Body and Aluminum Photo Page

Cobra Home Page

Email me here

Page updated June 22, 2017

New Seats Lowered Passenger Footbox 2017 Lowered & Larger
Passenger Footbox
Body Seams 2017 Modification of
Wheel Openings and More
2017 Transmission
Backbone Frame

Original build 1999

Body and Aluminum Panels

This is the body outside next to the shop. Front and rear shots of the frame with some panels on and the bare frame itself after I got it back from the body shop. Mid February 2000, a few of my friends came over to assist in the body test phase. I really didn't do much other than guide them into the garage. I think they were as excited as I was. Don DePontee, "Millenium" Al, Reno and Sir Russ had a great time visiting each other. My other friends had to leave but the thrill of getting the body on was great! Now the pipes can be fitted. Work needed on the right side and as soon as the engine fires up, it's off to the muffler shop for fitting and welding. Next stop will be the body shop for test fit of doors, hood and trunk lid. Thanks to George, Brian, Chuck and Don for installing the body. Last shot is the Cobra outside the garage for the first time. It was suppose to go to the muffler and body shop, but a p/s leak and engine oil problem delayed the trip.

These are the latest pictures taken at the body shop. Brian is busy with the body while I did the hoop installation for the trunk and lower box. The completed hoops are in and the picture shows what was done. The one that can't be seen here is in the wiring section when looking at the near completed dash pictures. It's located just behind the firewall. By moving the horizontal trunk bar out of the way it will increase the access to the upper trunk area. The battery can now be removed from the top and not under the car. I'm currently planning a new battery mounting system that should be in place after the Knott's 2000 show. Battery modifications are done and the aluminum panels installed. Easy to remove the battery now from the top! The last shot is the maiden "go cart" voyage down the street. I only left a 20' patch of rubber!

This first shot is the rear trunk hoop I installed to place the "box" for the hidden hinges to attach. Trunk plates were bonded and glassed over for strength. The base was built up and leveled from side to side. The trunk is fitted and the boxes in, and I'll post a picture when I take the body off this next week. It will allow better viewing on what was done. The others are the condition of the body at this time (May 19, 2000). Seat rails for the drivers seat are installed along with a view of the hood frame I made. The Cobra even has a smile!

These shots are the hinge side posts after I ground down the welds. The right side needed a 3/4" piece extended toward the body. The aluminum is for a heat shield only when welding. The other shot is the template for my glove box which goes above the rear u-joint.

There are a couple of pictures of the door latch assemblies. The right side shows where I had to notch the frame for it to fit and the door to line up properly. The left door shows also how I had to modify the frame work behind the seat for the aluminum panels to fit right.

The last two shots are some of the body prep work that is almost completed. We have done extensive work to the doors, trunk and hood to make a really good fit. The trunk has hidden hinges so some glass work was required to fill the holes from the external hinges. The hood needed some work after I installed my hinge frame. Doors have been glassed as well to make a good fit after I moved the hinge post and cut/re-welded the striker plate. I had to cut-out some of the 3/4" post to make the latch fit right on the passenger side.

More shots of the blocked body, driver's footbox, glove box and hood support bracket I installed, along with the fuel filler being test fitted. One of the pictures is of the clutch lever at the quadrant (see arrow). I welded more material to this rod because after I changed the quadrant to pull the cable straight instead of at an angle, it change the position of the contact area. It was minimal so I laid some weld beads to have a more complete area for the quadrant to contact. Now I won't worry if the tip would break.

This is the Feather Fill after being shot onto the body with a blue pigment. The hood, doors and deck lid are being applied for the body to get blocked one more time before painting.

The assembly and finish shots are the colorsanding process on the body with interior panel installation, seats and harness and other items.

New Seats!

These are the new seats I installed in February 2001. They are taller, wider, longer and give much more support than the stock seats. They are Cobra Classic seats from Mini Mania, a Mini Cooper dealer. However, they no longer carry these seats and you can purchase them from HMS Motorsports.

Here are some instructions on what I did to install these in my car. They were installed after the car was finished so it was a little more work but not impossible to do.

They will take you about two good solid days to install them right. I'm going to give you a semi-detailed outlook.

My seats are installed with a 3/4" riser square tube under the front two mounting seat holes. They are metric thread too by the way so you'll need some 8mm all thread and maybe a couple allen head bolts depending on what you want to do for the rear. The front has all thread in them long enough to go through the 3/4" tube and floor plus washer, locking nut and thread into the seat frame itself. This can be measured with an awl after you get it positioned in the car. The reason I raised it in the front was to clear the rear body behind the seat, otherwise it will sit up a bit too high, and like you, I want that "look".

