|TESSA VITESSE : a triumph over design|
|And before the pain began||Tessa was born in 1966 and
started her life in British Colombia as a Vitesse saloon.. There she
was purchased by a New Zealander. When he returned home he bought her
back for a holiday and she served as reliable transport for many years.
After that she a few little mechanical alterations. A Toyota 5 speed
18R gearbox was fitted with a couple of cuts to the chassis.A Nissan
180B diff head was fitted with two out of round spacers to the original
axles. (this gave vibrations you would not believe!) The diff appears
to have a similar layout to Triumph Vitesse diffs and had taken all
side loadings to date without incident, she was obviously driven hard
and although she broke axles, the diff took the pressure, however subsequent
modifications (sliding splines) has removed side loadings altogether.She,
at some stage, passed through a wire fence when she proved unable to
pull up in time. (Nice bonnet creases!)
I didn't really start out looking for Tessa but saw her advertised in the Buy, Sell Exchange. She was very, very rough. She had a very tired 2000 motor. Her boot was full of broken axles. Every single part of her danced and rattled when we finally got her going, on her bald tyres. Not one panel was straight, but no rust, and all her badges were present. Love at first sight!
In view of her obvious drivetrain modifications it was decided not to restore her but to give her a rebuild instead. In the process, I rang all her previous owners and re discovered many of her original parts, which are stored in case I have a change of heart (unlikely in the extreme). I stripped her down to see how many cardboard boxes she would fit into. I actually had to cut the rear universals off as they had been welded on! Not surprising, as the bolt holes in the universals were elliptical rather than round.Most of the engineering was appalling. Then began the long slow haul. All panels were straightened, fishoilened and undersealed. The body was undersealed inside and out. Chassis boxed where it had been cut for the gearbox clearances. All undersealed. I wasn't as worried about additional weight as I was about the fearsome rattles and resonance I had experienced earlier, on the drive home.
She was sound deadened under all the carpets and bulkhead area. Her
body has been kept stock and I used rubber mounts on the body. I filled
in the accessory dashboard holes and re veneered to original specs.
Door wood re-veneered to match dash. The rev counter did not operate,
as the original cable drive distributor had been lost in the sands
of time. I got the internals from a PI rev counter and had the face
plate and needle from the 'Jaegar' unit installed to match the speedo.
The gearbox cover had 2 inches cut longitudinally from the middle
section, fibreglassed and re-carpeted. I did not keep the original
front seats in the interests of my back health, so Vauxhall Chevette
items were obtained and re coloured black, I chose these seats as
the upholstery pleating is pretty close to Triumph standard.
I finally did locate the original gearbox but kept the reliable strong Toyota unit.Had to
make up a new spigot bush as the spigot 'floated' in the stock Triumph one with no
support at all! I rebuilt the original rear suspension and brakes. I actually replaced all the
universals with Triumph 2000 units (fit straight on), made up new spacers, looked at the
crazy camber changes, and then stored it.
Final drive at this time is 3.7:1. She has the torque to handle an even higher cruising ratio if wanted.
Rubbing multi hues off her, colour coats on
FIRST SYSTEM (but not used) - 2000 universals,