Do not adjust your screen! Our feature today gives you an insight into what its like to restore and cruise around in the wheelchair accessible version of the classic 1984 Opel Kadett D - including pushing it through the dreaded NCT! Check out the restoration timelapse video here and read on for more!
‘This year we’re off to sunny Cork’ is how my uncle announced his visit to his family and friends back in February. A good choice of holiday location for a Londoner planning a break from the hustle and bustle of that great city in August. A simple enough trip you’d think but the detail of it is that my uncle is wheelchair bound with little movement from the neck down. The idea was that he and quite a large group of friends would rendez-vous in West Cork and take over a few houses in a holiday village, going touring around this scenic area by day and meet up and share tails of their adventures by night. This is also the area where I live and his sister, my mother, has just moved nearby.
It sounded a great idea, but I remembered one thing from travelling around London in his specially adapted car which allows him to travel as a passenger in the back. He’s so tall, even in the chair the windows are way below his eye line. A few years ago, he guided me around central London from the back of his otherwise excellent Mercedes Vaneo. He was able to do so from memory and by recognising the potholed streets. As my wife and I took in the sites he and I reminisced about a much older Ford Escort Chairman that he once owned, that had a high roof extension and 3 extra windows, that gave him an excellent view. I also remembered much more recently, on one of those guilty trawls of the local classifieds while visiting my German wife’s family, spotting a wheelchair accessible 1984 Opel Kadett D for sale not too far from her parents’ home. Now I’ve a nasty habit of restoring these vehicles and have done, saloons, hatches, estates and vans in the past. On hearing about my uncles plan to visit, the gears in my brain began to turn.
My wife managed to trace the owner, which wasn’t easy, as it was an expired ad that I’d found on a German website which compiles classifieds from many sources. My mother and father in law went to see it and a very reasonable price was negotiated. My uncle agreed to purchase it and fund our tickets if I could look after it’s collection and restore it in time for his visit. I’d just entered a partnership with MicksGarage.com to supply parts for another project but they were happy to join in on this one too, so I knew I’d all the parts I’d possibly need once I could look after the bodywork. The window of opportunity for my accomplice and great friend Ivalo to take time off work and for the best value on the ferry was in March and that’s how we found ourselves on the ferry with his high mileage Audi and a brand new Woodford Single Axle Car Transporter lent from their Importer in Ballincollig. We have a film made of our raid on Germany which will be released shortly and the full video diaries of the cars recommissioning can be seen on my YouTube channel.
I set myself the target of having the car back on the road for Ted’s Opel Vauxhall Run 2018 the weekend before my uncle’s arrival. This one hundred mile tour would be an ideal shakedown for the car and I booked its first NCT for the week before that. My way of scheduling the project had been to start jobs early, if they went well then I’d carry on with the other project. At each stage, the car confirmed that it needed much less work than first anticipated. What was time consuming was diagnosing some poor running issues mainly due to the carburettor and some contaminated fuel. I tipped away at this bit by bit over the weeks while I worked on the other car with a big push planned for the last month before the visit.
I found myself finishing off the bodywork on the Tuesday before a Wednesday NCT, I had everything together and was packing up to head for the test, the car running really well with a new battery, plug leads, spark plugs, distributor cap, rotor arm, coil and thermostat all from MicksGarage.com. Unfortunately, the fuel contamination problem came back to haunt me before loading up so without being able to rely on the car to run for the test I decided to reschedule for Friday, the day before the run. I drained the tank and cleaned out the carburettor and had a bit more time to hoover the interior and tidy up a bit more.
The Dreaded NCT:
We got it to the test on Friday afternoon and it went through the most rigorous examination I’ve ever seen them do. Only one thing failed and that was the headlight focus of the European car. I had the lights I’d taken from the Orange Kadett from my project last year but I just hadn’t had time to refettle and fit them. To be honest I hadn’t expected the car to do so well and never expected that would be the only thing on the list. Anyway with 30 days to put them right and resolving to avoid night driving in the meantime we left the car at the parc ferme of the Opel Vauxhall Run for the start the next day and returned home.
Ivalo and I travelled up for the start of the event at the Mills Inn Ballyvourney on Saturday morning in his trusty Audi, the weather wasn’t promising, so it was a hardy bunch that embarked on Ted’s Run that day. ‘Mobi’ as we’ve named him was idling a bit funny after a few miles on the road. It turns out the contaminated fuel had been masking the carburettor being out of adjustment. It was running though and we decided to drive around the problem for the day rather than cause further problems trying to fix it under pressure. We had to clear out the fuel bowl on the carburettor at the lunch break at the Eccles Hotel in Glengariff, but apart from this we successfully made it around the route.
I was greatly honoured at that lunch to receive ‘The Spirit of the Run Perpetual Trophy’ for our efforts to get the car to the event and have it ready for my uncle's visit. After that shakedown a calm approach to adjusting the carburettor got it running as sweet as a nut, especially after I treated Mobi to oil and filters from MicksGarage.com. The following weekend I managed to clock up a trouble free 1200km with a trip to the Wexford Hillclimb, meeting my uncle at Cork Airport and a visit to the Historic Racing Festival, celebrating 50 years of Mondello, which included a parade lap of the International Circuit.
My uncle wasn’t fit to do as much touring as he had hoped during his weeklong visit, but we did get one wonderful afternoon touring this very special part of the Wild Atlantic Way and at the end of the week Mobi and I had the great responsibility of bringing him back to the airport in time for his flight. The view from the back was sufficient that he has fallen in love with the area and despite the logistical challenges, he has resolved to return and was even started checking out the local auctioneers’ websites.
What the future holds:
Having sold my similar Astra Mk1 Estate I’m going to buy my uncle out of Mobi and keep him ready for any future visits. I told my uncle of my intention to fit some camping accessories, so I could overnight at some of the events I travel to and he said that would be great. It would mean he could take longer day trips if we could heat up meals in the car. Did I hear MicksGarage.com have just launched a new range of travel and camping equipment? This whole project just goes to show how universal design can benefit everyone. You should see what I can fit in for the recycling centre!
Time lapse video link: