The renovation



Engine choice
After I safely arrived back in Stockholm I did a very thorough check of the car, I found some rust in the chassis outrigger but at this time I didn't know how really bad it was. I was not really happy about the engine either, it worked alright but I have never thought that a mere 85 BHP is enough for a car like the M, and even the 142 BHP of the V6 in untuned form is barely enough to explore the full potential of the chassis.

I had the choice of either tuning the Kent engine that was installed or to buy something better, I rather quickly decided that it was probably easier and even cheaper to change the engine for a Essex V6 as used in the 3000M instead of tuning the Kent engine, the Essex can be quite easily tuned to 200 BHP but that is probably impossible in an unblown Kent engine.

Dismantling the car
I had some time to think about the engine choice as I realised I had to do a full renovation of the whole car if the end result should be something I could be satisfied with. I started by removing everything from the body of the car like seats, instrument panel, wind screen, rear screen, aso. I then cut of the bolts that fixed the body to the chassis, (they where so rusty so they where impossible to move, all original bolts on these cars are only phosphate treated and rusts badly). I then removed the body from the chassis with help from some friends, we where altogether four people and it was quite easy to lift the body of the chassis. The body was sent to my younger brother who had promised to spray the body in a new colour.

I continued to dismantle the chassis by removing the engine, gearbox, final drive, front and rear suspension components until I had the bare chassis without anything attached. I then had the chassis and the suspension wishbones sent away for sand blasting. When the parts came back I got somewhat of a shock, about 12 meters of the chassis had almost disappeared, that included the outriggers on both sides and most of the parts surrounding the differential.

I didn't have any welding equipment so I talked to my younger brother again, he had at that time his own car repair shop and he was very experienced in welding and had all the right equipment. I bought new round and square steel tubing and he started to repair the chassis, meanwhile I started to renovate the other chassis parts for the front and rear suspension, all parts where painted with etching primer and black acrylic paint. When I received the chassis back from my brother I used the same treatment on that.

Sourcing of engine and gearbox
My brother knew someone who had an Essex engine complete with gearbox. The engine was dismantled and all parts seamed to be there, also new bearings was included among the parts, what I didn't know at that time that this was one of the very first Essex engines, (it had the oldest type of oil pump that was discontinued in 1969, and it probably came from a Ford Zephyr mark 4). The gearbox was also the old type with gear linkage on the outside. Anyway, I managed to sell the Kent engine with gearbox and buy the Essex complete with the gearbox and still get some money left over from that deal.

Tuning of engine
Another of my brothers friends who is professionally tuning American V8's for drag racing changed the valves and did some real good porting work on the cylinder heads, we decided to use Volvo valves, 44mm for intake and 38mm for the exhaust. I then rebuilt the engine using a Kent cams V62 and new cam drive gear. I used a bigger Holley two port carburettor instead of the original smaller Weber.

Changing rear axle
The 1600M used the differential gear casing and drive shafts from the Triumph Spitfire. As these parts are not strong enough and have the wrong gear ratio I decided to install the differential gear casing from a Triumph TR6. I bought the TR6 differential gear housing from England and I then went out to a car brakers yard where I found a Triumph 2000 saloon car, from this car I took the drive shafts and the steering rack as I also wanted to change the car to LHD from RHD.

Changing from RHD to LHD
My car was RHD but as I lived in Sweden I wanted to convert to LHD, according to a book about TVR's (TVR 1960 - 1980, from Brooklands books), I found that the steering rack used in M-series cars was also used in the Triumph 2000 saloon. As I described above I found a steering rack at a breakers yard, I dismantled and checked the rack and then rebuilt and adjusted it according to specification.

I made a new dashboard out of plywood using the old one as template, I simply turned the old one upside down and scribed on a new piece of wood after the holes in the old one. I then covered the dashboard in black vinyl as the original.

The wind shield wiper mechanism also have to be reversed as originally the passenger side window is not wiped fully so if the wipers was used as originally set up the drivers side would be poorly wiped on a LHD car. It maybe sound more difficult then it is, it didn't took me long to dismantle the wiper mechanism and rebuilt it in reverse, I then mounted the wiper mechanism below the front screen on the right side instead of on the left.

