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Rover Vitesse, FR Bumper Removal and Headlight Alignment

Taking it easy doesn’t mean not playing with cars, so since Tess was up on jacks I wanted to remove the front bumper and headlight to fix it.

There were a couple of reasons for this. First, the RH side headlight lens has only been held on by hopes and dreams for a while (completely loose at the bottom, flapping about, and barely stuck at the top), and since it’s in good shape and not stone chipped, I’d hate for it to drop off and smash one day.

Another reason was that the RH headlight, for some reason, was sitting very low and was recessed. It should sit more of less flush with the corner light and bonnet, but this was way out, with gaps around it. It’s always bothered me when looking at the front of the car, like a lazy eye, and I shuddered to know what horrors were causing it. Rust? Crash Damage? Bodges?!

Removal of the front bumper is easy, as long as the front spoiler is already off. If it isn’t, the spoiler needs to come off first. You don’t need to remove the under tray.

The bumper is secured with four bolts, two on either side which can be accessed from the underside. They are a 17mm nut/bolt through the front panel. The two longer ones go through the jacking point on each side, as per the right hole below.

If you had headlight washers that were connected too, you would have to unhook the hose for that, but since I do not, it wasn’t an issue. With the bolts all removed, the bumper is still held in with sliders on the sides. These, like the rear bumper, just slide out when gently pulled. Be aware the bumper isn’t that light, and will try to spin upside down when removed.

You also need to remove the “grille” trim that runs the width of the front. There are four screws along its length, and then it just comes free.

With the bumper off, you can see the other reason I wanted to remove it. I haven’t removed it since I got the car, and I knew that since it spent some extra time in its life over in the land of rust, and I had previously had to grind back surface rust and treat/paint it lower on the front panel, there would be rust here too.

I was right. Thankfully its all just ugly flakey surface rust, nothing serious, but still needs to be dealt with. You can also see the notorious headlight brackets below the lights. These were barely coated by BL when fitted new, and rusted straight off the assembly line.

Removal of a headlight is a bit of a faff, but not too hard. Mainly a pain because you have to keep moving/opening/closing the bonnet to workaround the front hinging design. The two nuts under the headlight need to come off (be VERY careful as these are known to seize and break off if looked at wrong), and there are two long studs that go through the panel behind the light; the nut also needs to come off them

Unplug the headlight cables, and the light can be withdrawn. This leaves me with just the bracket to remove, which is held in with four screws

This bracket is actually in very good shape, with only surface rust. I wire brushed it down and coated it in rust converter.

Once dry, I covered in Zinc paint. Looks much better. I should have masked up the studs, but oh well.

With that sorted it was time to look at the headlight. I completely removed the lens, and cleaned the dirt out that had built up in the housing. There are two types of housing, one where the lens is just stuck on, and the other that uses clips to hold the lens on and keep it sealed. My original lights don’t have the clips, so I pinched a couple of clips from a spare light. Even the early lights like these have the areas for the clips to be fitted (three along the top, one on each side and three along the bottom), guess it was just cost cutting that meant they weren’t fitted

Now, this is where it gets weird. This is the bracket under the light that bolts to the bracket that I painted above.

First, the black bracket has had the holes either badly slotted or rusted out. This allows for rearwards “adjustment” of the light.

And between the bracket riveted to the bottom of the light, and that above black bracket… was a stack of washers

So that pushes the light back even further. But WHY?!

I replaced the black bracket and fit to the light sans washers. I fit the light back to the car and already the fitment was better. You can also see I brushed back, treated and painted the surface rust on the front panel.

It does need adjustment though. I aimed to have it similar to the other light, which had the bottom front edge of the lens in line with the lower chrome of the side light, and the front of the lens level with the front of the side light.

To adjust the light there are four adjustment points. To adjust the vertical alignment, there are two nuts under the light. The bracket is slotted

Once you have that aligned, the two nuts on the back of the light that were removed to take the light out, are actually on the rear adjusters. These two studs also have a nut on the light side of the front panel, so the inside and outside nuts sandwich the panel between them. The outer nut is just a lock nut, the nut closest to the light is the adjustment. Wind it back or forward to set the forward distance of the top of the light. The bottom distance is already fixed in place by the lower bracket. Be aware these are NOT the light output adjusters to adjust the beam, they are the black knobs on the back of the light.

It took a bit of fiddling about to get those adjustments right, but so far I’m happy with how it’s sitting. It’s MUCH better than it was. It now sits flush with the corner light, and has minimal gaps. The bonnet isn’t fully shut in the photos

Refit the grille strip, and then that bumper and away you go.

The only reason I can think of why the light was bodged like that was maybe the internal adjuster didn’t work so they were just bodged into place to get it to line up. I inspected the adjusters when the light was off and they looked OK. One of the pivots was a bit loose so I tightened it up with a zip tie, but no obvious failures there (I have a spare where all the adjusters have been broken off and stuck together with blu-tack). I’ll need to try aligning the beam soon, as with the light so drastically re-aligned, the beam is likely to be way out now.

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