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Thread: Mike's Cabrio Build

  1. #1 Mike's Cabrio Build 
    club member Club Member Mike's Avatar
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    Many of us probably have a story to tell about why we wanted to build a car,and why we chose a Marlin.
    For me it started around 7 or 8 years old. My Dad built me a JAP engined Go-kart with solid rubber tyres that I could chug around our grass fields, (and local lanes when I thought no-one was looking!). Later, he fitted a single cylinder Triumph Tiger Cub. As a teenager the "need for speed" was met with a BSA 250cc twin and pneumatic barrow tyres!
    By the time I reached 17, and still at school, I had somehow survived a year on a Garelli Tiger Cross moped (50mph was possible in those days!), and traded it for a beaten up old Mini. A year later I had completely repaired, restored, and re-sprayed it (in cellulose), and eventually, using nothing but elbow grease and T-cut polished it up until it was one of the better "young lads" Minis in the area.

    At University the idea of building my own car took hold, and I promised myself I would have a go one day. A 1950s Citroen 15 Light had always hit the spot for me: so 10 years later when I saw one of the early Black & White Marlin adverts for a Berlinetta I was hooked. However, a trip to Stoneleigh in 1988 convinced me the Roadster was more affordable (for a newly married), and the Triumph / Marina Hybrid meant I could use the gorgeous straight six from the Triumph Vitesse, and its double wishbone front suspension. I quickly had a rolling chassis and engine installed.

    Then "family life" took over for 6-7 years as we built our own house, and had three children along the way!

    When I emerged from the other side of this exciting, but time consuming, part of my life, I began reading Kit car magazines again: but they were all full of the impending doom threatened by SVA! I only had a few months to avoid it! A chance conversation with a mate who was an MOT inspector told me it was not as difficult as I thought to get a car through the MOT test. He set out the barest of essentials for a vehicle to legitimately pass the test, and with in a few weeks it duly passed the test! In those days we only required a valid MOT, log book, and a trip (on a trailer) to the local DVLA office to get a car registered. I had my Marlin Roadster properly registered, road legal.

    But of course it was not finished, and money was tight for a few years, so it did not progress further.

    Later, as I guess happens with so many of these builds, I began to think about finishing it off. Life had been kind but taken its toll physically, and I found myself thinking I still wanted to build my own car, but wanted something more comfortable, modern, and economic than a Roadster, that Sue & I could tour France, Italy and Spain in after the children had progressed to University. Marlin's new Cabrio had grown on me - it had been designed to accept the much newer Sierra suspension, and would accommodate the pre-requisite 6 cylinder engine: not the Triumph, but this time a much more modern and economic fuel injected 2.5 litre 192HP BMW M50 - it would be perfect!
    There was talk at Marlin of the Cabrio being developed to take the BMW 3 series as its single donor, which I really liked the idea of, but knowing them of old I preferred not to be their "customer guinea pig", and chose the safer* option of the Sierra based Cabrio.

    So here follows the build of my Cabrio.

    It is not intended to be definitive, all kit cars are by their nature different. I hope it helps anyone interested make that leap of faith, whether its to take on the rebuild of a Cabrio, or any other Marlin, or to buy a new Marlin kit; I hope to some it may offer a guide and help supplement the infamous "Marlin manual"!

    I have enjoyed the build process enormously, and learned a lot more about "using computers" than I could have imagined when I set out. It has also connected me to so many other builders with whom I have been able to share problems and develop ideas, both through this Forum and the Madabout Kit Cars site. I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone with a modicum of engineering know how, a bit more common sense, and a lot of determination!

    Yours truly visiting the Marlin factory in Crediton to see where it all went on.



    November 2005 I ordered my kit: Sierra based, but with the Marlin hydraulic clutch pedal box to suit my choice of engine - BMW M50TUB25 2.5 litre straight 6 with modern fuel injection, taken from a 1993 325i.

    This is my chassis with doors being trial fitted at the factory, early in 2006.




    * - there is no 'totally safe' option with Marlin, as you will come to see later!
    Last edited by Mike; 15-04-2013 at 02:24 PM.
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  2. #2 Re: Mike's Cabrio Build 
    club member Club Member Mike's Avatar
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    Before I took delivery of my kit, my boss handed in his notice, and I was offered his job. Great opportunity to run the company, but suddenly a load of extra hours every week. So, I decided to ask Marlin to trial fit the body panels, as my Roadster build experience told me this was time consuming, and Marlin would have the experience to do it well.....(or so I thought!)

