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Mike T

1966 404 Coupé Injection Restoration

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In the better late than never category....for nearly 28 years I have owned my 1966 404 Coupé Injection.  Finally the restoration is about to begin.

The first step is to strip the shell bare.  As of the 28th of November 2016, all that is left to do is the dashboard, heater and a bit of stainless steel trim on the driver's side door.  The engine and gearbox are out, the brake lines, fuel lines, wiring and everything else but the basic suspension.  Because the 404 has a torque tube, I had to bolt it up to the transmission mount (normally it's bolted into the gearbox) to keep the car on its wheels.  

It is going to be flat bedded down to Victoria by Top Notch Towing, to Coachwerks on Ellice Street.  Coachwerks does rare car restorations - they are choosy about the projects they will take.  I guess my pitch worked because it's a go!  Mike Grams is my contact there.  This shop has done some amazing work on various show cars, dozens of 300 SLs, Pebble Beach show cars for Rudi and Company (Rudi Koniczek - they do all his bodywork).  The work is going to be very expensive, but worth it to me!

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This photo shows the 404C just after the engine had been pulled.  It's a KF2 unit with 96 HP.  When it is rebuilt, I am hoping for 100.  This should be accomplished by using a Reinz head gasket instead of the metal/asbestos one that they usually had.  I have a new head for the engine, which will have hardened valve seats installed before I use it.  I will tear down the engine when the car is in the shop, to assess its condition.  A new piston/liner kit will go in, for sure, as well as the new head.

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Today we dropped off the NOS body panels I have collected for the car over the years at Island Quick Strip in Sidney BC.  We managed to get them all into and on the Mercedes B 200!  In a couple of weeks, the whole bodyshell will be there, and thereafter at Coachwerks.

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Mike.T is never late to begin, that is a very unique car, and when is finished i'm sure it will be the best in its class, i've always been fascinated by the early mechanical  Kugelfischer injection systems and the power they make, 96 hp from 1.6 8 valve that is impressive.

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Italian bodywork at his best... and also his worst.

Bolted panels? No way, weld everything! that's more rigid and looks terrific. I remember what a professionnal was saying about the Fluvia HF: the body looks good and is really rigid for a old car but as soon as you start to cut the front wing you got a big marshmallow.

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The nice thing about the 404C is it has massive frame channels, shared with the sedan.  Add the welded fenders and it's massively stronger!  Yeah it makes restoration expensive.  But she is so pretty.....

The car is completely stripped now:

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I've been anxiously awaiting this build and I'm very happy you're documenting the build on here for us all to enjoy. :)

Rabin

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Thanks!  Up to now it's been more of a "de-build" and will soon be a "re-build" at Coachwerks (which is the shop that does Rudi & Co.'s cars) and thereafter a "build"!

I have to do a lot of work to get the car ready for the build-up.  A lot of the parts are tired and need works themselves.

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I've done about dozen restorations, refreshings, from little fiats to the biggest probably the RWD conversion that i'm doing now, and in this time i've learn that the hardest part is cleaning and detailing every item which can be hard or tidus, the assembly is easy and fun, my advice once the cars goes in the body shop they will put it on a rotisserie, remove the suspension and start on it right away so when the body is painted you can install it fresh back on the body and you can have a rolling shell to start bolting everything to, that way is the most efficient and safest in terms of accidental body damage when doing a restoration.

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You are totally right, the suspension is the first priority.  I have all new bushings, bolts and ball joints.  New front shocks by Peugeot) but not (so far) new rears (but they're easy to change anytime).  All the suspension parts will be powder coated in black and should be ready when the shell is done.

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Last night the car was trucked to Victoria; today it is at Coachwerks' shop.

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Was it not going to the blasters first?  Or were those just the replacement panels?  Or is the car getting chemically dipped / stripped?

Rabin

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Coachwerks will be mounting the shell on a cart/casters and removing the suspension, then forwarding the shell to Island Quick Strip for media blasting, then back to their shop for epoxy coating and eventually the commencement of restoration work early next year.

They (and I) recommend strongly against dipping any shell.  It basically destroys the whole thing.  The acid is never properly neutralized inside the tightest seams and eats the car from the inside out.  They had a customer with a Ferrari from the 60s who had the car dipped before the restoration and within a couple of years the car was basically scrap due to seam rust exploding everywhere.  Also, I know someone with a Renault 8 Gordini who had Redi-Strip in Richmond BC dip his shell and after the car was painted, the panels previously thought to be sound were all weeping orange stains forever after.

