By Nicholas Webb
It took me more than a month to repair the inner and outer sills on the driver's side but it was freezing cold winter weather at that time (January 2015).
I managed to buy an O/S/F wing from someone in Hampshire and did a 360 mile round trip to get it. Actually, I bought two front wings but both were second hand previously repaired items and it was only much later that I discovered the N/S/F wing was too badly repaired to use. This was probably the worst £300 I'd spent on the project!
Repairs to the second hand wing were made and it was actually from a later model of Hillman Minx but I already had a plan to use parts from my original wing and the donor car to make one front wing.
An e-bay 'super find' was a new old stock front lower valance from Northern Ireland at £180 and now, one new welder later, I had a good floor, sill, bulkhead, outer wing and front valance. The weather also warmed up, my work was unusually quiet and rather than looking for more work I just spent more and more time working on AJC and effectively welded my way around the car until I was back at the front. The N/S sill was just as bad as the O/S, but it was actually very easy as I just copied what I'd done on the driver's side.
The N/S/F wing really was a nightmare! I had the remains of the original (not much!) and this piece of rubbish I'd driven to Hampshire and paid a lot for. However, there was one more. The very rusty wing still on the parts car, very rusty but never previously 'repaired'. The front wings on these Audax cars are welded on and getting them off pretty much destroys them, but it was this front wing that was probably my greatest achievement as the remnants of three rusted wings and homemade repair sections made one good wing. I could (and possibly should) have bought two new glass-fibre wings, the only other choice was new handmade wings from Ex-Pressed Steel Panels in Yorkshire at £450 +vat each!
Having got this far and with lots of nice chrome parts waiting in the loft there was the paintwork to attend to. Having by now exhausted all 'spare' cash, I could only think of one way it would get done. Like all the rest, I would have to do it myself. I have sprayed complete vehicles in the past but with no spray booth I decided I would be better off to do it in sections.
Spraying a whole car is difficult but spraying one body panel is relatively easy. By the end July 2015 I had worked my way around the car and it was time for our usual one week of the year holiday. Naturally, progress could not be halted entirely and the original number plates were refurbished whilst we were away! SO nice to be doing the detail items at last!
A rather strange thing happened around this time, I can't remember if it was before or after our holiday but when a car has had lots of work there is always the smell of fresh paint and rustproofing products that linger for a while but on the day the interior was refitted, I sat inside it and it smelled exactly as it had done so many years before.
Finally, 10th of August 2015 was my big day. I drove AJC for the first time in 29 years to its MOT test. Me; 20 years old to 49 years old and it was a leap back in time, AJC from 22 years old to 51 years old!
It will never win any concourse prizes and there are certainly things that I could have done better but it it's just nice to have it back.
BIG thanks to its last owner who kept it for so long. Giving away Granddad’s little logbook was a good thing as she kept it because of that... "There's some history with this car!"
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