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Old 31st October 2009, 21:15   #1
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Default S525 OVP - Restoration: The Long Road Back

So, we bought a car. And an unusual one to boot.

S525 OVP is a pre-production 1.8 Classic, used by MG Rover for publicity work and later in its life was the security/ambulance for the factory. It's had something of a chequered life, featuring in television dramas when not pounding round the factory in support of the security teams as they try to keep less savoury characters out of the grounds. It's also undergone something of an identity crisis too, turning into a ZT when the Rover name faded away and Nanjing took over the rights to MG.

Recent months saw the car suffer a seemingly terminal decline in health and it was parked in a standing area, almost resigned to eventually disappearing inside a crusher - until some gallant club members stepped in and asked if it could be saved. They hard work and persistence paid off and MG very kindly offered the the car to the club for a nominal sum. All we had to do was collect it and get it back to its original specification. Easy. Ahem....

So, this thread is an ongoing update into the trials and tribulations into refurbishing a Rover 75. We'll be aiming to restore it and cover the work in detail to help club members and fellow owners understand their cars better. We hope you find it a fascinating project and one that will be great fun to follow.

This project is all down to the dedication of a lot of people, and we are delighted they are involved. Folks like Andy Garcarz, Martin Green and Lewis Rabett in finding the car and Gary Egan at MG Motor for allowing us to purchase it. And of course there is Lates, the ever-popular man-in-the-know who not only took the car under his wing but got it all sorted out too. Then there are the commercial members including Corin (Messenger) and Les (SMC), who have been tremendous in helping out with spares. And lastly, and certainly massively importantly, to all the club members who have similarly helped with parts and donated their time and money to do so many tasks on the car that would otherwise take an age to get done. It's a testament to the following that this club has that there are so many people willing to help, and they will all be recognised later on.

Anyway, it's time to kick things off. Happy reading!
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Old 31st October 2009, 21:20   #2
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Default Part one - Time for a new home.

Date: Friday 30th October 2009. Location: Longbridge, Birmingham. The event: Fetching our fist ever club car from it's home for the last 9 years.

That little lot perhaps simplifies the job we had on a rather cold Friday morning. The car had two flat tyres and only one was holding air, while it was also effectively blocked in by a Tourer waiting for the crusher. Thankfully security were on hand and they were very kind enough to clear a way in to get at the car. Oh, and it doesn’t start, mainly due to an electrical fault (most likely the battery was defunct but the connections didn’t look too clever either) but I just remembered a security guard mentioning something about a fuel pump too.

Anyway, time for a few pics and some comments.



Here it is in all it's glory. Sort of. When you consider that this car is not just 11 years old but has also been used for the majority of its life 24/7 round two large factory complexes then it's done remarkably well to be in one piece. As you can see the transformation into a ZT also included ditching the original steel wheels for a set of alloys.


As it slowly inched up there was some good news - no big dents in the sills! Overall it's straight but looking tired


It was a bit of a squeeze getting on the trailer, not helped by the terminal tyre being on the front. Now, the more eagle eyed amongst you will spot something a little odd about the front. And I don't mean the projector lights which will be replaced for original units


Once again S525 hits the road. On a trailer admittedly but that's just detail. The journey to the batcave was thankfully painless.


And here it is, offloaded and wondering where on earth it has been taken to.
Remember I said it had been shod with alloys? I forgot to mention that this didn't extend to having a matching set. There's actually a simple reason behind this. With there being so much debris on the roads round Longbridge punctures were frequent - it was simpler to just grab a wheel and tyre instead of trying to get something fitted on a rim.


From the rear it doesn't look too bad. Note the MG plinth, which has above it a huuuuge MG badge. The bodywork is tired overall - just about every panel has signs of corrosion or dents - and there is evidence of it being Dover White too for some reason. However, the plate states the code as NNX so we can say pretty confidently that is should be Arran White.


Lifting up the bonnet shows a dirty but also healthy-looking K series. No oil marks, water leaks, not a drop of mayo on the dipstick before you ask. We'll know more when it fires up though.