The left rear of the driver and right rear of the passenger seat frame bolt hole will (should) be able to bolt to the 2x cross tube under the car. It is the ONLY hole that goes into any frame work. I made brackets and welded them to my frame in the other areas.

You will most likely need to take a BFH to the front inner tunnel area to position the seat a little straighter. No worries, I beat the crap out of mine a little at a time and it fits just nicely. It didn't have a choice on the matter. :) Also, I'm sorry to say, the E-brake handle will have to be moved forward about 2" to clear the seat. Yes, I have mine installed on that side. I just made a longer cable from the handle to the "T" and had the cable end threaded on that side to put a nut on and that helps adjustment.

Now, if you can remove your carpet, it will make it much easier to mark the locations for the holes. I have an insulated pad so that made mine easy as it marks really well with the allthread or pen. This is the part that will take the longest to get it right. You can't see the mounting holes so you need something to guide you. I took an 8mm bolt and cut it just enough to be below the seat when threaded into it. This will leave marks when you put the seat down on the aluminum, carpet or padding. I made the front long enough just to go through the 3/4" bar. If you leave too much showing, you'll get an incorrect placement. Also note that the seat is a steel frame and by raising the front, they are all angled somewhat to the floor. This isn't really to bad unless you don't start all of the bolts when you finally finsih installing them.

Once you get a placement (the short bolts will show you where the seat will sit in realation to the body cowl) you can drill your holes. The two I mentioned earlier should go into the crosstube. You'll have to drill a hole all the way through to access it from the bottom. I used allen head bolts for the two rear seat holes. The front will be allthread cut to length. The two inside bolt holes come through just inside the 4" round tube. These are not hard to get to but are very close. The other outside front ones should come out near the "X" on the seat floor. You'll see what I mean about the E-brake when you fit that side.

I made some flat plates to fit over the inside the 4" round tube holes and drilled a hole in it so it would be close to the tube when bolted to the seat. I welded that to the tube. I did it on all 4 inside holes. I also made side gussets to fit into the tube and beside the flat plate. This was to make it structurally sound to the frame. Picture these as a triangle with a half moon cutout to fit the frame flat pieces. The ones by the "X" were just a flat piece to fit the area I needed and then welded in. I used cardboard for all my templates and it worked great. You'll have to do the same type of thing for the E-brake floor plate too but it's much easier to deal with and not as dependent on coming loose. If you know what I mean.

Once all this is done the seats should fit fine. Like I said, it'll take you a good solid two days. Maybe not all at once, but time wise be equal. I did mine over a one week period between making plates and getting the right bolts. I would locktite the allthread into the seat (after you make sure the length is right) and use nylock nuts to fasten from below. The two rear holes will be a bolt of some type because it's easier to get them started being the seat is at an angle as I mentioned before.

So, the two front threaded parts will fit through your holes first, then start the rear bolts and then you can complete tightening down. Oh yeah, don't forget to put your carpet back in first. You'll have the seats in and out a couple of times to make sure of the fitment, but when you're done, you'll think you died and gone to heaven.

I'm 6'2", 190 and they are just fine for me. Although they don't move, my wife can drive the car fine.

Lowered Passenger Footbox

After having my wife as a passenger and then me as one, I decided to give her and me more room for our feet when going along for the ride. Lowering the passenger footbox was a must!

I removed the seat for room to work and tore up the carpet and padding I had put down. I was going to install new fancy carpet when done so it didn't matter if it got ruined a little in the process. I started by cutting out the entire bottom section of the floor where the feet are suppose to go. After that was done, I did some measuring and then made a cardboard template for fit. I decided not to widen the box as I didn't think it needed it (it doesn't) and I really didn't want to really tear into it.

Once I had a good pattern, I cut out some aluminum and bent it into shape. I left a piece by the 4" round tube out purposely as it was too difficult to make multiple bends with the break I had. I made a separate piece to fit in the spot. Once covered, you won't see it anyway.

The following pictures show the cut-out floor, new aluminum panel and fill-in piece, temporary fitting, final fitting and then the new carpet installed.

When I finished, we took it for a spin and the wife commented on how nice it was. As little as 1 1/2" of drop made a big difference. My feet even feel more comfortable with a natural drop. If I was ever to do another one, I would extend the box to be the same as the driver side. I don't think it would be that hard and would give the passenger a much more comfortable ride.

Gee, you'd think we were building a luxury car!

