Panther Enthusiasts Club

Essex Area

Roy Biddle's Winter Project 2003/2004 & 2004/2005

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Last winter to keep myself out of mischief, I "restored" a MkII Lima (BOP999V). However, because the car cost me 1,800, I was conscious that there was a limit to what I could do to the vehicle without incurring a big loss when I came to sell it. There was much more that I would have liked to do to the car, but again because of the fairly high original outlay I had to be satisfied with making the car roadworthy and leaving the rest to the next owner.

This year's project is a Mk1 Lima, which I was able to buy very cheaply and because of the low initial outlay, I feel free to do what I like to this car. If after experimenting with it I have to scrap it then I will have lost little.

The chassis on the car has had many welding repairs, A posts, B posts, floor and forward chassis members have all had MOT type patches and whilst these are crude, I'm pleased to say the doors still fit. The floor on the drivers side needs yet more attention and I think the time has come to have the rear body off and do the job properly.

The car was a non-runner when I collected it and didn't have a key, which made getting it on the low loader quite a task. Being unable to turn the steering we had to bump the front end around to line it up. I've since had a key made by a local locksmith who used a soft piece of copper to determine the proper key profile. After a morning cleaning up plugs, points and connecting up the carb. to a 2 gallon petrol can (the car's tank leaks) and installing a new battery, I did manage to get the car running, but it starts reluctantly. Once running, it sounds good, no rattles, no serious oil leaks and good oil pressure. Second gear however, cannot be selected so it is not all good news. A curious thing is that someone has fairly recently fitted an electric petrol pump just forward of the fuel tank. It obviously  works because I used it, but there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with the mechanical pump either.

The interior needs completely retrimming. The seats appear to be from a Kallista and don't really fit (yet). My biggest worry though is the condition of the paintwork. It needs to be stripped right back to the fibreglass and then completely re-sprayed. Only if my modifications to the car work will I consider paying to have this done, I'll probably end up having to do this myself.

I intend cutting away the floor under the seats in order to lower the seating position and rebuilding the chassis and trailing arm mounting points lower down (like the MkII) and hope the Kallista seats are then usable. I also intend to do away with both the front and rear bumpers. All I now have to do before I start is finish the decorating "'er in doors" demands I do.

I'll periodically update the web with photos of progress, but to begin with here are a few of the car as bought.

Hood needs repairing and is filthy

Front apron is split and paintwork badly cracked on all panels

Front bumper is not correct, but would be acceptable if mounted properly

The wheels have been sprayed silver and the spare is missing, I intend to have them powder coated

The Kallista seats are much too high (at present)

Total re-trim needed

Another view of the tight fitting seats

Engine looks dirty and corroded but runs well

Battery that came with the car was too big for the tray

The floor on the driver's side was very lace like.

Well I've started.........

there's no going back now!

 The new sub-frame seen from above and .......

from the side. Space on the driver's side was still critical due to the angle which the propshaft  takes and having to leave room for the silencer. The handbrake will be mounted on the two plates welded to the transmission tunnel tubes.

 Somehow I've to get this offside "B" post to look something like ....................

................this nearside "B" post!

After a lot of sawing, filing, drilling and welding I was quite pleased with the result

The fact that the propshaft sits diagonally across the car causes no end of difficulty with space on the drivers side of the car, which also has to house the silencer. 

Compare this picture with the earlier one showing the seats as viewed from the back of the car and it is obvious how much lower they now sit. In hindsight I think I've lowered them about an inch and a half too much. This would have made the positioning of the silencer less critical and also eased other problems.

Not all is well however. Because of the rake of the seat backs when lowering the seats you also have to move them forward! I didn't want that at all. I think I'll have to raise them slightly.

The completed floor following painting with Hammerite

Plan view. In hindsight I used too heavy a gauge sheet to clad the floor. It's probably bombproof! 