The interior is not too good. Well, it's had a hard working life so in fact it's not fared too badly at all. The wheel is wrong of course and it also has MG dials which will need replacing. The dash has some scratching which will either mean changing it or repairing the lacquer. We may try the second option to see what results we can come up with. Now, if you were looking at the front end earlier then this next pic will pretty much confirm your suspicions.....


There! If you thought the car didn't have aircon then you had guessed correctly. This is one poverty-spec motor, with keep-fit windows in the back too. In this respect it's exceedingly rare now.

And that's about it for the moment. Over the next couple or so weeks it will have a thorough inspection to determine what needs to be done and we will then be posting up the information as part of a regular rebuild report. We will also be making some anouncements on how members can help in the rebuild, which we hope you will enjoy reading.
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Old 31st October 2009, 21:29   #3
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Default Part Two - first discoveries

With the car safely delivered to Lates the next day provided an opportunity to start conducting the evaluation of the car. As this vehicle has been so active during its life it has also got to be assumed that literally every aspect has to be looked at – and on what is a reasonably complex car like a Rover 75 this will need time and a methodical approach. So the first tasks today were to try and get the engine running and switch the flat front tyre for the spare – which will at the same time allow a cursory inspection of part of the front suspension.

With the car jacked up it very quickly became clear why the front tyre wouldn’t inflate – the spring had snapped and torn into it. Very nasty and, as we all know, something that the factory was concerned enough about to issue a recall for dealers to fit retainer systems to prevent exactly such a scenario happening with owners. It’s ironic to discover that this modification was not done at Longbridge to one of their own cars....



So, with the car now much easier to move about it was time for Lates and Pete to have a bash at getting it to start. As it had stood for a pretty long period of time the spark plugs were removed and oil squirted down into the cylinders, the booster cables were attached and the key turned. The engine turned, but it was struggling despite having plenty of oomph running through the jump leads.

With the car making some God awful schreeching noises,despite having plenty of power to it, Lates and Pete looked at each other and sort of went "hmmm..... does that sound internal or a belt tensioner bearing, water pump bearing or more ?" Taking a step back to allow the battery recover somewhat a burst of inspiration came over them..... out came the side cutters to say goodbye to the alternator drive belt. Well, the battery wasn’t interested in holding a charge so it was pointless worrying about that for now. Lo and behold, the engine starts to turn a lot faster – so we can add a duff alternator to the list. The bearings within the alernator were shot.

While the engine was turning over fine, actually starting was another matter. A good ten minutes passed until it began to kick into life but slowly it reawakened and white plumes of smoke puffed out the exhaust – a legacy of the oil poured into the cylinders.



By holding it on a fast tickover to encourage it to warm up Lates and Pete were able to watch and listen to it for any early indications of problems, but it seemed fairly happy until it eventually used up the old fuel in the tank and coughed and died. Some fresh fuel next time will have us taking a deeper look into its health.

With the electrics now wide awake from their slumber the instrument pack has become a real source of interest. As you can imagine from a car containing bits hurriedly replaced to turn it into a pretend ZT it was having a little trouble recognising itself properly. But some of the error messages the instrument panel was displaying are not exactly what you may expect. What seems to be a warning that the self levelling suspension has failed for example is a real curio, along with a traction control warning – the 1.8 didn’t have this even as an option. And with the dashboard making a bonging noise with the driver’s door open while the key is in the ignition does lead us to suspect that it may be an export spec IPK that was put in.

While mentioning the driver’s door it became very obvious that the check strap has gone AWOL too. A minor part but really rather important if you don’t want to get bruised shins!

So, the next step is to move on with evaluating the car and see what else we can find that is unusual, broken or missing. We’ll be back next week with an update.
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Old 8th November 2009, 23:08   #4
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Default Part Three - Ghosts in the Machine

Saturdays seem to come round very quickly. Well, they do for me anyway. After another week spent toiling away it was a relief to put on some scruffy jeans and head down South of Coventry to continue the analysis of S525 OVP. Maybe it will even fire up for a while and do the white smoke trick again. Ah the joys of tinkering with an old car!

