Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nobody loves a Rover

'Tis a sad moment in my car history as I say goodbye to my red Astra GSi after nearly 7 years of ownership. I wish I could've relayed it's final year in blog format, but I've been lacking enthusiasm with anything computer related, but here's the jist of of what has happened since I sold my Whizzkid.

  • In June 2010, the original owner of the Whizzkid contacted me and said he wanted to buy the car back. I sold it to him for a tidy sum, and looking for a new car, I peeked out from my window and saw a sad shape - my Astra. I decided to get it back on the road,
  • The car witnessed the road after having a paint job and several new bits,
  • Shortly after witnessing said road, the engine killed itself,
  • I sold the engine, and bought a V6, which I put in,
  • I realised that V6's weren't that great, and as I no longer drove in a spirited fashion, I saw no point in 30mpg driving like a grandma, so left with the option of swapping the engine for another one in sub zero temperatures (see below), I put it up for sale,
  • The car took ages to sell, and when I'd given up, someone came to view and drove it off,
And that's it really. There's been a lot going on, but I have another project on my hands:

It's a Rover Metro GTa with a complete GTi upgrade. I'm not sure on how it got upgraded, as it seems like it is a GTi with a pessimistic 'I'm not that great' complex. I won't delve on it too much, and just assume it's a GTi.

The differences between the GTa and the GTi are:

  • GTi got the same front brakes as the MGF (vented), GTa got smaller solid brakes,
  • GTi has damper support brackets on the front,
  • GTi has a rear anti roll bar,
  • GTi has lightening style interior, GTa has a different pattern,
  • GTi has side skirts and front bumper extension, these were an option on the GTa,
  • GTi came with seven spoke wheels, GTa had five spoke,
  • GTi came with a 16v multipoint injection 1.4, this may have been an option on later GTa's, but they commonly came with a 1.4 8v SPi (or earlier ones came with a carb),
It probably also had a few typical povo Rover/BL extras like rubber floor mats, cigar lighter, etc.

I had bandied around with the idea of getting a Metro and putting my old MGF's engine into it, as they have the same subframe. I've had a mysterious history of wanting something and then have someone pop up with the car for pence, and local as well. This was the case here, and selling my Astra left a huge space open for something as small and economical as the li'l Metro. Who'd have thought something as undesirable and uncool as a Metro would have been so unwanted and so destined for the scrapyard. "LOL"

Bearing in mind the car had sat for over three years, and the previous owner bought it in 2000, I was unsure what I'd find. These have a reputation for rusting, and when I turned up I expected it to just comically break in two when I opened the door, but (touch lots of wood), preliminary inspection (lying on wet pavement to tap about underneath) showed it was quite solid. It's resting place has managed to protect it from the elements, as I believe gritting the road in the winter is the reason why so many cars rust away. It has it's rust, I managed to peek along the other side and saw a length of surface rust all the way on the sill and the corner of the door. As there is a 'guard dog' loose in the area where it has been stored, I didn't want to put my appendages into anymore dog dirties.
There are good points. The engine was a main worry. I bought new petrol and put a new battery on it, and it ran on the turn of the key (after priming it with some oil). A single tap from the lifter, but what a result there.

There's also about 50 marble tiles in the boot.

So, what am I getting myself into - here are my worries:

  1. I may have not found a severe amount of corrosion,
  2. The MOT tester will vomit in combined hysterics/terror as it creaks up on the ramp lift,
  3. I'll tow it home and it'll fall into bits,
I'm not worried about having to replace most of the mechanical parts on the car like running gear, but I'm wary of the scrutiny of the MOT tester. They seem so strict these days, and I don't want to end up spending more on retests than I did on the car, and that money can go on new parts for it. I'm confident it'll be OK ... sort of!

I've started buying new stuff for the car, all genuine Rover parts. I guess a new lockset and an oil filter doesn't really constitute a complete restoration, but it's a start. And the fact I opened the car with the key from my MGF had me searching for part numbers. There's a constantly revolving line of NOS parts on ebay as all the stock dwindles and motor factors attempt to shift it on for pence. I've also ordered new brakes! Woohoo!

In the next week, I'll have the oil changed, the new brakes on, the underside undersealed, the rusty arches, sill and door cleaned up, the lockset put in, the engine bay valeted (jet washed), the seats through the washing machine, and possibly change a couple of old tyres. I'm aiming for an MOT on about Wednesday, or possibly earlier. I have purchased a new A-frame towing dolly, which will come to good use, as another worry was getting gripped by the filth being towed home behind another car.

In the meantime, I have been doing a lot of work on the MGF, which involves:

  • Taking the entire subframe out,
  • Taking the engine out,
  • Completely renovating the subframe,
  • Putting a new engine in,
  • Putting everything back together again.
All this throughout another body breakingly cold winter. The whole thing took from mid December up until now. I've done a proper job, and taken things slowly. Also there are only a few hours of daylight. The only reason I have not finished, is because, in proper MGF fashion, things have broken along the way. The car also won't go into gear, so I've started to take the lot apart again (another couple of full days), to do something that should've taken 5 seconds in the first place - put the clutch release bearing on properly. Argh. I will update properly in coming posts, but I'm slowly realising I've done quite a bit over the past year.

If that's not enough, I cleared my garage out, and my black Astra sits in front of my house, almost looking like it's given up waiting to be put back on the road. It's definitely sick of me buying a string of red 2-door cars - losing the red Astra has given it some hope though!

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