Stage One

Part 1

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.
How do I know what I need?  I hear you ask.  Well, a Club like ours has many members in it who have "been there, done that" over a long period of time.  Most will happily impart their own hard earned knowledge of what parts - bodily; trim; and mechanical - you're almost certain to want.  These parts will not be easy to come by - for the most part - and in many cases will be very expensive.

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?

Part 2

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).
The next step - after booking it into the body shop - was to remove as much as possible.  The inside was stripped along with the exterior, except the lights, prior to the short trip.  Once there I removed the lights and drivers seat.
So, the body specialist had a shell with all the mechanics intact but little else.


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.



Part 3

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.
This car had undergone a restoration back around 1990 at which time it had been "parked" in a ditch.  Economically I guess that the car was then technically - although never actually - a write-off.  After all, how much would a 20 year old daily used Mk1 Capri have been worth in 1990?  Not very much and it needed a new wing, front valance, bonnet and a respray - along I guess with all sorts of extras (lights; grill and so on).  I do know it had a brand new bonnet - and the only one available apparently was a power bulge 3 litre one.  Now I quite like the flat one, so this was another major panel I needed.  Fortunately, it was also one of the parts I salvaged from the car which provided a full interior.  The "A" posts and sills I decided to buy from Ex-Pressed Panels in Yorkshire.  I had used their repair panels before and found them to be generally very good.  They are expensive though - but then everything is for a Mk1.

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.



Part 4

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 fabricated.
One visible problem with the nearside inner wing was the crude way it had been flattened out, presumably following the cars visit to a ditch.  Apart from being unsightly though, nothing else appeared to be wrong.  The unboltable parts, such as the boot lid and doors were examined and prepared.  The boot was fine but the doors had some pitting in the outer skins.
With the front valance removed it became clear that the front cross member would need replacing.  Thankfully, around the suspension turret tops was fine and stripping back the paint to bare metal even revealed the chassis number stamped around the offside turret.
Elsewhere the stripping back of paint revealed yet more problems.  At some point the rear arches had been replaced.  Instead of using the minimum amount of repair section leaving the largest amount of original panel, it appeared that the reverse technique had been applied.  This had the effect of pulling the body in where the weld line was, distorting the body line locally around the rear arches and deepening the recesses for the dummy vents.


Part 5

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!
Closer examination and stripping of the doors revealed another major problem.  The drivers side one had a great deal of rot on the hinge edge - mainly around the top hinge.  Some repair had taken place previously but more rust had set in.  It was decided, if possible, to fit a replacement door.  Needless to say, I had a spare passenger side one but not drivers side.  The car also needed a new rear valence - below the bumper line - as this panel was heavily pitted and would need removing to sort a problem with the chassis rail end on the near side.  Fortunately, within a couple of weeks I was able to source new parts in both cases.  The door though was a facelift one.  For the uninitiated, facelift and pre-facelift doors are not the same.  Outwardly they look it but the fittings for the internal opener and also the holes for the door card clips are different.


     Last Updated: 26 January 2010