Front suspension, hubs and steering complete with      new discs, calipers, pads, dampers and rack gaiters. 
20/7/04 - I haven't done much since the season started. Apart from the above the only thing I've done is to remove the radio, and heater and get rid of some of the superfluous wiring. A result was finding out that although isolated from the water system there is nothing wrong with the heater fan or radiator.  

24/12/04 - After earning many "brownie points" by installing a new kitchen in our home, I finally managed to get back to this project at the beginning of December. However, I can't say I've made much progress as I've spent the month altering what I'd already done. The floor was too low to allow the rear axle radius arms to be mounted with sufficient ground clearance. Consequently, I've raised the forward mounting points and made "channels" in the floor to give enough working clearance for the radius arms. Also the handbrake only worked on the nearside of the car because the cable was pulling diagonally. I've welded in an "S" tube as used on the MK2 Lima to move the pulling angle over and it now works on both rear wheels. 

 

One of the new channels built into the floor

I've had the engine out and painted, it, the radiator and engine bay. I've also bought and fitted a replacement gearbox upon which all five gears can be selected. I had to buy at least 4 "reducers". On the engine 5/8th hoses are required and 1/2 on the heater, 1/2 on the carb. manifold and 3/8 on the carb. - nothing is straight forward.

08/02/05 - The  car is now finished underneath. The brake and fuel pipes have been clipped in place, the exhaust bends adjusted so that the stainless steel rear silencer now fits and the floor and trailing arm mounting points repainted and undersealed. I've turned my attention to the wiring and there is now power to all corners of the car for lighting, indicators and stop lights. The horn stalk has been rewired as has the heater. If ever you need to rewire the rear of the Lima, take a look under the carpet in the luggage area, you will find that the wiring harness is coiled up there. By removing the harness covering you can uncover several feet of pristine cable that will enable the back of the car to be rewired without joins. 

 

The manual states that with the timing marks on the camshaft and distributor pulleys lined up through the centreline of each pulley and the crankshaft pulley pointer at 9 degrees before TDC, the rotor arm of the distributor should be in the position shown above. No matter how I tried I could not achieve this and in the end had to ignore the timing mark on the distributor pulley and turn it through about 30 degrees in order to achieve the desired result. In this position the engine starts and runs well and the starting problems I had when I first bought the car have disappeared.

 

I prepared the car and had it sprayed aquamarine and cream. The wheels were sand or bead blasted (I don't know which) and then powder coated in a similar colour cream and really look great. I wish I could say the same for the spraying. I had the sprayer redo it 3 times and then gave up and finished it off myself using 2 pack spray cans supplied by Brown Bros. It took me weeks. The result is acceptable, but not great.  

The seats were re-upholstered locally and I made paper templates  (I didn't have the originals), and  cut out the carpet before having the edges bound. I fitted these myself and whilst the effect looks quite good, I made several mistakes and would like to have another go at it. I changed my mind about doing away with the bumpers. I liked the look of the front but not the back. Maxi front bumpers, which are fitted to the back and front of the MK1 Lima,  are unobtainable so using a fine jigsaw blade I modified a Maxi back bumper to fit the rear of the Lima.

The following photographs are of the finished article as at 01/08/05,  with hood and without.

If you don't examine the car too closely it looks really good! Consequently I'm quite pleased with the result.

Note the modified Maxi back bumper. Cutting did leave it with a sharp leading edge which I had to cover with some push on edging from Woolies. It doesn't look amiss though.

The car drives well, but the speed and odometer initially were obviously not working properly. I had to build a working unit from the several spare instrument clusters I had acquired. The speedometer is currently still a bit slow 

The hood was obviously not made for the car and I had to modify the hood irons to get it to fit satisfactorily. If it hadn't been such a good hood I would have scrapped it and fitted one meant for the car.

Well that is virtually the end of the project, I still have one or two cosmetic things to do and I've yet to weld a stop on the offside door hinge to stop the door opening too far. I'll probably drive the car for a little while before deciding whether to sell it or keep it as next winters project. If I do keep it I'll change the dash for a Mk2 Lima style and possibly modify the hood so that it folds down.

 

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