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clinkadink 7th June 2019 07:08

My first build: Kobra
My first post, although been admiring all the fascinating work on here for a couple of years now. It amazes me at the patience, passion and skill that exists in this forum.

Building a car has always been a dream of mine. Conventional kit cars, whilst my goal, is a lot of work, and I think a step too far for my limited skill set (and garage!). That's where I want to be some day, but when I saw the Kobra kit, it seemed like a great way to enter the world of kit cars.

I met with Richard Noon, Nubodi, in late 2016, where I saw the Kobra kit for the first time. Soon after, I had bought myself a BMW Z3 2.0L, 2000, off eBay for 700, and the kit was delivered (November 2016). In hind sight, I should have waited to Spring 2017 - but I was a 'kid in a sweet shop'.

The Z3 had lacquer pealing in several places, hence the price I guess. Other than that, it was mechanically sound and even came with an MOT.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 07:21

I made a start on removing the panels ...

I have a double garage, but it has the usual family bikes, lawnmower, bits and bobs crammed into it. It has 2 separate garage doors with a pillar in between. I quickly realised how much of a pain this was. Bottom line, I had little space.

Remove the rear wings. I was impressed by the condition underneath.

Boot, lights and bumper removed ...

Here you can see the space I had to work with. Need a bigger garage!

Finally the front stripped. To get the garage door to close, the front of the car touches the front bench. Not ideal.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 07:27

Make a start on the new body now, starting with the side wings. I wanted the classic look, with AC Cobra louvred vents, so I remove the section and prep.

Vent panel removed ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 07:32

More prep to remove the seams.

Starting to take shape ...

Fitted to the car ...

Paul L 7th June 2019 08:00

clinkadink - Welcome to the forum. :cool:

Looking forward to you filling us in on all the work you have done.

Without giving the game away too much, are you finished now?

Good luck, Paul. :)

Did you really say my double garage is too small? :rolleyes:


clinkadink 7th June 2019 08:03

The Z3 mirrors are mounted towards the middle of the door. Yet the original cobra they mounted a lot further forward. I removed the mirrors and filled the holes.

I am using U-Pol B fibre glass filler (mainly) and body filler for the fine stuff. My skills are starting to be tested :ohwell:

Certainly past the point of no return ...

Repeat on the drivers side ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 08:10


Originally Posted by Paul L (Post 100695)
clinkadink - Welcome to the forum. :cool:

Looking forward to you filling us in on all the work you have done.

Without giving the game away too much, are you finished now?

Good luck, Paul. :)

Did you really say my double garage is too small? :rolleyes:


Thanks Paul. No, not finished yet. But the bulk of the work has been completed. I should have added the build to the forum in 'real time'. Although, like Netflix, folks can now 'binge watch' a build without waiting weeks :razz:

Lol - yes, double garage is small. I even floored out the garage attic half way through the build and chucked a load of stuff up there. Still not enough space to swing a cat.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 08:17

Start work on relocating the fuel cap. I used Car Builders Solutions for all the bits.
  1. 90 Degree 50mm I.D. Fuel Fill Hose, 28.80
  2. Heavy Duty Flexible 50mm I.D. Fuel Fill Hose 1 Yard Length, 45.60
  3. 3 1/2" BSP Aston Polished Alloy Fuel Cap Kit, 240.00
  4. Stainless Steel Hose Clip 60-80mm Sold Singly x 2, 3.00
  5. 51mm Beaded Aluminium Hose Joiner, 11.40
  6. Classic Bullet Mirror Chrome Plated Brass 100mm x 2, 38.40

clinkadink 7th June 2019 09:12

Time for the Aston Martin fuel cap. It weighs a ton! I have to insert the fuel cap recess (seperate optional GRP panel provided in the kit).

But first, I fit the rear end of the Kobra.

Start cutting hole for the new fuel cap recess ...

Then fill, sand [repeat] ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 09:15

A bit of spray filler ...

More filling, sanding and then primer.

The cap is just resting in its recess at present, its not fixed ... and will face the other way.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 09:22

Start working on the doors. I must admit, I struggled get the old mirror holes completely flat. It took several attempts until I got it to an acceptable standard.

At this stage, I invested in air tools and proper compressor. Until now, I was using typical DIY tools (which I am sure will still do the job).

Loads still to do obviously, but coming along. Trying to pay extra attention to the gaps between the panels.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 09:30

Yay! All the lights have arrived.

