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Most Advanced Gadget You Fitted Way Back When


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The sparkrite was electronic ignition unit using a magnet in the distributor using the "Hall effect" to produce a stronger spark at the plugs .....

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Yeah , those P.A Speakers rigged up to a cb could get you into all sorts of trouble ! Remember one night getting in late , talking to the girlfriend on the cb ,not realising that my newly fitted P.A s

Cars from the 50s 60s 70s and early 80s often lacked creature comforts, but the high degree of standardized components (from Lucas, Jaeger, Smiths Instruments etc) made it so easy to move bits from be

I was reading a copy of Practical Classics and a readers question reminded me of a mod I did, must be oh, nearly 30 years ago..... Fitted a nice little kit to add a variable intermittent wiper feature

Yeah , those P.A Speakers rigged up to a cb could get you into all sorts of trouble ! Remember one night getting in late , talking to the girlfriend on the cb ,not realising that my newly fitted P.A speaker was turned on, my mum didn't look too impressed with me the following morning !!!

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I fitted a big stereo system, amps, subwoofers and separates with crossovers into my Capri back in 1990. Topped it all of with an electric window kit and high level brake light.

Stripped it all out years later and returned the car to factory standard. Still have the old girl 23 years on!

Them were the days. Great thread this is.

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Oh my gosh, Hoovie . . . mods . . . where to start . . .

1935 Rover 10 - a heater, improved headlights (my first halogen conversion), and (believe it or not) its first Oil filter, front seat belts (Britax static!), screen washers (manual 'squench' button)

1959 Mini (No.501) - 1300 engine, twin carbs, personalised dash and interior (including carpeted doors and ceiling), Rover 2000 front seats (they fit!), HRW, brake servo, and eventually an auto box

1960 Rover 3-litre - overdrive (it stopped exhaust valves from burning out at speed), fibreglass wings

1966 Rover 2000 - an auto box (silly idea)

1971 Rover 2000TC - Kenlowe fan, sonic fuel atomizer, breakerless electronic ignition, Hella halogen headlights, stainless exhaust

1976 Triumph Dolomite 1850 - Kenlowe fan, electronic ignition, coolant expansion tank (didn't have one), stainless exhaust

1975 Rover 3500S - stainless exhaust, twin Kenlowes, contactless electronic ignition, digital clock, 5-speed SD1 gearbox, Hella halogens (2 x 100W, 2 x 100/80W = daylight!) and relays, electric fuel pump (to cure vapour lock), rear seat belts, 2nd Battery facility in boot (for camping)

1986 Citroen BX16TRS - set of Peugeot carb jets, to eliminate monumental flat-spot

1989 Citroen BX19RD - coolant expansion tank (didn't have one), second electric cooling fan (for towing) with auto-speed control, 100/80W halogens, GTi-type full instrument set, rear headrests

1996 Citroen XM 2.5TD - Chipped, sphere re-gassing valves, manual "soft mode" control, air-to-air engine Oil cooler (to replace troublesome water-cooled unit), Nightbreakers, EGR disabled

2003 RAV4 D4D - radio/central unit illumination reduction, SMF, Nightbreakers, 'opened up' front foglights, a pair of French horns, EGR blanked, several boxes of inox rivets into inside of rear door (to prop up dodgy spot-welds)

All good fun.

Chris

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Chris, that is a serious list of modding!!

My purchase end of last month of an old VW Bus has exposed my VPL (Vehicle Pimping Lust) again.... Today's mod was another blast from the past: fitted a wrap-around Leather steering wheel cover and sewed it all around. Good fun indeed (and right for my mechanical level ;) )

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Remember the retaliator, you used to mount it on your dashboard, the idea being I if someone cut you up, rather than doing something daft, you could press a number of buttons, machine gun fire, laser gun effects.

I had one rigged up to a horn speaker in the engine compartment of my first car a mini. It was amplified and was very loud. Used to make pedestrians jump a mile.

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Cars from the 50s 60s 70s and early 80s often lacked creature comforts, but the high degree of standardized components (from Lucas, Jaeger, Smiths Instruments etc) made it so easy to move bits from better-equipped models to basic ones.

