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Project Marina, Lowering and Finally Off Stands

I’ve been pushing forward with the Marina this week, spending a couple of days after work finishing up some of the bodywork.

I started by finishing the LH rear quarter window frame; sanding out the filler, and then priming and painting the frame.

The colour match in the rattle cans is pretty good really.

This little corner has come a long way since it was a gaping hole

With the frame painted, I test-fitted some spare door seal I had from the TVR, and to my surprise it’s a perfect fit, so I will use that. I still need to cut and join the front edge, but otherwise it’s a good fit.

I test fitted the window and it and seems to fit well, but I have a lot of work to do to the window before it can be fitted. It spent many years out in a field.

With that success, I moved on to the rear valance. I’m sick of working on this, so smoothed back the filler, primed and painted it. It’s still fairly wobbly, but it’s solid and hidden under the bumper for the most part. It looks good at 20ft away, anyway.

I undersealed the back of the fuel tank and filler pipe, to hide them. The plate was also refitted; would you be surprised to find the two holes that were previously used, and that I had been working around, aren’t spaced correctly and I had to slot the plate holes for it to fit with the new rivnuts in the original holes? I was both surprised and annoyed. I should’ve just welded them up and drilled new ones. I’ll drill two new ones for the inner pair of holes on the plate so I don’t have to slot the personalised plate when I put it on the Marina.

Unfortunately the number plate bulb holder broke at some point, so I’m working on a replacement that should be a bit more reliable than the original that grounds by touching the mounting bracket it’s on.

With the bodywork at a point I was happy with, I moved on to the last thing I needed to do before I could finally get the car off the stands; sort the rear suspension.

Even though I had sorted the brakes, I hadn’t touched the rear suspension at all. I knew one side was missing a bump stop, and everything else was just a bit tired.

I purchased a 1 inch lowering block set to suit a Capri, Escort, Anglia etc, and some escort poly spring pads. The bump stops are a good pair of used UK spec bump stops.

Speaking of bump stops, it’s interesting to note the UK ones are shorter than the Aus spec ones, and have a slightly different shape. The shorter ones are better for a lowered car anyway.

I removed the rather random collection of nuts on the bottom of the original U bolts

Which meant everything started to come apart

In hindsight, I would undo and remove the shock from the bottom spring plate, just so there is more movement in it come time to reassemble.

The old spring pads were in good shape. They appear to already be poly, not rubber, so may have been replaced before.

A nice little collection of bits, less the top plate (still stuck on the axle, but can be removed with a couple of taps of a hammer).

The plates appear to be galvanised which would explain why they were in excellent shape under the dirt

I did a test fit with the new blocks, but found reusing the old spring pads wouldn’t work because the thicker U bolts would bind on them (the old, thinner bolts had moulded into them).

Speaking of thicker U bolts, one thing you do need to do is open the bolts in all the mounting plates out a bit, as the holes are a tad too small. I opened them out to the 12mm step on my step drill.

A clamp helps squeeze the U bolt together and fit it through the holes as they come a little too spread apart

All fitted together, with the replacement bump stop, new spring pads, U bolts and 1 inch lowering block.

It took a lot of mucking around with the jack and a ratchet strap to get the axle to line up on the spring holes/pins, as the axle wanted to rotate forward and move backwards, and needed to be pulled forward again; this was made harder on this side because of the forward link on the top of the axle.

The other side went a lot quicker and easier since I had worked out the secret formula on the first side. The main reason I was doing this, was because of the missing bump stop, which would be a WOF failure.

Here it is, with the new parts and a bump stop

I did have to go around with the angle grinder afterwards and just nip the ends off the U bolts as they were a bit long for my liking.

I reinstalled the wheels, cleaned the glass, lowered it off the stands and finally got to see how it looked. In the garage, it looked awesome.

The obvious thing to do now was to see what it looked like out in the cold light of day. After a few goes to get the old inertia start to stop kicking back out, it started without too much fuss and settled into a nice idle. The benefits of an electric fuel pump filling the carb bowl without needing to crank over and over.

There are about two years between these two photos, and hours upon hours of work

The lowered front is the obvious difference, but the rear is subtly lower, the whole lower quarter panel ahead of the wheel has been remade, and the complete outer sill has been replaced.

Lowering it has made a huge difference in how it looks, and I love it. I genuinely think it’s one of the coolest looking cars I have owned.

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