Factory Five Racing Forum banner

1 - 20 of 774 Posts

907 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I joined this forum when I fell in love with the FFR '33 Hot Rod.

So I did a lot of research into what was needed to get one road legal in the UK.
This is still a long term goal for me, but I wanted to learn / practise some new skills first.

Either way, I wasn't planning to do anything until I moved to a new house with a garage.
( My old garage was lost during a re-modelling of our current house to make it more family friendly. )

However, in a moment of madness I ended up starting a kit car project anyway. :rolleyes:

I've just returned from a 2 week vacation in Orlando, Florida.
Where forum member dagall was kind enough to let me see his '33 under construction.

I showed him some photos of my project and promised to set up a build thread on here.
So this the story so far and I hope some of you will find it interesting...

It all started when I saw this Sammio Spyder on the cover of a kit car magazine.

This was a "cheap & cheerful" kit, based on an old Triumph Herald, that I really liked the look of.
There was also a forum with people documenting their builds and it really looked possible for me to do.

Then the company adapted the design to fit a Triumph Spitfire & called this new model a Cordite.
Their intention was to use the knowledge gained from making 100+ Spyder kits to improve this new kit.
This was their "artist's impression and again I thought this looked even better.

Then, whilst just doing research, I came across an unfinished Spitfire 1500 on Ebay.
The engine & rolling chassis had already been restored, but it had not been completed.
Before I knew it, I had bought my donor car! :eek:

Note: The paint only looks good from a distance and was a real mess in some places.

The seller even arranged delivery for me on the back of his friend's transporter...

And then it was tucked away on my drive, which, along with my back garden, would act as my garage / workshop.

It was shortly after this photo was taken that the wettest UK "summer" in 100 years began. :mad:

With a limit on the number of photos per post, I have prepared this update in smaller chunks.

Cheers, Paul. :)

907 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Obviously, the first part of the "build" involves stripping the donor car.
You then sell off all the parts you don't need to reduce your total costs.

This was the reason that I ended up buying this car in the first place.
It came with lots of brand new parts, some I'd use and some I'd sell on.

For example, this was the boot (trunk) before I emptied it...

And this was after...

Then I simply worked my way through the car removing lots of parts.
I'd never sold anything on Ebay before either, so that was a learning curve too.

My youngest daughter was keen to help, so joined in the cleaning parts for ebay photos...

If I'd know what I was doing on Ebay, I could probably have got better prices for some stuff.
But the main objective was to get all the car parts out of the house ASAP.
As for a short while, our dining room looked like an Auto Jumble! :eek:

Here are just some of the "as new" parts that came with the car that I sold...


907 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
At least selling big car parts on Ebay helped build up my feedback.
These were "cash on collection" items which reduced the risk to buyers.
( As I had absolutely zero feedback when I started. )

Some parts sold for much higher prices than I expected:

Some were about right:

But I lost out big time on the hood, as I didn't set a reserve price. :sad:
Still I hoped for some positive karma to come from how happy the buyer was!

With lots of car parts now gone, the Spitfire was looking like this.

At this point it was taken to my local garage (shop) for a safety test.

To drive on the road, all UK cars must have an annual MOT.
The MOT checks brakes, steering, lights, etc. to ensure the car is road worthy.

Obviously the car was not road worthy, but they tested everything they could.
So I knew that the rolling chassis didn't need any further work on it.
They also set up the engine so it would pass the MOT's emissions test. :cool:

907 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
When the car was returned I could still drive it within the confines of my driveway.
( OK, so that was only a few feet forwards & backwards, but at least it all worked. )

But now it was time to complete the final stripping of the donor car down to a rolling chassis.
Whilst I had stripped motorcycles down in the past, I've never done a whole car before.
So I took a lot of photos, made a lot of notes and labelled as many things as I could.

I disconnected all the wiring from the back & middle of the car & pulled it to the front.

Eventually I was able to remove the whole loom completely, quite a scary sight.