And so we gathered once more, with the temperature dropping and the wind increasing, to get closer to forming a better picture of just what on earth we’ve let ourselves in for. During the week Lates had removed the rather destroyed front tyre and fitted the spare so at least it can now be pushed round much easier than previously. So first job was to get it fired up again to do some fault finding – which meant it needed some fuel.

On the way to Lates a fuel can had been filled to the brim and it was soon chugging its contents down the filler neck. Until it mysteriously stopped. A cursory check of the filler didn’t throw up any blockages, so the rear seat was duly swung aside to get at the tank. Seconds after starting to remove the pump the problem was diagnosed – despite the gauge insisting there was barely a drop inside, the tank was full. Yep, we can add a fibbing fuel sender to the list of things to sort out.

With the jump leads attached we once again turned over the engine. Nothing. Even after attempting to persuade it to burst into life it continued to sulk.

We’re certain the engine is receiving fuel so it must therefore mean the cam or crank sensors – or both – have waved goodbye to this cruel world. And when a car like a 75 displays such symptoms there’s only one thing to do. Plug it in.

Out came the diagnostic unit, on went the ignition and the unit was soon hooked up. And we soon found out that, er, the car is in a real state of confusion. Despite the diagnostic unit identifying the software and last update – January 2004 – it simply didn’t want to go any further. The sheer number of odd bits added to this car over time looks likely to have finally overwhelmed the MEMS software and it’s shrugging its shoulders now.

Looking at the instrument panel gives you a clue to the probably vexatious position the system is in. Turning on the ignition gives a long list of issues the electronics are trying to talk to, the instrument panel grappling with a host of features it can’t find and items it thinks are not working as the IPK was originally either from or destined for a ZT Tourer.


But hey, it was right to say the doors were open.

In the meantime the bodywork was looked at more closely. Starting from the rear all seems pretty good, with the bumper and bootlid only requiring new paint. We’ll know for certain once that huge MG badge and the rear plinth have been removed though, but it looks rust-free and straight. Lifting the boot carpet revealed some interesting build codes, with a dye mark stating R2 98 09 10 20H00 and a steel strip showing 4MB 10P 00987Z. What these state we’ll find out in due course. No signs of any accident damage and the wheel well was rust-free.

Moving along the offside the rear wing again is in good shape, with no rust around the filler aperture and the wheelarch is problem free. Only a dented chrome trim marks it down. The rear door is similarly fine, although the lack of any sound deadening does make it shut with an annoying clang. Which begs the question whether we should fit any at a later date of course. Things start to get more interesting with the driver’s door. The skin has a nasty foot-long scar which has rusted, and that can be rectified. More tricky to resolve will be the shutline with the sill, which closes right up about 4 inches before meeting the front wing. It means that the door rubs on the sill finisher when opened and although it doesn’t look to have suffered greatly as a result, it’s a scruffy detail that has got to be sorted out when the bodywork is attended to. Opening the door reveals another quirk. Virtually no sealant between the doorframe and the skin and some significant gaps as a result.

Moving forwards, the front wing also looks a bit odd, with the rear lower section simply not looking quite right; it isn’t a square fit along the sill, indicating it’s either been modified at some point or it’s a pre-production panel – the first ones off the line had a far better fit and finish than this. Overall the wing is repairable but the tinworm has got a good hold in the front edge and this will need some time to sort out.

The front of the car is as straight as the rear, with the bonnet displaying some minor corrosion along the folded edge at the front and a little bubbling nearby. Not necessarily something to be worried about but it will need a good session with the BiltHamber range to cure it.

