For those of you who have been following my story so far, you will know that I have just finished my body refurbishment project. I fetched the car this Friday from John Haynes
and she is now safely back in storage, some seven months later.
My brief before we began the restoration was to attend to rust on the front and rear wheel arches, and to tidy rust in the engine bay as far as possible. I had agreed to a full windows out bare metal re-spray. I had acquired a few bits along the way that would be replacing some of the old tired parts, mainly trim and rubber pieces. As with all projects, I found it difficult to stick to my own brief, and soon Mrs. W was dictating…
So, in an effort to loose weight, I decided to replace the bonnet and boot lids with aluminium ones (from a 300SD), and to get more fresh air into the engine bay: I wanted to create some new air dams, then there were the less nice, but more practical alloy rims, and so it went. Not to mention the fitting of a W126 auxiliary fan as an upgrade.
There were a few surprises along the way, notably from my part, although I had agreed not to do the underneath of the car at this stage, I had assumed my original quote included the lower sills and wheel tubs, apparently an assumption too far. And so up and up the budget went, at least there were no time constraints, and the car could be done in between other jobs as it were, at a consistent but leisurely pace.
Whilst paint preservation was not really an option on the outside, we did try to preserve some of the car’s history. You can see the sympathetic touches, for instance on the inner section of the doors. Whist the outside, periphery and window frames were stripped back to bare metal, the inside panel retains some of the original paint and factory markings. Especially inside the vehicle, most of my fittings and fixtures are original, and still very factory fresh.
There were lots of other little touches, such as retaining the tyre-pressure sticker on the inner surface of the petrol flap, or ensuring that the stone chip extends onto the inner lip of the wheel arch as per factory specifications. Where needed we have went for new (when available, and where the budget permitted), like the trim clips and shims for the outer door moldings. To this end, most of the external fittings have been renewed, especially things like the bumper bracketry. Nothing taken off the car went back on unless it was neat, cleaned, refurbished and serviceable.
Whilst this will never be a concours winner, we have tried to stick to the original as far as possible. But, at the same time, some functional alterations for example: new drains in the rear of the engine bay near the fire wall, as well as some modern technology has also been embraced: you will see the use of high-tech epoxy primers, high filler primer, under-coat, stone-chip, water-based base-coat (2 layers) and clear-coat (4 layers). All in all, I should imagine we used close enough to the original factory specification of 32 kilograms of paint and body preservation wax. In practice, hopefully this will be more serviceable, and last longer than the original paint the car left the factory in.
As the front end of the car had to be removed, now seemed like the best time to attend to the coolant radiator, which was not so good as it turned out, and had to be re-cored. The air conditioner condenser was tested, and it only had to be treated to some combing and a new layer of ‘technical’ paint. Then there was the pool of power-steering liquid under the car one morning, and so the steering-box had to be removed, and a new seal fitted.
Whilst the final bill was a sobering reality check, it was only whilst trawling through the shop photos that you begin to realise where all the money went. Nice touches: like the cavity preservation wax behind the headlamp bowls, and re-painted inner surfaces of the bumpers in the original factory 158 whitegrey. Not only the replacement of the vacuum elements in the central locking pods, but the body-shop also renewing all rubber connectors along the 37 year-old vacuum lines. Or re-gluing the vinyl wrapping on the B-pillars where the old glue let go. Or re-glueing the peeling factory parts sticker back on to the air conditioner dryer. And, and, and…
So when all was complete, I hear you say, “Are you pleased with the result?”
Yes I am, but I still have a long way to go, she’s by no means finished yet. Next on the menu: sub-frames and suspension components.