I used ebay mainly to source the parts. The shopping list was provided by Richard Noon, Nubodi. Fair dos, it was a life saver. @Richard, thanks :eusa_clap:

In case anyone needs the shopping list, you can access it here.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 09:38

Time to offer up the bonnet. Need a bit more space, so drive her out of the garage. I take the opportunity to take a few photos of how the kit is fitting at this stage. Its about 4 weeks into the build, mainly weekends and the odd evening.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 09:45

With the bonnet in place, and some minor adjustments to the original BMW bonnet hinges, I notice how bad the gaps are between the bonnet and the doors.

I am still trying to get the hang of filling and sanding. This whole build has obviously been a learnining curve. I cannot count the times where I pack up each night, chuffed with the work done that day ... only to return the next morning and think "that's naff" ... and redo it.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 09:49

I down tools in December 2016, its -2 degrees in the garage. Sadly, I do not recommence until July 2017. No excuses, I am lazy. I have many old school reports ... "Chris has the potential, but is easily distracted".

The boot lid goes on ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 09:54

At this point, I notice the height/curveture of the left rear arch is flatter than the right. I decide to build it up (and hope for the best) ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 09:56

Back to door gaps. Fill, sand, curse ... repeat ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 10:01

Spent a lot of time on the gaps. I am sure this is true of all builds, but being the first one, I didn't appreciate how much attention is required. But if I don't do it, it will haunt me for ever more (even if no-one else spots it).

July 2017, this is how it looks. 9 months since the start of the build, but probably, 2 months of that is working on the car.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 10:16

Time to start on the lights. Exciting bit, as by now, I am tired of filling/sanding, and need to recharge my enthusiasm :)

Wiring the lights into the original BMW Z3 wiring loom may sound a little daunting to some. All I used was a multi meter and tested each pin of the original connector block, when switching the lights on/off, or pressing the brake pedal. Once I saw 12v on the meter, I knew I had the right wire and connected them to the new lights, using heat shrink or waterproof connector blocks.

My advice to any other new builders is to carefully plan this stage; double check all your connections before you make any cuts, sketch out a diagram if it helps (I did), and consider whether the item you are connecting will need to be removed at a later stage of the build or operation.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 10:20

The battery light on the car came on. I then found the alternator had packed in. I also noticed (a little late, granted) that the belt was in poor condition. I replaced both, and the light went out.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 10:23

Fitting the number plate lamp and lock. Taking shape.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 10:30

Back to the bonnet, need to cut out the air scoop. First drill loads of holes ...

I used a mini hack saw to remove the rest ...

Then filed down and sanded the rest ...

Happy with the result so far ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 10:50

Next, the overriders. I purchased from Brasscraft. All the bits, including tube, bolts, for both front and back came to 252.

I had to make a mount for the front overriders to bolt to. These were fibre glassed in from inside the bonnet.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 11:42

Next fit the overriders to the rear. No need to make mounting plates. The bolts slide through the body and onto the rear BMW chasis.

I tried to demonstrate this in the diagram below.

One on, one to go ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 11:54

This is where I realised I made a 'newbie error'. The body was by no means prepped to an acceptable standard, so I had to remove all the lights and fittings.

I gave the body another rub down with 600 and then 1200 grit wet and dry. Then applied a layer of filler spray. Not sure if this is 'accepted practise', but I find it does help smooth out and remove those minor imperfections.

The body is now looking flatter ... if not a little too yellow for my liking.

After another rub down with 600 / 1200 grit ...

I applied the grey primer, much easier on the eye ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 12:06

It is August 2017, 10 months since I started on the build (but 3 months of work).

I convince myself that as I have successfully got this far in the build, unassisted ... I can try my hand in spraying the top coat too.

[Spoiler alert ... 2nd mistake looming]

I mask off the car (but nothing else in the garage!) in preparation for some colour ...

I thought it best to test my spraying skills first on the underside of the boot lid ...

To be fair, it looked OK to me. Good enough to continue.

[Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but foresight is better!]

clinkadink 7th June 2019 12:11

I did toy with the idea of excluding my mistakes from the build thread (I am sure its only natural), and showing you the 'happy path'. However, I am purposely including them so that any other newbie may be able to learn from my mistakes.

Don't get me wrong, I am not proud of them. But, I have learnt from them. I now know my limits, and when to run ... when to walk.

