Theoretically, the first stage of any restoration project is to find the right
car. However, once you gain a knowledge of Mk1 Capris and further
understand the scarcity of parts and unmolested cars, you'll realise that your
first step - having made a decision to restore a Mk1 - is to start gathering the
parts that you're likely to need.
However, even if you end up buying parts that you ultimately do not need, it's unlikely you'll loose any money as there will be plenty of fellow restorers who'll be only to pleased to buy your unwanted items from you.
For this particular project I actually started accumulating the parts I thought I would need over a year before the main car turned up.
By the time I had the car I had, what I thought, were all the parts to create the finished article. Sadly, I was somewhat mistaken!
A full ten months before finding the car I found what was to be a superb donor vehicle. This provided a near perfect interior including all the seats, the carpet, the front and rear parcel shelves, the dashboard and clock binnacle, the centre console, the rear cards and -after some minor restoration work - the front door cards. I looked at the car with a view to it being the project but when I saw that the front cross-member and most of the front valence had rotted away I was pretty sure the car was too far gone for me to consider. Once I started removing the carpet my decision was vindicated as large parts of the floor were missing!
Finally in the late summer of 2008 I found the right car. A 1600 GT XLR, 1970 on an early J plate. Unfortunately, the car wasn't finished in my desired shade of Pacific Blue but rather in Tawny. I had searched long enough to realise that getting a Pacific Blue car was highly unlikely - at least in the model I wanted. The "bonus" from my point of view was that the cars date of manufacture coincided with the very short production time of Pacific Blue examples. So, although I'd be changing the colour, everything else fitted.
So here is the car - as I found it.
Doesn't look too bad does it?
The car had been a regularly used vehicle for the majority of its life but had
been taken off the road around two years earlier needing some work. It had
stood out side, on hard standing, but had been regularly started. The
engine bay had been treated with oil to prevent rusting due to lack of use.
A test drive showed that, as well as the obvious problems, it made a rumbling
noise from the gearbox. As it had covered 283,000 miles without being
changed, this came as no surprise. Although the car ran, I didn't fancy
risking driving it home and so arranged for it to be collected on a truck.
The front bumper and spot/fog lights were with the car but as a negotiation to
reduce the asking price, I "gave-up" the front seats (only retaining the drivers
side one to get it on and off the truck and around to the bodyshop).
I had been aware of the external rust but it came as a surprise how rusty the front floor was. Ultimately this wasn't to prove a problem. What was, was finding out "why" the floor had so much internal rust. Somewhere under the windscreen water had been getting in for a long time. Was it perhaps those rotten scuttle corners? That seemed the most obvious and clearly had been uppermost in the mind of one of its previous owners who had packed the inside corners - up under the dashboard - with large quantities of expanding, builders foam.
The body shop got to work very fast, in terms of stripping it down. The front mechanicals - engine, gearbox, suspension - were removed along with most of the ancillaries. Then they took off the doors and removed the front wings. If you're thinking of restoring a Mk1, look very carefully at what lay beneath those front wings.
In truth I had been prepared for the "A" posts being rotten. This is the
second Mk1 I've taken back to this stage to restore. Any new to the marque
though need to realise that when the scuttle panel corners have some rust holes
in them then generally this is the final evidence of rot underneath rather than
an early warning.
My body shop had looked the car over prior to my taking it in and therefore knew some of the problems they needed to rectify. One of the more obvious - to a body shop at least - was the micro-blistering on the roof. This would require the roof to be rubbed back, possibly to bare metal and maybe beyond. As it turned out, back to bare metal was enough. Stripping paint in other areas revealed more problem areas with regard to rust.
The stripping back continued a pace - although the workshop did need to do some
"rebuilding" in order that they still had a reasonably rigid structure to work
with. The First parts to the repaired and remanufactured were the inner
corners of the engine bay, where the inner wings and "A" posts meet with the
scuttle and bulkhead. This would provide solid new metal for the new "A"
posts to be attached to. At this point, the inner wings appeared to be
sound. New wing rails (where the inner and outer wings meet) were
Work on the car - at least as far as putting the body right, started on the
front offside and would, over a period, work around to the rear offside, back,
nearside and back to the front. Putting right the body line distortion
caused by the fitting of the rear arch repair earlier in the cars life, was
relatively straightforward - essentially brute force did the trick!
Last Updated: 26 January 2010