The nearside has some issues. The front wing has had a bit of a hard time and is wrinkled in an awkward sport at the front above the chrome trim, and rust around the folded edge next to the A-pillar, while both doors contain minor dents. The nearside front door fits just as badly as its opposite number by the way. The big concern is the state of the rear wheel arch where it meets the sill - which for some reason is a weak spot. Overall it looks to be okay but it is showing some signs of corrosion here, so it will have to be stripped back to bare metal to make sure.

The roof thankfully is absolutely fine, although the gutter trim looks scrap, and the window trim is all in good shape. Finally, one big sigh of relief – the sills are fine too, no dents and no rust.

But what of the front panel? Well, you will recall it had been fitted with a ZT front end and I may have mentioned it will be put up for grabs. Unfortunately, when we extracated it from the back seat we discovered it had been butchered to make it slide inside the back door. It's scrap. But never mind, we've salvaged the indicator lights and driving lamps from it.

So, not too bad on the bodywork side but the oily bits are potentially a very different story. How are we going to start it up?
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Old 3rd March 2010, 01:02   #5
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Default Part Four

It's been a while since I last posted here, so a quick update for you all.

This weekend sees the first series of tasks being performed by Lates & Pete to get OVP back on the road. The initial tasks are to sort out the non-starting issues - believed to be down to the fuel pump - and from there give the engine a good thorough going over for the usual signs of wear and tear before treating it to a good service if all seems well. Moving on, it's a case of doing the obvious - front springs - and not so obvious - electrical maladies - so it's going to be a busy time coming up.

I'd like to thank Corin, who you all know as Messenger, for generously donating a replacement fuel pump, and David Spriggs who not only pitched in with a replacement set of front springs and steel wheel but also collected the remaining three we needed before bringing them up to Lates last week. They're being shod with some part-worn Continental EcoContact tyres we've sourced and will be perfect for while the car is shuttled round the yard being renovated and sprayed. Which also means we're going to have an increasing number of bits we no longer need to be shifted!

So, the next big update will be Sunday evening, and fingers crossed it will be all good news.
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Old 8th March 2010, 00:56   #6
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Default Part Five

I won’t keep you in suspense. The project Rover 75 now starts, runs, and moves quite easily under its own steam too. But that perhaps makes light of what has been quite an eventful first proper day of work on this car. With S525 being a pre-production model we were expecting to discover perhaps one or two anomalies, but we seem to be uncovering more and more as we progress – little things, like a gearbox oil sensor that goes nowhere, and earth wires that don’t look right at all. Couple this with some very truculent items like the rear seat squab and it’s safe to say while the project is moving along quite nicely the car at times is quite willing to put up a fight.

But we’re getting there. So let’s go over today’s fun and games.

The day was in fact preceded by a trip down to see Corin to pick up a healthy hoard of bits and pieces, including a prized replacement fuel pump and lots of new pieces of interior trim to fill in gaps and damaged items. So the session began with us approaching the car once more, towed from its corner and sitting in the warm sun of an otherwise cold afternoon, with the priority it get it started and begin checking it over.

With the replacement fuel pump submerged into the tank the slave battery was hooked up and the ignition turned on. We were greeted by the sound of the familiar whirring noises and, encouraged, the key turned. A steady hugging, followed by a hesitant cough, then a gathering acceleration as the cylinders began to chime and the engine awaken from the dead. Slowly but surely, the car spluttered into life, idling lumpily but responding to a dab on the throttle with an unsteady, drunken eagerness. But then, just as Lates began to gently drive it towards the workshop, it once again died. Cue the first bout of what would be regular sessions of head scratching as it became evident that while there was a good flow of fuel, a spark and nothing wrong with the air supply, the car simple wasn’t having any of this nonsense with actually running.



Checks, and more checks, were rapidly undertaken to get to the root of the problem. The wiring in the ECU was fine. The air filter wasn’t blocked. The earths around the engine bay were all in place. And the fuel was gurgling from the main line. But then it dawned on all of us that the petrol, with its cloudy and slight white colour to it didn’t really look too healthy. With the pipe directed into a container a sample was taken and our suspicions were confirmed. Contaminated fuel, or to be more accurate, contaminated water. Somewhat mysteriously, the car had a full tank when we collected it – but it wasn’t filled with unleaded. Little wonder the car had ground to a halt, and it points to it being affected by the leaking fuel tanks beneath Longbridge.