Body Seams

Here are shots of the seams we came up with when doing the body work. A lot of time went into making them as sharp as we could. The finished product resulted in what you see here. There are pictures of the right door rear, right door front, left door front, trunk left, trunk right, right door top front, right door top rear and right front hood.

These are shots of the hood front, hood left, complete right door, new door panel on left door and door panel on right door inside view. I had the panels custom made with push in type panel clips underneath the covering so they wouldn't show. The panels are vinyl with a thin foam underneath to give it a padded feel and look. The same people did my complete recarpeting of the car. The panels and carpet were done in March of 2002.

Updated Body and Frame work after 17 years on the road.

February/March 2017

Modified Wheel Openings and More

During my major upgrade/overhaul I decided to get rid of what I call, "Bell Bottom Wheel Openings". I've always disliked the side view of the wheel well openings, both front and rear. They just have too much width for the tires. I knew at some time I would make the change but it took 17 years to do it. As a teaser for now, here's a side view of before and after what I want to accomplish. I'm in the process right now and it looks GOOD! I'm doing both front and rear wheel openings, hidden front and side mounts, new door hinges (MKIII version), some hood and trunk work, new dash, complete rewire with a Painless harness and a few more "hidden features".

This is what it's going to look like (front is already in progress and the rears are examples). Basically bringing in the lower sides 2.5" at hub center, from tire tread to body edge, front and rear. The first two are the front, before and mocked up. The third is the front, stock on top and already cut/glassed (with Photoshop for color), and the fourth is the rear just Photoshop'd. I'll have more pictures in the next month.

Just so everyone knows what I mean by 2 1/2" tire tread to fender hub center, the last picture in this group explains it. I did this on all 4 wheels to insure I had the same look all around.

Front Wheel Wells

Now some actual work progress on the wheel wells. Before making this move, you must decide if you're capable or have someone who is with fiberglass work to proceed. It is NOT for the faint of heart to dive into this process without some knowledge or at best, a good body person you trust that can assist you. I've done three other Cobra's like this and have worked with fiberglass so I wasn't intimidated. However, it is nerve racking to make the first cut. After that, it's just work.

First two photos are of my guess of where I want to cut the fenders. I need to leave some of the "flat" body area so I can glass the two. I don't need to cut the entire wheel well, but just enough to gain a better radius. The next two are what I gained closing up the wheel wells. The front side was 1 7/8" and the rear was 1 1/4". Overall I was looking for my 2 1/2" axle center line from outer tire edge to the fender lip.

While positioning the cut pieces, you actually shorten up the arc on that piece and will need to remove a section (on the upper side) for it to match with the lower body part. I clamp the cut piece to the body to get the clearances I want and mark the back side of the cut piece. Then using my cutoff wheel, remove that section and then piece the new cut right to the body. You'll need to sand a feathered edge on both body and cut piece ends so you have room to glass the two together. I used a combination of paint sticks and duct tape to secure the body pieces while doing the glass work.
NOTE: when fitting the pieces, be sure not only to look at the arc from the side, but to check the angle of the body line, looking from the top down as well as front to rear. You must keep your outer lip inline with the body flow. If you're not careful, you can easily have the new cut piece flare away from the body line. The old saying, "measure twice, cut once" in this case is "cut once, measure two or more times" to insure the body lines are correct. Use the existing top fender edge as your guide and use a straight edge to verify.

The last picture is after prepping the two areas to glass a large section. The arc has changed from the body to the fender lip and you must feather sand/grind the body to get as close to flat as you can to make the transition easier. A large 4" wide piece of mat cut to length and shaped for the area is to be used to mate the two pieces. My only concern at this time is to secure the two pieces as one. I only caught about 3/4" of the outer most lip on the wheel well, but it's enough to secure the two. I had an area that wouldn't be glassed and will grind this down when the body is turned over. I know it sounds confusing and more pictures will be coming to show more details.

More work on front fender area found that the angle of the rear flare was different from side to side. The only way I found out was after positioning the cut pieces. The left side transitioned very smoothly to the outer repositioned end and the right side had a more extreme angle to the outer edge making a bigger bulge and more work to fix. After using my angle gauge to find out why, I discovered the difference and that's why the picture shows a cut along the inner curved area. This was done to relieve the tension on the glass so it could be manuvered into place and then clamped to give me the same angle and to make the fiberglass lay at a much better angle. Now, both sides are the same.

