Where to start? Always a hard question when you commence a restoration and this car needs so much work. I imagine I will jump from one thing to another as my mood takes me but initially I have decided that because I do not yet have sufficient spare cash to rebuild any of the mechanics, then perhaps I should start with something that only costs my time – the bodywork. There is a lot needed. The lower section of almost all of the lower 300mm or so of the car bodywork is corroded to a degree. The chassis seems to be fine and once it has been degreased and the rust scale removed, that will only need a good protective coating before it is usable.

I have decided to start with restoring the drivers footwell. More specifically the external panel that is beside the accelerator pedal. Part of this panel is visible when the bonnet is open and part of it is hidden below the front wing. In the case of my car there is a weird set of ripples next to the rear bonnet lock but I know that part of the panel should be flat. The bonnet securing plate also seems to have been pushed in towards the drivers feet but I cant imagine how that damage occurred.

Its not too easy to see in the picture above, but there are two strengthening shape in the panel. The one on the right hand side is pretty well defined, a little miss-shapen, but easily returned to normal. The same indented shape is supposed to be there on the left hand side and it runs up from the bottom of the panel and under  the square shaped-impression beneath the horizontal bracket you can see towards the top of the picture. I agree – you can barely see that vertical strengthening – the panel is too miss shaped. You can also see a small rusted hole where the black undersea meets the cream coloured paint, and next to that on the left is an old repair that I will replace because it doesnt look very nice and it may well be hiding some more rust. All of this area is the front mounting for where the bodywork is bolted to the chassis. I therefore want to restore this section and make it strong again before moving onto the panels that the wings are bolted onto and the door closes upon.

Step 1 – removing that old repair.

I am glad I did… that repair was hiding the original metal that had rusted through and beneath that rusty metal is the strengthening panel work that runs up through the whole door post. The bodywork in this area is what bolts the bodywork to the chassis. Granted none of the bodywork is structural but this is a body mount and a lot of strength has gone. So the layers of rusty panels will each have to be cut out and replaced with healthy metal, each layer adding back the missing strength. Luckily my new Jaguar Forum friends have supplied me with a plethora of photos of what this area is supposed to look like. So the metal work begins.

One thing at a time though.

First I need to correct the area where that horizontal bracket has been pushed in otherwise I will be welding good metal onto damaged metal.  In the picture below, I have removed the bonnet securing bracket and have placed a straight edge onto the panel. You can see how much it has been pushed in, you can also above the bracket area – the strengthening indentation that I was trying to describe earlier (that runs all the way to the bottom of the panel). I would say that this area has been pushed towards the interior of the car about 1cm – but how to pull it back… A small slide hammer just made a lot of noise and the panel is too thick and strong for a panel beating hammer so something stronger is needed.

My answer was to create a ‘puller’ whereby a bolt was fitted through the handy bracket mounting hole and inserted into a 5mm thick steel plate. Tightening a nut onto that suitably braced plate – literally pulled the metal back into shape which would then allow me to do a little panel beating onto the remaining distorted area which I discovered was distorted because of rust.

Above you can see the reason the panel was distorted – there is a line of rust running horizontally across the strengthening indentation. So I think the only answer is to cut all of that out and make a repair panel which will have to include that semi-circular strengthening indentation as well. That’s a fabrication challenge in itself but I think I know how I can do it – off to the computer for some YouTube instruction…

Okay time passes and I am back. Yes I now know how to do it, it will just take time, but first I need to remove the damaged areas and make a cardboard template. 

Yep that should do it… back in a week or so once I have fabricated the repair panel…