Totally spontaneously, I decided to get on with sorting out the cars today. Not sure where the motivation came from exactly but I'm glad it appeared, it's been too long since I did anything productive with them. Trundled up to my brother's with the tools in the boot and fired up the beige one. Against all the usual talk, she fired up no bother and eased out of the garage with nothing more serious than a slightly flat tyre.
So far so good. We then jacked her up, got the rear corner off to put it on the red car later and offered up the corner salvaged from the orange slice. Everything was going really well until the last fixing bolt which proved to be a nightmare, it had to be sorted using special Dad Skills that only Dads of a certain age seem to have. All back together we could then swap good tyres for bad so the red could have road legal tyres for the drive to the new owner's abode.
Then my brother decided we should explore the rust that the car had failed on the MoT properly.
I'm not particularly surprised, in all honesty. Hadn't expected a hole on the passenger side though.
My brother reckons he wants to do that welding for me, he's more than welcome to do that. In the meantime, we eventually got the corner back on and obviously lost a bit of fluid. Surprisingly, the rear brake from the orange car is excellent but the original rear brake as fitted to the Princess is practically useless so I'll be swapping the other corner too.
This of course meant that the red Princess is now back on four wheels again too, with no fuss or drama. Next job here is to finish swapping the good tyres on and getting it all refilled with fluids and whatever ready for it's first proper drive.
One surprise was discovering that amongst my spare steels are a pair of Ambassador wheels which while the same size as Princess ones have a different design which means none of the Princess trims actually fit.
Sunday before last I found myself trundling over to Spilsby in the Xantia with my brother following in his newly acquired 5 door Saxo 1.1 (a hilarious little car to drive) so that I could get my noisome front corner resolved. Just after the toll bridge the wheel bearing decided to properly die and acted as a 55mph limiter until we got to the destination as it was making a nasty knocking noise along with the grinding it had been making for the past 800 miles. Looks like it was the ideal time to get it fixed.
One new wheel bearing a nearly new Citroen ball joint fitted to a spare hub and then to the car saw the noise completely gone. It was very strange driving back as I could no longer gauge my speed by noise so had to keep an eagle eye on the dials until I got a feel for things again. Happy to report there have been no problems since on that front.
Yesterday I returned back from a trek to Maidstone for a getaway with a mate, something much needed. Nearly 500 miles of trouble free motoring in the Xantia with the only new niggle being a wheel out of balance that shows up at an indicated 68mph. We'd suspected a wheel was off but until that front corner was fixed I couldn't know for certain.
Next on the jobs for the Xantia is the wafer thin clutch and the lower arm bushes on the fixed corner (and possibly the other corner). Other than that, it's proving to be a superb car and I've got the seat just that bit closer to fitting me.
House move will be the next big thing rather than anything car related. The beige one will be fixed, we've found a friend who can weld pretty well who is currently at a loose end and looking for a project to take on. We've also finally managed to track down the correct connector for the MIG welder I was given so that he can put metal where that big hole in the floor is. We're planning to have the beige one MoT'd and taxed no later than the start of November at which point it will be driven to the new house and I can pass ownership of the Xantia to my other half for whom insurance is a good deal cheaper for no good reason.
I started the afternoon by giving the car its weekly wash, much deserved after the trouble-free trek to Maidstone and back. Happily, it now takes much less time to clean because it's shiny so the dirt isn't so inclined to stick. Biggest job still to finish is cutting back the roof to get rid of the muck and oxidisation, I've nearly done this now. Once that's done I need to remove the black gutter rails to tidy and repaint those and eliminate some spiders that are appearing under the paint. Nothing serious, but if I do it now it'll stay not serious.
Next, the tailgate. I don't really like the factory badges on the Xantia so I've took them off. It made cleaning the tailgate that bit easier too, just got the bit under the lights to do now.
Then, it was going to be straight onto doing the arch but my brother pointed out that the slightly damaged cluster is now very damaged, along with some fresh scuffs on the plastics, thanks to someone reversing into me while I was at the supermarket. Not thrilled about this, I'm trying to look after this old bus. It's not massively evident when comparing photographs, but you can see in person that the black plastics are freshly scuffed and the lens has been pushed in as though the corner of a 4x4 bumper has pressed against it.
So that arch then. When I got the car there were some scratches to the lower bumper exposing the black plastic and some deep gouges in the arch. I'd already treated the metal to Kurust just in case. Colour match isn't too bad but I'm going to need to do a little bit of filling to make it perfect.
I've determined that the wheels are going to be changed. I think I'd rather have steels and wheel trims with a fairly smooth, minimalist design to them than the current wheels. If anyone has a set of steels with decent used tyres and trims I could be convinced to straight swap.
Other alterations I'm considering are a full size Rover 75 style rear number plate (I'll decide once I've mocked this up) and a black zebra/tiger stripe panel on the roof in homage to Stripey BX. curse word, I think I've gone and got attached to this car.
Today, a small job got a bit out of hand. I only meant to fit the new rear light clusters, but when I put them on I found that the tailgate light clusters looked really dingy so they had to come off too so I could clean them, and then I found I was dismantling the whole tailgate to get at everything properly.
While I was in the tailgate I determined to sort the membrane out which had been letting water in where the original seal had failed. Easy enough to do with a bit of all-purpose glue which is all I had to hand.