The area was clamped in place as shown, then a thin mixture of Kitty Hair was made to fill the seam. I sanded it down, added another thin mixture and then sanded ready for fiberglass. You can see the area in "green" in the picture. The fiberglass work on the front takes a little time because you have to position pieces a little at a time to achieve your goal. Once all the areas were connected, one or two large long pieces of mat or cloth were applied. As mentioned before, a majority of the structural work will be done on the back (underside) of the body when it gets turned over.

The last two in this row are of the prepped front fenders before the body gets turned upside down for final stuctural fiberglass work. Although it doesn't seem correct by looking, the gap between the tire tread and fender lip at wheel C/L is 2 1/2" front and rear. The wheel well does flare a bit more toward the bottom, but nothing like it did. There is still a lot of work to do on this side, but it'll get done once the body is back on the chassis after I complete the backside work.

Rear Wheel Wells

The rear wheel well process is much the same as the fronts. I was surprised to see the rear side close in a whopping 2" to stay with my 2 1/2" spacing. I do admit it looks much better. The front (or leading edge) was a little more challenging only because you have to work the transition from the flare lip on some of the fender to a non-flare on the leading side. You have several angles and shapes to deal with so care must be taken to get your desired look. Again, making sure I had my spacing it went together very well.

The following pictures show the before and after measurement from the fender edge to tire. Also is the determined cut of what I thuoght would be enough to work with while putting the pieces back together. The main concern is having enough area to shape and fiberglass for strength. The duct tape is used on the backside of the body to keep the fiberglass from "sinking" into the cutout area when applying. The sticky side will not allow the resin to stick and it's easy to pull off after the work has setup. The duct tape "dam" is rolled tape to form a resin dam to keep it from rolling down the body and will peel off easily as well. Also are pictures of the progress as well as a top down and front view showing the "other" line you need to take in account when shaping the wheel well.

Body Underside

The body was flipped over so I could do the structural work on the wheel wells. I needed to grind down to existing fiberglass to allow a good adhesion when laying down the Xmat glass to bond the cut pieces togehter with the body. It took a good six hours to grind down both sides on all four wells. Tip here is to make sure you're fitted for work. I wear gloves that I tape to the sleeve of my coveralls, safety glasses, mask and make sure to button up good. An occasional blow off with air will keep the glass particles from getting to you. Lucky for me, I didn't have any adverse itches later on. It was a good day for sure.

A few pictures of the hood repair where I had one edge up just a bit, so I made it lay down nicely. Used barbells to wieght the area while the fiberglass setup. Finished off the underside as well.

I use 36 grit disc for knocking down the edges quickly, which is enough to allow good penetration of resin and give a good clean surface to work with. Once completed, I use short strand fiberglass impregnated filler to put inbetween the cuts to give a smooth bonding surface for the fiberglass mat. This is called a "filler sandwhich" because it'll be bonded between the layers of fiberglass. I cut the Xmat from 6" width cloth so I could cover the entire area in one layer. Position the cloth and mark areas to cut with a marker for curves, et. then trim with scissors. Lay the material next to your work area and if needed, mark an end and put the same mark on the body for a location reference. I cut all my pieces and then glassed them during one process. Just start at one wheel and work my way around. You can see my "drapes" on the body. I also did some under hood lid work from my previous work on the top side. Not much to do here but lay a few pieces of cloth.

As I mentioned previously, when fitting the cut pieces the inner edge of some cut pieces, tend to bend in toward the chassis. This can be seen in the photos below. This edge (which has no bond to it) will be ground down to meet the existing new layer before the inner fiberglass cloth will be applied.

The last four pictures show the inner fender wells with two layer of fiberglass Xmat. The left front is finished, but this is a picture of the progress. One more layer of fiberglass cloth will be applied.

I finished the underside of the body wheel well areas and now it was time to flip the body upright and finish the fenders. I applied one Xmat fiberglass piece along with another of cloth for strength and to insure I had a good coverage on the cut areas. I overlapped each side about 2", which was more than enough. Before the body goes on the chassis, I'll undercoat each wheel well with ruberized coating to help stop any road debris from damaging the body. I used this on my original build and it held up very well.

The cut pieces leave a "seam" where you attach to the body no matter what you try to do to eliminate it, it is there. I layed the fiberglass as close as possible to the edge and feathered the cut to get as much contact as I could. To aid in the strength of this area I layed one Xmat to the backside of the body where each cut merged and made sure I covered about 3" each side. I let it hang down (up in this case) and trimmed what I didn't need when the body was uprighted. This gives you enough material to bond more Xmat on the outside for strength as well as allow you to make a good connecting arc in the wheel well to eliminate any blemish that you may have.

