Our Cars : Mike’s 214GSi – I’m not such a bright spark!

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Mike Humble

Well, after it’s first long run up to Peterborough and back for the BMC / BL rally I can say that the latest project car seems to be behaving reasonably okay . I use the term loosely of course owing to the fact that the R8’s copy book does seem to have one or two minor marks, but nothing I wouldn’t expect for an old car with such low mileage.

Firstly, there was an incident with the King lead on the H.T system that decided to fall to pieces after knocking it whilst removing the battery. The copper connector that fits onto the coil had snapped off and dropped inside the tower of the coil. Because the coil is rather fiddly to remove (far quicker to remove the N/S headlamp first) I tried to poke the debris out with a long screwdriver, bullnose pliers and a telescopic magnetic tool – all I succeed in doing was to break a hefty chunk of the bake-o-lite insulator from the coil tower.

The result of my impatient prodding and poking. Its actually quicker and easier to remove the complete headlamp to gain decent access to the damn thing!
The result of my impatient prodding and poking. Its actually quicker and easier to remove the complete headlamp to gain decent access to the damn thing!

Somehow, I managed to “lash” the lead and coil in order of continuity, a new lead was subsequently purchased but the sourcing of a new coil caused more that it’s fair share of aggro. One thing I am certain about, you don’t buy an ignition coil every day of the week (unless you drive an old 1.2 Punto) and thanks to having a good memory, the last coil I bought new was for an 1800 CVH Sierra – back in 1996… times have changed since then. A phone call was put in to every purveyor of aftermarket spares and all drew a blank. Sure, they could get one ordered but old impatient me wanted one NOW NOW NOW – simply put, it wasn’t gonna happen.

Even after cross referring the part numbers (I own catalogues galore) nothing was forthcoming, and then a most pleasant surprise came my way. That well known chain of stores that stocks bicycles, chav orientated tat and the odd wiper blade claimed to have one in stock. After slapping myself to confirm it was not a dream, I jumped into the Golf and called by. After hanging around the parts counter feeling like a ham bap at aBar-mitzvah for 20 minutes, the counter guy produced a box – the wrong shape and way too light. Before opening the package I told him that was wrong and I received an android like blank look.

In the end,  I repaired the original coil and its since been fine. The rough running and hesitant K16 is responding well to a fuel treatment, induction clean up and gentle bedding in. It now runs almost like a new engine - it should do with just 31.000 clicks on the clock!
In the end, I repaired the original coil and its since been fine. The rough running and hesitant K16 is responding well to a fuel treatment, induction clean up and gentle bedding in. It now runs almost like a new engine – it should do with just 31.000 clicks on the clock!

After proudly boasting that he was the deputy manager and that he had double checked, he opened the box and produced a coil pack as you would find on a later K16 engine as per a 25/45/75 – It would be fair to say that I was even less impressed than Shania Twain could have ever been. About turning, I drove to my usual place and had one ordered up, it arrived next day – and wouldn’t work. Another one was delivered from a different supplier and fared better by working for all of 10 minutes. As you can guess, I was now getting down to pit lane timings for removing the headlamp and swapping a coil over, but at the same time getting slightly pee’d off as the only coil that would work without fuss or cutting out was the knackered one!

In the end I rebuilt the original Austin Rover branded ignition coil with some chemical metal and its been fine ever since. After some fuel treatment and the throttle body scrubbed clean with carb spray and and old tooth brush, the slightly hesitant nature of the engine is gradually getting better as is the fuel economy. The mega low mileage is nice to have (31.000) but my previous G plate SLi with 140.000 drove and performed far better but was equally below par when I first bought it though this car is improving with every day’s usage. There’s not much to report on the mechanical or electrical side with exception of the period wireless supplied by Derek J Ketteringham has packed up.

The plain looking original heater panel and control has been changed to an R3 / 25 / Streetwise hybrid unit that looks smart and illuminates much better at night. The old gear lever gaiter has been swapped for a genuine perforated leather item from a written off MG ZR. Modern looking CD player will have to do until I find a period original that works.
The plain looking original heater panel and control has been changed to an R3 / 25 / Streetwise hybrid unit that looks smart and illuminates much better at night. The old gear lever gaiter has been swapped for a genuine perforated leather item from a written off MG ZR. Modern looking CD player will have to do until I find a period original that works.

Until I can source another unit, the CD player has been put back in but while I was rummaging around the centre console, I changed the heater surround to an R25 type with faux wood effect and a more modern font to the type face of the dials via an 03 plate Streetwise. The night time illumination is far better on the later panels, okay it’s not original, but it looks smarter and is more pleasing on the eye than the original matt black plastic trim. The vinyl gaiter for the gear lever was starting to split due to old age, so a perforated leather item from a dead ZR has transformed the view of the floor area – its really easy to fit too and I think it looks a belter.

Neil Rapsey, who previously owned the motor, kindly donated a boot spoiler from a 216 GTi and my local Merc specialist and body shop who reside opposite my office window have offered to spray it, fit it and replace the tailgate struts for uprated ones for a most agreeable sum. The car already has the GTi front spoiler and optional fog lamps, so these and the 16″ Active alloys now fitted allied to the boot spoiler will subtly add a sporting cache with going over the top – trust me, it’s going to look very presentable once finished.

Other items include a blowing centre silencer, I’m not sure if the pipe can be welded or if it needs replacing as a quick look seems to give the impression it’s reasonably new. Either way, it’s not going to be expensive and if it does need a tickle with a mig welder, I’ll see if the lads over the road can help out while they have the old girl in their shops. Also, for the very first time, this very morning in fact, the starter motor jammed – I have a hunch it needs lubricating and nothing else as I’ve known this to happen before on 1.4 R8’s at dealer level that often used to be wrongly diagnosed as U/S. Whatever the outcome, all will be done in time for the R8 25th birthday gathering at Gaydon next month of which I’m sure one or two of you out there will be attending.

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications

4 Comments

  1. That modified centre console looks excellent and is an added bonus to what is already a nice car. These sort of mods I totally approve of.

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