First steps

6th July 2004

On days when my old Nova used to break down (which became ever more frequent over the years) my ritual was always the same - swear at it, kick it (optional), then go and buy Autotrader in a fit of pique and look for suitable replacements. Of course I would always end up side-tracked flicking through the "Prestige Marques" section with dreams of second-hand Porsches and Aston Martins and forget the troubles that had me reading it in the first place.

A similar distraction afflicts me now in my search for a donor car. Worse perhaps, because this time I have an excuse to read the "salvage" section in the search for a donor car.

"VX220 2.2 Sports convertible, 03/53, 3000 miles, light offside panel damage, mainly fibreglass repair."

The picture looks like the car has been attacked with a tin opener, but a brief flicker of temptation passes nonetheless. Sadly the news for cheap, but mechanically sound Ford Sierras is not so good this week. The couple of examples are too good (and therefore too expensive) to be donor cars. Looks like I'll need to start getting hold more magazines and papers. I've noticed that Pilgrim themselves offer all the parts ready stripped for 445. I have no idea whether this is good value at this stage, so I'll keep it as a reserve option. Half of me wants the experience of stripping the donor car myself, if only to understand how the parts are supposed to fit together. The other half is tempted by Pilgrim's offer as it will mean a shorter time to actually beginning the build.

But the search for the donor parts is not my only concern. I've also got to find somewhere to build this car! Our house doesn't have a garage, nor is the driveway suitable as an "al fresco" alternative. As a first effort, I've managed to find some garages a little way up the road for rent. A quick call to the estate agents tells me that they are available at a cost of 125 per quarter. This sounds pretty reasonable, but they are little more than lock-ups - there is no power in them and I suspect there will be little room to move around once the chassis is sitting in there. I suppose it would be ok if I could get a cheap generator, but the space my be a real problem. I am conscious that most of the chassis build will be over the winter - i.e. cold, dark and probably raining. If I can't work within the garage then I'm unlikely to be able to progress as quickly as I'd like.

So I've turned my attention to the finished article and how I envisage this build going. The first thing is finance. I want to avoid taking out any loans and as I finish paying off the finance on my current car in September, I am hoping be able to use the money that frees up to fund the build. The second thing is the car itself. I have a few ideas for this. What I want to create is a really modern roadster with the style and appeal of a classic. Part of this is covered of course by the use of modern suspension and engine as part of the build, but things like the interior, wheels and other finishing details have got plenty of scope for some unique touches. The engine will have to be a V8 (preferably running on big fat carbs!), but Rover? Ford? Chevrolet? I'm leaning toward a Rover V8, but the 3.5? 4.0? 4.6? So many decisions! I need to investigate this some more.

Finally I suppose I had better set a completion date. I tend to work better when I have a deadline so here it is - 31st July 2005. I'm getting married next August, so I'd like to have the car ready by then. This being my first build, I'm not sure whether this is implausibly optimistic or a realistic timeframe. One thing's for sure - I need to get on with sorting a garage and donor car quickly!

Current shopping list:

1 x Garage

1 x Donor car or parts kit

1 x V8 engine (preferably without too many problems)

1 x Visit to Pilgrim factory