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Achtung! 1979 Spitfire 1500 - good news, bad news...


N Dentressangle
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On 11/26/2022 at 10:32 AM, N Dentressangle said:

So, time for a cup of tea and a think about how to attack this...

...which has produced the plan of lying in the driver's footwell looking up underneath the dashboard. 

This method was successfully employed to fix my Saab 9-5's errant HVAC. I used some old foam to make the job more comfortable*.

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2 hours ago, N Dentressangle said:

I reckon 12 or 13 years! All OK with you? You were selling a lot of garden furniture when we met 😎

Could be that long. The furniture was fun, but the guys I was working for were a bit tricky, and we ended up folding the company in the UK and the Netherlands.

I've had a lot of fun since then, and hope to continue to do so. Good to know you're still fucking about with bikes and cars. 

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So what was it like?

Actually OK. The positives:

  • ride and comfort are fine
  • plenty warm enough, even on a 0 dec C day like today - heater works well
  • stable and easy on the motorway - spent a lot of time in the the outside lane
  • fast enough - overdrive seems to make 3k rpm the right cruising speed, giving 69mph which is fast enough these days to pass many people. Had the odd blast up to 80mph which felt fine, with plenty more to come
  • lots of niceness from other traffic - no issue in changing lanes or being let out

On the down side:

  • the loud exhaust is bloody awful. I've never liked loud exhausts, and this one's appauling. Louder than my motorbike, and needs swapping pronto. Will probably go for a plain stainless (or even mild steel) original
  • the horns are knackered. Now replaced - see next post
  • some other drivers (ie school run mums) just ignore you and pull out and bully you. Even my 8yr old daughter said 'can't they see you?'
  • sticky throttle cable needs lubing

I think that's it. Bear in mind I'm comparing it with a motorbike. If you came from a modern car it would probably be awful, but the fact I arrived at work today not dressed as a Captain Scott tribute act or freezing to death is a good thing.

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  • N Dentressangle changed the title to Achtung! 1979 Spitfire 1500 - sophistication? I've BEEN to Bristol

I'm following this with interest - suspect I will not experience a Spitfire on the road before 2028, but these affordable Mk IVs do look so tempting. And I have to say I like their faces.

Not helped by how many Mk IV bits I find cheap compared to earlier model stuff.

Still love that colour, you bought really well there!

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37 minutes ago, SiC said:

I actually prefer the later looks and backends than the early Spitfires. Market doesn't agree but I suspect that's because 70s cars that were released in the 60s never reach the same market values. 

I know values aren't comparable, but mk3 GT6s seem equally as desirable, if not more desirable than the mk1 and 2. Personally, I prefer the styling over the earlier cars with both the GT6 and the Spitfire. Great to see this one up and driving so quickly. 

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43 minutes ago, SiC said:

I actually prefer the later looks and backends than the early Spitfires. Market doesn't agree but I suspect that's because 70s cars that were released in the 60s never reach the same market values. 

 

3 minutes ago, Dick Longbridge said:

I know values aren't comparable, but mk3 GT6s seem equally as desirable, if not more desirable than the mk1 and 2. Personally, I prefer the styling over the earlier cars with both the GT6 and the Spitfire. Great to see this one up and driving so quickly. 

I agree, but I suspect it’s what we grew up with. The Mk IV Spitfire always looked more modern with its Stag flavoured rear end, and of course it had a bigger engine.

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8 hours ago, SiC said:

I actually prefer the later looks and backends than the early Spitfires. Market doesn't agree but I suspect that's because 70s cars that were released in the 60s never reach the same market values. 

Me too. Plus I wanted the latest, most practical version for its driveability, so a cute little Mk3 was never on the cards.

In that vein, some more fettling has been achieved. I persevered with sealed beam headlights on my LR Series 3 for as long as I could, but they're just not bright enough for modern traffic. Even connected via their own loom with direct feed and earth to the battery they're still too dim, especially when faced with an oncoming modern car festooned with the latest wanky LEDs. I ordered a pair of Wipac Quadoptics (standard Defender fitment) and when Royal Mail could eventually be arsed to bring them I got on with fitting them.