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I've heard similar things about dipping cars, but  figured it was the quality of the dip and the neutralization process after that was the issue.  Rally guys (with good budgets) love dipping cars because they can seam weld and prep the chassis without worry of seam sealer and the like fouling welds - but the key was to find a place that neutralized the process VERY well or you ran into the issues you describe.  'Course these are cars that are built for very limited time and the very rear possibility of totaling them off at every race.  Last I checked it was going to be over $4k just to get the car dipped so it was out of my range. 

Fully agree that media blasting is the way to go, but similarly - lots of care has to be taken to insure all media is out of every nook and cranny before prep.  Soda blasting is neat since it dissolves in water you can rinse the car in a solution and the media dissolves and the metal is protected from flash rust in one shot until it can be primed.

Definitely interested in seeing how the car is mounted to the cradle and how they tackle the job - I plan on taking notes for sure!

Rabin

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I can't believe it's really happening!  I mean, I bought this car at the beginning of 1989.  I was a young man then!

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At work whe make welded parts and then some are zinc plated. With a porous weld the acid from the cleaning bath will go inside and you will have some ugly rust stains within a week.

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Friday I got an email from Coachwerks stating that the suspension was ready to take home (the car just got there Thursday morning!).  So I borrowed a friend's pickup and drove down to Victoria to get that stuff and to my surprise, the 404C was already welded to its cart (high up in the air so the media blaster can get to the nether bits).  While we were there, the flatbed came by to pull her aboard, to bring her up to the media blaster this afternoon.  Mike Grams says that the restoration will begin as soon as the car comes back, probably late next week! 

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On 12/9/2016 at 6:11 AM, Mike T said:

I can't believe it's really happening!  I mean, I bought this car at the beginning of 1989.  I was a young man then!

Wow 89 that's the year i was born, car restorations tend to move pretty quick when professionals are involve, and by the way they mounted the car and the cars in the back ground they seem like pros.

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The paint has all been stripped from the shell now and the car is back at Coachwerks in Victoria.  Still waiting for the spare panels and opening panels to come back.  Today it was sunny here so it was a perfect day to move a bare metal shell the 22 km from blasting shop to the restoration shop!

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I hope you know you can add as many pictures as you like - if you need more space I can add it.  Detail it as much as you want!

Curious if the car is worked in bare metal and primed when metal work is complete?

Looks fantastic - And I think I'll have to side on it being dark blue... :)  I prefer dark colours on most all cars.

Rabin

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One picture is worth thousand words, than said the coupe looks great without any color, the typical rust spots but structurally looks great no sings of accident damaged, a straight car, which is a rare thing this days.

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2 hours ago, Bean said:

I hope you know you can add as many pictures as you like - if you need more space I can add it.  Detail it as much as you want!

Curious if the car is worked in bare metal and primed when metal work is complete?

Looks fantastic - And I think I'll have to side on it being dark blue... :)  I prefer dark colours on most all cars.

Funny you mention that.  Mike Grams and my wife and I talked about colours.  I brought my 1966 colour chip guide and Mike recommended either dark grey or dark blue, both original colours.  He called the white "refrigerator white", which it is.  So I am back on my heels again and it will probably end up as dark blue.  The weight of history was making me think I should stick with white....

The only problem is that my friend Tim Bowles in Victoria also has an Injected Coupé....which is dark blue and has been since it was new!

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1 hour ago, Goce said:

One picture is worth thousand words, than said the coupe looks great without any color, the typical rust spots but structurally looks great no sings of accident damaged, a straight car, which is a rare thing this days.

Yeah it's really straight, a couple little dings but that's it for bumps.  A good starting point!

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1 hour ago, Mike T said:

Funny you mention that.  Mike Grams and my wife and I talked about colours.  I brought my 1966 colour chip guide and Mike recommended either dark grey or dark blue, both original colours.  He called the white "refrigerator white", which it is.  So I am back on my heels again and it will probably end up as dark blue.  The weight of history was making me think I should stick with white....

The only problem is that my friend Tim Bowles in Victoria also has an Injected Coupé....which is dark blue and has been since it was new!

I voted blue, is the best color for that body style, but relay needs lots of chrome to make it pop, so you may want to look into some fond corect badges, i've put an example.

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