Restoration part 1. the car as bought

Introducing my latest aqquisition a MK1a. This came about after buying this car cheap as an MOT failure with a good engine and box in order to transplant it into DJ and use that as a race car in the MR2 Challenge for 2005.

As I bought the car blind I really wasn't sure what kind of condition it would be in bodywise. What soon became apparent was that it really was quite good, apart from the state of the rear arches and rear sills which were a real mess. 

So with this in mind I elected to save this car and get all the rear wheel arches and various other rusty bits repaired. 

As the car was when I bought it. Notice the later type engine vent, colour coding of bumpers and colour coded rear panel. It looked quite good from a distance!

As this car is an early car built in January 1986 it features some marked differences from my previous MR2s which were all of the later type. The early cars which ran from start of production in 1985 to the end of 1986 had a different length suspension trailing arms. This tended to make the earlier cars oversteer a bit a more which Toyota tried to iron out though it resulted in more understeer in the later cars.

Also the earlier cars had a different and funkier interior. Red is a nice colour for the early cars as this means the seats are upholstered in a contrasting red and black material rather than the solid colour of the later cars. It gives the car a very 80s feel and adds to the character in my opinion. Thankfully Toyota didn't put matching red seat belts in as that would have been way too MG Metro!

Not the best quality pic, but you can clearly see what the 'funked up' MK1a interior is like.

Exteriorwise MK1a's had black bumpers and sills without sideskirts and a different engine vent. My car had been colour coded by a previous owner and had sideskirts and a later engine vent, so it looked very close to a 'MK1b'. I have opted to have the car set back to the original colour scheme and get the bumpers sprayed black as well as adding in the black rubbing strips and removing the side skirts. The red and black contrast really well together.

This is what my car should and will look like when it comes out of the bodyshop. This is in fact Mark's first car which shows exactly what it should be like. I still need to source the front four black rubbing strips. This car has been my reference for getting the colour coding exactly right.

There are a host of other small differences with the early cars but that would be verging on the anorak to discuss those here.

It doesn't look too bad but believe me it is! What was far worse though was when the triangle part of the side skirt (just visible in the lower right of pic) was removed as there literally was no metal underneath it! 

Furthermore the early cars (designated 'MK1a') are said to be lighter than the later cars. I will have to put the car on a weighbridge to find out. 

Restoration part 2: The bodyshop


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MK1a Restoration
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