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Rover Vitesse, We’re Legal!

For the first time this year, Tess finally made an appearance out of the garage.

Since replacing the rack a couple of weeks ago, and getting the wrong tie rod ends from Repco, I’ve been waiting patiently (hah!) for a pair of new ends to come from the motherland via Rimmers. It seems no one else in NZ has a listing, let alone the ability to supply them.

When getting a Warrant of Fitness inspection on a car, if it fails you have 28 days to return for a free recheck without having to do another full inspection at your cost. Yesterday was 28 days from the initial inspection where the car failed….

So on Tuesday, with one day left, the new tie rod ends hadn’t arrived yet and I was out of time. When I removed the old rack the RH tie rod end was seized into the knuckle and unfortunately the boot got torn to bits removing the joint.

Finding a universal boot locally was a pain in the ass. Repco had nothing, Supercheap Auto thought I wanted a boot liner for my car, BNT said they had them on the phone but somehow magically lost all of them 20 mins later when I went in…. but a huge thanks to Autolign in Petone who not only had a decent range in stock, but actually managed to sort me out one that fit perfect.

I really didn’t want to reuse these joints but with no other options it’s all I had. They were good enough to pass the initial warrant check, so they would still be OK to pass the recheck. I just didn’t want to use old and worn parts on my lovely new rack.

Anyway, I reassembled the steering, did a quick spanner check, and began to refit the wheels. One thing I wanted to do when refitting them was to replace the wheel nuts with some spares I have. The current ones are all pretty rusty, and although the replacements are old and used, they’re far less rusty. Original on the left. Interestingly they are actually different, with the original ones having a shorter hex, and a bigger domed cap.

They all went on, got torqued up and Tess was on the ground once again

A quick test drive shows that the alignment is slightly out and the steering wheel is off to the right by a couple of degrees. Everything else is working properly, as it should, but the steering rack doesn’t feel as smooth as the old 30+ year old one. Hopefully it’ll wear in and get better.

Yesterday I drove Tess in and went for the recheck. A few minutes later, after checking the rack had been replaced, this ugly thing was stuck to my windscreen

So that’s a great success, the first warrant since 2013. Getting Rego (road tax) was a bit more of a pain. I swung home after getting the WOF, and swapped my plates over to the personalised plates I will be running and went to VTNZ for the rego

Unfortunately there was a nationwide system outage for the rego label printers, meaning no one could sell me rego, take the cars rego off hold, or swap the plates over. Eventually I managed to get the post shop to sell me rego without printing the label. This meant I could use the car last night, and the worst I could be ticketed for would be “Failure to display licence label in the correct manner”. Better than driving an unregistered car, but this did mean I had to swap back to the original plates again. I’ll change to MEH another day.

One of the other things I needed to do yesterday was to change my oil again. Back when I did the shifter bushes I also changed the 4+ year old oil with some nice, expensive VR1 10W40 as used in Effie. Unfortunately Tess didn’t take too kindly to this thin oil, and started smoking heavily when getting up the revs. She blew a little smoke before the change, but this was like a Bond smoke screen.

The oil that the previous owner had been using was a 20W50, so I thought something along those lines would be a good start. I ended up picking up some Penrite HPR30 20W60 with “full” Zinc.

I drained out the 5L of expensive 50KM old engine flush oil, and filled up with the Penrite. I didn’t change the filter, there was no point as it was barely used. The oil came out a little darker, but still golden.

With the HPR30 in her, the smoke has lessened a lot, and the oil pressure is still very good. It’s thicker than I usually prefer, but every engine is different and this is what Tess likes. It’s also cheaper than VR1 which is good (not to mention coming in 5L and 1L bottles, which is great when a drain and fill takes 5.5L. Two bottles of 5L VR1 isn’t cheap)

Driving her last night was great. Sure, it was pissing down, but gosh it drives god. The Falken ZE912 tires seem to be working well in the wet and dry. Compared to the Supercats on Effie, it’s like comparing apples and chewing gum. I can still over power the Falkens, especially when it comes on cam in second gear, but otherwise it was nice and grippy.

The new shifter bushes make a huge change in shifter feel, with far less movement, and much more accuracy. The gearbox is still very noisy, and has a great trick of sometimes popping out of 3rd when you let the clutch out (uncommon though). I will try Ramon’s recommendation of flushing with white spirit, and then using an engine oil with Molyslip and see what happens. Worst case, I have that spare box in the garage.

So that’s where we are now. The car is fully road legal and usable. I need to swap the tie rod ends and get an alignment, and the damn boot still leaks like a sieve. One step at a time, but now I get to put some Miles on her.

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Michael Arnold
Michael Arnold
6 years ago

Hi Kelvin
Looks really good,
Here in Oz we never got the Vitesse models so i am slowly Vitessing my 3500se auto.
Engine & suspension now done,experimenting with Speediuno fuel only.
I aquired an LT77 in a million pieces,rebuilt it with new bearings etc
After trying 75w,then engine oil,then ATF i changed the oil to VW DSG oil i had left over,works a treat,now it shifts like a jap box !
I have just received some 4 spot calipers from Rimmers ,fitting this weekend.


Michael Arnold
Michael Arnold
Reply to  Kelvinator
6 years ago

Hi Kelvin
I have not fully changed over to Speeduino,i have it in the original ecu case as plug & play.still having problems with starting,think i need an opto isolator.
Anyway i thing the DSG oil must have some pretty good additives to deal with the wet clutches on them,it def works for me.
Also i am not a fan of Facebook but checkout my album on flicker here


Michael Arnold
Michael Arnold
Reply to  Kelvinator
6 years ago

Hi Kelvin Thanks for that. You know how it is,one thing leads to another…. I have had it running for a while on Speeduino,was quite good apart from starting was poor which i put down to it not liking the signal from the coil.back on the L-jet at the moment. I have a trigger wheel setup coming soon so that should sort that out.I plan to run single channel spark and retain the distributor but will let me tweak the spark in Speedie. I want to retain the same underbonnet look so i am using the original AFM,just using its ait sensor.makes it 5 mins work to changeover from one ecu to another. The wide band has however allowed me to really tweak the original L-jetronic by adjusting the spring tension of the flap,now getting around 14.7 at cruise & awesome driveability,plus i can continue to use it between Speeduino… Read more »