Thursday, December 28, 2017

Scimitar Restoration Part 1

Twenty years is a long time to wait for anything, but waiting for the chance to drive the car in your garage for 20 years is a really long time!

My father has owned his Reliant Scimitar SE5a for quite a few years, and it always needed a re-trim, which is handy given that my original trade was car upholstery. He was enjoying the car when my mother was still alive until a crash saw damage to the front right corner of the GRP bodywork.

The body was repaired and re-sprayed by Minari, but all the glass was left out and the interior stripped for me to attack the inside.

I aquired some tan Connolly leather which matched nicely some wool headlining I already had in stock, but several jobs and relationships took me away from the family home. Then a marriage, divorce, my daughters abduction, my mother passing away, redundancy and a spectacular breakdown stopped me touching the car.

This year though I made it a mission to get the interior done by the end of 2017 so the car can be put back on the road in time for a planned road trip with my father in August 2018. 

No pressure then, so how have I got on?

First job was unfastening the headlining which attached to the roof by a combination of rods, screws rivets and bars. Loops sewn onto the wool headlining material and the rods fed through and fixed by a screw either end that I'd placed back on the roof to make sure I didn't lose them.The sides were then glued to the window surrounds. The front is still to be glued around the windscreen because we have to attach the aerial and wire it up, but it is not a big job, so as good as done.

Seats next. Carefully separating the cushions and squabs from the front seats, which had split covers and were in one hell of a state. The centre sections were glued to the seat foam, which required very careful unpicking with a sharp blade to keep the foam intact. The foam being moulded rather than hand cut would be difficult to replace, so preserving the foam where possible was important. Buying a spare front seat allowed me to replace some perished foam from the drivers seat.

The tan leather is a little lighter than the original brown leather and plastic dashboard. The latter can't be replaced easily and a limited amount of leather means a combination of the two shades would be part of the finished interior. The seat centres were originally to be trimmed in some material chosen by my mother and father, but a change of heart led to some head scratching. Then I remembered some black ribbed and toothed vinyl I had on a roll. Both Mum and Dad approved of this choice before she passed away so that made for a really nice contrast on the finished covers. 

First I had to unpick the old covers, which as I'd mentioned earlier, were in a bit of a state. So some detective work and experience helped me make replacement sections in leather for the front face and some matching vinyl for the backs to spare some leather. With the centre sections sewn in, seeing Dads face light up told me straight away that the new covers were going to be just what he wanted.

Being one-off's, meant I didn't have the luxury of perfecting the patterns or sewing perfect before signing them off, as I'd do for production items, so the perfectionist in me feels frustrated with the odd wrinkle here and there, but Dad says he loves them, so I have to swallow that.

Unfortunately the rubber spring loaded webbing was completely perished so we bought a new pair from Graham Walker, the Scimitar specialist. Unfortunately the new webbing was substantially narrower than the old ones, so we had to be creative in order to make up the shortfall. These are the hold ups that slowed the job no-end.

Ok, seats covered, but still not put back together I bought some carpet to replace the knackered old stuff. Coverdale carpets make good quality stuff and I go to them for most of the carpet sets I make for kit cars, so some Benheim Autumn Leaf was bought for the Scimitar and I started stripping back the crusty old stuff. Boy was this a chore. The rubber backing had completely perished and the original carpets had been fixed with strong contact adhesive. The centre console and rear armrest were taken out to allow access and during a week off work I gradually scraped away the crusty old carpet and make up new carpet sections, which I fixed using a tacky spray glue.

The difference was obvious and the new carpets lifted the interior straight away. I made a new handbrake gaitor out of the leather and sewed it into the new centre carpet...

With nearly all the carpets in place I could turn to the rear seats and made new covers in the same way I had done the front seats. 

With the first seat cushion glued up and put in place you get a really good sense of how the finished interior will look. So at the end of 2018 I've fallen a little short of the schedule I'd set myself, but progress has enthused both my father and Brother, so with a little help we might between us get the car back on the road by spring.

I've filmed most of this progress made on my go-pro-ish cam so there will be a video or videos on Enwin's Motors when the car is finished. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Scrappage schemes and the true environmental costs

I have been watching with interest as first BMW and Mercedes brought out scrappage schemes followed more recently by Ford and Volkswagen with the claim that the motivation is encouraging you, the customer, to buy a new cleaner car to replace your dirty old car with it's bad old emissions. They'll give you money toward a new "cleaner" car trailing butterflies and petals from its exhaust.


Now I'm all for a reduction in price for new cars to help consumers. I'm all for lower emission vehicles and some new electric cars are truly exciting, but let's not kid ourselves that these schemes are anything other than an attempt to shift new cars. It's certainly not going to cut greenhouse gasses.

