It all started when I pulled the GTE coupe out of the garage in May 2015 . Some chap in a new BMW nudged the drivers side door & wing at a crossroad back in 2010 . Not a great deal of damage was done . The chap admitted full liability and the Insurance Claim went smoothly and without a hitch . I was offered £1500 to repair myself and a courtesy car . Which I was grateful for ... Until it turned up . A Vauxhall Astra 1.6 I disputed this . informing the hire company . the policy stated ' like for like ' " To be honest sir , I don't know what an Opel Manta GTE is or looks like " ! ( He was only 23 yrs old ! ) I informed him an Opel Manta GTE is a German 5 seater , 2 Door high performace car . He phoned back 15 minutes later and asked if a 4 door Diesel AMG Mercedes would be acceptable ! That will do nicely young man .................................... was my instant response I thought it rude to decline this as the young lad had been so nice , polite and helpful throughout the whole process ..................................... This was a little inkling to how things were going to progress over the next 16 months
May 2015 I booked the Manta in for an pre- MOT through my friends local garage . and was aghast at what I/he discovered . the Swan-Necks had turned to Honey-Comb ... I was gutted to say the least . .... When All-Torque was at his Prime , the Coupe was a real head turner and many people would stop and chat about when they had one & the fun they had in theirs .
I was determined to get the chassis rails sorted out and started to research firms that fabricated Swan Necks , Chassis Rails , & Panels ... I scoured the internet phoned around . I spoke to Lepo5 as he is a member with an encyclopedia of contacts . He advised me to seek out Erkhard in the Members section . Which I promptly did . and discovered he was manufacturing Swan-Necks with an inner-core for added strength . . After several emails to Erkhard to and fro asking various questions and dimensions I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a set . When they arrived 10 days later I was amazed at what an excellent bit of kit they were . ( photos below )
They were not cheap @ almost four hundred and fifty good old British pounds , but this did include P+P & shipping taxes from Germany . and believe me . they are a sturdy bit of kit and extremely well made . I was fortunate in having a family friend that has a fully fitted workshop . ( The car-lift was a god-send ) The welding equipment was a bit dated . so a larger amperage mig-welder was purchased .... Now this bit needs to be explained . I have had Arc-Eye on three previous occasion's . It is a crafty blinder ( pun intended ) as it creeps up on you as soon as you fall asleep .... It is a demon and something I would not wish upon an enemy ... So a flash-over welding mask was bought too ! The chap in the unit next door was tasked with the welding . so the New Welder , Helmet, Gas Bottle, Wire, and Erkhard's Chassis Legs were all in place to tackle the Tin-Worm
I began stripping the wings , side skirts front air-dam & quad head-lights . stripping out the interior . Carpet & Sound-proofing and " Oh my God There in front of my very own eyes was the concrete of the Workshop floor .shining through the massive jagged rusty gaping hole in the floor of the passengers foot-well . . The non existent chassis rails that hold the floor seat and seat-belt anchorage was .... well , it was not what it should've been . :::::: S A F E ::::::: : .
I had discovered the classic Ice-Berg syndrome , When it comes to Opel Manta Sun-Roof Chassis Rails , the 10% that you see , Hides the other 990% Underneath ....... I had also discovered the nominated chap for the welding had started to distance himself from me & All-Torque !!!!! The word Re-Shell kept popping into our conversations ! After a couple of months . I did say " If you can find me a rust free Opel Manta Coupe body-shell I will buy it tomorrow and can I ask for a non Sun-Roof one please Needless to say, as the corrosion was exposed with each passing day. He declined to take on the task as there being far too much work for him ... So now ,this being a major set-back and me pulling my hair out ( well whats left of it ) Its strange how this turned out to be a blessing in disguise .... Out of the blue I get a phone call from a chap I met through the forum and later on at Billing about 10 years ago . We often chatted about all things Manta and other Worldly stuff . I mentioned I had been let down on some welding work and my friend OPEL2000 Clive Armstrong said he would be popping down to have a ' shoofty ' and see what was what . Clive arrived at my home on Christmas Eve 2015. We headed straight to the workshop & dropped off the equipment ( he brought his own trusty mighty-mig ) and came back to a case of Bud and Jools Holland and friends on the TV . Christmas Day Clive , Myself and All-Torque got stuck in . Removed the Engine in record time . Dropping it down on the cross-member and rolling it out of the unit . . . This allowed good access to both Swan-Neck areas . Which Clive proceeded to remove very quickly and efficiently !
Here we have a Honey-Combed Chassis leg ( pass side )
If you look at where the chassis meets the fire-wall , carefully . You will see where the Spot Welds are from the original fitment .Once these were grind'ed out , a bit of persuasion with a cold chisel soon had them away from the body ! Thank God for Clive's assistance in this area , I would have got the ginder and cut them off . Leaving a rough jagged edge that may have taken hours of work to flatten the surface for re-welding ....
Below , Clive grinding the spot-welds along chassis rail & Swan-Neck
Lining the Chassis Legs up to the body is made so much easier by their design , Within the inner strengthening part ( of the three-part leg ) are sturdy metal 2" bushes . these line up with the hole in the inner wing ( 'A' in photo below ) and the lower fixing through the chassis rail ( 'B' in photo below ) a constant measurement between the two replacement Swan Necks was taken ( as Clive will confirm ! ) it was a constant 26 & 1/4 Inches .... Clive laughed whole heartedly at this use of this ' Old Fashioned Measurement '
I was as happy as a " Pig in Shyte " (y)
Once the debris and 30 years of road kill and grime was scraped away . a cup-brush on a grinder soon showed what metal was available to weld to . There was ample enough to affix the replacement chassis-legs , these would then provide a fixing surface for when the foot-well floors ( both sides ) go in later : The inner Chassis-leg gets bolted up to the fixing points ( as previously explained ) then the outer casings attach to the inner part , using welders grips to hold in situ whilst it is ' tacked ' up ready for welding . ( see photo below )
Both sides of outer casing's were spot-welded onto the bulkhead and also along the outer facing sides on to the Inner chassis leg : the bottom of the casings ( that face the road ) were then dressed into place by means of cutting where necessary , persuading into place with a hammer and seam-welded . Then polished up with the grinder to leave a smooth surface ready to receive copious amounts of Hammerite Smooth Black paint ( see photo above at painted chassis leg )
Once polished and painted and still sitting at 26 & 1/4 inches ! Next it was Engine back in ( I have the use of a friends workshop ) as the Manta needed to be movable to allow daily work at the workshop to continue . Below is a photo of the Swan-Necks replaced and painted up ready to accept the Engine/Gearbox in its frame .
Here is Clive enjoying a well deserved tea-break
So this is how Clive and I spent Christmas 2015 ( I think we both enjoyed the mission )
Having to find & upload photos as we go . ( & I know it times out quick ) so this thread will be edited as I type , please bare with me