Rebuilt all the lights and interior trim - after removing many dog hairs, more fool me for putting a shedding German Shepherd in the boot - and it looked a fair bit better... until I noticed the number plate now looked terrible. So I carefully peeled back the vinyl that had bubbled and trapped dirt, cleaned it out as best I could and reglued it before putting the plate back on the car. The central black trim isn't a separate piece as I'd expected, Heuliez/Citroen just masked that bit off and didn't paint it.
I didn't expect the new outer lenses to make much difference, but in person they really do and I'm really pleased I decided to do them. Note also the roof rack is now fitted, it's missing a couple of small trim items that I'd like to source eventually but it's perfectly functional as a roof rack and has, amazingly, been complimented as looking a bit posh.
Now it's had chance to cure and harden a bit, the repair to the dent on the rear quarter is looking much more invisible. It needs a bit of fine work to see if I just need more paint or the finest skim of filler known to man to make it look spot on. The arch and bumper too look much better now the paint has 'settled' and I'm really pleased I decided to sort this out.
I've been considering taking the craft heat-gun to the rear corner of the bumper trim to see if a bit of heat will help it pop back into shape in the same way you can do it with metal damage. Normally a material has a memory so I'd say there's a chance it'll work.
It's been very nice to actually get compliments on this car. I'm doing nothing I haven't done on any of my other cars but this is a much better point to start from and it gives me the warm fuzzies to get nice comments on a car I wasn't even sure I was keeping at one point.
Xantia's are wonderful cars - Had a 2.0 Turbo saloon a few years ago, replaced the spheres, and that was about it in 2 years of owning her. The carrying capacity was huge I imagine an estate could hold Westminster cathedral
'79 Cossie ran Cortina - Sold
2000 Fozzer 2.0 turbo snow beast
'85 Opel Manta GSI - Sold
03 A class Mercedes
Looking for a FD Ventora - Anyone?
Definitely a capacious old thing, that's for certain. Bit of a bother in supermarket car parks at times though, some bays are too short for the car.
As usual, now I've got attached to the Xantia I'm looking at wheel options. I'm still most taken with SAAB alloys as they're readily available and easy to fit.
Then someone suggested a set of Escort wheels which are the same PCD of 4x108 and the desired circumference of 15". They are a very, very cheap wheel, seem to be able to pick them up in reasonable condition for scrap value. Assuming the offset and centre bore are somewhere near and I did go for them, this is what you'd end up with. Second version is with the thinner spokes blacked out to make them look more like three spokes.
Xantia Centre Bore – 65.1 Offset – 15 PCD – 4x108
Escort Centre Bore – 63.4 Offset – 41 PCD – 4x108
Ran that through www.willtheyfit.com and the offset means the wheels sit 26mm further in, this might look very odd. To combat that and the center bore difference I'd need spacers to accomodate the wheel and the hub so everything sits as it ought.
Usefully, the SAAB alloys have an identical PCD and centre bore to the Xantia but an easier to combat offset of 33 so they're winning at the moment. The Escort alloys do have a certain appeal and they're not something you tend to see on non-Fords.
In further anally retentive sorting, I had a bit more of a go at the rear of the Xantia, this time on the other arch. One of the scruffy plastic/vinyl stonechip things peeled off which helped me clean off the loose paint and small rust scab hiding underneath before giving it a fresh coat of rust treater, primer and top coat. As a result the sill now looks appalling so I really must get around to getting that cut back to clean paint.
Part of the reason the back of the sill is so discoloured is rust staining from the usual Xantia rot spot. After cleaning up the area it was found to be more solid than expected with a much smaller patch required to fix the issue. There's solid metal hiding under the hole in the outer skin which is promising, and no crunchy noises. For now it's been given the same treatment as the arch until such a time as I can get it welded. The welder I was kindly given has already proven its worth, but the Xantia is now in the queue until it is free to use again.
A few days ago we removed the fuel filler flap so I could try and find the drain hole. This was happily easily done and soon cleared out with a length of net curtain wire. You can just make it out the right of this image. It was all gunged up with road muck and veg oil but now drains properly.
Cleaned up the pocket as best as I could as well as the filler flap and that looks a lot better as well as being a bit nicer to handle. Here’s the before…
Lovely stuff Mr.V, I always enjoy following your threads. Your indicator stalk cleaning inspired me to do the same to my E30 that'd obviously seen a bit of neglect over the years. It's pretty nasty what can build up just out of human grime...
More wheel thoughts. I'm not massively taken with these Puma wheels on the Xantia though they are a wheel design I like.
I'm still feeling the nineties three spoke vibe and that's the route I'd like to go. Getting the car as clean and straight as possible with a very light hand on modifications should serve it best. I might smoke the wing side repeaters (not the front ones) to match the monochrome motif and I might repaint the tatty chrome inserts on the rubbing strips in a high contrast colour. Overall, I'll be keeping everything gloss white and satin black and replacing damaged trim as and when I can find good bits.
I've been trying to make sure I at least research sizes on wheels before trying them on the car, but sometimes I find a set I like and want to try out anyway, like these Enkei which I suspect are going to be 4x100. They're quite bold and perhaps a little heavy handed for the route I want to go, but I don't think they're too appalling.
If I swap to steels, which I've also been considering, I could always fit some 15" Moon discs. Not sure this is the route I want to go, I think I still prefer the three spoke option. It's not the route I was going, but could certainly work. Going this route is the least amount of work because I'd keep the rest of the car absolutely stock, nothing more would be required.