BAD THINGS had happened to the alloy headlamp cowls. Neither was held on with the proper fasteners - one had bodged in metric bolts fitted, and the other had just been completely fucked with the wrong size bolts over the years and was clinging on by one bolt. I ended up tapping the holes on that one out to M8:

kKX4J1N.jpg

but found the correct BSF nut and bolts for the other side. Some muppet had also fitted the rubber gasket between the bowl and headlamp retainer, rather than between the bowl and wing. Meant the cowl wouldn't sit correctly so I drilled out the nasty rivets holding the bowl in and bolted it properly to the wing with gasket in between. All now sits together nicely.

I put Halfords 200% brighter H4 bulbs in the quadoptics. Spot the difference between sealed beam and new set up:

4MNgsTd.jpg

Aroundabout this point I had a visitor to the garage. The front doors were open and I heard a commotion, looked up and saw this character:

cDC6mo4.jpg

I'm no ornithologist - it's obviously a hawk, but what kind?

Clearly evolutionary effort was expended on flying and talon development rather than intellect, because the daft sod couldn't be persuaded to fly out again. Eventually I hit on the idea of turning the lights off so the light outside was brighter, which did the trick and off he / she flew!

 

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  • N Dentressangle changed the title to Achtung! 1979 Spitfire 1500 - it's a Spitfire, not a Hawker Hurricane

Shitehawk - one of the best insults I’ve ever heard.

Loving this project by the way, Wheeler Dealers did one the same colour with an unfortunate supremacist-themed number plate. And an unfortunate fat wanker behind the wheel.

56E48B83-2F9E-46DA-9AF7-47AFF7A23DCA.thumb.jpeg.153254e2c9e3ffd3f32d10ba5a6641f7.jpeg

Interestingly, it has been re-registered as KGY 523V.

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Another job that needed sorting was tuning the twin SU HS4 carbs. When I bought the car it wouldn't idle until I'd twiddled with one of the carb idle screws so I knew that not all was well in Carbland. It also stalled coming back from Bristol as I got off the M5 and stopped at the roundabout, so I wasn't entirely surprised to remove the air box and find this:

hOS9S1M.jpg

Yep, that's a pair of waxstat equipped carbs. If you've never come across them, the waxstat is one of BL's more stupid 'innovations', an already intensely competitive field. There is basically a hollow button sitting at the bottom of each of the two tubes you can see. It's filled with wax. As the engine heats up, the wax expands and pushes a piston in the top of the button up. In turn this pushes up the jet in the carb and leans off the mixture. It's intended to be an economy device, but they're basically utter shit and end up leaning the mixture off so much that the car stalls when hot, or struggles to run at all off the choke.

You can buy a fixed jet kit for about 80 quid, but that's not the shite way, is it? This, on the other hand, is a fix which costs exactly 4p:

HOWQcXy.jpg

The waxstat button is at the top of the pic, and below is the fix. Two pennies give you a perfect thickness replacement and with the piston sitting on top of them allow you to have fixed jets for 4p! Plenty more detail and explanation on the net if you're inexplicably interested in this.

So, having done this mod I balanced the carbs by ear as best I could, set the mixture to something plausible and set the idle. They're not perfect - I'll get the Colourtune on them tomorrow and sort the mixture out properly - but they're better than they were. I'm contemplating buying one of these:

https://www.halfords.com/tools/hand-tools/all-hand-tools/gunson-carbalancer-495254.html

as I don't trust my ear to gauge hiss. I can't really tell the difference - maybe my tinnitus is actually that shit. So if anyone's got one kicking around they don't want any more I'll happily buy it off you!

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So, what's new? Another trip to Bristol and back, this time with a set of new badges front and rear:

gMDpPiv.jpg

93BgLZG.jpg

On a similar theme, WTF is my steering wheel badge? How do you actually not bother replacing this when you've removed it? The stuff simply 'missing' from this car just mystifies me. I'm still waiting for a new battery clamp and other bits n bobs to turn up in our random postal service, but finally there arrived today a much longed for delivery from our man and Jess the cat:

XwHZBwT.jpg?1

Wasted no time slotting this into its rightful place:

vgvcToP.jpg

Much better.