There are a large number of Spitfire parts that will be re-used in the kit.
( Pedals, dash board dials, gauges, switches, steering column, hand brake, etc.)
So I made sure I took my time removing these to avoid any damage.
Then slowly, but surely, the donor car was reduced to it's bare bones.

I removed the rear twin tail pipes, part of a new stainless steel exhaust system.

The Spitfire petrol tanks is also re-used and was straight forward to remove.


907 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Whilst I would be re-using the original steering column...

... my unfinished project came with a brand new steering wheel that looks the part. :cool:

Removing this black underlay / sound proofing stuff stuck to the floor was a messy job.
But I wanted to be able to show the condition of the body shell to potential buyers.

It was worth spending the time doing this cleaning as I got a good price for the body shell.
But without any lifting gear, it was a case of all hands on deck for a manual lift & manoeuvre.
There was the buyer, his dad & two friends + me & the recovery truck driver, which made 6 in total.
Thankfully we didn't have to carry it far and in the end it only took a few minutes to get it loaded.
Sorry the photos aren't great due to the fact it was collected just as the sun was going down.

At last, the backbone of my Cordite build is revealed, again apologies for the lack of a decent photo.

But on first impressions, it all looks pretty good to me, although clearly it needs a major clean!
I was expecting that, given the fact it had been languishing in a barn for years before I got it. :rolleyes:

I gave the Rolling Chassis a quick "wash & brush up" to get the bulk of the dust & dirt off.
Funny how cleaning & daylight gives a much better impression of what remains of my donor.

That brings the story of the initial preparation of the donor car up to date.

907 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I have tried to summarise my build so far, by grouping various activities together.
So I am not following the true time line just to avoid switching back & forth.
The reality is that while the donor car was being inspected the Cordite kit arrived.

Which makes this a good time to provide some background on the kit company.
By the time my kit was delivered, the company had just changed hands.
So I had paid my deposit to one person and the balance to another.
It all seemed in order as the new owner drove a Spyder & had ordered a Cordite kit.

But the reality was there were serious problems behind the scenes. :sad:
This only became clear to me when the kit was delivered.
Some parts were missing, others were used/second hand, or damaged.
It took months to resolve the issues which really delayed my build.

It got worse when I finally had the chance to fit the kit on the rolling chassis.
Rather than an evolution of the previous model, this was a "rushed job".
However, it took a while for the new Cordite kit owners to discover the problems.
( I was kit number 7, so there were no completed cars on the road at this point. )

So the new owner stopped selling the Cordite kit and went back to the drawing board.
The new version is called the Ribble Navigator and it has been completely overhauled.
There are new/better moulds for the body work and a new/better internal frame work.
The new kit promises to be exactly what the old kit should have been.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I should never have taken on this project.
But as the kit problems were a good excuse for me to learn to weld, I stuck with it.
I figured I would support the new owner as he acted in good faith.
There was also no point in chasing the previous owner as he had already lost his company.

Anyway, back to the kit that I had to deal with.
The internal frame work comes in two parts that bolt together.
The complete frame attaches using the original Spitfire body mounting points.

There was an extra cross bracing bar added to the frame for delivery.
So this was the first of many notes that I wrote to myself.

And just before I test fitted the framework, that is exactly what I did.

The fibreglass body work also comes in two main parts.
A one piece "flip up" hood which works in a similar way to the original Spitfire one.
Plus the main body shell which comes with a single "hump" and door openings.

It was the doors, screens, front foot wells & dash that were a disappointment.

The "beer crate" front grill and lowered floor pans were MIA at this point.
( I'll cover these in more detail later on. )

If nothing else, the kit gave my daughters somewhere to play.

Still, they were both keen to help with the car, so were roped into helping me paint the frames.


907 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
This might be a good time to mention that the kit does not come with any instructions.
There was a "Setting Started" photo guide on the company website for the Spyder builds.
But nothing for the Cordite (as it was new) and the chaos behind the scenes didn't help.

