The Build - part 1

December 02, and time to collect the kit from Dakar Cars. Unfortunately, they're in Kent which is 250 miles away. Undaunted, I hired a Luton van which I thought was big enough and spent 5 hours getting down there. The first thing that Dakar proprietor, Barry Chantler, says is "Don't think it'll go in there" and my heart sinks.
Luckily, he was wrong, but only just!

The roll cage fitted easily.
Getting the body in was a struggle.
The usual way of getting it all in a van is to put the roll-cage in first (no problem there) and then put the fibreglass body in and drop it down over the cage. My problem was that the van doorway was narrower than the body tub, so it wouldn't go in straight, only tilted at angle, but then the cage was in the way!

The answer was to take the cage out, put the body in first, have several people hold it up to the roof and then slide the cage in underneath - sounds easy but it was a bit of a struggle.
That done, I drove home (carefully) and then with the help of a few friends and family, got it all out and into the workshop.

The kit safely in the garage.Seeing the chassis and kit together was a boost.
Axle stripped and ready for painting.A lot of bits came off.
My next task is the front axle. I had previously overhauled or replaced the brakes, swivel-housings and CV-joints, so it was just a strip down, clean and paint. You get a real appreciation for "unsprung weight" while working on stuff like this!
The only issue I had with it was the right hand radius arm bracket was bent, which I had not realised before. I was able to straighten it quite easily with a few clamps and bits of angle-iron.
All ready to go back on.Axle refitted.
It's now the end of January 2003 and time to hire a hoist and refit the engine and gearbox - a job made much easier by having no bodywork to contend with.
See what happened next. Back to the front. Send an e-mail.
Engine and 'box refitted.Power steering box etc.Front prop being fettled.Front prop ready to go on.
Drivers footwell repair.Repair panels fitted.
During February, I cleaned and painted the remaining steering components and the front propshaft. The UJ's were in good condition but I had to replace one because I knackered the seals getting it to bits!
Bulkhead repairs done.Bulkhead in place.
Having never done any welding before, I was a bit apprehensive about doing this job, but I'm happy with the result.
Thanks to my friend Matt for lending me the MIG.
Most of March is spent working on the bulkhead - it is a key component in the vehicle, being the support for the steering column, pedal box and many other components. It is prone to rust, particularly in the footwells and I had to weld repair panels in.