast round any time I like!

 Anyway, that draws to the conclusion of this catch up post. I shall upload the video taken shortly after this photo was taken. My girlfriend and I were on the way down to my parents for a weekend, bag strapped to the back, never miss the opportunity for a photo. I will be returning to this spot without the doors and bag for another photo too, feels like it needs a deep, philosophical quote adding...

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Neglected Blog Catch Up Post

Well, my last post was in April 2014 as I had just got the car road legal with a registration number from the DVLA. It's now January 2015........

So to help you if you are looking for anything specific, here is my contents:

Rear Diffuser
Windscreen Wipers
Half Hood Mk1
Half Hood Mk2
New Wheels

Well, first of all a little catch up with me. Since April I have graduated from Coventry University with a 2:1 in BEng Motorsport Engineering and moved straight on to a job working as a CAD Engineer for a company that as of January, gone bust, putting me out of a job...hence finding the time to catch up with the blog in between job hunting.

Anyway, despite being incredibly busy, the Zero has not been forgotten or even shut away. For the majority of the summer it was used as my daily driver to work and back. And that called for many thing to do is take you in roughly a chronological order of the last 9ish months.

Rear Diffuser
My first major event in the Zero was the Stoneleigh Kit Car Show. As I was busy on the Saturday morning and afternoon so Saturday evening was spent fitting the rear diffuser to add that finishing touch to the rear end and then to wash the car for the first time.
Kit Spares has a stainless steel mounting bracket which suits the Zero perfectly and is shiney and all for a nice £25 +delivery...for something not easily visible...Off to B&Q for some steel 90degree angle, £5. Every little helps.

A simple job to do up on the ramps. Rivnuts into the lowered floor and through the side of the diffuser too that links in with some holes in the side panel overlap under the rear arches.

I kept intending to fit it properly with rivnuts through the bottom of the angle section into the diffuser, unfortunately I bought a rubbish rivnut tool so it had broken before I could properly get round to it. Although it was very secure for a long period until an altercation with a curb decided otherwise...

Windscreen Wipers

Obviously when using any car as a daily and having no alternative if the weather turned to rain, windscreen wipers would be a useful addition to the the minor issue of it being a tad illegal running a windscreen with no wipers. My first issue was simply to fit wipers so it looked like they works whilst I sorted the motor. Last thing I needed was to be pulled over for not having any wipers. Unfortunately this ended up taking a back bench as I had not clearly labelled the wiper wiring from the MX5 and couldn't locate it easily as shown on the left...Furthermore the switch back from an intermittent set up to a 2-speed set up was proving too much for me to really get behind and make the time for. Especially as the sun was shining. This is something I will be returning to later.

Half Hood
Being dry is clearly more important that actually being able to see, I originally planned to buy the half hood from softbits for sevens at a hefty price of approximately £250. This was pretty much a guaranteed product to fit and work, however at £250 and tough times financially finishing university and starting a job, I needed a cheaper solution.

Rhocar to the rescue! Asking about at the monthly club meet, I spoke to a few people who had made their own and also those who had the half hood from Softbits. Clearly there was a major difference in material and quality, with the Softbits appearing more heavy duty. However the cost of making their own for similar performance (keeps you dry but neither are 100%) general consensus was that £20 should see it done.

So to ebay, bought some waterproof fabric on the cheap, not mohair or anything special, a PVC Vinyl guessed it....ORANGE!

Measuring up got a few funny looks, but a quick clamp in place and marker pen gave the rough shape. End of the day I know its going to be crap, but it is a temporary fitting and can be modified a number of times before I hit the £250 I would have spent on the professional half hood.

 First trial fit of the cut product, looks naff but its only help on my the spring clamps.

However with the front on properly with the push button/poppers/buttons, it is beginning to take shape. Especially with the rear straps to aid adding tension to the roof to ensure it was tight at all times, however the sides would need extra straps to stop the back sliding about.
It still needed looking at as I didn't feel confident these would hold the roof on at speed...which after a quick test drive, I managed about 50mph before the roof came off of the front...more press stud buttons!

Eitherway, the second aim was to keep the roof lightweight enough to be able to fold/roll up and fit behind the seat. Safe to say that was the easiest part.

  First major test for the roof with added poppers was the trip from Castleford back to Coventry down the M1 in the rain. Needless to say it was not comfortable however the roof handled the motorway speeds of the wind and keeping me dry....except overtaking a lorry or splashes from a puddle or being overtaken. Side spray is a bitch.

 Next mini-project. DOORS.

Vinyl Wrap Bonnet
Ok, so I know I said doors, but with a job and a bit of income, random purchases become rather common. Ebay is not your friend! However I ended up with some brushed steel effect 3D vinyl wrap. I had been toying with the idea of painting the aluminium panels for some time and couldn't decide what colour....or find the space to do so. Therefore, vinyl wrap.
The intention was to do the bonnet and scuttle, but again other things took up weekends to get the scuttle done as I still needed to use the car in the week for work, so just the bonnet was done.

