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Pre-Production Cars


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A few years ago I read Mike Humble's horror story of owning a pre-production Daewoo Nexia.

https://www.aronline.co.uk/opinion/essays-breakdowns-misery-heartache-thatll-be-the-daewoo/

I wondered if anyone here had been given the chance of using a car before the official launch, & any interesting stories.

Do manufacturers do this to help find the bugs the development drivers didn't discover before the cars go on general sale?

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Got fibreglass splinters off a pre-prod vx220 at uni when trying to measure the side panels for my dissertation. We had 3 pre-prod VX220s at uni, one which was turned into a race car, one that had a jet engine put in it and the third was converted to electric iirc, but by the time i was there it had been stripped to a bare shell (which was scrapped in the last couple of months when I was there).

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7 hours ago, Richard_FM said:

A few years ago I read Mike Humble's horror story of owning a pre-production Daewoo Nexia.

https://www.aronline.co.uk/opinion/essays-breakdowns-misery-heartache-thatll-be-the-daewoo/

I wondered if anyone here had been given the chance of using a car before the official launch, & any interesting stories.

Do manufacturers do this to help find the bugs the development drivers didn't discover before the cars go on general sale?

Pop quiz question based on a random fact I just remembered while reading that.

In the late 1990s a Daewoo Nexia won a round of which European motorsport series?

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I remember picking up a Peugeot 306 estate with my old man (his I was a teen )(R557 EVW) was a 1.9 non turbo XUD LX spec, first one we had with the adjustable headrests (posh), a company car ofc.  But NOBODY had them even the dealer where it went for a service didn't have them in the showroom.

 

Not sure if it was pre-production but defiantly very early, the ones we saw after where all T and S reg's.  So we ran with the theory they where pre-production or very early and given some of the daft trim issues we had which the later ones didn't, it seemed to carry some weight. 

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Years ago i had a frost blue corsa b, on a 'K' plate. It was a 1.2 merit. But a 4 speed, had a plastic coin tray instead of a stereo, no wiring either. No cut outs in the doors for speakers, the door cards were smooth instead of speaker grilles, rubber gromits instead of aerial or rear wiper. My mate posted a picture of his modified gsi lookalike online, but there was more interest in mine in the background as it was thought to be either be pre-production or one of the very first.

Might have to dig my old computer out for pics of it one day.

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3 hours ago, MKT said:

Got fibreglass splinters off a pre-prod vx220 at uni when trying to measure the side panels for my dissertation. We had 3 pre-prod VX220s at uni, one which was turned into a race car, one that had a jet engine put in it and the third was converted to electric iirc, but by the time i was there it had been stripped to a bare shell (which was scrapped in the last couple of months when I was there).


Tell us more about the jet and electric powered VXs.

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35 minutes ago, Tayne said:


Tell us more about the jet and electric powered VXs.

Don't know much about them, they'd been finished with and had the engines removed by the time I got there. The rocket one wasn't particularly quick as this video shows!

 

This is the one that gave me the splinters, car had been picked apart as spares for the race car after the electric motor was removed.

 

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19 hours ago, Richard_FM said:

A few years ago I read Mike Humble's horror story of owning a pre-production Daewoo Nexia.

https://www.aronline.co.uk/opinion/essays-breakdowns-misery-heartache-thatll-be-the-daewoo/

I wondered if anyone here had been given the chance of using a car before the official launch, & any interesting stories.

Do manufacturers do this to help find the bugs the development drivers didn't discover before the cars go on general sale?

I was a manufacturing engineer on the Clio X65 project, introduction 1997/8? For the Lucas switches. 

Given that we already made pretty much the same switches for the Megan, Laguna, traffic and roadsters, it mainly the air bag connector and colour and a new auto test of the self cancel function which measured the peak forces 

IIRC we had to make 200 whilst Renault engineers watched and they ended up as part of thier pre-production run. I'm given to understand that because some of the suppliers were using prototype parts they planned on scrapping all 200 cars. 

I have the first off the line in my shed (The switch not the car) because I had to take 30 to our development shop for some testing and I miss counted. It stayed in my boot for weeks and I eventually forgot it was there. 

I visited the V6 Vauxhall assembly and test line some years later and we're driven from the main reception to that building in a white mk4 astra estate.  Preprod cars used to get around site.  Keys left in them. 

Then I had an Interview at MINI and there were loads of gen 1s used by engineers to get around site. 

I think MINI warranty problems would have been lowest the day before they brought out the Gen 2 ? 

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A few years ago, work threw me the keys to a pre-production Corsa because there was nothing else on fleet free. It was a long term test car for a well known magazine. 

It was strange. The fit and finish inside was fine, but the outside wasn't so much half-cocked, but the had the feel of a hand-finished pilot build car. The paint was flat and orange peely, and the panel caps were very inconsistent. The headlights actually moved when I washed it before returning it that evening, and the bumpers wobbled around as if a few fixing points had been left undone.

In other words it was built like a Tesla.

