Our Cars

510SSS_sss

Time for the next installment of my continental adventure. In part 2 I made it all the way to Polisot and bought a 510 SSS. Now, at 3am in the morning, I had recovered from a day and a half without sleep and hit the Autoroute again. This time headed west towards the Vendée, more specifically and area right on the edge of the Vendée and Deux-Sèvres, a bit south of Pouzauges. About 440km.

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Exactly one week ago whilst sat in front of my computer enjoying a lovely cup of tea, I thought I’d have a casual browse of the marvelous French classified ad website, Leboncoin. There’s always interesting cars for sale on Leboncoin, even the occasional Datsun, although those are often limited to models which are often not terribly desirable. However this time  an audible ‘mon dieu!’ was uttered when the first thing I saw was this…

510SSS_leboncoin

Now, I have been fiddling around with Datsuns for a pretty long time and this has to be the first time I have ever seen a European spec Datsun 1600 SSS for sale. The legendary 510 SSS. I can’t imagine that many were sold in Europe at all! For me this model is the  Holy Grail and one which I had never honestly expected to see let alone have the opportunity to acquire. It had to be bought…

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lch_jobs01
As I posted yesterday, a very nice Nissan Cherry Europe GTi has joined our fleet which saves me a huge amount of work restoring the crusty example we already had. Although the car is in pristine condition, it still needs a few minor things sorting on it. For a start, it was lacking it’s Nissan badging apart from the ‘GTI’ emblem on the tailgate. This car didn’t have any badges when I first saw it several years ago and as it was originally sold via an independent Alfa Romeo specialist when it was new, it may never have had any. Also, having been re-badged as an Arna Ti at some point, it was lacking the distinctive green stripe on the grille which was what I tackled first…
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new_europe01

Bit by bit I have been thinning out my fleet of projects-in-waiting and I’ve now got down to the last few, and this is where I have had to make some hard choices. One of these tough decisions was what do I do with my Cherry Europe GTi? It’s a total wreck but it’s just so rare! It took me quite a while to find this car and I have long wanted a Cherry Europe but I need to be realistic. It’s not only going to be a huge amount of work, it’s also going to cost quite a lot of money. By my calculations it would need at least £4000 putting into it to make it nice again and even then there are a couple of parts missing that might be almost impossible to find. But then if I parted with it, I would never find another!

Initially I decided that maybe it was wiser to simply sell it and resign myself to the fact I’d never own a Cherry Europe. I listed it on eBay but although it attracted a number of bids, the top two bidders were both deadbeats who didn’t follow it up. Then a couple of other buyers backed out. Fate seemed to be telling me I should keep it and restore it.

But then I considered that maybe there was another way…

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As I drove home from a recent trip into town, I spied this Nissan Vanette parked up by the roadside with a for sale sign in it. I figured it might come in handy so it followed me home. It’s a pretty sedate 2.0L diesel but drives great. Amazingly the seats aren’t ripped to shreds which seems to be the norm for these old vans. Bit of rust here and there but solid where it counts. It won’t take much to get this thing into decent shape but for now I just want it as a parts hauler. However, before it could be used, one important change was needed…

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Van Update

So, what’s the progress on the van since the last installment. Well, it might not look much different but a whole bunch of work has been done since the roof got painted. The next step was to get the rest of the body into primer which meant finishing the filler and prep work both inside and out…

 

With the body repairs done, I looked at getting the front end back together which meant rebuilding the heater and aircon unit. The heater in this thing is massive and requires a lot of dismantling to get it out so I figured I’d best strip it and replace all the foam seals then clean it out as once it’s back in, it’s ain’t coming out again! Stripping the lower section of the heater revealed the fresh air/recirc flap was actually completely missing so a fabricated a new one from some galvanised sheet steel. Ebay provided the self adhesive foam strips. The casing had a couple of big cracks in it from previous accident damage but some careful work with a soldering iron saw them welded back together pretty neatly. With the unit back in place all the front end sheet metal could go back in, along with the radiator and a/c condenser etc.

All the unbolt-able panels got bead blasted then painted with satin black two pack epoxy. The rest of the front end got stripped back by hand then primed and also painted with sating black. There was a bit of accident damage on the front crossmember but I elected to leave it as is and it won’t be visible once the front end is done completely and besides which, that section is made from incredibly thick metal! Finally, I stripped, blasted and painted the headlight mountings and replaced the adjusters and springs. Some new ones intended for a 60’s Dodge Coronet did the job. Next job, fixing the doors…

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Primered, sanded and coated with silver basecoat, 100 micron silver flake and clearcoat. In a few days I’ll flat it down and add some orange candy and the final clear. Not really looking forward to flatting this down though!

The silver base is a fairly coarse metallic but the microflake really improves it. You can’t really see it under the crappy lights in my workshop but it should look amazing in the sun…

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