Main British Car:
Moss's '74 TVR 2500/4700M (289 SBF)
Posted by: CoolHandMoss
Date: June 07, 2022 06:48PM
I suppose I should introduce myself first. My name is not actually Moss. I neglect to put my real name on the public internet if I can help it so I hope that Moss will suffice. My dad bought a TR6 and began restoring it when I was about 12. He's a talented guy and made pretty quick work of turning it in to a show winner before I got a driver's license. As such, you could say I grew up around British cars. We went to British car shows regularly throughout my upbringing. I always gravitated toward the TVRs. The styling and the tube frame really appealed to me. I started working at a local British car restoration shop in high school and cintinued on and off to a degree even somewhat beyond college. When I was approaching 17 years old I traded my 86 Honda accord for a 78 midget that had been sitting in the corner of a paint booth at a body shop for over a decade. Fortunately the drive train and interior were decent if not solid. About 6 months later I had one rather good looking Valencia orange Midget. The kids at school always complained that I smelled like gas when I got to school but who cares. After high school I got in to racing for a little over a decade traveling around to autocross in Miatas and BRZs and the like. Had a super great time with that and I intend to race again eventually. But I decided it was time for a change of pace and happened to get a change to buy a TVR that had been stored by my previous employer until the owner gave up on restoring it. So in August of 2021 I bought this gem of a 1974 2500M from the original owner. I have been working on it on and off since I got it and progress is slow. I decided to document the progress here in addition to the grassroots forum. I'll take a couple weeks to catch up on progress to date before I get up to current progress I expect. Anyway, here is the first section. Please do message me with any comments or suggestions. I seriously welcome the input.
I bought my 2500M from the original owner in August of 2021. It had been sitting for at least 20 years but the environment was decent most of the time. It was pretty nasty inside with plenty of rodent damage. It definitely needs nothing short of a complete restoration. Much deliberation went in to deciding what balance of originality VS. Improvement the car would get. I certainly appreciate originality in a car like this but I also really like to drive hard and I hope to be able to drive the car at a track day and autocross periodically without worrying too much about breaking it. So I decided that the drive train and suspension will be performance oriented and the body will be restored with a priority on originality. I spent months considering different engine options looking for something that matched the personality of the car, had decent output and reliability, and would transplant with minimal major challenges. A rover engine was a top contender, the Ford v6 cyclone got a fair amount of research for feasibility, the Ford ecoboost 4 cylinder, BMW straight 6 and v8 options were considered, building the original engine for performance wasn't off the table, and a few others got a decent look. In the end I couldn't find any option more appealing than taking a page out of Jack Griffith's book and going with a small block Ford. What do you know, a friend of mine had an original 289 just down the road from me. So that will get a t5 behind it and go in as is to begin with. It will probably come out for a refresh not long after it's all together.
The pictures attached are from where the car was when I agreed to buy it.
The car had been reupholstered by the original owner with an abismal fabric. So even though it's in decent condition that is all getting Re-covered. As I cleaned up all the old animal mess throughout the car and started to slowly disassemble I found minimal bad surprises. There is one spot of rust on the frame, pretty typical, that won't be hard to cut out and replace. The body is pretty much as solid as one can expect throughout other than some damage around the sunroof opening from something flat being stored on top of the car long term. I'm not a fan of sunroofs anyway! The car has just under 50k miles on the odometer and has the normal deformation of the control arm mounting tabs in the front. One of the lower control arms is a little tweaked as well. Oh, and the windshield was destroyed. Luckily the rear glass was fine even after having fallen down in to the car after the rubber seal deteriorated. But a windshield will be needed eventually.
I swapped on some old tr6 wheels to move it rather than getting tires mounted on the original wheels.
Here are a few pictures of moving the car and getting it in the garage at home. It has a lot of parts, original and replacements inside in boxes. The rear glass is not shown because I removed it before moving the car to avoid damage.
