(Pic heavy) Rusty MX5 hairdresser driftcar MOT restoration

  1. I am rather new to this melting lark so I thought I had better post a few pics of my intended restoration before embarking on any sort of adventures with the grinder.


    This car has been my SORNed drifter since I acquired it around 5 months ago. The prohibitive cost of van hire has been preventing me from doing as much as I would like though, and at present I have no trailer capability. Hoping to get it through an MOT in time for Buxton opening next March, HOWEVER, I have a bit of a problem...


    This is the front driver's side sill as it currently looks. Little bit worried about the location of this one. The rear sill is also in a fairly sorry state but that restoration has been covered many times so I have a vague idea what to do with that.

    My question regarding the front sill would be- How on earth would you go about tackling this section?

    I know that the panels/seams are supposed to be repaired in a manner similar to the factory construction. My initial thought was just clean it, grind it, patch it but would I be better off patching the inner sill as best I can then purchasing a new outer sill to go on afterwards.

    She's gonna need some bracing before this gets done!

    Any input gratefully recieved.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
  2. Seren-y-mor

    Seren-y-mor Member

    Would I be right in thinking that somebody has had a go at those areas before? :o If so then by the time you grind the old welding off you may be well into the box section before you've sound metal to work with? :(
  3. octo0072000

    octo0072000 Member

    south yorks

    I agree with Seren last post there's a lot more rot than you think
    you need to cut it out rather than try to weld over it might be a lot more work than you think to get it tested trailer might be a much better idea

  4. Wallace

    Wallace Member

    Staines, Middlesex, England.
    Start by having a poke about and see how far back the good metal is then find out what panels are available. Are they Peugeot 205 wheels?
  5. johniban Member

    i love these little cars, people label them as hair dressers cars but they are actually really well designed and handle superb!
    ive always wanted to use the floor pan and put a 106 shell on top :)
  6. Oooh yep could be spot on there people. Potentially the rot may extend from the inner sill towards the chassis rail :o .Not yet begun the process of cutting out but guess something will have to be done eventually as it's not going to be getting any better! Should have more time this week hopefully as I am not working as much.

    Is the general consensus that this shell may be too far gone? To be honest it has been a concern but I figured I have seen much worse on old escorts etc that folk seem to have successfully fixed up!? I have grown quite fond of this little roadster so I would love to save it if at all possible.

    Time is on my side as I don't really need this car with any sort of urgency. Not sure this is the best first project haha! One of the guys who is on my city & guilds course recommended a place up in Sheffield who will apparently fabricate sections to order if needs be.

    Not sure about the wheels, someone mentioned before that they thought they might have been Clio wheels too. There are tranfers on them that say Speedline but I don't think they are. Thinking of ditching the 15"s eventually as I prefer the handling on the 14" daisies but one can never have too many spare rims.

    Trailer may be the way forward short term as there is a big pile of tires I have assembled which are just waiting to be converted into smoke!
  7. ibrooks Member

    UK Lancashire
    If you're not in a rush and cash isn't such an issue as you can do the work yourself then there's no reason this can't be fixed. The MX5 actually has a sort of dual box section sill - imagine two C sections with their open ends towards each other and a vertical piece in between them. Just start cutting carefully and pay attention to what you remove so you know what you need to put back. As you know there will be crusty stuff well around what's visible at the moment but beyond that there will be seemingly sound metal that's actually not much thicker than tinfoil so needs to be replaced as well. The MX5 also uses thicker metal in the sills than most cars.

    There aren't many panels available beyond the sills, rear quarters and bolt on stuff. Really surprised me given how many of them there are worldwide that are starting to rust now. There is an "inner sill" available at about £200 - I have no idea how they justify that price as it's simply not that complex a shape. I've just replaced the rears of the sills on mine plus some sections of the rear quarters. At the back end of the sills there are actually 5 layers of metal - all 5 were gone on mine and had to be replaced. Sometimes it can be a bit soul destroying that you need to cut good metal out to give you access to do repairs on the underlying layers but you don't want to be just sticking plates over the surface and hiding underlying rot (not to mention missing strength).

  8. Seren-y-mor

    Seren-y-mor Member

    There lies the problem with assessing just how much rust you are dealing with, the work we are undergoing on our steel hulled boat has given me a whole new . . . contempt . . . of how the rusting process works. In future, and I would advise anyone to do the same, in calculating the "limits" of your project then assume you have an Ice-burg . . . your mission, if you choose to accept it, is the find the missing 90% :vsad:

    The comment on "5 layers" is worrying too, once the dreaded rust-worm has got past the "defenses" - which might of just been thick, black paint - it'll be working it's way though them all . . . out of sight and out of mind. Nobody welding steel boats puts plate over plate, a serious no-no. :doh:

    @ secretsmoker . . . do you have a location where you could strip the vehicle enough to be able to rotate the shell? If the engine is coming out for maintenance then a reason to do it but if not can you "tilt" the little car as much as possible onto her nose? You need massive access just in case your project turns out to be a lengthy one . . . plan for the "ice-burg" from the very beginning and hope it melts before you get to it! :fighting:
  9. pedrobedro

    pedrobedro Man at Matalan

    CX Derbyshire
    Buy yourself a MEV Exocet chassis and put the running gear in it.
  10. Many many thanks people for all the input. This has really opened my eyes to the scale of this job which seemed fairly simple when I was under it last week!