Next on the list was to find out where the feckin exhaust is leaking. Apart from the obvious risk of being gassed, the aroma of my expensive cologne has been overwhelmed by stink of exhaust fumes on my person at the end of journey. That won't do, so up in the air with the Spit and play hunt the leak. Needn't have bothered jacking it up - leak was in plain view at the manifold / downpipe joint, and a nut and bolt sorted the problem:

lmCCSHh.jpg

N/S headlamp seemed to be making a bid for freedom, despite (or maybe because of) the attention lavished on it only a few days ago. So off came the cowl again (glad I retapped those threads) and time for a good look at what was going on:

BO4AZSX.jpg

Anyone want to guess what the ham-fisted gibbon who fitted this headlamp bowl fucked up?

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  • N Dentressangle changed the title to Achtung! 1979 Spitfire 1500 - re-badged
32 minutes ago, High Jetter said:

Alignment screws?

Pretty much.

They riveted (riveted? I ask you) the bowl on about 20 deg rotated wrongly. It should be fitted like this:

gGFIhtG.jpg

so that the alignment screws are at 9 and 12 o clock, with the fixed screw at about 4-30.

Nasty rivets drilled out and proper self-tappers fitted into the holes already there in the wing in the right places. I mean, it took effort to fuck this up, but even more effort to work out wtf they'd done wrong and how to fix it. They'd added an extra third adjustment screw at about 4 o clock just to confuse me - god knows where they'd got that from.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So what's been going on? Not that much really - still waiting for stuff to arrive in the post, as well as for the weather to get a bit warmer...

Spit has been doing good service to Bristol and back. Here it is ready to set off on Friday:

ZV8ROHI.jpg

Thanks to the Kenlowe it warms up really quickly so no issues with misting up or hypothermia.

The soft top is crap. Badly fitting and probably badly fitted too, so plenty of drafts at motorway speeds. Not really tried it in the rain yet, but my right leg is going to get wet, that's for sure.

Luckily the new Bosch wipers do a good job of clearing the muck off the screen in this weather and the washers are good too. The outside lane of the M5 might not be its natural habitat, but it's certainly happy mixing it with the Audis and BM's when needed. It's actually getting quite satisfyingly filthy!

2ZmthX8.jpg

Now a few teasers for future instalments.

My dream interior would be Pasha cloth, but the original Spit houndstooth is a reasonable substitute. New seats are £500+ which is not the way of the true shiter so I have picked up a pair of very tatty original seats, complete with runners:

aHmYbgG.jpg

Refurb currently in progress, report to follow.

I've also picked up a stainless exhaust which will get fitted when the weather's warmer.

Finally, courtesy of Moss there's a new rad top hose to fit which I'm hoping will be squishy enough to stop the Kenlowe sensor from leaking.

Stay tuned for more exciting* updates!

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  • N Dentressangle changed the title to Achtung! 1979 Spitfire 1500 - normal service
4 minutes ago, N Dentressangle said:

The soft top is crap. Badly fitting and probably badly fitted too, so plenty of drafts at motorway speeds. Not really tried it in the rain yet, but my right leg is going to get wet, that's for sure.

spacer.png

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/195500200660

 

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That's cheap - thanks.

However, I'm going to resist hardtop thoughts. I'd like to get the hood down when I can, which thanks to climate change might be sooner than we'd think. And a hardtop is another thing to have to store somewhere.

I'm really a biker, remember 😉

Something like this in canvas / mohair is probably what I'll go for in time for next winter:

https://prestigeautotrim.com/uk/triumph-spitfire-carhoods-1971-1980-aftermarket.html

£350 at the moment! Tempting.

 

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  • N Dentressangle changed the title to Achtung! 1979 Spitfire 1500 - good news, bad news...

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