It looks as if dashes and instrument panels were everyone's favourite! It was a bit of a shock to see the first Mini's have only a speedo, a fuel gauge, and two warning lights (Oil pressure and IGN). Could this be possible? I remember a good number of Motorists' Supermarkets opening up in the 60s with a delightful array of goodies from the likes of Paddy Hopkirk (accelerator pedal extensions), Peco (big bore exhausts) and Hella (lighting) - not to mention whole dashboards, radiator grilles and Clubman front ends. Long before Half...ds re-invented themselves, these accessory offered all these goodies - even on Sunday mornings! With a girlfriend in Reading, Markham's store on Caversham Bridge was my favourite.

Component standardization inside Austin-Morris/BL made component swapping easy, even whole engines and transmissions. Rover too. With mid-market models lacking all sorts, it actually made sense to upgrade with upmarket bits and 'accessories'. Variable wipe delay and electronic ignition were obvious examples. Why were the manufacturers so slow in making these items standard equipment? At one point, there must have more of us driving around with Kenlowe radiator fans than there were British cars fitted with electric fans ex-factory! (Mainland-Europe manufacturers had caught on a decade before on this one.)

Nowadays, it's all that much more difficult to indulge our passion for minor and useful function improvement, and there's little need. Vehicle wiring is often quite daunting, and, right, there's always the suspicion that the ECU will object. Frustrated, the boy racers descend on Half...ds and eBay for supplies of LEDs and HIDs (of dubious legality). Not wanting to be left out, the vehicle manufacturers have now started to play this game too, and bl***dy silly it can look too.

I still have some 2" Smiths instruments in a drawer in the workshop: an ammeter or two, Oil pressure gauge, Battery voltage indicator . . . AND a 4" Smiths rev-counter (which doesn't flutter, IIRC). Even a set of four Rover 3-litre over-door interior lights, just in case anyone with an old Mini fancies some soft lighting for a quiet snog.

Chris

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Funny, I thought, that the majority of the replies to this great thread, seem to be of a certain vintage. We certainly enjoyed our cars more in those days!!!

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I was looking for a pic of my RAV4 to see the wheels to compare with Lee's spaced out RAV (yeah baby :) ) and came across a few pics that people on this thread may like on their reminiscing of old cars ....

These are from the BVAC (Borders Vintage Automobile Club) show at Thirlstane Castle in the Scottish Borders earlier this year where I had a stand.

Loads of expensive classic cars, but also loads of ordinary classics like the one ones talked about earlier. A brilliant show and definately one worth going to if you get the chance (be on 1st June next year)

Didn't take a load of pics (was there working after all ;) ), but some of the more unusual ones ....

Buick Electra 225 (named 225 to signify 225" in length, or over 5.7M long for the less old!)

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Can't remember what this is :(

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Recreation of Mad Max's Motor (obviously parked alongside the Austin Owners Club, judging by the Maxi and the Allegro next to it)

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(And you can just see my stand in this picture :D )

And finally, a car that I hankered after for many years when I was younger, the Vauxhall Firenza DroopSnoot. Still look on eBay occasionally at Firenzas, Magnums & Mantas :)

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What a thread Hoovie!

I remember going down the scrappy and getting various clocks from Jags and rovers for one of my many Minis. In those days, much of the weekend was given up to just keeping it running. I had a clamp on door mirror, clamp on rear fog light and a full set of clamp on mudflaps. The metal was garbage and only a week later needed oxy acetyline to get them off. Who remembers messing for ages to get one of those little toothed half roung things on a new aerial to earth on a half rotten front wing? I used to spend hours draught proofing gear stick holes and you could get in most cars with any FS key. The bedford trucks I used to work on had the door handle held on with 2 screws on the outside!!!

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Jeez, where to start ? Graphic equalisers, oh yes and Sharp stereo's with APSS(auto programme search system)

which moved your tape back and forward to find the gap between songs so gave you the next or last track . Then

moved on to Sharp synthesiser, remember them ? One of the fist car strereo's to have digital readout. As Charlie says,

CB radios, and the much sought after K40 ? aerial which was quick to remove and conceal from the cops.

Twin choke Webber carbs, without the air filters fitted .......................Hoovie what have you started ?

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APSS, 'Chrome' Buttons.., Before I passed my test, I used to sit in the garage where my brothers Mini was and pretend to drive it (how sad is that!), listening to "Floy Joy" on the 8-Track :)

(He probably used to wonder why the Battery seemed to lose charge all the time :lol: )

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All those early cassette players chewed tapes. Who could tape the top 40 off radio one without getting the talking in?