    (Factory Photos - courtesy of Marlin Engineering)

    Doors should always be fitted before the rear tub is located to ensure the panel gaps are parallel and even.











    Whilst Marlin were manufacturing my chassis I bought a Sierra Ghia 2.0 auto Saloon as it had disc brakes at the rear, along with stronger Lobro drive shafts, and I felt the auto would have given the diff an easier life. I would not be using the Ford engine or gearbox, so these could be sold to cover the cost of the car.
    My new job meant I had a bit more money to play with, so I started acquiring some refurbished replacements for the mechanical parts which were subject to wear, and refurbishing the donor parts wherever I felt it prudent to do so.

    I was like a kid at Christmas with all my new toys!



    Marlin discard the MacPherson strut, and replace it with a special socket machined to receive a Metro top ball joint, which attaches to a top wishbone. I also chose to upgrade the front discs to larger Cosworth vented discs and calipers.



    This was my 3.62 diff after I had sand blasted it clean. If you have a go yourself with a cheap machine, as I did, be prepared to use a lot of bags of sand if you don't have sand recycling! - and for a beach to appear on your drive!

    Last edited by Mike; 03-04-2013 at 07:26 PM.
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  3. #3 Re: Mike's Cabrio Build 
    frequent forum contributor Club Member greyV8pete's Avatar
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    This is brilliant Mike! Lots of reference photos of a car with it's "clothes off" are also so useful for checking prior to starting repairs / upgrades ourselves.

    BTW where do the brake disc splash guards fit? Rear or front? Looks like the holes ar for the rear traiing arm flanges? I haven't got them in either position on my Hunter! Peter.
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  4. #4 Re: Mike's Cabrio Build 
    frequent forum contributor terryreed1664's Avatar
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    Here here, Peter. This is brilliant, more please.

    Terry
    I had one like that and the wheel fell off.
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  5. #5 Re: Mike's Cabrio Build 
    club member Club Member Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greyV8pete View Post
    This is brilliant Mike! Lots of reference photos of a car with it's "clothes off" are also so useful for checking prior to starting repairs / upgrades ourselves.

    BTW where do the brake disc splash guards fit? Rear or front? Looks like the holes ar for the rear traiing arm flanges? I haven't got them in either position on my Hunter! Peter.
    The stone guard/splash pans are for the rear brakes as you suspected. They are not essential, but I guess are there to stop small stone chips etc getting in between the pads and the discs? Photos of it fitted will follow.

    Glad you like the photos.

    Mike
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  6. #6 Re: Mike's Cabrio Build 
    club member Club Member Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by terryreed1664 View Post
    Here here, Peter. This is brilliant, more please.

    Terry
    Thanks Terry for the encouragement - I did wonder if it was a bit - I don't know, say, conceited, to post my build up on here. But this is just what I want others to do, to get over the "Great British Reserve" and post their build up here and share their fun with us all.

    I know from my own experience I have often taken something from a detail in someone else's photos.

    Robert set the ball rolling, I've picked the baton up, how about Scott with your Berlinetta re-build joining me?


    Once we get a few going, I hope more will join in?
    It doesn't need to be a full on build/rebuild. The engine conversions are really interesting major project that will be of interest to a lot of members, maybe there's someone out there with a photographic record of what they have done?

    Photos are just so interesting and useful - share them !
    Last edited by Mike; 04-04-2013 at 02:29 PM.
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  7. #7 Re: Mike's Cabrio Build 
    club member Club Member Mike's Avatar
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    My kit arrived (late) from Marlin on April 14th 2006.

    Some of the parts I recognised - the (infamous) Marlin Pedal box



    .......and things like the top wish bone (with rounded tube for SVA), engine mounts, and alternator bracket. Others I found out later were rear damper brackets, gearbox supprot bracket, and wishbone brackets to the chassis.

    I did not buy the "Kit in a box" from Marlin, so these photos show a mixture of Marlin supplied items and those that I had sourced prior to delivery of my kit.




    .............others were amusingly labelled by someone who must play charades!




    .....but then, there were others that I could not work out?