I can't fault how it performed, but I was amazed it was ever let out and not destroyed, let along given to a motoring title to use for three months - that strikes me as the kind of idiotic move BL would have pulled! Interestingly enough, the DVLA had just registered it as a "Vauxhall", with no model name. 

I can't remember the registration mark, so can't check to see if it's still with us. 

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Not personally, but a teacher at my secondary school had a MK3 Fiesta with no badges or markings on it whatsoever, except in the centre of the steering wheel. I remember inspecting it with another car nut friend at the time trying to work out what it was. Seem to recall it was metallic blue (kingfisher?)

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I'm a sucker for a car with a story and love the idea of owning a pre production motor. 

I guess manufacturers are much more fastidious now about keeping tabs on pre production stuff and ensuring they're returned and duly crushed. 

Speaking of pre production,  is that Rover 75 still languishing at the side of the road, slowly going green? 

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No 1 son (the human kind) has had loads of them, used to drive them down here to do calibration tests!

But, I had, not a car, but a mo'bike! A Yamaha 350LC about three months before release to the UK market. They gave a few out to 'Proddie' racers for us to test and compare with the RD400s we all used before. It was a 'V' reg and had a set of really hacked up bodywork to make it look a bit like a monoshocked 400 - just looked like it had a few bad accidents! It was yellow with speedblocks (Kenny Roberts colours - never released on the production bikes).

To be fair, it was actually really well made apart from the bits used to disguise it and was a pretty much as they eventually came from the shop. But we were reporting early on that the exhausts were cracking and Yam UK just said we were animals... which was fair comment, but they WERE cracking and all the early bikes got recalled for a fix. Later bikes got a pair of engine steady bars under the engine to stop them moving so much which is what cracked the pipes.

But they were slow. Compared to the 'bog standard' 400s we were racing (Ha!) but a few hours on the lathe (not me) and a bit of judicious file work and they flew and were easily faster then the 400s and Montjuic 500s were we battling with. Also gave us a chance to sort out rearsets and ground clearance  issues so when they were allowed to race, they were ready to rumble... and really did. Good bikes 350LCs :)  

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11 hours ago, Dick Longbridge said:

I'm a sucker for a car with a story and love the idea of owning a pre production motor. 

I guess manufacturers are much more fastidious now about keeping tabs on pre production stuff and ensuring they're returned and duly crushed. 

Speaking of pre production,  is that Rover 75 still languishing at the side of the road, slowly going green? 

I assume you’re referring to S525 OVP, the Longbridge 75?

It’s had a mini-restoration and was at the NEC Classic Car Show a couple of years back.9382512F-37FE-4F24-A5A4-92BEBA8F3295.thumb.jpeg.455278cdc9a11e0ad11d93fbde4624bd.jpeg

Talking of pre-productions, I had the good fortune to work on a works Fiesta XR2i whilst I was at college.

G110 XVX, registered 18.9.1989. One month before the launch of the XR2i.

G110 XVX - Ford Fiesta XR2i - September 1989

It started off as a standard 1600 CVH power plant, but was obtained by Ford and a 1800cc ‘Zeta’ engine was plonked in. This is what is now known as the Zetec.

G110 XVX - Ford Fiesta XR2i - September 1989

As you can see from my poorly scanned photo, there are no markings on the rocker cover casting and there is a rubber bung for an oil cap. The wishbones were standard 1600 CVH units, packed out with numerous white washers in an attempt to adjust the suspension. It didn’t exactly go well as both front tyres were worn away to the wires on the inner edges.

I seem to recall there was a pipe jutting out under the rear bumper with a valve on/off device fitted. This was to enable fuelling from a external lorry tank without the car stopping when it was having tests conducted (I assume the tests were performed at Dunton in Essex.)

Other things to note were that the rear view mirror was bolted to the roof instead of the windscreen, the dashboard had holes from where computers were fitted and the temp/fuel gauge needles were oversized!

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Have tried to find info on what vehicles were used to test the MK3 Corrina running gear,ohc engines etc but never had much luck.believe the ohc engines may have been fitted in capris.

Have one pic of rear axle in a non Cortina ( shows a transverse fuel tank) but pretty sure is a pinto as these originally were sold with the 1.6 ohc  & the European ohc.

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12 hours ago, sheffcortinacentre said:

Have tried to find info on what vehicles were used to test the MK3 Corrina running gear,ohc engines etc but never had much luck.believe the ohc engines may have been fitted in capris.

Have one pic of rear axle in a non Cortina ( shows a transverse fuel tank) but pretty sure is a pinto as these originally were sold with the 1.6 ohc  & the European ohc.

You've just reminded me that I convinced someone that my 1600GT facelift Capri fitted with a 2.0 was the only factory 2.0 Pinto Mk1 made. I also fitted GXL headlights to it and he thought they were factory too. Wish I could remember the number and often wonder if he continued spouting my made up bollocks during his ownership, he was a Capri Club International member and a real expert*  

To be fair it was immaculate and went like fuck- faster than the 3000 GXL I'd previously seized, scrapped and stole the lights out of.