The pedal assembly and brake servo was not difficult to move from the right side to the left, the same units are used without any changes on both RHD and LHD cars. The holes for ventilation fan, brake servo and steering was covered using GRP and new holes where made on the other side.

Body repair and choice of colour
While I was working with rebuilding the engine my younger brother sanded down the body and repaired some minor cracks. I had decided to remove the vinyl roof that was fitted to the car originally and I also wanted to have another colour. After some searching I found a colour used on some Ford Escorts for a short time, this colour that is called sunburst red exist in three different shades, my choice was a lighter shade that was used on Ford Escorts in 1981 only, it is very similar to the color used on Ferrari Dino which I always liked.

My brother painted the body using that paint and he also sprayed some five layers of clear lacquer on top. After waiting some time for the paint to fully harden it was time when the body should be put back on the newly renovated chassis.

Body back on the chassis
As anyone knows that have done a full renovation of a car it takes much longer time than expected, for me it took two and a half year after I bought the car until it was time to put the body back on the chassis.

I rented a small flat bed lorry and we, (me my brother and two friends) loaded the newly painted body on that, then we drove to my garage and carefully lowered the body on to the chassis, i had to adjust the height in some places by removing and adding more rubber pads on the mounting points but it didn't took long before the body was in the right place.

Now it really started to look like a car again but I still had to attach a lot of different parts and install things like the front and rear wind screens, doors aso. I also had to connect the electric system.

First engine start after renovation
In April of 1989 it was time to start the engine for the first time. I primed the carb with petrol and checked that everything was alright and turned the ignition key, and, the engine started almost immediately, I then let it run for 20 minutes at 2000 rpm to bed in the new camshaft.

After some additional checks I selected reverse gear and slowly reversed the car from the garage, closed the garage doors and drove around the block, everything went without problems and I started on the first of some longer trips to let every new part on the car settle down correctly.

Brake testing
In Sweden a car built 1974 or later has to fulfil special requirements for the brake system. If the car has not been type approved a special brake test has to be performed. The test consist of:

  1. Test to find out the top speed of the car
  2. 10 consecutive braking test from 80% of the top speed down to 50 km/h with a decelerating of at least 0.9G and where the necessary pedal force is recorded, the pedal force for the last of the ten brake test should not exceed 1.5 times the force needed for the first test
  3. Hand brake test, requirement 0.25G
  4. Visual check of the brake system

In May of 1989 I drove to a military airfield south of Stockholm and handed over the car to the brake tester. The test circuit on the airfield consists of a 2.5 km straight where the real testing is done and some taxi runways that is used in order to create a closed circuit. The speed is measured electronically at the end of the straight in order to determine the top speed.

The brake tester started the car and drove round the airfield, first time he took it quite gently but the next time he came out on the 2.5 km long landing strip the engine sounded like a race car and he was driving flat out. To notice is that he had no previous experience of the car and I thought it was a bit brave or even stupid to drive that fast in an unknown car. He came back to where I stood and said "you have a rather fast car, I managed to exceed 200km/h at the end of the straight, we will use 200 km/h as the official top speed, so the test will be done from 160km/h down to 50km/h". He then performed the rest of the test and somewhat to my surprise the car passed first time without any problems.

Car inspection, (Swedish MOT)
In Sweden cars are inspected every year if they are two years old or older. The yearly car inspection is quite tough and more thorough than the MOT that is used in England, the inspection is done at special testing stations that have their own staff.

For cars that are not type approved in Sweden, the individual car has to go through an even more severe "registration inspection" where the car is subjected to even more stringent tests and is also weighed so the correct tax classification can be determined. My car was going trough this "registration inspection" in May 1989 just after I passed the brake test.

The first time the car failed as one of the bolts that attaches the brake adjuster to the back plate for one of the rear brakes snapped and I lost hand brake function during the test. After replacing the brake adjuster with a new one the car passed the test without any problems and now finally, I could fully enjoy my newly renovated car.

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Created on ... december 17, 2000