With the fuel pump temporarily wired to push the water out of the tank into a spare container, eventually the liquid cleared and began to smell an awful lot more familiar. Back the fuel line went, back in the slot went the key, and within a few seconds the engine burst into life. This time with no lumps, no lurching, no soggy pick up, just a clean and eager K-Series. In fact, a clean and very crisp sounding engine, with little smoke from the exhaust and no overt signs of wear either. We had been quietly warned of a rumour that the engine might have worn rings, but the rude health of the engine points to it being a pretty well-cared for unit. Shame about the rest of car, but there again this one has had to earn its keep.


It Lives! The 75 drives in for it's first serious bit of work

For the first time in many months, the car was now able to move under its own power – albeit with no IPK as it was swiftly removed after it went bong enough times to madden the patience of a nun, and Lates gently crawled it under cover for the first job of the day. Which got delayed during a coffee break and my usual habit of distracting everyone, resulting in all the exterior MG trim being removed. Well, it kept me happy, and made the car look a bit better. By this time the replacement bumper had also been put on, mainly to just help make the car look a bit better than for any useful purpose, and it was starting to look dangerously more roadworthy. Fair way to go before that’s a reality.



The front of the car was soon up in the air and the first strut being removed to sort out the broken springs. It was surprising just how quickly everything came apart, perhaps due to the fact that, while the car had done way in excess of 90,000 miles the vast majority of them were at quite low speed round mud free roads in a factory complex. No seized bolts or mud crusted assemblies, just a simple and fast job which soon had the car back proudly sporting a new pair of front springs. While we had the front in the air the brakes were bled to push through some fresh fluid and the discs wire brushed to remove the surface corrosion. Moving to the rear the missing damper bolt was replaced before the brakes were bled some more and the handbrake, discs and pads checked over. Overall the brakes and suspension are pretty much usable for now and so they can all stay as they are.

Moving inside the car it was time to do some clearing out and get the rear seats back in. Simple job eh? Nope. For some reason the inertia reel on the centre belt was sticking , so the seat couldn’t be turned round to fit back in correctly. Not a huge problem, just unbolt it and then do the job. Except now the seat squab simple refused to relocate back on the hooks. It was riding on its pivots at the base, meaning the wire bars weren’t even close to their clamps, and it took an awful lot of cursing before it eventually slipped home. Of course, this is just an example of how the pre-production cars were in many details not to quite the same standard as the one to run off the track, and such minor niggles would be spotted and dealt with before launch. A good reason why you will also find me extremely reluctant to go anywhere near the folding rear seat!

With the car now working, sat on fresh springs, secured with brakes that now stop the car, and an interior that is almost driveable, we can now get ready for part two of the refurb. A nice big service, including belts, replacement alternator, oils, coolant, fresh wheels and tyres, and a good scrub-down to prepare it for the bodywork.



See you on the 20th.
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Old 12th March 2010, 16:02   #7
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Default Part Six

While the egg timer slowly runs out of sand before the next installment, we're running around amassing more bits to replace or fit to get the project car looking and running a lot better than it is at present. One such issue to resolve is the wheels, which as you will know by now was shod with steel wheels. In the grand scheme of things this is quite an irrelevant tale, but it serves to show how you can save money and get a great end result if you take a few minutes to shop around and ask the right folk.

After being alerted by David Spriggs to a parts supplier selling off brand new steel wheels for just £15 each, he was most kind to fetch 3 of them and hand them over to Lates with a spare he had lying around, where they were scooped up last weekend for some tyres. A search on the bay of fleas came up with a company selling a set of part-worn Contintental Premium Contacts for £80. These are close to the Eco Contacts that the car would have worn originally (I like these sort of details ), and they were ordered and fitted on Wednesday.