Once the body was upright, I ground down (feathered) each area where I had glassed the cut/seam and trimmed the Xmat to about 3/8" hanging down from the fender edge so I can have material to shape the new arc. I also layed two more layers of Xmat on the outside. This will be trimmed to allow me to form a good arc on the wheel wells.

The following pictures show the work performed as explained above. I also have a few good shots showing the new wheel arc from the side. It looks better already. Next step is to start finishing the outside.

I still have a few minor things to do underneath the body. One is to make new side vent mounts because I'm installing my Whitby Motorsports vents. I purchased these years ago because they are much nicer looking and made with heavier aluminum, plus they have four mounting tabs. I'll make four straps with machine screws and bond them to the body when I fit them.

Back to work on the body early May 2017 and found I needed to push to get it ready for paint. I started by filling the low/high spots and block sanding to get the correct curve for the fenders. This is just long tedious work. Lots of trial and error on my part and at least I have my body guy standing by to guide me. This is NOT my forte'. I got the side vent area ready for installation and made some new brackets that are being glued to the inner body so I can remove the vents if necessary. Basically just a strip of aluminum with 10-24 screws threaded from the backside, glue the strip to the body and mount the vents, secured by 10-24 nuts.

The fender wells are looking good now that there's some shape to them and I can finally see the outcome and I like it a lot! The rest of the body is getting blocked lightly with 180 then 240 and then we'll primer the entire body prior to putting the body on the chassis and getting it ready for paint. I started adding the rolled edges front and rear of the cockpit.

Body Prep and Paint

After another month (May to June 2017) of blocking, primer, blocking, primer, guidecoat, blocking; no this is NOT a broken record, I finally got to the point of putting the body back on the chassis and getting it in the booth for final primer seal and paint! Wow! What a job. If it wasn't for my friend and shop owner Brian, I'd be a sorry loss for sure. He has taken so much time and effort to guide me in the body work process. He pretty much leaves me alone to do what's needed but I always know I can ask his advice or assistance to keep me on target. I got to lay down color on the inner trunk and hood, which was OK, but nerve racking for me as I'm not a painter. It turned out fine and I told Brian to clear. I don't trust myself that much. The goal is to get the body in the booth by June 9th and get it sealed and striped, then come in the 10th (yes it's a Saturday) and lay color, clear and call it good.

During the month final adjustments, i.e. small blemishes etc. were taken care of and the body was put back on the chassis. I took a good day to make sure everything was in position and tight. I also took the time to complete the final hidden body fastener in the front, eliminating the last of the "screw through the body" look. I forgot to take pictures but simply cut the opening of the two holes on the front chassis mounting tab but slotting them toward the front. I was able to then slide the hidden plates between the body and chassis, which I had previously relieved some fiberglass on the inner side of the body where the plate will attach, and using the panel adhesive to secure the plate to the body and clamping it overnight.

I also took some time to finish up the interior aluminum and had the carpet installed prior to bringing the chassis back to the body shop. This, in hind sight, was a HUGE time saver for me, only because I was working against a planned trip deadline. I also completed assembling the dash and this can be seen in the Backbone Frame section on this page.

The trunk and hood jams were painted earlier in the week so all that was needed was the main body. Doors and complete body would be painted at the same time. Now, it was time to get it in the booth.

On Friday, June 10, 2017 the "car" was pushed into the paint booth for it's schedule time. It was time to see all the hard work pay off, even though I've done this before to the same car, it still was a new and exciting time. One important factor was I had so much more time involved doing body work and learning so I could really appreciate the outcome. Was I in for a treat!

I got the car up on jack stands and removed the wheels/tires. Then the "Masking Crew" showed up (a few of Brian's friends who are body shop guys) and took over like a swarm of bee's. I did do some taping but soon realized I was just in the I watched them do their work. It took about an hour to tape up the body so we could get started. Brian said it would've taken the two of us three to four times as long. I agreed. However, it was ready.

First item was to double check the body, then it was time to seal it. He used a dark gray sealing primer over the body and doors (inner hood and trunk were already done). We waited about 15 minutes for it to flash then layed down the Blizzard Pearl White stripe paint. The stripe are wasn't taped and we just needed to cover a wide enough area so we could mask the strip off. Basically, we would be reverse masking the stripe. Four layers of white base coat were applied with a 15 minute flash period in between coats. That was followed by three coats of the pearl white. Once that was done, it was time for my "special topping". My wife wanted our car to look pretty close to the same as before (we had a custom pearl job over the entire car) and I had Brian mix a clear/violet pearl to "fog" the area. We did about 1 1/2 passes and then applied two medium clear coats and called it a night (8pm).