    Haha the Exocet is probably a bit extravagant for my purposes although I am guessing they will handle/accelerate an order of magnitude better than the original 5! I had thought about just trying to find another shell to import for what it would cost as I have a lot of love for the mk1 5s. New panels are always going to be quite pricey. Have to wonder whether it is worth it for a drifter tho.

    Beginning to think a trailer/van is in fact still the sensible option for now...drift it until something major pops then when in need of a clutch/engine/whatever removal tackle the rot at the same time whilst it's in bits.

    I do have space to tip her over which would make restoring a bit easier but I think I want to drive it some more before I start chopping. The factor preventing me from starting this job (other than my lack of experience in chopping/welding) is the fact that the car still works for what I need and this job will take me quite a while.

    MOT is just for the convenience of getting the thing where I want it more cheaply, but as I need someone to follow me in a support vehicle full of rims anyway I suppose it's not that much of a saving + the van with a winch is bloomin useful when bad things do happen.
  11. stuvy

    stuvy Member

    it doesnt look too bad tbh you could chop it out and see how far the rust goes then make repair sections yourself.

    the wheels defo look like speedlines to me, these were fitted to clios Williams 3's and a cheap wheel often seen on scoobys.

    Iv seen an MX5 fitted with a cosworth lump, that thing absolutely flew:laughing:
  12. I like your optimism! To be honest part of the reason for buying the car was to learn some restoration techniques on something that isn't my road car. I am feeling a bit better again having spoken to some guys at college. There is a guy fairly locally my tutor knows who specialises in restoring 5's that I could have a word with. Once I get a few more tools/PPE etc together I think I may begin. End of the day I can still trailer it if the first few attempts don't meet the required standard before March haha

    Ooooh so they are Clio Speedlines, just searched for images. So somewhere under all the many layers of paint is probably some gold haha. I quite like the rims just not on the 5, they feel quite heavy to me too compared to other 15s. Thinking about saving up for some Rotas or Work if money allows as a celebratory back on the road gift for the car-if it ever happens there will be cause for celebration!

    Thanks again for all the input. This forum is super friendly and a goldmine for information.

    More pics to follow once I begin prepping after Xmas. Lets see how bad it really is!
  13. stuvy

    stuvy Member

    Lets put it this way, it could always be worse but seeing as its only a sill it wont be that much work in all honesty. Unlike a bent chassis which unless the car is super rare i wouldnt bother. Get stuck into it mate youl feel much better having done the work yourself

    Compomotive CXR are insanely light for a wheel http://www.comp.co.uk/wheels/wheels.asp?section=cxr-20-13
  14. Niiice. Taken to looking at wheels whilst at work now as the missus is getting sick of wheel porn at home! A lot to choose from there
  15. stuvy

    stuvy Member

    wheels make or break a car, im personally not into drifting but there are some nice deep dished wheels out there, just get looking at google images and see what hits you in the face, and paint the car too as matt black is for hot rods, black boards and stealth bombers:laughing: ;)
  16. Haha yeah my mates have all had a good chuckle at my current poo brown 'finish', useful for scribbling notes when I don't had a pen handy though!

    Painting is the final stage, not really too concerned about aesthetics for now so it is the same as the day I picked it up. When I do paint however, I want to 'go big' so to speak. My friend showed me this exhibition in London the other day- http://artdrive.ica.org.uk/

    I dabble with freehand/stencil graf and am absolutely itching to let loose on this thing when the weather warms up a bit. Where it ends depends on how bad my OCD tendencies get and probably what sort of fumes get inhaled over the next few months but I love the idea of having a car that has no shiny paintjob to worry about preserving.

    This thing began as a nasty Merlot colour so and seems to have had at least 3 coats of rattle can since!
  17. octo0072000

    octo0072000 Member

    south yorks
    other point that nobody seems to have mentioned is the diff welded up most drifters seem to have locked diffs not a good idea as a road car
  18. It's not ideal on road I know but I only need to get to and from drift/track days and at a grandma-like pace I might add in order to conserve fuel. Will have to drive convoy style too as I have no room for the multitude of tools and rims!

    Worst thing about a welder is the funny looks people give as you are scrawking and knocking in car parks to be honest. Tis usually fine so long as you're not hooning around like a knob...
    (fig a.[​IMG]).
    Too much rear camber is probably more likely to kill me for now but I am hoping some offset bushes may sort that out a bit.

    If I ever retire the car from drifting/donate to my girlfriend for road use I will probably just chuck an open diff in it as they are fairly cheap and cheerful for these anyway from breakers.
  19. octo0072000

    octo0072000 Member

    south yorks
    was thinking more about the mot on the rollers for the brakes
    with the locked diff??each wheel will need to lock both sides so twice as much force on the diff shafts etc :clapping::clapping:
  20. Ah I see good point. I think choice of test centre is important. Have to forgive me I am a little slow. Historically the subject of welded diffs on internet forums seems to produce a bit too much heat so I had my hard hat on!