    ...............it looked like a steering column extension, yet did not appear to marry up to any part of my Sierra column? I could not understand how I was supposed to make it fit. One end was clearly designed to bolt to something through two holes, whilst the other had a long hex shaped nut welded on. Was I missing something?

    This was the beginning of getting to know Terry at Marlin!...............
    Last edited by Mike; 04-04-2013 at 03:35 PM.
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  8. #8 Re: Mike's Cabrio Build 
    club member Club Member Mike's Avatar
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    Whilst Marlin were taking their time to manufacture my chassis I decided to paint my garage walls and floor for the new arrival - it has never looked this clean since since!

    Sadly, I do not have a photo of the bare chassis on its own - (I was too excited to wait to see what it looked like with the panels bolted back on the chassis!



    I made the mobile trolleys with bits of scrap box section and 50s worth of new castors. They have been fantastic. In fact the chassis went on to the trolleys on its arrival*, and did not come off them until it was time to go out and road test it for the first time 6 years later!

    * - after I had added an extra 150mm in height to the rear trolley as I did not realise the chassis rail kicks up at the rear!






    Even at this stage there were disappointments with Marlin's attention to detail:
    (the photo below is slightly out of order, but is shown to highlight the twisted nose cone).
    The bonnet does not appear to fit too well at this stage, but drastic preparation is the key - more later!)



    Marlin tell you in the Cabrio manual that the build centres around getting the nose cone set up correctly: a blind man could see that the front apron is clearly not parallel to the horizon! This was compounded by them grinding too much off the front return on the near side............ (6 years later I finally scratched that itch!)




    The grille lower face is around 10mm out of parallel with the front chassis cross member - but there is nothing that can be done about this, as to try and solve the problem only rotates the whole nose cone out of plumb.
    (Have a look at other Cabrios more closely now...!)
    Last edited by Mike; 04-04-2013 at 07:28 PM.
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  9. #9 Re: Mike's Cabrio Build 
    club member Club Member Mike's Avatar
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    Like most new builds the easy bit is adding the suspension, so my build progressed to:



    Cosworth Sierra larger 260mm vented discs.
    (Note the nut covers required by SVA)




    Rear suspension showing the route of the handbrake cable - this was my second cable as I cut through the original when I took the angle grinder to my transmission tunnel............!!!!!!





    - apologies for the poor focus (they are the only shots I have of the early back end): like my computer skills my photos improved with practice!.
    Last edited by Mike; 04-04-2013 at 07:42 PM.
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  10. #10 Re: Mike's Cabrio Build 
    club member Club Member Mike's Avatar
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    With my new job came a new company car - an Audi A4, which I specified with Sports seats. They were the best I've ever had - I could drive for 3-4 hours, go into a meeting, and then drive 3-4 hours home, no problem.
    That started me thinking.............they would be nice in my Cabrio, I wonder if I can make them fit?????????? After all I want a tourer, and the ability to sit in it for more than 30 minutes was going to be important.



    A quick measure of the Cabrio's chassis and the Audi seats showed it was nowhere near possible, so don't even think about it................. but I do like a challenge!

    If I remove all of the levers from the side of the Audi seat, and just narrow the Cabrio's transmission tunnel down to 100mm they might just fit?

    Then I saw a pair of Audi Sports seats on ebay going cheap, so I bought them: after all I could sell them if things did not work out....!



    They were in insanely good condition, but the seller was upgrading to leather seats.
    More detailed measuring suggested that if I moved the outer slide runner inboard, (one is under the seat, whilst the other sits outboard) and removed the height adjustment system from the outside of the seat (why would I want that with these seats shoe horned in to a Cabrio anyway?), and I squeezed the transmission tunnel right down it would just fit!



    The lever is for height adjustment - it had to go. The knob is for back rake, and remains. The electric 4-way rocker button for adjustable lumber support will be retained but located elsewhere.

    So, for the squeamish, look away now..................



    I ended up removing the transmission tunnel completely!

    My original plan was to leave the narrowed tunnel parts in tact, as shown in this photo by the white lines....



    The white line on the tunnel shows where I wanted to narrow the tunnel on the drivers side, as I had already achieved on the passenger side. However, there was so little left of the original tunnel that it was going to be easier to fabricate a completely new tunnel and weld it back in place.


    At this stage you would be forgiven for thinking I must be quite mad................!!!!!!






    Last edited by Mike; 04-04-2013 at 09:48 PM.
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