It is difficult to see the brushed effect but at a distance it hides the imperfections which there are many. Job for two people on a large area (managed the tunnel top panels in a 4D silver carbon fibre effect on my own to give you an idea of manageable sizes)
TOP TIP: Use a hair drier to add heat to the wrap to aid application and your Rhocar Membership Card (or similar credit card style card) to apply and remove air bubbles.

Overall though, it has given me the final choice of colour to be a dark grey paint for the aluminium to go with the orange and black. I think this will give an excellent finish.

Wind, side spray and extra security. What ever the reason for doors, the extortionate price again can easily be beaten by doing it yourself! Think Kit Spares (to use as a Zero specific example again) cost £360 for a pair. This to me is quite a lot and from the feedback, not worth the money. 20mm x 3mm Mild steel ordered, leatherette ordered, welder to find (Big thanks to Richy for his welding services - Another point for Rhocar!)

A simple frame knocked up to the rough size of the space required. Tacked in place and test fitted to the car, reposition a few bars and try again. Couple of attempts got the shape and then it was welded fully into place.

I initially thought about sewing the leatherette on myself by hand but realised I had neither the skill or the time to do such a thing. Quick search on Google found Classic Car Trim, a pair of guys who in their spare time away from Aston Martin's upholstery department, do extra jobs on the side. These guys were brilliant and turned the doors around in an amazing time taking excellent care in their work.

 I opted for a two-tone design with grey on the outside and orange on the inside. Needless to say I was very pleased with the result.
 The windows I used was originally some thin see through PVC but the design of the doors and sewing limitations meant this was double glazed essentially but not airtight, causing issues seeing and also steaming up.

I then got hold of some door strip usually found on warehouses (that see through plastic stuff that hangs down sometimes on warehouses...i know what I mean) but that basically put in, was much better to see through and also as a single layer, had no issues fogging up. Sorted.

Fitted to the car with slide on hinges and the job is done. I love the new look and I'm amazed by the difference they make. You can actually hold a conversation in the car doing 60 no problems! Best upgrade yet and all together cost around £100-£150 all in.

The only issue with the doors was setting the roof. At this point I had made a 2nd roof, a Mk2 if you like, to reinforce the rear mounting and also beefed up the number of fasteners on the front to prevent the roof coming off at higher speeds and/or in strong winds. I just never took any pictures of the Mk2 Roof unfortunately but same material and revised rear design to improve the fit.

 It looks a bit scrappy, but as a Mk2 PVC prototype it has the desired effect. I have met some great guys who did the sewing for the doors, Aston Martin upholsterers and this in the spare time, love a challenge apparently...just building the funds and completing other projects before taking this new challenge to them. Roof Mk3 will probably be a top quality fabric and actually have a professional look about it. This works, and works well, its just not durable and is a bit too plastic for my liking.

 New Wheels
Well it was going to happen. Ever since the first day fitting the wheels I intended to fit bigger wheels, especially at the rear. This was due to the monumental arch gap the 14 inch wheels left.
I started with 185 wide 14 inch tyres which are great if you want to try get the back end out a bit at specially chosen locations. However, in the wet the car is a handful. Mostly my inexperience at RWD but its enough to make the drive unpleasant through worry, especially after losing the back end on a roundabout one wet morning at relatively low speed and sensible driving. Either way I lost all confidence in the car, both wet and dry, fearing for the back to snap around again.

I was on the look out to move up to 205s, maybe 215s however the price and style obviously matter. I had just started earning at this point and trying to rebuild my bank account. Then a friend of a friend was selling a set of 15inch 8Js. Haggled the price for mates rates and got a great deal for a set of wheels. Only thing now is to decide on the colour of the wheels if I decide to refurb them a bit.
A quick trail fit on the fronts. Sat on Stretched 195/45/15s I believe. Eitherway the tyres were shot so new ones were ordered.

I managed to find a deal online after getting quoted around £500 for 4 tyres and fitting. 2x 225/50/15s for the rear and 2x 205/50/15 for the front. All Toyo TR1 tyres. All I needed was them fitting, Hello Kwik Fit!

Unfortunately without the stretched tyres and slighty greater wall, the new tyres actually fouled the arch and were rubbing quite badly. So off came the arches.

I intended to refit the arches as they would fit, providing they were put on straight and true. It looked like they had been put on in the dark........well...they not surprising really...

Anyway, the weekends rolled passed and the weather coming in again I didn't really find the time to put the arches back on. This was around the September/October time. With the insurance due in December and a forever growing list of jobs:

  1. Front Arches
  2. Exhaust Rattle
  3. Fuel Gauge (float had come off...again)
  4. Dead Speedo (Cable snapped...again)
  5. Oil leak from the engine
  6. Smell of Fuel in the cockpit
  7. Coolant leak and therefore overheating
  8. General untidy looking car (I am starting to find little things bugging me)
  9. Want to respray all the aluminium panels
  10. Improve cockpit (it really is quite bare!)
  11. Windscreen Wipers
So I decided I was going to take the car off the road and strip it back, sort all the issues and whilst I'm there....drop in the Mazda Mk2 1.8 engine....146bhp stock over the current 115bhp. That should liven it up a bit....well....that was the original plan, new plans are already in progress!

Watch this space, something interesting is coming.

I shall leave you with my new favourite image of the Zero and my Punto, taken on the last day of the insurance.