For a while I thought I was doing something wrong when I tried to line things up.
Then it became clear that the problems were with the framework itself, as it didn't fit.
So instead of a "cheap & cheerful" kit, I had a "cheap & nasty" lemon. :sad:

But I was determined to overcome all the issues and carry on as best I could.
Here are the two parts of the framework zip tied together so I could roughly check alignment.

This gives you the general idea of the support structure for the fibreglass bodywork.
I quickly threw the body shell over the top of the frame to get an idea of fit.
( It will sit lower when the frame is fitted properly & I've made a few adjustments. )

Flip Up Hood Hinges:
One of my optional "extras" was to have hinge brackets fabricated and bonded in place.

However there was a slight problem with this that I had not expected.
The original front mounting brackets on the Spitfire chassis were too wide.
This meant the hood could not be mounted to the original hinging points.

Not easy to see in the following photos, but I'm sure you get the general idea.

Eventually I discovered that the original Spitfire brackets need to be removed completely.

Then new new brackets for the hood hinges need to be welded on in their place.

This photo shows another builder's chassis after step one, but before step two.

But for now, I needed to use some 'tie down' straps to hold it in place.
At least it gave me the general idea of what the car would look like in the end.

It also meant there was a car "shape" under the cover.


907 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Internal Framework Test Fitting - Take 2:
I started at the back of the rear frame and managed to get that mounted properly.
I just had to enlarge the hole in the kit car frame to match the Spitfire chassis bolts.

Extra bolts are used through the frame & chassis when everything else it fixed in place.

I then worked my way forward to join the top halves of the frame together.
They are joined top and bottom on both sides (I will use nyloc nuts for final assembly).

At this point it was clear that the front frame was coming up short on the final mounting point.

After some gentle persuasion, the passenger side was in...

But the driver's side wouldn't line up despite the application of brute force & ignorance.
In the end, I had to admit defeat and drill another hole in the frame and bolt it in as best I could.

By now I knew I would need to make changes to the frame to get a better fit.
But I decided to carry on for now to see if there were any other problems to deal with.

The first of these came on the pedal mounting plate on the bulk head framework.
( Note: I left the runs in the paint as I'd rather let my children help than have a perfect finish. )

There was one hole missing and two of the existing holes didn't quite line up properly.
But that was a simple fix, just drill a new hole and enlarging the other ones.

The bigger problem was where the front pedal mounting points "stuck out".
It is slightly easier to see, after I reconnected the clutch pedal master cylinder.

The fibre glass body work did not clear the front mounting points of the pedals.
At this point I figured I would need to modify the bodywork to accommodate these.

This was the original Spitfire bulkhead ( Excuse the poor quality of the photo. )

And this was a rough sketch (not to scale) of my plans to fix the problem.

As it turns out, this was one of many blind alleys that I went down with this build.
But more on those later.

All the pedals were then removed again, so I could switch back to test fitting the body.

907 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Body Work Test Fitting - Take 2:
With the internal frame work fixed in position (give or take a bit) I put the body on top.
The fibreglass bulk head was hitting the front mounting plates of the frame on both sides.

But after a small bit of trimming, body shell dropped nicely into place.

The passenger side now fits very well as you can see by the door cut out in the frame.

However, the driver's side refuses to play ball and remains out by just a few mm.
The body work around the door cut off is not as low as on the passenger side.

One of the reasons for this was an optional seat belt mounting point fouling the body.

Clearly I'd need a different bracket, so out came the angle grinder to leave me with this.

Instantly, I had a much better fit all round, the driver's door cut out area was much better.

One thing to note is that the door openings (& doors) are actually different sizes!
The gap in the driver's side frame is 13 cm, but it is 17 cm on the passenger side.

So rather than an evolution in kit design, this model was basically thrown together.
The doors themselves are such a mess that I may end up sealing them closed.
Note: This is another area new company owner's have gone back to the drawing board on.
So their new Ribble Navigator will have none of the problems that I currently face.

