Over the next few years, the car continued to be completed and improved as well as having it's fair share of failures and problems. This was not unexpected as the 1 year rebuild dealt primarily with just the body and fixing the obvious worries.
The interior was significantly changed and added to. Some of the items include:
Other areas of the car were also improved:
One fine day, I set off by myself down to the South Coast of NSW to meet up with some friends for a surfing holiday. Hours out of Sydney and miles from nowhere, the car suddenly began running on just 3 cylinders. I pulled over and started to check all the obvious things... Nothing seemed wrong, so in desperation I pulled out the plugs. The electrode on number 4 spark plug was crushed onto the centre electrode - hence no spark. I couldn't work out how or why, but as I had a spare set of plugs with me I changed it and what'd you know, it was fine! It still puzzled me though...
By now I had missed the arranged rendezvous time with my friends, in fact it took me two days to find them during which time it was just me and my 850 camping out. Had a great time and the car was perfectly well behaved. Anyway, after 5 days and 500 miles we all got back home to my friend's place. They asked me to stay for dinner, so I offered to go to the shop and buy a few things to contribute. I started the car and BANG! It would go no more.
When the engine was stripped down, the mystery of the bent spark plug was revealed. A piece of ring had blown out of the top of the piston and hit the elecrode, thus embedding itself in the softer alloy of the head. There it must have stayed put for several hundred miles happily chewing away at the top of the piston. The miracle is that it ran so well and got me home before letting go.
Doug to the rescue! I had never delved down into the depths of a block before - neither had Doug, but hey, it wasn't his car! Together we rebuilt the engine with Doug doing the bulk of the work while I played apprentice, chased up parts and paid the bills. I learnt quite a bit while making a nuisance of myself!
Why had the ring cut loose I hear you ask? Well, I didn't know the history of the car when I bought it, I just knew it had a blown head gasket. I had the head machined at the time assuming that between the alloy head and the cast iron block, that it must be the head that had warped. I now suspect it had had many blown gaskets in the past and all along it was the block that was out of shape! After having this machined when the engine was rebuilt, the little motor is still as sweet today, so we must have got it right.
The only other dramas were a dropped valve years later, a minor accident when a complete idiot turned right into the right rear quarter panel, my EX boyfriend backing into it in his driveway and putting a towbar in it's nose and the time it sneaked off down the driveway while I collected the mail and it collected a Ford Laser (very minor damage).
Another time, an attempt was made to steal it prior to the alarm being fitted. Some scumbag used bolt cutters to snap off the driver's side quarter window hinge and had cut all the wires under the dash to hotwire it. When I found it with the door open in the morning, I checked out their wiring job. They had missed one wire, so the car would crank, but not start. This ignition switch was also one of the locking types, so I don't know what they hoped to do about that! At the time, there was nothing in the interior except the seats and belts (none of the goodies were fitted yet), so at least nothing was stolen. The window was replaced and the alarm was fitted that day.
Triumph & Tradgedy
All the Extras
Resprayed & Improved
Today & the Future