Sunday, March 08, 2009

Stripping with friends

Over the last week or so, I've been slowly stripping the GT6 down, learning how they were built and revealing its secrets. It's suffered a few bodges in its time. The ignition lock obviously failed at some point, so it was removed from the column and an ordinary switch fitted in its place. There's the standard horn switch bypass wire, as the steering column contacts invariably fall apart with age. A strange find was a 1998 tape by Vicente Fernandez, a Mexican folk singer, found in the bottom of a door. I'm guessing that around then, the car was owned by a Mexican or lover of Mexican music. When it's on the road I'll download some of Vicente's tunes, to get something of the feel of the car's history.

So that's one new steering column needed, then!

The general condition of the car is best described as 'worn out'. The body really has very little rust, but most panels have a dent or two. The interior is a write-off - even the plywood dash crumbled as the glue holding the ply together had been cooked. Just about everything made of vinyl, rubber or plastic is history.

It's fascinating that the GT6 is only three years younger than my Herald, and yet the design is much more modern and mature. The greasy bits are the same, but the Herald doesn't have features like seatbelt warning lights, two-speed heater fan and wipers or eyeball vents. Of course, my 1969 Herald was really designed in the late fifties (bar a few cosmetic changes) so I shouldn't be surprised. But I've fallen for the new car already, seeing how well constructed it is.

Last night I was planing to strip out the back end - fuel tank, rear lights, bumper and tailgate glass, but a few friends turned up and offered to help. All my careful one-bit-at-a-time note-taking went out the window, and in a couple of hours we had the body off. Thanks to Bill, Leon (a Valiant Charger nut, he loves my 'toy' car), James and Ashley for the spanner work and lifting.

Leon, James and Bill getting stuck in.

The morning after

So, three pizzas and a six-pack (should have been Tortillas and Corona obviously) the chassis was laid bare. And the verdict? Under the dirt, it's factory fresh. You can still see the Damson overspray on the rails!

A last note, right now we're watching out for category 4 Cyclone Hamish, a couple of hundred kilometres off the coast and moving south. At worst we expect heavy rain, but are prepared with gas cooker, beer and DVDs.


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