CB players were something I could never quite afford despite wanting one.

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Saturday mornings looking round the scrapyards to see if you could find anything that would, (A) keep the old jalopies going for another week,( B) see if there was anything you could fit on it to make it like "different" ???

Then you could happily spend a couple of hours browsing what was there and you were allowed to take your toolbox in with you!!

There was even one yard we often got a brew!! How times have changed.

I seem to have done nearly all the aforementioned "improvements" and I also fitted a gadget that when the sidelights were switched on it caused the low beam headlamps to come on dimly and act as large sidelights.

And there was also the adjustable rad blind that was controlled by a ball like chain that had to be fed into the cabin and then through a bracket that had a keyhole shape in it to lock the blind in the position you wanted.

What about the little parking light that you used to trap in the door window instead of having to leave the sidelights on ?

Then there was the moveable spotlight that stuck to the window,I think they were called something like helphos lamps

Del

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I remember the cops knocking on the door because my dads Battery had gone flat and the parking light was out. These days there are cars parked willy nilly on the footpath, wrong way round and you never see a cop. Anarchy.

Where was I?............

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All good fun, except for the rust (fresh from the showroom), wet floors, having to remember to put thin Oil in the SU's, wet ignition leads and distributors, leaky exhaust manifolds, almost-impossible fanbelt changes, rotting sub-frames, Battery covers that fell off, and Oil pressure that slowly reduced over the life of the engine. And all that was just the Mini !

I hit lucky. Bought my first Austin Mini in 1968: it was a 1959 model, and number 501 off the production line - and production numbering started at 101! I bought it for £15 (it was just a body, no engine, and had been sitting on four small oil-drums in someone's front garden in Lymm, Cheshire. Had been used for "rallying", and had had its engine borrowed. A further £15 bought me a Morris 1300 engine, and a friend gave me a Mini gearbox to borrow the diff cogs from. I rebuilt the engine, and had a seriously fun car.

The oddity was, though, the body never rusted! Why? Because Austin-Morris, god bless them, built the first 500 or so Minis from a different steel from the subsequent ones, the result being no rust, and a body Shell 60lb lighter. Someone in marketing must have told them this wasn't a good idea . . .

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I remember the cops knocking on the door because my dads battery had gone flat and the parking light was out. These days there are cars parked willy nilly on the footpath, wrong way round and you never see a cop. Anarchy.Where was I?............

Imagine a petrol Rav with small Battery having to leave a parking light on.......3 minutes later police at door re. no light showing.......lol.

Cannae believe Del not mentioning the "crystal set" he had mounted on his dashboard, and as for Tech 01 engine from here, gearbox from there, body from Oil drums in Cheshire.........imagine trying to get all that past DVLC at That Swansea.........

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These are great stories….. I had a pal at college who 'dropped' a 1600 Escort engine and gearbox in an 1100 Escort he shared with his Mother, without her knowing ! Several weeks later she commented, "There's something wrong with the car, it sounds different"…...

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These are great stories….. I had a pal at college who 'dropped' a 1600 Escort engine and gearbox in an 1100 Escort he shared with his Mother, without her knowing ! Several weeks later she commented, "There's something wrong with the car, it sounds different"…...

A friend of mine did that with a tuned Porsche 6-cyl into a beetle. Kept it bog-standard & got great fun out of blowing all the Mexico's & Tii's away. Only problem was the standard beetle brakes couldn't cope which he eventually discovered the hard way....

Nevertheless he went on to develop a lucrative business out of it.

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These are great stories….. I had a pal at college who 'dropped' a 1600 Escort engine and gearbox in an 1100 Escort he shared with his Mother, without her knowing ! Several weeks later she commented, "There's something wrong with the car, it sounds different"…...

A friend of mine did that with a tuned Porsche 6-cyl into a beetle. Kept it bog-standard & got great fun out of blowing all the Mexico's & Tii's away. Only problem was the standard beetle brakes couldn't cope which he eventually discovered the hard way....

Nevertheless he went on to develop a lucrative business out of it.

Terrifying ! Particularly if it was an early beetle with drum brakes at the front…. :crazy: One of the maddest things I ever drove was a friends GTi Golf with a turbo technics conversion, I had my Corolla GT at the time which wasn't exactly slow but he could 'lap' me around the village in that thing. It was later permanently modified by a drystone wall…….

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