Saturday started off with a light sanding of the stripe and checking for flaws. A few minor nips and it was ready. Again, Kerry showed up to assist in the stripe layout. I had the dimensions I wanted (some ERA and some my own) for width and we proceeded to mask off the stripe. It took me a few times to get the concept when taping because you're reverse masking the stripe and then laying body color. Once that was done, it was another coat of sealer over the excess white area and then it was time for body color.

The body color is Twilight Blue Pearl and is the same two part system I had before. The previous painter who worked for Brian 17yrs ago, changed the base a bit so the "real" color is being applied. I must say, it looks MUCH better in my opinion. Four coats of color were applied to the body and doors. I could see the change between each coat. We didn't have to wait long for paint to flash as it was 80 degrees in the booth. Time enough to exit, fill gun and return, so it went pretty fast. Once color was done, we applied four coats of clear. Each one made the color "pop" and I had a huge grin on my face. We let the clear sit a bit, then fogged the car again with my custom pearl another 1 1/2 times. I know pictures don't tell the story, but the Blizzard White Pearl now glows with a slight hint of violet when the light hit's the curves. Very cool indeed. The process took the entire day, but both of us were very pleased with the outcome. Now, it's time to finish the trim.

The following week was cut and rub the paint to eliminate defects. This is a whole new endeavor for me. I've watched them do it, but just watched. Now, I'm going to assist and help get it done. I was given my practice part of the inner door. I have panels that cover the area so if I made a mistake, no big deal. I found out how and what to make the finish look like so I proceeded to doing the outside of the doors. I started with 1500, then 2000 and finally 3000 grit using a orbital sponge pad sander on a medium setting. The key is not too much in one area, keep the area wet and check your work often. Doors turned out fine and now need to be polished and glazed.

During the buffing I took the time to "foam" the open areas in front of the door hinges and also just behind the rear bulkhead in the are where a lot of stuff can get. I had done this before and it works really well keeping hot and cold air and sometimes water from getting in.

New Adjustable Door Hinges (MKIII type)

Another upgrade was to install the newer style (MKIII) door hinges and get rid of the MKI pin. I had originally taken a lot of time with my body work and custom fit my doors and rewelded the pin style hinge. It worked good but I could never adjust the door like I want, although I never had to. Now, I installed the adjustable hinges while I'm doing all the upgrades. I removed my doors and dash, then ground off the brackets from the frame. I had to do a little fill work with weld rod to repair some tears, but it went smoothly.

Next was to fit the door on the latch and find out where the new bracket was going to be. After marking the frame, keeping the hinge centered for adjustment, I removed the doors. I beveled the bottom side of each hinge bracket so I could get a good weld and not have to grind as much when finished, then tack welded the two hinge pieces. I then refit the doors and made sure I would be able to adjust them properly. All was good so the doors came off again and I welded them in place and ground down so the door hinge would move easily.

I'm very pleased on how well the hinge feels and it makes the door feel a lot firmer. Nice action and I don't have to do any type of body work to my doors. The only thing I have to do is modify my inner door panel I made because the new hinge is a little longer overall.

Below are pictures of the process.

Hidden Body Mounts

While I'm at it, I'm going to put in hidden side and front body mounts. It turned out to be a routine project once I got the doors, seats, carpet and aluminum out of the way. The process was just to spread the body out a bit and grind down my custom bondo mount I had made and allow room for the plate. I had to take about 1/8" off and the plates slid in nicely. I then used some 36 grit on my grinder to rough up the back and drilled about six holes in each one to allow the epoxy to spread and make a good contact. I used SEM 39747 two part epoxy to secure the mounts. This stuff isn't going anywhere!

I test fitted eveything prior to glueing in place. I used wax paper between my clamps and the body so the epoxy wouldn't stick. I also put wax paper between the mount and the frame so the epoxy wouldn't stick and bond them together. It worked out very well. After clamping the mounts in place, I left the body alone for two days just to be sure. I was working on rear suspension so it didn't matter. After removing the clamps I put the nuts on snug just to keep the body from moving. Once at the body shop I'll take care of the old holes for a smooth finish.

Below are pictures of the process.

Transmission Backbone Frame

One more project to add to my never ending list of mods was the transmission tunnel backbone framework. I won't know exactly how this will make the car feel, but I know if it does, I'll know it right away. I'm sure it's a good idea for strength and because it's open to do it, I am.

