Taking the body off a Unipower doesn’t happen every day and it was with trepidation that the process was started…. however, not long into the procedure (medical term needed here!) it was evident that it was the right thing to do.
Once the entire body was off, we could see 2 things: just how bad the corrosion of the chassis was (only up to 3 inches above the floor interestingly) and secondly, more worryingly, evidence of some extremely poor damage repair work. Here, I use the word repair advisedly. No problem though, as back to my demon chassis man again, this time, to re-tube the chassis where necessary. Not before being blasted, to show every blemish and there were lots! After the remedial work, it was back to the blasters again and then on to have the finish chassis coatings applied. Easy!!
For all this to happen, the car had to be completely stripped out. All 4 corners removed, steering, pedal box, remaining trim, dashboard etc, etc. Time consuming for sure. One problem that needed looking at immediately, was why the steering was impossibly stiff. On removing the uprights, the first discovery: the top and bottom ball joints were solid; no movement possible, they having been assembled with zero play!!. Then, the steering column U/J was found to have seized up. Interestingly, the steering rack itself moved freely, even without any oil in it! But, the rack, at some stage later in its life had been replaced, and the longer arms necessary (as supplied to the factory as specially made) had had some longer arms just welded in!!. Time for that to go then. It wasn’t just the front uprights that had been assembled with zero play but the rear ones too! More on that later.
While the chassis was being refurbished, the new body panels were being fabricated. Every single one! Front and rear. New nose, floor, bulkheads, roof etc etc. The clamshell had been made earlier on in this process. Again, all this with the immense help of the Club's Gerry Hulford, who both provided the all-important factory correct moulds, arranged and managed the considerable skills and facility to construct the new body, but also vital knowledge on how the body should be built as per the factory spec.
The time came soon enough for the beautiful looking chassis to go up country from Cornwall to be bonded with the body. A lengthy job, but it fitted well as only factory moulds will, the end result being fantastic. Super stiff and looking really good.
So after a quick hoover around, the body chassis unit was off to the Classic Motor Show at the NEC Birmingham to be the backdrop to the Club stand.
All photos copyright of Gerry Hulford