As I said, I am not a fan of sunroofs. Too much weakness and opportunity for leaks for not enough benefit. And I am bald so the sun hurts my head. Combine this with the deformed opening to the sunroof in my car and my decent body fairing skills and the idea of filling the sunroof opening in with solid glass sounds pretty appealing. As luck would have it, another gentleman, Scott, happens to be working on a similar project and is rather good with composites. So he makes himself a composite filler panel for the sunroof opening and is nice enough to make me one too while he is at it. So I received a perfectly contoured panel with which I can fill the sunroof opening in the mail. The panel is very well made and also comes in at less than half the weight of the sunroof and accompanying hardware. I 'mushed' the panel up into place with thickened epoxy. A groove along the seam was ground out and some glass strips laid in. Some extra glass in the low spots at the corners brought me closer to grade to minimize the thickness of body filler. Then began the fairing. At this point currently I am just about there. It's tricky to establish a contour that doesn't actually exist. The roof surface will be a blend between what should be and what was when I got the car. I am using Awlfair as a body filler. Super pricey but very good stuff. I come from a boat building background and I bring some of that knowledge with me when approaching this fiberglass body. Awlfare cures much slower than bondo but has a much more rigid consistency. There are fewer concerns about adhesion and strength.
And here it is with the fairing nearly finished. I ended up with at least a very little amount of filler across the whole roof because the contours don't match up perfectly between the damaged body and the filler panel. I got worried about how thick the filler was getting so I ground out the thickest area and it wasn't even over 1/8" which is fine for Awlfair.
I hadn't quite decided when I started the roof panel project whether I would soda blast or chemically strip the body. I had to get the paint off the roof to do this so I sanded it off. By the time I was done I was pretty much committed to sanding all the old paint off. I will likely end up soda blasting the tighter areas like the door jams and the like but it looks like I will be sanding most of the paint off.
There are a ton of spider cracks in this body. They never end. So when my brain is dead from work work and other work on the car that is what I spend my time on. It takes very little brain action to grind out cracks and wipe some epoxy over them. One attached photograph shows a distinct web of cracks that required a little grinding out of fiberglass and replacement with new glass in the center.
So the front suspension (and the rear as well, to a lesser degree) appears to be rather weak on the M-series TVRs. The brackets by which the control arms mount to the frame are pretty much always bent due to being too long and too thin. The control arms themselves are a little less than disired as well. They are known to bend and show cracks around the welds when magnafluxed. The spindles are also weak both in the axle and the upright assembly as well. The TR6 spindles the TVR was fitted with are very thin. Not to mention that the steering arms are of poor geometry and there are limited options for replacements. With all this considered I decided my car would get custom made control arms and alternate spindles. The lug pattern is the real limiting factor when exploring what spindles might work, but we will get to that fiasco later. Some research indicated that Mustang II/Pinto spindles were a feasible replacement. There is lots of racing application for them and lots of aftermarket interchangeability. So I got a pair of Helix stock ride height Pinto spindles and some ball joints that would work. As of this edit I have only made upper control arms and am still working out ball joint fitment on the lowers. Being rather new to welding I made a "rough draft' so to speak. This went predictably badly. I was lucky enough to have a professional welding friend to help me out with the applicable welding techniques one day (thanks Justin) and gave it another go. The second attempt was acceptable, for now. I am okay using these upper control arms to set the car on and even drive it, though I may end up making improved replacements i the future. Now I need to figure out the lower ball joint situation and make some lowers. I think once the parts that are on the way get here I will be ready to do that. The ext picture will be the first attempt at a control arm followed by subsequent pieces and a bit of the construction procedure.
That's all for now. I have this thread just about caught up to date at this point. Seriously, if anyone has anything to contribute, criticize, or ask about the project please do feel free to message. I am not sure about making it a pickup truck as one kind member has messaged to suggest but that doesn't mean I am not open to input.
Edited 9 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/2022 07:07PM by CoolHandMoss.