But to end this post on a more upbeat note...
This is what the twin tail pipes will look like sticking out of the back of the car.
( Upbeat provided I forget that there is no where on the frame work to mount these! )

Also the side of the bodywork now just covered the part lowest frame rail.



So lots still to do, but slow progress was being made.

907 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Hand Brake Mounting Body Panel:
One of the things I wasn't sure how to do was mount the hand brake.
Many builders had simply made there own brackets welded to the frame.
Then some bright spark came up with the idea of using the original Spitfire section.

This is a second hand panel I got from a junkyard.
Note: I wasn't going to cut this out of my own body shell for two reasons:
- It was worth much more "whole".
- Given the work the previous owner had done restoring it, it seemed to be bad karma too.

With the front foot wells, gearbox cover & this panel in place, you get some idea of the interior.
( I was still waiting for the main floor pans to arrive at this stage. )

All the fibreglass panels are bonded and fibreglassed to the framework and each other.
This builds up to strengthen what will effectively be a removable body shell with floor.

Gas Tank:
The kit reuses the original Spitfire gas tank, I just needed to drill 6 holes in the frame.

I used normal nuts on the bolts for now, but will use nyloc ones after it has been painted.

I had to put extra washers on the driver's side to give me the clearance I need between tank & frame.

Excuse the poor photo, but you can just about see a thin strip of foam in the gap.

Steering Column:
By now I had become aware of another issue with the bulk head frame work based on other builds.

My frame looked the same as this car under construction:

Whereas, later kits had a kink in the frame work to accommodate the steering column:
( Another poor photo, but the kink is just visible on the left edge of the photo. )

So straight "out of the box" you couldn't put the Spitfire steering column back in!
( As the the framework is fouling the steering column is first photo. )

Note: The second photo was of the new company owner's own kit.
So by now he was realising just how many problems builders were facing.

By now I had also been given my first MIG welding lesson by my best friend.
( Who was also kind enough to lead me his MIG welder for the foreseeable future. )
So this problem became an excuse to build an alternative section of framework.

This was my basic plan:

After after some welding practise, I was able to cut some box section and weld this...

Clearly there is more than enough room for the steering column to pass through.
At this point I didn't modify the frame work as other options started to appear.

Rear Body Work:
Without doubt, my biggest headache was the area underneath the bodywork, behind the rear cockpit wall.
I have spent a lot of time trying to come up with a solution that will resolve these issues:
- Somewhere to mount my twin exhaust silencers.
- Provide some sort of inner rear wheel arches.
- Protection of, and access to, the rear lighting mounting points and wiring.

Thankfully another builder came up with the brain wave of using a rear section of the original Spitfire...

My quest to find something suitable in a junkyard took a long time.
In the end it actually lead me down a slightly different path, which I'll cover later on.

907 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
There was a pile of donor car parts that needed a refresh.

The inner headlight shells were also a mess, but I needed to modify them before painting.

One thing I did like about this kit, was the option to mix old and new parts together.
I bought new headlights with a side/parking light built in, unlike the Spitfire's separate side lights.
I also bought second hand Spitfire MkIII headlight cowls in place of my donor's 1500's fittings.

Then it was simply a case of making a hole in the inner shells for the side light bulb.

Then after a quick coat of paint they were looking a lot better.

I also needed to modify the wiring into the headlight shell to connect the side light.
One problem was the outer shell grommet was already a bit of a tight squeeze with 3 wires.

I warmed the grommet in hot water to allow me to pull the existing wires out (they were jammed in).
Then ran a drill bit through to enlarge the existing hole.

I just need to run one extra wire through, as earth can be linked to the main light within the shell.
So with the new wiring arrangements in place, I just wrapped everything up to finish the job off.

I rubbed down the headlight cowls with steel wool & sand paper, before a couple of coats of primer.
Then after light sand, they had a couple of coats of 'Gadget Blue' paint.

With all the pieces now finally ready, I was able to put them all together.

This was one of those jobs that could be squeezed in while waiting for other things.
It was also nice to rebuild something after a long time spend dismantling the donor.