HI55 Rebuild (RMC Chassis 001)

The New Arrival

I purchased the car on November 16th 2019, it was from a deceased estate.  The lady was selling her late fathers car.  She’d tried multiple times before, but had changed her mind at the last minute on each occasion, she just couldn’t bear to part with it.  However, almost 10 years after she first put it up for sale she let it go and I was the lucky recipient.  That car y this time and been standing for over 20 years with only the occasional start to ensure it didn’t seize up.
On the previous attempt to sell it, they noticed that Rats had been in and eaten most of the seats and carpet, so they had it all retrimmed (that was 2 years before I bought it).
I knew it would need a bit of work before it could be re-registered and driven on the roads , so I had it delivered directly to my mechanic.  He replaced all the fuel and brake lines ,the hoses, the water pump, the radiator and had the carby refurbished to new.
After I got it home, it was only when I was registering it that I found out it was RMC’s first chassis, ACC001 and it was built in house by the RMC team in Perth.  Being Chassis number one makes it that little bit more special, after all, you never get another one with Chassis number one.  The ‘first’ and the ‘last’ ones will always have that little bit more value to the collector.  The car was first registered in 1988  and couple of months before my first son was born.

PWR Radiator

As I was replacing the radiator anyway, and a V8 in small place can get a bit hot here in Qld. I decided to put the best one in I could afford, a PWR alloy one.

PWR are a local company based in Yatala and produce the best radiators, so good in fact that most of the race cars use them.   Excellent build quality, although you do have to wait a few weeks if you want one custom built.  Well worth the wait I say!

New Wheels

The next thing on the list was to replace those very unmatched Nissan wheels with something more in keeping with an AC Cobra.  I put a message on the club forum to see if anyone had any 15 inch wheels that they’d be willing to part with.  Luckily for me, someone had taken a set off another RMC and agreed to sell them to me.  Only downside, they had been painted peppermint green to match the car (they were taken off).  Ummm, oh well, I found a work around.  I got a local guy in to repaint them.  Score!  The car now looks a whole lot better, just by putting the right wheels on.

I had the spinners (fakes) polished up and I had new Cobra badges printed and stuck on to make it look a little more period.

Gas Struts

One of my pet hates is holding up the bonnet or boot when I’m trying to do something, and those stays that never seem to quite work…  So I gave my mate Luke from  Gas Struts Gold Coast a call to come and fit Stainless Steel gas struts to the boot and bonnet

New Mirror Stainless Fuel Tank

Whilst the old  petrol tank did it’s job, it also took up most of the boot space and only held 55 litres of petrol.  I got Scott Hampson of Venom Cobra’s to make me a new Polished Stainless Steel drop tank,  75 Litres in total, and move the filler cap from the  centre of the boot to the rear drivers side wheel arch.  Moving the filler also makes it easier to fit the new softtop.  Most of the beautiful new shiny tank is hidden under the carpet and under the car but, you can still see the lower portion of it if you stand back from the car.

New Dash

The existing dash was quite traditional, apart from the oversize stereo when the glovebox should be, but I didn’t like the layout.  I wanted a 300KPH reverse sweep speedo and a bigger rev counter anyway, so I updated the layout and made a new panel from aluminium sandwich board which got covered in black PVC to match.  I also replace and reorganised the switches and warning lights.  I’m extremely happy with the new dash and want to thank Warren Boylan for the inspiration (taken from his Silver Harrison with the LS7 engine).  The Bakelite switch labels came from a small company in the UK, very cool (well, cool in my opinion, not necessarily anyone else’s).
I had my Snake head logo transferred to the Speedo and rev counter (made by Speedhut), just for a bit of fun.  

Full Rewire

When I pulled the dash off  it was obvious that the 30+ year old wiring was in need of some love.  The wires had become brittle and the glass fuses (all thee of them) are getting harder to find.  Not only that, but all the individual components were attached via crimped terminals, not conducive  to removing and reinstalling the dash.  Deep breath and make the call.  It went off to one of our club members who is an absolute wizard with wires  for a new complete nose to tail rewire. 