My plan is to copy the factory idea and place the tubes (I used 3/4" to their 1") about the same place as they did. I don't plan on making my tunnel any wider and will use my existing aluminum pieces to guide the size of tubing and where it'll attach to the frame. I'll fit the angle pieces after I fit my TKO500 so I can miss my midshift tower. I'll cut and fit my tubing prior to transmission install as I will be also changing the rear mount on the 4" crossmember.

Of course there's more to do and that was to remove the entire passenger footbox (it's getting bigger too) as well as the "horseshoe" aluminum at the front of the tunnel for access. I plan on removing the driver inner aluminum as well and maybe more, although the driver box will remain and pieces will go back. The passenger is getting a new longer and lower box so it's going to recycle. Although I used silicone to put all the aluminum togehter, it wasn't that difficult to get them apart. I used one of my thin pry bars to do the work. Once started, it was fairly easy to separate the pieces.

While I was at it, I added a couple more dash braces. One at a diagonal down to the 2x2 frame and another connecting the dash and firewall hoop (I installed that on my original build) together to make the entire area firm. This should stop the slight vibration of my rear view mirror.

Below are the dash braces and passenger footbox removal. I removed the footbox as one piece.

Addition of the transmission backbone frame work and it is definately easier without the footbox in on the passenger side as well as removing the outer and inner sides of the driver bootbox. This allows more room to position the work as well as giving you plenty of space to put your own body. I had to remove the left exhaust header to drill out rivets on the inner panel but they are getting polished again and needed to come off anyway. I'll put it back on to make sure the down brace on the driver side clears everything. This is a tedious job for sure. A lot of up, down, up, down, get measurements, cut once, cut twice, grind here, grind there; you get the picture. Thankful for my lift to get it at a height that's comfortable for me.

I took a lot of time making sure everything would fit. You'd be surprised how much time goes by just doing one angled piece, thank goodness for Cleko's. I used the "horseshoe" piece as my guide making sure it was in place while fitting the frame. I just cleko'd it to the top 2x2 frame and tunnel sides, which kept everything stable. While measuring and fitting the forward down braces, I took in account the bell housing bolts access as well as removing the bell housing after they're welded in. I allowed ample room (mainly on the passenger side) to accomodate this. Most of the bolts are easy to get to from the topside but I wanted the option from below as well. After that, it was just tacking all the joints to the main cross brace and removing it to finalize those welds.

Fitting the completed "spider" back into the chassis wasn't too hard. I just had to apply slight pressure down to get the two 4" upright bars to clear the bottom of the 2x2 frame. Once that cleared, it fit like a glove. Now, it's on to fitting the TKO500 and more bracing.

I had a friend of mine (Mike) help me with the TKO500 install and do some extra welding. First thing was to get the "spider" in position and welded to the frame. Next it was time to take measurements on both the TKO and T5 to insure we wouldn't encounter anything. Well, we did encounter a small obstacle, but were able to find a solution...Weendoggy Cobra Drivetrain. Serious enough to get me worried, but knew there was a fix, and we found it. Yeah!

I'm not sure yet how, or if, I'll be able to fit in the top diagonal bars, but they will be made removable and placed so I can get the TKO out easily. I will have (and need) the top tunnel cover removable as well, but I knew that going in. We also welded in new seat belt shoulder strap mounts. The MKI's came with a "Y" belt and I've changed to a 5 point system, but wanted to get the mounts in the proper plane to my seats.

A few pictures of Mike tig/mig welding my spider in place. He really gets into his work. :)

Finished the removable tunnel cover and cleaned up the driver's heater hose routing and connection. Both turned out very well. The tunnel has 16 nutserts (10-24) installed in the frame and aluminum to allow the removal for easier transmission removal and or clutch replacement. I will have the carpet guru make a nice piece for the top (it will be carpeted) and extend to the lower lip on the side. The padding will only be on the top of the cover. The padding up the tunnel side will stop prior to that point and then the carpet will be extended over that to the top of the tunnel. When the cover is placed, the plan is to have the carpet "layers" meld with one another to the thickness of the carpet/padding on the side. Think of it as an "S" shape when looking down the side of the assembly.

I ran the heater output from one of the defrost exhaust ports (which I had before as well, but only blew on my right knee) and ran it to the far opening on the MKI chassis, then over the fuse block to my newly made heater outlet that goes to the footbox by my feet. I used a small vacuum pickup nozzle with a adapter to that size tube to connect the hose. I then drilled 5 3/4" holes along my new fuse block/heater panel to allow the air to pass below. I used silicon to aid in sealing and secured with 4 #6 screws.

