Sometimes, it’s the minor details that make all the difference…
Since repatriating my Rover Vitesse from Amsterdam last summer, I’ve set about a course of gradual improvement and turned it from a very presentable Vitesse into a really rather nice Vitesse, but like any critical owner, there were areas of the car that many people may not notice, but which I found unsightly.
The first bits to get the attention were the grubby number plates, followed by the leather seats and gearbox gaiter, all of which I treated to a liberal dosing of the wonderful ‘Leather Forever’, which I’ve only ever seen at car shows. Pricey at fifteen quid a tub, but great nonetheless.
With that, several coats of wax and polish and some minor fettling with a touch-up brush, the Vitesse was starting to look great, but was let down by the alloys. As I mentioned in my previous update, the wheels were coated in some kind of substance, as if somebody had tried to repaint them before. Allied to some small kerbing marks and scuffs around the wheelnut sockets, what was previously a minor irritation was starting to stand out like a sore thumb.
No amount of cleaning fluid would get the job done, so the only option was to call in the experts…
Enter Adrian Torrens from Alloy Ambulance, based in St Neots, Cambs. Adrian operates a mobile wheel refurbishing service and covers most of Herts, Beds, Bucks and Cambridgeshire.
He’s also an extremely friendly, personable and quick operator, and comes highly recommended, though he was more than a little surprised to find himself working on a 20-year old Rover – the vast majority of his jobs are much newer cars, many on trade forecourts.
While Adrian sorted out the wheels, I used the day of the refurb to try and tidy up the rear bumper, which had been sprayed badly by a previous owner. Thanks to an unexpected confidence boost from the ever-helpful Kate in the Rover 800 Owners Group, who insisted that Charcoal was probably the easiest ARG colour with which to get a decent match, I decided to have a crack at this myself. The result wasn’t as good as Adrian’s alloys, but wasn’t half bad at all considering my weapon of choice was a Halfords rattlecan…
Back to the wheels, and I never knew what an exact science this would prove to be. I’m not quite sure how I expected alloys to be refurbished, to be honest, but Adrian’s van was more of a mobile lab – the rear end containing a tyre machine for the rubber to come off the rims, and the front half containing a fast-bake oven to make sure the newly refurbished finish stays on…
Working two wheels at a time, Adrian stripped off the old surface lacquer, then shot blasted and cleaned up each rim, applying special filler to the areas affected by kerbing and tyre gun marks.
Each wheel is then painted, baked, lacquered and then baked again. I was expecting my wheels to look much better by the time he’d done them, but what I wasn’t expecting was for them to look brand new – and that’s what I’ve ended up with. A truly astounding job, and enough to give the Vitesse an even fresher look – I never realised quite how much the wheels would give it a lift.
What’s more, the total cost was less than £300. Okay, so there was a day when you could buy a half-decent 800 for that, but those days are gone, and the ones that are left are worthy of refurbishment and preservation… and this one has a really interesting history.
Finally, a massive thanks (albeit a little belated) to AROnline reader Simon Hubbard for sorting me out with an ‘e’. No, that’s not a Nineties drug reference, but refers to him raiding his stash of bootlid letters to find me the right ‘e’ for my badge. That’s one less petty annoyance to wind myself up over – thank you, sir.
Time, then, to give the Vitesse a bit of a rest and focus on my other two new projects, one which I bought in September and another in November, but neither of which I’ve found time to write about just yet… My aim is to put that right next week.
Meantime, if you think you can use Adrian’s services, his website is here.