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Austin-Rover

Astra Saloon (not a Belmont!) Adventures

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What's the script with the 928 in the corner of the photo?

 

It belongs to the person I got the Astra from. Said he'd not used it in about ten years, but made a start last year returning it to the road. He said something about the wheels and spending a lot of money. I just smiled so as not to appear rude. ;-)

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I've been accessory shopping on eBay for the Astra, and in general there's naff-all to buy in the way of genuine new or genuine used parts, trinkets and accessories for Vauxhalls. It's all cheap tat. I don't know what it says about Vauxhall owners, but I've never encountered such crap and tat when buying 80s and 90s BL/Rover stuff. To say Rover and its legacy brands have been gone ten years now and Vauxhall are still going, the situation is all bit wrong way round!

 

My mission was to find a set of genuine mud flaps for it. I could have had three pairs of genuine Unipart ones for my Maestro, but have had to make do with Opel branded ones from the Irish Republic for the Astra. Still, they'll do the job. The front pair was specifically marked for the van only, but as they were less than a tenner posted I'll take a chance as I can't see there's going to be any obvious differences between the van and the saloon.

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Mk3 parts are getting harder to find now; the car has (unbelievably) been out of production for almost 20 years!

 

However, these people are good- http://www.genuinepartsearch.co.uk/

and if you really get stuck- https://www.opel-classicparts.de/- they reliably post to the UK and have lots of good NOS bits ;)

 

Both supply genuine old stock GM parts which are superior in every way to anything aftermarket at the moment..

 

For everyday stuff like bushes/ gaiters/ hub bearings etc, I always go with Febi Bilstein if they supply the part.  Otherwise, filters and service stuff is pennies at ECP etc.

 

I belong to Vauxhall Trade Club but haven't used it for years, seems to have gone downhill a bit now.

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Big thumbs up from me to on that, despite being a Vauxhall!  Good looking car, bonus point for pre-airbag wheel.

 

Absolutely love small saloons, especially hatch-derived ones.  Perfect size/shape car for me would be a Renault 9.

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Sat in traffic on the Manchester Inner Ring Road this lunchtime, I get the unmistakable whiff of coolant along with a faint clattering noise..."hmm...is that my car?". I turn the radio off and the faint noise actually sounds like someone's emptied a bag of marbles in to a tumble dryer!

 

I pull off on to a side road and steel myself for the painful phonecall with an AA drone. Forty minutes later, my patrolman turns up, reaches the same diagnosis as myself that the water pump is out to lunch and asks me if I've ever had a tow before (I manage to keep a straight face!). I didn't relish the idea of 30 miles down the M62 looking at the back of a Transit van, but needs must and all that.

 

However, next thing I know, the patrolman is suggesting a trip to Andrew Page around the corner for a water pump and cambelt and reckons he'd have the job done in an hour. I had nothing to lose and quite a lot to gain through his bright idea, so off Page's we went. We move the car round the corner into an empty car park and he sets to work with much efficiency and a smile on his face. Extracting the old water pump proves to be the only hardship, and the whole job is completed with engine running in under an hour!

 

I tell him that this is service above and beyond what I usually receive from the AA, and certainly more than I expected from him. His response being that a lot of patrols don't want to get their hands dirty and just want you shifted and gone as soon as possible. He, however aims for a temporary or full repair. Good for him keeping it up, as I can imagine the pen-pushers in the AA offices would rather you dump as many cars as possible outside garages and get to the next job.

 

 

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Wow, what a champion bloke! I bet he loves the challenge of doing that sort of stuff for a change though, rather than just moving on to changing a tyre or reading fault codes off some electrically haywire VAG product.

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Time to bring the Astra's story up to date. It's been a frustrating and quiet three years for it with not much actual driving at all.

 

After buying it in January 2016, it went through its MoT in the April with flying colours and was then promptly fired off to my storage place for most of the rest of tat year. There were other cars to drive that Summer and the Astra didn't get a look-in!

 

Here it is about to be locked away in April 2016. The turquoise Astra belonged to a friend at the time and we thought it was worth a picture as you don't see two saloons together very often;

 

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Fast forward to the end of the Summer 2016 and the Astra came back home. Its spot in storage returned to the nice stuff that had been out for the summer show season and now needed tucking up for the winter. A bit of pottering about put some miles on the clock over winter, but most of the time it was sat on the driveway. The MoT test rolls round once more, which is when things go downhill somewhat. At the time I was getting all my cars MoT'd in Darwen, Lancs at a friend's garage (since retired) and it was a fairly nice run from Huddersfield. There's the option of a fast route, (M62 > M66 > M65) or a more sedate and scenic cross-country route. Anyway, on 31st March 2017 I'd just got on the M62and was passing Jct 23. Traffic was pretty much at a standstill heading East, but on the Westbound side we were moving at a fair rate until some numpty feels the need to brake, and many cars down the line we've all suddenly got to come to a complete stop, which for the most part we do apart from the Polo behind me that bends the boot lid and back panel!

