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HS30-00408 3 YEAR REBUILD

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Mt Buller Sprint. Monday 5 November 2007. A sunny mid afternoon after 2 days of sleet, white-out and pouring rain. Last day, last special stage, last turn of 142, 50m from the finish line. A near perfect run over 16 klm to the mountain summit had us on a sub 10 minute run. Last call is “L1 // 50 FF” meaning “left hairpin turn, uphill, 50m, flying finish”. Approaching the hairpin bend in 3rd gear, right boot hard on the throttle, then heel and toe back to first on entry into the left hairpin turn, hugging the outside to avoid the worst of the trail of water on the inside of the turn, waiting until we are over the water spill before burying the right boot again. Instantly the rear snaps right, mounting the gutter curb before BANG it slaps the concrete and rock embedded retaining wall. A combination of wet tyres, a wider exit, and over enthusiasm with the right foot spells disaster and a 10:14 time as we limped across the line and roll to the stage end.

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Exiting the car we smell petrol leaking from where the filler hose has been pushed off the tank. The right rear bumper bar is completely flat against the massive rear quarter panel indent, it looking like crumpled tin foil. At first it looks like the damage is restricted to this area but further observation shows the gap between the left side of the hatch and the left rear quarter is but 2 mm compared to 15mm plus on the right side; the whole rear of the car having been pushed over to the left leaving a 20mm gap in the driver’s side door jam. At the top of the C pillar on each side of the hatch there are hair line cracks in the paint work. Inside, the right side of the rear floor panel near where it meets the spare tyre well, has been creased from the impact. Bugger! Still the car is drivable……..and we did get the prize for the best sounding car, and second in our class…

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Six months later in May 2008 I pulled HS30-00408 from the garage and started to strip it back to a bare shell for a full rebuild, hoping it would take 12 months but not really knowing what laid ahead in terms of hitting this time frame and cost.

 

The partly stripped car was given to Rob (the Z guru) at the Z Factory (http://www.zfactory.com.au/) and placed onto a jig to determine the extent of the rear chassis damage. As expected it wasn’t good. After straightening the chassis, the shell was then stripped of all remaining parts and mounted onto a rotisserie and all loose panels were removed to reveal further damage, that is, rust everywhere. The more we stripped, the more we found. The A pillars, floor, roof and rear quarters were all removed to uncover the extent of the cancer. It was ugly. A & C pillars, roof frame, fire wall, battery tray, dog legs, floor, chassis rails, etc, were all riddled with rust. It was a wonder the car didn’t snap in half when it hit the retainer wall!

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Over the next 5 months Rob, the master craftsman, cut, shaped and welded in all new metal to replace the rust and damaged panels. Chassis rails, strut towers (internally) and other key stress sections were properly seamed welded (ie 25mm on / off). Then the shell was sand blasted and sprayed in POR-15.

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In the interim, all suspension, brakes and other related parts were stripped and rebuilt.

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These were then refitted for a rolling shell, where it was then trailered to PowerPlay (http://www.powerplay.net.au/) in Oct ‘08 to have a new full roll cage fitted and welded into place, with cross and multiple intrusion bars everywhere and gusseted throughout to the body shell.

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On return to Rob (Nov ‘08), body repair work on outer panels was completed, undercoated, filled, rubbed and prepped for spraying. Underneath of chassis was sprayed with sound deadening. Car entered the spray booth in May ’09 for re-spraying in its original Series 1 colour (code 905 Monte Carlo red).

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