Unless manufacturers find a way to lay ickle car eggs that grow organically into bigger cars there is no way a mass manufactured car made the way they are at present could be environmentally more friendly than keeping an older car on the road instead of scrapping it.

New Car Carbon Footprint
Let's look at the process of building a new mass manufactured car.

First there is the design and development of a new car. This used to be a 10 year process but even the most advanced and streamlined development process takes somewhere in the region of 6 years nowadays.

From the relatively low carbon cost of doing initial designs using modern cad systems and the reduction in wasteful trial and error design and testing processes you still have to set up temporary tooling to make prototype cars for real testing and development.

So at this stage sheet steel has to be produced to make the prototype bodies (although some premium manufacturers will use aluminium). Aluminium engine blocks and some other components will be made and some components and most of the interior will be made from plastics, which are ALL by-products of the petroleum industry.

That's the prototypes alone.

With the design signed off the factory that will produce the car has new updated tooling and equipment installed to simplify the production process for the new car. All this equipment is more likely to be designed and shipped in by an outside contractor, while various other parts will be tooled up for by sub contractors around the World.

So far not a single car has been road tested by a magazine or sold to a customer and hundreds of prototypes must be produced to make sure the cars are tested in every possible condition and situation they could possibly face... Quite rightly so.

So let's start production and a massive ramping up of sheet steel production will have a significant increase in the environmental impact of each of the new cars. The more efficient engine will still need to be produced from a molten block of aluminium and the wiring and electronics produced.

Often the engines will be produced in one country and shipped along with the other disparate components to the factory. In the case of the Ford Fiesta (No Ford model is produced in the UK) the factory is in Spain (I think), the engines made in various plants around Europe (Mostly) including Bridgend in Wales where the Diesels are made. To give another Fiesta example the door mirrors are produced in Slovakia and you could go on and on...

So all the components are shipped around the World to the factory which is heated and powered to manufacture the car, which in itself creates a big carbon hit for each undriven car. I think one of the few exceptions is Tesla powering their mega factory from solar power.

Then the finished car is shipped with others around the World there is another carbon hit, topped by a further hit transporting them by rail and/or road to dealers around the country.

Up to this point your "clean" modern car has yet to be driven away from the dealer by you and the carbon hit accumulated before you collect the keys is equivalent to driving a dirty old car car between 10 and 15 years depending how dirty your old car is and how old it is because the longer you keep a car on the road the less of these new car hits the environment has to take!

Food for thought, I'm sure you'd agree. If you go to Enwin's Motors you will see my "car for life" experiment...

...and if you want an even more impressive example this Rochdale Olympic is close to 40 years old. Add up the carbon footprint replacing a car every 3 years makes in comparison and its "dirty" old engine takes on a new perspective.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Enwin's Motors Programme Update

As mentioned on the Enwin's Motors introduction video our plan is to build up until we are able to produce at least one episode a month of Enwin's Motors, The Alternative Car Show and a Road Trip Episode.

Unfortunately the crowd funding on Patreon has not yet yielded enough for us to do any road trips yet this year and to guarantee an episode of all three programmes. We WILL make as many as we can though and ask you to keep spreading the word.

Meantime here's an update on what we're working on at the moment...

The Alternative Car Show
We have another episode of The Alternative Car Show filmed including The Leyland Car Show as well as the Kent Kit and Custom Car Show, so it'll be a longer episode than usual with Steve Hole from TKC magazine and Adam Wilkins from Complete Kit Car both contributing, so you don't want to miss that!

3-Wheeler Mini Series
We planned to do a one off episode of The Alternative Car Show on 3-wheelers, but after filming the 2-Rike and discussing the idea with enthusiasts the response has been such that we have decided to go on to make a 3-wheeler mini series.

For that reason we are going to take a break on The Alternative Car Show after the summer to make room for the mini series, but we will keep filming more features for the Alternative Car Show to return in the New Year.

We have had a bit of work to do on the Quantum Saloon which will come in an upcoming episode of Enwin's Motors. Filming the work as I do it and presenting is proving a challenge though so bare with me.

Do look up the Enwin's Motors Facebook page and @EnwinsMotors on Twitter and do please get involved with helping to spread the word. If you like what we do please do tell your friends and share all our links.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Forgotten Cars... Part 2

Carrying on from my last blog let's go back to the 1980's to the golden era of kit cars when you could find every conceivable kind of car you could imagine in kit form... No?

Well actually you could, not only find niche vehicles we think are modern, but in fact cars that pre-dated cars we now think are recent inventions.

How about this little beauty? A smart replica? No, this is the Alto Duo and it pre-dated the Smart by about 10 years. It's based on the classic mini, so spares will always be easy to find. It never set the world alight and only sold in very low numbers. You look at it and think how with hindsight it was so ahead of it's time, but the reality is that it came too soon. If you know where there is one of these rare city cars there are mini enthusiasts who would love to know...