And here they are.


Did I say they are part-worn? To the extent that 2 of them rolled about 100 yards if that! The remaining two can't have done more than a thousand miles, they are that good. So, at long last we'll no longer have different alloys on the project car and S525 will continue to look better and better.
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Old 22nd March 2010, 22:35   #8
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Default Part Seven

Unfortunately, Pete - Lates' spanner-wielding partner in mechncial magic - is still recuperating from an operation and so we have had to delay the next installment. Best wishes to Pete and hope he has a full and speedy recovery.

With this in mind I thought I would let you know about what's coming up in the project. Earlier this week I popped over to XPart's head offices in Desford to pick up a service kit from the ever helpful and patient Liz, and also over over to see Corin to collect a couple of items he has generously donated. finally, lots of bits are being repaired and cleaned ahead of being refitted, such as the interior light console, which had been rather clumsily wrenched from its fixings, snapping the locating lugs in the process. So there's lots of bits all ready to be put on the 75 and it will be steadily returning to its original specification.



While I was working away I also had delivered a parcel from Bilt Hamber Laboratories, who make excellent products in the ongoing fight we all have in removing and protecting parts from corrosion. Although the 75 and ZT range are pretty hardy vehicles and rust is not a major issue at present, some examples are starting to show the effects of the tinworm and we think you'll find the next instalments on how to deal with this problem will be incredibly useful. Bilt Hamber is very highly regarded in this area, and we are delighted to be using their range as we think it will be a big help in keeping S525 away from the welder's torch for a good few years.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 23:01   #9
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Default Part Eight - House of Hope

And so we head into August, with a long list of jobs to do and pretty much all the spares to get them sorted. Sunday morning duly arrived and with it the opportunity to take a major step forward towards S525 passing a MoT test. A car loaded to the gunwhales with bits, wheels and kit to get cracking, boxes containing more presents to compliment the delivery already at the workshop, and a grim determination that today was going to see this car burst into life and get ready for the road.

S525, evidently enjoying its well-deserved rest, had other ideas.


Making a start; the wheels are finally replaced for OEM steelies

Bang on 10am we approached her in earnest and, shorn of it battery, stood behind it to push the pre-production 75 into the workshop. Except it wouldn’t budge, largely due to the flat rear tyre on the rear nearside. A more committed shove eventually had it creeping forward and down the gentle slope to meet the trolley jack and axle stands. Within five minutes the mix n’ match alloys were off and the original-spec steelies, wearing Continental tyres, were filling the arches. Just doing this was a significant item ticked off the list; for too long the car has had to put up with incorrect round bits, and while the bare black steel wheels may look a tad functional, just getting them out of storage and into action was a relief. But that was the simplest job of the day, with much more to come.


Pete and Lates get their heads around what to do next
(above right)Good timing: the covers are off and time to change the belts



Out with the old - coolant being drained
(above right) new belts ready to be installed following new tensioner, water pump and alternator


First big job of the day was to complete a major service interval, requiring new belts, fluids and plugs. This would be joined by installing a new alternator – the old one had suffered a huge crack in its casing and is scrap – along with plugging in a new IPK courtesy of XPart. Plugs straight in, timing cover off, sump plug undone, filter unscrewed and bottom hose unclipped, things were beginning to move apace. The new alternator demanded a small amount of fettling to the upper bracket, but that and the belts soon slotted into their new homes and Castol Magnatec flowing down the oilways with fresh OAT following suit - I’ve seen it used several times now but the vacumn tool still fascinates me. With the service completed the battery was hooked up and three seconds churning saw the engine cough, then purr into life, the cam followers rapidly taking up the hydraulic slack and the K series unit settling down into a quiet, rhythmic idle.


When you consider the life this car has had, and indeed the level of abuse thrown at it from being a factory hack, the engine is in excellent health. Actually, forget all that, the engine is in superb health anyway, with both Lates and Pete commenting that it sounds the smoothest one they can remember. A pity then that the bay in which it sits looks so awful, but that’s just a cosmetic thing and thirty minutes with a power washer will see the underbonnet in Arran white rather than the grey dust and muck it presently displays.