 

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A great start to the day, which went on to get better when I got to the MoT test (which I was now late for) and the Astra fails on corrosion at the back of the sills.

 

The accident was resolved very efficiently by Footman James. They sent a great assessor out who was sympathetic to the circumstances and didn't see it as just an old banger. I'd made sure the car was cleaned and polished and he got to look at the comprehensive paperwork file that the car has. FJ paid out slightly more than the price I paid to buy the car in the first place, and they agreed not to record the accident against the car, so it still has a clean history in that regard.

 

Addressing the corrosion took a lot longer; to today in fact, when the Astra made it in to the garage for repairs. In those two years it has been providing great service as a semi-mobile storage unit, hanging around on the driveway. It is surprising how useful a car is for filling up with junk. Out of sight, out of mind!

 

Today's investigations to follow...

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Cleaned, emptied of crap and finally in the garage it is time to assess the welding requirements. Off with the rear bumper!

 

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The rusty side panels as a result of all the crap kicked up by the rear wheels we knew about already, but with the bumper off it'll be the first time to see accident damage clearly. The bumper did a great job of fending off the Polo and the bumper itself escaped completely unscathed.

 

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The impact was slightly off-centre, biased towards the near side of the rear panel. It is pushed in and slightly upwards with the lip where the boot seal sits offering an obvious clue;

 

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It's not decided yet if replacement of the back panel, or trying to get it back in to shape is the way to go. It's completely covered and hidden by the bumper and internal trim, so as long as it can be made to line up, problem solved? Replacement is an involved and long job.

 

As for the rust, well there's not much metal left at the sides behind the bumper! :-D

 

Nearside;

 

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Offside;

 

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As spectacular as that rust is, it looks like access is good, and it should be a straightforward repair. Are outer rear corners still available? I know you could get panes for mk3 cavaliers even very recently. If an outer corner is available, that would make life a lot easier.

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Great to see a early MK3 Astra Saloon, I can't remember the last time I saw one on the road.

 

I've used this company in the past and found them to be a decent all round service for repair panels.

 

They list rear lower corner panels for the Astra MK3 on there site. I'm not sure if it includes the saloon version but might be worth a try anyway as maybe another body variation could maybe be adapted?

 

 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.carz2.co.uk/&ved=2ahUKEwibqpPJsIHgAhV2RBUIHcwOC3QQFjAAegQIBhAD&usg=AOvVaw2It_SHh9TQOuwrbZvA7B-j

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The behind bumper bits for the saloon, hatch and estate are available as repair sections for 30 quid a side. Tells you all you need to know, really.

 

A recurring theme with Vauxhalls in this garage. Here's another repaired previously. Rusty in all the same places as this Astra;

 

 

 

 

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Three years tomorrow, this bloody Astra failed its last MoT!

What a frustrating and unsatisfying ownership experience thus far. It should have been good, and held so much promise! Well, Covid-19 chaos would seem to provide the impetus to revive the thing from near death;

A long weekend off work (for a now cancelled weekend away) and the Astra is jacked up and exploratory grinding around the o/s sill. It's rusty underneath! I'd never considered the Wirral counting as 'living by the sea'. I have now reconsidered!

Some holes along the sill itself. Will open that up and check what the inner sill looks like.

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That's the back of the sill, but there's holes along its whole length.

There's a lot of surface rust and peeling underseal under the car. Here's the inner face of the same sill at the rear just where the suspension arm mounts.

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Back to work this week; more progress next weekend hopefully!

 

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15 hours ago, Austin-Rover said:

Not too much to report from the weekend. The sill membrane is exposed, and the repairs needed to close the back of the sill are more evident after a lot of cleaning up. Welding next weekend?

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It's done well to last as long as it has, looking forward to seeing it all buzzed up 

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Easter weekend progress;

The end of the sill cleaned up;

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The end of the sill repaired;

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Elsewhere on this side of the car, a sill repair section is prepared;

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...and attached...

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Rear part of the sill to finish this coming weekend hopefully. Stay tuned!

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