To  say the harness is good is such a massive understatement its like  saying the known and unknown galaxies have a bit of space!    Each part of the harness is bound and braded.  All the connections are soldered and for things like the dashboard instrument, there are four waterproof plugs to undo, these 4 plugs disconnect the entire dash so it can be quickly and easily lifted out, and you can’t make a mistake re-connecting it.  All the relays are mounted on a single backplane, all the fuses labelled in a  modern fuse box.  Modern brakers protect things like the Fuel Injection and ignition computers.  

We also added a push-to-start button linked directly to the Immobiliser system with a proximity key fob, so you just  walk up to the car with the key and it disarms.  To start the car, it’s a couple of pushes of the button (provided the key is in range).  Walk away and it locks and arms itself.   There is also a hidden GPS tracker that takes power from the car as well as it’s own battery that sends me messages and location of the car each time it starts and stops, or I can ping it anytime from my phone to find out where it is. The tracker is so well hidden I struggled to find it, and I was told exactly where it is hidden. 

The Re-wire also included fitting a new MSD ignition system with a Coil per plug and  Holley Snipper fuel injection system (the one that just looks like a normal Holley carby).  Trouble with cold starts and the smell of unburnt petrol pouring out the exhaust is a thing of the past.

We also replaced the globes with LED and added a new fuel pump and inline filters for the fuel injection system.

My sincerest thanks go to Mr Chunky for the amazing amout of detailed worked involved in rewiring this car.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

New drop Floors

The AC Ace, from which the AC Cobra is derived was first envisioned in the late 1940’s  back then the average height of your average bloke was about 162 Cm  (5 feet 4 inches in old money) and about 50-60kg.  roll on to the 2020’s and I’m 185cm and 120kg. just a little larger than the planned drivers of the original cars.  
When I sat in the drivers seat, apart from my knees hitting the dash and the steering wheel rubbing on my stomach, my view was straight in line with the top of the  windscreen surround.  Driving meant ducking or stretching my neck to see through or over the windscreen.  Not the best.
Off to Scott at Venom Cobras to have the floor modified.  He cut out the old floor and made a new folded floor and mounted it so that it was level with the bottom of the chassis and just above the height of the crossmember.  It was further reenforced with a couple of new steel braces and some sandwich plate to make it solid and strong enough for me to stand on without fear of it bending.  It is about 3 inches lower on both side and I look through the middle of the screen now.

Engine Modifications

The Engine in the car was a 1950’s Windsor with flat tappets and a 4 barrel Holley carby (600 CFM) and had a 4 speed top loader gearbox.  Perfectly adequate , but just that.  I had the opportunity to upgrade to a Tickford Windsor 302 with GT40 heads and roller cams, so I jumped at the chance.  I also added an electric water pump transferred over the Holley Sniper (adding a new polished Edlebrock performance inlet manifold too)  and MSD ignition I’d previously had installed. 

While the engine was out we (well Scott at Venom Cobras) upgraded the clutch to a new heavy duty one (Exceed) and fitted a concentric clutch slave (to make it lighter and better feel) from Mal Woods Engineering. The old Top loader 4 speed gear box was a little under geared and a bit temperamental about changing gears too, so I replaced that with a T5 (5 speed manual) an altogether much more enjoyable experience when changing gear.  A repaint and an new high performance polished Alternator completing the updage.

New Bow kit

In readiness for a new soft top I’ve had Scott at Venom Cobras make me anew bow kit from one I’d inherited.  Scott had to modify the  header rails that fit the windscreen and make some more bows (Scott’s bit is all in Stainless steel) he also made the glassfibre reinforcement for the rear that the trimmer will sew in to the hood.

Engine Bay Dress Up

One of the thigs I really wanted to do, was get the engine bay tidied up.  The original alloy inner guards were corroded and impossible to clean let alone make them shine.   Scott from Venom Cobras came up with the perfect solution.  Replace it all with mirror quality polished stainless.

With the engine out all the existing alloy inner guards were taken out and used for templates.  However, Scott being the perfectionist said we should go one better and  do the rest of the engine bay too.  Far be it for me to argue. So the bulk head was done, the transmission tunnel, the footwells,  the chassis cross member,, her also make covers to hide the washer motor.  A whole day was spend hammering out the round shape to cover the end of the wiper motor before it got welded in to the rest of the cover.