For a short interlude the passenger front door card was whipped off for the replacement to be slotted on. Not difficult job, but the leading edge clips decided to not locate and so it was flapping around – it will be coming off soon again in any case so for appearances we left it as it was. More important was the instrument pack, which you will recall was a later ZT item the rest of the car plainly didn’t want to know. Out of the brown box it came and the plugs duly connected before testbook was hooked up and the install began. And in just a minute decided it was still not happy and really didn’t want to play. The issue now lies with the Light Switch Module, which we now realised was also not original, and will have to be replaced by a new one. So the instrument pack was disconnected and put back in its box for the next session in a fortnight’s time.

Although we were evidently not going to progress quite as far as we hoped there was still time to do a couple more things, one of them being to give it a short test drive on the private lane available, and this pointed out two things to us. First, the car is very quiet and surprisingly nippy, partly due to the new rubber and the absence of heavy, power-sapping air conditioning and electrical toys such as the rear window motors. Okay, the car doesn’t exactly leap off the line in the thunderous manner of a ZT260, but it certainly moves away quite smartly – which immediately showed up a failed top engine mount from the rather dramatic bang as the engine rocked backwards under load. An easy fix thankfully, and will be done asap. But overall the new springs and correct wheel/tyre combination really do transform the car and it feels planted yet light, giving the driver a lot of confidence very quickly. The great thing to report is that S525 now starts, stops, steers and literally glides along, and that the mechanical issues are – bar the IPK and engine mount – now all resolved. It really does feel like the 100,000 miles it has so far put under its wheels were little more than a stroll round the block and there’s loads more life in it yet.


90 minutes of wiping down and a session with the mop got rid of the grime and old paint. Now it just needs a wash....

If only the same could be said of the bodywork. We knew it would need some quite detailed work before it could face a spraygun, such is the number of dents and scrapes it has accumulated. But we have so far not been completely sure just how much work was really needed, and to get a definitive list together meant a the car had to be given a wash and mop down. As there is little point in being fussy at this stage a nylon bristled brush went inside the chrome trim and all the shutlines to remove the algae and hardened dirt, followed by a slightly diluted spray of engine cleaner and a wipe down to get the grime and muck off the car. With the worst of the Longbridge film now removed, it was time to get the T-Cut and the mop out for a session. The intention was to get rid of the inevitable fade the colour was hiding under, as well as remove the adhesive from the security markings and give us a much better idea in spotting what might be rust, a dent or just some limpet-like tar hanging on for dear life. One bucket of soapy water to remove all the resulting muck later and we finally had a car we could go over properly. Under the rather off-putting grey-white exterior the paint was in quite good condition. The car had not, contrary to earlier belief, been sprayed before in another shade of white – it was purely the amount of fade in the top coat that made it look so much darker, and the mopping had brought it back to life, matching up with the coat exposed from the careless removal of the security decals. Those markings have in fact proved to be a real annoyance as their application and subsequent removal using razor blades has left the bodywork scarred with tramlines, effectively forcing the decision to go for a new coat of paint in the future.

So the list for chapter one of the refurb is finally drawing to a close. The outstanding tasks to have the car ready for the MoT are:
  • New LSM & code IPK
  • New top engine mount
  • Fit new front indicator housings
  • Refit rear high-level brake light
  • Replace grille
  • Replace steering wheel
  • New pedal rubbers
  • Refit rear plinth

So we’ll set a deadline for the car to have its ticket before the end of August – that allows for rectifying any other issues that crop up – and get ready for the next two stages; the interior and the bodywork. We know one thing for certain though – this car is putting up a good fight!