How about an MPV? they came and went as the next big thing for families, but back in the 1970's William Towns, designer of the original Aston Martin V8 Vantage and Lagonda wedge saloon, came up with the idea for a new kind of luxury car, with lots of glass, space and looks way ahead of it's time.

He took the idea to Jensen first, but having financial difficulties themselves they decided to let the design pass. Not one to give up easily he modified his design to use Mini components, then Austin 1100/1300, then Mini Metro components.

With an upper frame mounted on a lower frame designed to take the subframes from the donor it proved versatile, with six wheeled versions, and even a wood version in plan form. Unfortunately William was a great designer, but you needed to be a bit of an engineer to build the kit. Nowadays any on the road would make one hell of an advertising tool for a small business.

Oh and if you really do want that family saloon how about a Ginetta? The G26 looks a little like a Lotus Excel from the front, had a galvanised steel chassis and affordable Cortina running gear. It has a GRP body and room inside (just) for 4. There was a squarer version called the G28 to make room for V6 engines, a shorter coupe version called the G31 and yet another version matching the square snout with the coupe rear.

Ford Fiesta Mk2 doors were used intact, which meant all the benefits of wind up windows, and a solid thunk, but on the flipside the one part of the package prone to rust. Ginetta is a well known brand with a rich racing history, but the G26 is still good value for money if you can find one. The family Ginetta's never hold their value as well, even though they offer more practicality than the company's more popular 2-seaters.

If you know where any of the cars above lie unloved in a barn, garage or field leave a comment below. I'm certain there are collectors who would love to restore them...

Don't forget to check out our videos on the Youtube channel.

Like our Facebook page too

...and if you want to be truly wonderful support us through
...where we have extra videos waiting for you as a thank you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Forgotten cars... Or do you know where there is one?

I have read about, written about or filmed cars since the early 1980's when I started reading car magazines instead of Marvel comics. It's funny how I'm watching Marvel films these days. Anyhoo, I love most things car related, but thanks to my Father who liked to drive something a little different where possible I have always been drawn to low volume cars, kit cars, or just the plain strange and unusual.

At some point I'll do a blog on the golden era for kit cars in the 1980's, which brought about an incredibly diverse mixture of models. Some were great, some less so, but these fibreglass bodied cars wouldn't just rot away, which leaves me wondering where they are now. Cut up and scrapped? Stripped for the running gear to restore a classic used for the donor? Or taken off the road needing some minor work doing, which never got done? The latter must be heartbreaking for a builder or their family if they can't finish the job. Maybe these owners would like to see their car find a new owner who would restore the car and bring it back to life?

That's what I thought I would do in a series of blogs where I mention some of the cars from the 1980's and 1990's to see if someone out there gets back with a comment to say they know where one still resides?

So to kick off in no particular order by talking to you about Moss Cars. John Copperthwait was a little genius of a guy who was around at just the right time to ride on the crest of the 1980's kit car boom. His first model, the Roadster, was very mildly influenced by the Morgan models and yet had a timeless beauty all of it's own, the GRP body sat on a Triumph Herald chassis prior to Moss offering a new chassis to give the option of Ford Escort running gear. A 2+2 version offering seats for small children in the back followed and was called the Malvern.

Moss then Came up with the Mamba, another attractive two seater with a 1950's mediteranean style, again sitting on a Herald or new Escort powered chassis.

Finally came the magnificently bonkers Monaco, which looked like a 1950's racer built from riveted oil barrels and sat on a Triumph Spitfire chassis, or the aforementioned Escort chassis. I can only applaud them for producing it and the hardy souls who bought them.

I've seen Roadsters, Malverns and Monaco's at Stoneleigh, but there used to be LOADS at car shows and I can't remember last time I saw a Mamba. Do you remember your grandad had an old kit car years back that still sits in his garage? Go and take a look and see if it has a Moss badge on the bonnet and leave a comment below.

So it wasn't a Moss eh?

What about a Nova? Not Vauxhall's asthmatic hatch, but the exotic looking kit car based on Volkswagen's asthmatic Beetle. Designed by Richard Oaks it pre-dated the Lotus Esprit and Lamborghini Countach, being launched in 1972.

The Nova stayed on the market well into the 1990's and still looks good now. With companies now offering Electric conversions and replacement mid-engined chassis, this could be the perfect time to dig out the old Nova and get it back on the road.

There were other exotic looking kits that flattered to deceive in the late 1970's and early 80's thanks to their VW Beetle underpinnings, the Avante, Eagle SS and Charger to name but three. The Eagle went on to get the option of a chassis to take Ford Cortina running gear. Unfortunately the roof on the SS tended to sag on early cars, so unless the roof was re-inforced by a rollbar so be wary of cars without the doors fitted. Chances are they won't close.

As an aside the Cimbria SS from the United States which sired the Eagle is still in production and the current custodian of the model recently took over the Sterling, which started out as a Nova produced under licence across the pond. Good news for both models and we hope to travel over to pay a visit when the planets align and we can put together a US trip.

I'll come back to cars we'd like to see back on the road. Meantime go and have a look at that unusual or exotic looking car Dad or Grandad built, or Bob down the road has in his garden. If you don't know what it is take a pic and post it on our Facebook page and unless you found something really left-field, I'll tell you what it is... Try and catch me out!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Stoneleigh Part 2... Episode 1 The Alternative Car Show

Here it is, at last, Episode 1 of The Alternative car Show from The National Kit Car Show at Stoneleigh 2017.

The programme brings a mix of the old, with not one but two very different Rochdale Olympics...
We also have the new, with this beautiful car and it's new sibling...
...and more besides.

All this is funded by crowd funding, so you can play a big part in helping to make this happen and in return we give a little extra to our supporters. All this you can find out by clicking on this link and pledge $1, $3 or $10+

$1 pledges get you to see new videos before we post the links publicly. Right now you can see
 Episode 2 of The Alternative Car Show presented by Charmaine Sinclair and featuring the new SSV Bug-R and Exile models by Lee Noble.

$3 pledges get extended and exclusive features. Right now there's an extended version of the Keith Hamer Rochdale Olympic Feature.

$10+ pledges will get completely new, exclusive programmes and there is already a Stoneleigh Extra programme waiting for you. We are already working on another exclusive show too.

So without further ado, here is the link you've been waiting for. Episode 1 of The Alternative Car Show. Click on this link and enjoy the show.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Enwin's Motors Update and Programme Guide... May 2017

Hello Peeps,
I know there are lots of you out there waiting to see The Alternative Car Show Episode 1 from Stoneleigh 2017 and Charmaine Sinclair making her channel debut in Episode 2, but there are already plenty of videos already waiting for you to discover.

So for this blog I thought I'd post all the links and a quick guide to what you'll see. Just click on the link to watch a video...

First, and needing least explanation is the link for the channel itself...
You'll find all the videos here.

Next is the other one that needs little explanation...
An Introduction to Enwin's Motors
Here I introduce the channel and the programmes we aim to provide.

Next is an introduction to our Quantum Saloon car for life experiment.
Complete with a guide to the difference between a car that handles well and one with just good mechanical grip...

Sweden Road Trip 2016 Part1...
Neil embarks on his epic journey only to discover a big problem en-route. Along the way we visit The Kitcar Collection and go for a ride in two fantastic cars...

Sweden Road Trip 2016 Part2...
My friends take us on a boat trip and we join a parade of cars.

Sweden Road Trip 2016 Part3...
A visitors guide to Vastervik.

Sweden Road Trip 2016 Part4...
The return journey home.

Two Quantum Convoy...
A little extra filmed on the way home

Tornado (McLaren) M6GT Replica
Another great memory from the Sweden Trip

Introducing our Jeep KJ Cherokee
Do I really need to explain this one?

Now the big news...
As you will have seen from the second link introducing the channel... What, you didn't watch it? Give me strength! ...we have been planning a new proper series like thingy which will include more professional presenter types. Episode 1 of The Alternative Car Show can be seen right now (at the time of writing...) by anyone who pledges support on as a thank you. Please click on the link because we cannot make as many programmes or invest in new equipment to make them better, without you guys helping us.

For those who like teasers, here's the one for Ep1...

...and now the very big news..!
Episode 2 has the beautiful Charmaine Sinclair join us, presenting this episode and coming back in future episodes too! It also has the new cars by Lee Noble, who created the Ultima, M10 and M12 among other gems!

Here's a teaser for Ep2...

Now the sad bit. We are all really keen to build this until every month there is a new episode of The Alternative Car Show, A new Enwin's Motors feature and a new Road Trip episode. That's the least we want to do, but as I write we only have 2 Patreon supporters, so it will be a real struggle to deal with the backlog of planned shoots we already have!

Charmaine Sinclair was utterly fantastic and really loved working on the show. I know she's eager to do more and her fans are eager to see her, but again we need to get more subscribers and patrons to help. There are other exciting presenters waiting too, so please tell friends about the channel and do please, please, please click on  and even pledging $1 a month will make a HUGE difference.

As a thank you all the new videos are available for our Patreon supporters before they go public, $3 Patrons will get extended versions of features, as well as some exclusive videos and $10 Patreon supporters will get exclusive programmes, like the Stoneleigh Extra show already there at the time of writing.

We thank you for sharing this journey with us and hope you enjoy the videos we post for you.

Further updates can be found on Twitter @EnwinsMotors
...and on Facebook