A cover was made to hide the brake and clutch reservoirs, he even made a one to go in the wheel arch on the driver’s side complete with quick release mechanism, the level of detail and workmanship is next level.  Of course with the engine now fully lined the Header tank and overflow tank looked a bit ordinary, so Scott went about fabricating new ones out a of a flat panel of polished stainless steel, I think you’ll agree that the results are amazing!

In some of the photos you’ll see the protective film still in place protecting the mirror finish.  The Wiper motor cover was made in three pieces, as I mentioned above the endplate (circle) took all day to hammer out on the anvil from a flat piece of steel.  Once the three pieces were all welded together it was then several hours on the polishing wheel to give it that mirror polish to match the rest of the car.

The pictures here really do not do it justice

Roll Hoops

When  the car was built it had a single roll bar that went from  passenger side to driver side, and then at some point it was changed to a single hoop behind the driver.  This hoop however, was mild steel that had been chrome plated and by the time I got it, it the chrome was flaking and peeling off. 

Scott at Venom Cobras fabricated to new hoops both with a third ‘steady’ leg, he made new brackets inside the boot to allow the inner legs of the hoops to be bolted to the chassis rather than just rest on the fiberglass.

New Side Pipes

Another thing on my bucket list was to get the sound of the Cobra how I wanted it,  I really like the sound of the lazy big blocks and that lovely pop-bang-crackle on overrun.  Scott From Venom Cobras came up with the idea of using oversized side pipes to give that lovely deep rumbling sound.
He started off with 1.5mm 50% perforated stainless which he rolled into a 3 inch  (75mm) diameter tube before welding it.  Then it was tightly wound with 1 inch (25mm) of  high grade stainless steel wool before being placed inside a 5 inch (125mm) 1.3mm stainless tube.  He then made 5 inch to 3 inch reducing cones.  Scott also made new Stainless Steel headers and I decided I wanted the collectors inside the engine bay with a single 3 inch pipe coming out through the bodywork.  The headers are almost straight, giving excellent gas flow and the sound… sublime!
The side-pipes are mounted to the body with a sing bolt at the rear, Scott made a ‘C’ bracket that  he welded to the exhaust to support it without cracking, its then secured to the chassis with a rubber mount, the other end is secured to the headers just after the collector with a stainless steel double lipped V-Band.

Mesh Grills

To stop stones going through the radiator, Scott at Venom Cobras, came up with a neat idea.  He had some 2mm  stainless steel mesh and he cut it to size,  folded some mirror grade stainless to cover the edges then made some hidden brackets to hold it in place.   He had enough left over to make grills for the brake ducts and the oil-cooler duct.

Fresh Paint

Finanaly got the rear end painted. When we (Scott from Venom Cobra) moved the fuel Filler cap and added the new roll hoops, the bodywork had to be patched, and now it is all painted to match. It turns out the  colour is Ford Monza Red (i’m told).  Here is the car on show at one of our breakfast meets, with my wife Tina, being a bit subtle in the background.

Interior Re-trim

June 2023,  now everythingelse has been updated, it was time to re do the interior trim.  Brendon Payne from Pyane Motor Trimmers on the Gold coast did an outstanding job for me.  If you look back through the photos you’ll see that the rear bulkhead had two 6×9″ speakers cut in to it.  They were removed when the dash was updated and the radio deleted.  The holes that were left were re-cut in to rectangles and pop-open doors added. You can just about make out the line of door in the first picture.  

Brendan recovered the whole bulkhead and then carefully cut out around the doors, they are almost invisible when closed. 

Where the floor had been lowered, Brendan made new panels to cover the sides and even added some rubberised wear matting where your knee might touch on the transmission tunnel.  He also made new floor carpets with a a heavy duty backing, sown in rubberised mats and he edged them with a heavy duty vinyl.

In the drivers foot well you’ll see the floor ramps back up,  This is because once the floor was lowered I could no longer comfortably opporate the accelerator pedal as it’s right against the inner guard, which mean Scott (Venom Cobra) built a foot rest to bring my feet back up to the perfect opperating height.  Brendan managed to do some magic with his cutting, sowing and heat gun to make the floor capet fit like it was straight out of the factory. 

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