Looking better and better, S525 actually has a bit of a shine about it. Now it looks half-decent and runs sweetly, thanks to the magic of Lates.
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Old 30th August 2010, 03:31   #10
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Default Part Nine

August. Not perhaps one of the most memorable months to have occurred, mainly down to the miserable weather, but at least we can now say that S525 is ready for taking through the MoT. Oh yes, it’s now got the all-important bits installed and working. Joy, and even, of joys!

Another Sunday morning, grey and a bit windy, and over to Lates to hopefully overcome some critical hurdles. You may remember from the last instalment that we were unable to get the instrument pack installed as the light switch module was shaking it’s head at, well, everything. It meant sourcing a new one – and due to the spec of the car, the basic version as well – but as ever Liz at XPart came up trumps and had one waiting for us. At the same time we got a new top engine steady as we knew the original was shot, and fingers crossed that would cure the rather loud bang every time the car moved off.

Changing the upper engine steady mounting is a doddle really; just three bolts hold it to the inner wing and two secure it to the rest of the assembly. A fifth bolt, hidden roud the corner, is for locating the mounting so it just needs to be slackened off. With the old out the way – and looking even worse than we thought – the new one went in and the engine felt immediately far more rigidly secured to the car. Well, I thought so.




A test drive confirmed that the loud bang was now a rather quieter, but nonetheless still very audible thump, which pointed to the bottom mounting being the most likely culprit. Thankfully Lates had a spare old one on the shelf in excellent condition, and with the car on stands it was quickly installed. The original one was absolutely wrecked, with the centre pin detached from the voidal rubber casing, and it must be down to the low speed driving the car endured round the factory, having to constantly accelerate and then brake while doing the rounds. It’s great to report though that there appears to be no knock-on damage visible, and now the car drives extremely well. We’ll come back to that later.



That was the first easy job, now for the second and third and fourth. The centre rear brake light was hanging by its cable in the rear window, which was a common fault with the early models, but some two-pack clear adhesive soon fixed that problem. The MG gearshift was removed and the correct 75 version put in place. And finally, the number plates were taped into position. At long last, it was actually starting to look like a road legal car again.





While the easy stuff was being sorted (which is about my level), Lates and Pete got on with the big issue of the day. The new instrument pack was once again connected along with the new LSM and testbook fired up. Some anxious seconds passed as it started to cycle through before, and with a big sigh of relief, getting everything to shake hands. The diagnostics ran merrily along, checking lights and switches before confirming that it was pretty much all fine and dandy. Apart from minor items such as the exterior temperature sensor the electronics appear to be happy bunnies. We have got an idea to try something a little later one, which closer to the time we’ll let you know about, but for now the car starts, stops, steers, and generally works fine. A small run up and down a private track showed the car felt positive and sprightly, as well as very smooth. There’s a lot to be said for having a low-spec car as they tend to be very good to dive, sometimes better than bigger engined siblings as the lower weight and simpler set-up can make for a nicer experience. Having said that, I couldn’t live without heated seats these days. Or air-conditioning. Or heated power mirrors. Or driving lamps. Or a lot of other toys too.


Leaving the car to tick over for a while it was immediately apparent that S525 is also eerily quiet, with it difficult to tell if the car is ticking over from as little as five yards. Put that down in part due to the lack of so many bits whirring away and needing to be kept cool; the fan cut in eventually but the gauge never veered from a rock-steady horizontal position. So we can add having what seems to be a very healthy K-Series under the bonnet to the new parts gracing S525.

And it’s here that we can begin to look forward to the next stage of the refurbishment of S525. Mechanically it may be bang on the button, but cosmetically it’s not nice at all and needs a concerted effort to bring it back to as it left the production line twelve years ago. We’re fortunate that the issues are all relatively superficial but that also means we do need to start to plan out the bodywork, and that means we need a team to get cracking. On that basis we’ll be making an announcement on the formation of a group focused on bringing – and keeping – S525 to its former glory. But for now, I hope you enjoyed the little mini-series thus far. Not that this is the end of course, no sirree. Not even the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end, or even the end of the beginning of the end, or the beginning of the end of the beginning, or even..... blimey, you know what I mean!
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