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Not pre-production, but 'experimental'. When I started work in 1983 the company pool car was a salmon pink Ford Escort Mk2. Apparently it was from a small batch of cars sprayed in different colours as part of a styling exercise. Some of the radical 70's colours were adopted, the salmon pink was not and the car was included cheap in a deal they had for a fleet purchase of Ford cars.

Another factory in the group had a lime green Escort from the same exercise - although I think that colour was used. Our Escort was roughly this colour -

ro31.jpg

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I think the Autoshite Smart car was a pre production car as it was built in the June and release wasn’t till September 98 and I’ve yet to see another R plate but it was registered in Madrid first and who in their right mind would order a yellow car with a blue interior lol.

 

Also the log book said Daimler if I remember rightly and when sorting out insurance I would just call it a pulse as I couldn’t find any info on the model and that was the nearest spec I could find and at the time I bought it the car didn’t have a model sticker on it like the other smarts I have seen.

I will say though it was really well screwed together and on the original engine and ran like a dream and didn’t use oil which is rare for an old suprex. engine.

CA128522-5ADE-411F-9334-F6A5148FF45E.jpeg

02289C55-6527-426C-B27E-8CFBC5EFB7C0.jpeg

EFF2C2A9-D65F-43DA-B029-4B2E02C99180.jpeg

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Heritage motor centre (now the British car museum) had quite a back catalogue of firsts / prototypes (and lasts) from the BL/ arg era prior to a big auction off in the 2000s

One they still have is a development mule for the MGF (ok not strictly “pre production” as that is a specific point in the development process several stages later) ; but I love the plucky Brit on a budget and with a sense of humour aspect.

 

9BE944A1-3D2C-4FE7-926D-957A7E025A28.png

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C1F0A1BD-6CB8-4497-AF21-D3A020A16B1C.png

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I remember seeing those Smart cars when they were launched, I used to walk past their Knightsbridge showroom of a lunchtime, all LHD initially.

I quite fancy the idea of a press-release MINI.  They’re all Y registered, I think OBL is the local plate but all dealerships got one.  There were a few hundred made and they crop up on eBay every so often.

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22 hours ago, greengartside said:

I assume you’re referring to S525 OVP, the Longbridge 75?

It’s had a mini-restoration and was at the NEC Classic Car Show a couple of years back.9382512F-37FE-4F24-A5A4-92BEBA8F3295.thumb.jpeg.455278cdc9a11e0ad11d93fbde4624bd.jpeg

Talking of pre-productions, I had the good fortune to work on a works Fiesta XR2i whilst I was at college.

G110 XVX, registered 18.9.1989. One month before the launch of the XR2i.

G110 XVX - Ford Fiesta XR2i - September 1989

It started off as a standard 1600 CVH power plant, but was obtained by Ford and a 1800cc ‘Zeta’ engine was plonked in. This is what is now known as the Zetec.

G110 XVX - Ford Fiesta XR2i - September 1989

As you can see from my poorly scanned photo, there are no markings on the rocker cover casting and there is a rubber bung for an oil cap. The wishbones were standard 1600 CVH units, packed out with numerous white washers in an attempt to adjust the suspension. It didn’t exactly go well as both front tyres were worn away to the wires on the inner edges.

I seem to recall there was a pipe jutting out under the rear bumper with a valve on/off device fitted. This was to enable fuelling from a external lorry tank without the car stopping when it was having tests conducted (I assume the tests were performed at Dunton in Essex.)

Other things to note were that the rear view mirror was bolted to the roof instead of the windscreen, the dashboard had holes from where computers were fitted and the temp/fuel gauge needles were oversized!

That Rover lived round the corner from us for a while. 

20170414_122617.thumb.jpg.84b392a6f7482a9acbe43aa7025c1386.jpg

MGR plates

20170414_122555.thumb.jpg.9eb89d6f096211fed665bd4e3eea521a.jpg

And wheel trims. 

20170414_122546.thumb.jpg.8e33781c619a00ab27eb7a343a229e66.jpg

These were taken in April 2017.

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Not pre production but back in the days of Halewood producing the escort Mk2 a chap I know who worked there said it was common practice that when an employee ordered car went down the line it would have lots of "extras " fitted  at their request, he's adamant that one guy ended up with what would be the only ever factory Mk2 4 door RS2000 

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When Ford launched the MK2 in 1975 they did a fuel economy stunt with a two door, much lightened and with only one gear (3rd?). They'd accelerate then switch off and coast, re-starting at a low speed over and over. Don't remember the outcome but I do know the body ended up with Barry Lee as an oval circuit hot rod. I'd love to know what happened to that car, I suspect it was at least one of the very first if not a pre-pro test car.

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8 hours ago, omegod said:

Not pre production but back in the days of Halewood producing the escort Mk2 a chap I know who worked there said it was common practice that when an employee ordered car went down the line it would have lots of "extras " fitted  at their request, he's adamant that one guy ended up with what would be the only ever factory Mk2 4 door RS2000 

The so-called "foreman's friend" as described in Alex Haley's "Wheels". I'm sure it did happen.

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