When Martin asked for volunteers to write stories of their cars’ rebuilds I didn’t know whether it was a veiled request for me to get back with the pen again, as I have fallen out of the habit of writing while there was nothing going on with my car, or whether my conscience pricked a little too much. However, just by coincidence my car had arrived back from the body shop where it had been for almost 2 years after an initial estimate of a few months. I remarked to Martin that it can be boring reading about other people’s rebuilds and promised to try to keep away from the gory detail unless it was absolutely necessary for the story to make sense. So I’ll try to catch you up with the story so far.


For those of you who don’t know me, or have chosen to forget, Heather and I came to the USA in the Spring of 1999, having been active members of the Leicestershire Club for some time. The original intention was to stay for 3 years, then return, so the TR6 went into storage with Geoff Mansfield where it still resides. Now it’s approaching 6 years and there are probably a couple more to go before the job comes to a natural end.


I the autumn of 99 I allowed Heather to persuade me that I needed something to occupy me and that there were plenty TRs out there waiting for help. A nice 2-year task before we came back to the UK. We were on holiday in New England (we were living in Indiana at the time) and looked at 2 likely candidates, a black 4 and a white one. The white one had been outside since it was towed from Florida many years earlier, but I actually drove the black one. It cost me as much to transport it from Upper New York State to Indiana as it did to buy.


Ripping a car apart is the easy bit, as all it needs (assuming you have a fundamental idea of what you’re doing) is a lot of penetrating fluid, the right size of spanners, and an endless supply of cutting wheels. And a careful look at the parts manuals to ensure that the bit you are about to put the saw through is in fact available before you commit yourself. As the car was coming apart it became very clear that it was worse than it looked, and I immediately started to source body panels on e-bay and from anywhere within a few hours’ drive. Eventually I got to the end of the dismantling and started to remantle. New floors, sills and B-posts (couldn’t get in the US so got Simon to send a pair from TR Enterprises) were obtained, and were riveted in place ready for the welding.


Meanwhile I had taken part in 2 courses at the local Tech – one on car body repair and one on welding. Both classes were hands-on and eventually I could lay down a decent seam. I bought myself a welder and hit major problem number one. The normal domestic electrical system in the USA is 110 volts, and the welder I had learned on was a 220. I could have bought a 220 and doubled up on the supply, taking 2 leads off the board in the house, but the house was rented and I didn’t really wasn’t a conversation with the landlord about tinkering with his electrics, so I went with the 110. The welding characteristics were so different as to be unrecognizable, and I spent a long time re-learning power settings before I could trust myself not to burn through stuff or make nothing but spatter because I didn’t have enough power.

All of a sudden I was making pretty well no progress. The flow did get further interrupted somewhat as Heather’s next suggestion for the maintenance of my health was for me to participate in the Indianapolis half marathon in the Spring of 2001. The training just about chewed up every evening and Saturday morning for 4 months, but was rewarded with a time well beyond my wildest expectations. Self-satisfaction and esteem very high, progress on TR4 very slow. Then came the summer of 2001 and we were making plans to get married. September 11th happened, the job changed shortly after and we moved to Massachusetts in the January of 2002. After 6 months of doing absolutely nothing on the car we decided that we would look for someone to complete the body for us, or it just wouldn’t get done. We posted on the local TR club site and were recommended a guy who has a towing business and body shop. He has an interest in old cars and runs a racing team, and had also done a 4 to the satisfaction of another local TR member, who did warn us that his timescales had a habit of stretching. (Remember Hooke’s Law, which finishes with “provided the elasticity of the spring is not exceeded”? Well this timetable defied anything Hooke ever dreamed of.) So in the October of 2002 we handed over the car to Tom Pearse.


The next 2 years were taken up with viewing progress, persuading, bullying, etc, but as long as the guy was doing it for fill-in outside of his normal paying work I didn’t have too much leverage except to take it away and find someone else. So we stayed with it, and got the car back at the beginning of September just a few weeks ago. I must say that I could not possibly have got it to the standard it now is even in the time Tom took. I think he probably rushed it a bit at the end, and there are signs that he could have taken more time on the chassis, but I cannot really complain. It still needs its final wet buff and polish, which he doesn’t want to do until I have finished crawling all over it.


The body came straight off so that I could get at the suspension more easily, and I’m now in the middle of rebuilding that. The bulk of the parts have arrived and I’m awaiting fast road springs for the front and uprated dampers for the rear from Simon, together with some poly bushes which I cannot get here. In a future article I will share some stories about US suppliers. I’ll devote the next article to suspension stories as I hope it will be substantially complete by then. If not, it means I have run into something fundamental I don’t understand. I’m off work this week and was hoping to complete it. Idiot. Another thought born of pipe-dreaming.


I am attaching 3 pictures – the car as I bought it, the car as I was stripping it, and the body-off ceremony a couple of weeks ago. I have asked Andy to add a few more to the website so that you can see some more detail and gasp in awe at the task I took on.


I cannot let this first note pass without acknowledging all the help I have had from folks at home, particularly from Dick and Andy, who usually get to field inane questions beginning with “How the hell…..” and “Remind me what you said about…..”


Talk to you next month.












Text Box: What we thought we bought













Text Box: What we actually bought














Text Box: Body-lifting last month with Investment Advisor, retired 74-year-old neighbour, Mortgage manager at local bank, Former boxer and sometimes-sober neighbour












More pictures here