Not sure where to put this stuff, but the new carpet is installed again! Using the same Bentley carpet as I had but needed to re-do because of larger passenger footbox and removable transmission tunnel top. I had Joe's Upholstery in Santa Cruz do the work. I've used them for over 30yrs on every type of item I needed repaired or recovered. Emilio does very good work and easy to deal with. I was going to wait until the body was painted to have it installed but their vacations got in the way so I told my body guy that we'll just wrap the interior with plastic and mask off prior to painting. In a way it'll save me some time putting it the car back together. I'm installing the seat belts now and all that'll remain is the seats and dash and the interior will be done.

Prior to installing the carpet I sealed all the footbox joints with Rust-oleum Leak Seal to aid in keeping moisture out. We do have a tendency of running into inclement weather once in awhile. Before buttoning up the driver footbox I took the time to install new bushings on the brake and clutch pedal assemblies. They were not in bad shape, but as long as I'm there, it's easier to do now. I also made a new aluminum cover on the rear bulkhead where the seat belt comes through. The early MKI's used a "Y" belt, although I had changed to two shoulder belts year ago, but needed to fix the long slot that was made. I installed the cover and used new escutcheon covers for the new Simpson belts I'm installing. The covers are retained with 8-32 nutserts to make it easier to install and/or replace without having to crawl in the trunk and use two people to remove them with a nut/screw assembly.

New Dash Installation

I took some extra time to fit the new blank dash. Matching my new holes was going to be a challenge, but I had a plan. I started by putting on the old dash (I redid my holes so I could access the screws with the body on) and securing it to the hoop. Then I measured the distance from the top of the hoop to the dash where the screws are. I then measured from the top of the dash aluminum to the screw hole that will now secure the dash. Now I had two measurements and by adding the two, it should get me in the correct area. I then removed the old dash.

Next I needed to mark the dash hoop so I could locate the area to drill. I used a square along the top of the dash hoop and drew a line up from the hole over the top of the hoop. Then I placed my new blank dash on and clamped it in place using the previous measurements I took from the old dash top of hoop to top of dash aluminum. Again using my square and straight edge, I marked a line following the hopp angle at each screw placement on the new blank dash. I located my middle screw hole and drilled the new dash. Bingo! This was my starting point. The rest was a little tricky and a little ingenuity.

Using my caliper, I gently pulled the new dash out a little so I could find one of the other screw holes. I was able to put the stem of caliper at the hole and measure to the top of the hoop. Then adding the dash hoop to aluminum measurement, should get me real close, and I used the line I drew earlier. One at a time (I had four more to do) I successfully got them done. Now, I'll start my gauge and switch layout. The bonus is I don't have a "swiss cheese screw hole dash". Also shown is final test fit after dash cover applied (before holes) and one final test fit before it really gets finalized after the body goes on. I just wanted to make sure it all looked right. Hope the pictures tell a better story than I can.

Lowered & Larger Passenger Footbox

Figured I better put this in it's own area. I had my templates from previous builds I did and was able to "tweak" them a bit to mock up my expected box. I ended up gaining about 4 1/2" of extra length and a bit more width. I use poster board because it holds up well and is about the same thickness of the .040 aluminum panels. Plus, I can use my clecko's to secure while fitting. The box will consist of five panels: 1) inner side, 2) front, 3) top, 4) outer side, and 5) bottom. I found it a little easier to manage and tweak an extra panel rather than try to fit one huge piece. My plan is to get these bent in the next week and after welding in the spider backbone, secure the new footbox and move on.

I allowed about 1/2" of clearance to the headers which has always been enough before. After triming and fitting the templates, I was able to fit them all in a piece of 6061 aluminum that was 48"x40". I still need more for the tunnel top and trunk work but I can get started on the footbox.

I took my template panel to my friend Russ Foster's garage/shop and proceeded to cut and bend my new footbox panels. We started with the inside piece and worked our way around to fit them as we went along. The last panel was the outside piece. I had to do some minor trimming and smoothing along the way, but for the most part, it went pretty smooth. I put a few clekco's in the panels when satisfied the fit was good. This way, I knew I had a good base to move to the next one. They are temporary right now because I still have to fit the new TKO500 and weld in my "backbone" to the frame and the footbox will need to be removed to access those areas.

Final passenger footbox has completed and is ready for carpet and use! I even polished the SS exhaust while they were off. Another item that needed attention was new fuel lines due to the newly enlarged passenger footbox. I kept with my same 5/16" feed and 1/4" return lines and replaced the EFI rubber hose connecting them to the tank and fuel filter. I have always used the stock filter so just needed to seal/clamp to the new hose.