Anyway, back to the build ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 12:38

I used a 50L 'hobby' compressor to spray the car <-- a big mistake :frusty:

From a distance (with squinty eyes) it doesn't look bad for a base coat ...

But on closer inspection, there are imperfections all over the body.

This was because:
  1. My compressor was not powerful enough, it failed to atomise the paint consistently, and instead, randomly 'spat' the paint onto the body
  2. I am newbie without the proper skills or knowledge for such a task
  3. Several other factors that I am still blissfully unaware of

clinkadink 7th June 2019 12:48

Of course, I shouldn't have attempted spraying my car. I know that now. I guess I wanted to the do the whole build myself. Like I said, I know now where to stop, and pass it to a professional.

Anyway, I had to sand the whole car down again :mad2:

clinkadink 7th June 2019 13:02

Still not prepared to throw the towel in, I swapped out my compressor for a 100L one, still questionably on the low side for spraying - but all that funds would allow.

I mask her off again, and try again ...

What I didn't appreciate, but swiftly learned, is how much space you need to spray a car. I am sure this sounds daft, but it was all new to me.

I certainly could do with more space and a better 'dust free' environment.

But the paint was flowing nicely with the new compressor, the finish looking better ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 13:15

And that is how the car stayed for 21 months. I could provide lots of excuses .... work, life, chores, family ... but really, I just got distracted.

2018 came and went. Started to feel guilty around Spring 2019 and finally made my way back into the garage last month, May 2019.

I took the masking off and drove her out of the garage to inspect my handy work nearly 2 years prior. I experienced a 'moment of chuffedness'.

The paintwork is significantly improved from my first attempt. But, to be fair, its not perfect. And I want perfect. I decided (2 years too late) that I need to get her professionally sprayed. But the MoT has lapsed, and I want to be sure there's nought wrong with her, before investing in a spray job.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 13:32

I cleaned her up, and refit the lights and fittings, and take her for an MoT. I failed on corroded rear brake pipes. I had them replaced and it then passed.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 13:39

Like the original AC Cobra, I wanted a chrome windscreen surround. I probably should have waited until after the spray job, but decided to do it anyway. The chrome wrap was purchased from ebay for about a tenner.

Also fitted the chrome roll bars behind the seats ...

In this last photo, you can just make out some paint fogging / orange peel on the rear drivers arch. There are a few patches like this. Evidently, I need more practise with the spray gun. But for now, the spray shop will deal with this.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 13:46

Continue tarting up the fittings. The wipers arms were black, I clean them up, sand them down, prime them and give them a few coats of silver.

Refitted with the new chrome wiper blades of ebay, 20 a pair.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 13:48

Before and after "cut and shut" ...

clinkadink 7th June 2019 13:58

The Kobra is taken for its MOT, fails on a rear brake pipe being corroded (common on these). I fix it, retest it, it passes!! Yay!! :surprised:

I drive it to the spray shop, have a chat, he laughs at my spray job. I decided against saying "Bob up the road sprayed it for me". It gets booked in for a couple of days time.

I have chosen a similar colour to as it is now, but a little lighter, metallic blue with the 2 white stripes. I provided him with a few reference photos to use for the colour scheme.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 14:16

The bit i've been dreading. The louvre vents.

First I make a template ...

Using 30mm aluminium strip, B&Q @ 6, a vice and panel hammer, I make the vent surround ...

I then cut the louvres using the same 30mm strip ...

I tack them in (temporarily) with a hot glue gun and realise the louvres are too narrow ...

I loosely slot them into the vent hole to check their fit anyway. Not bad, but not good enough ...

Back down to B&Q, I purchase the 45mm alloy strip, cut and fit. Much better ...

Check how they look offered up to the car. Getting better ...

I replace the hot glue with araldite to fix the louvres permanently (hopefully). Then clean with wire wool, prime and spray with chrome paint ...

Not bad. But I am not happy about the inner joins. You can see a little glue (above). Will have to sort that.

clinkadink 7th June 2019 14:39

Today, Friday 07th June 2019, the car has now been in the spray shop for 2 days. I collect her next Friday.

Then, I will fit the MWS wire wheels and spinners.

Paul L 7th June 2019 15:41

I've enjoyed your 'Binge Watch' build thread approach. :cool:

I learnt a lot from reading about other people's mistakes.

And I'm sure that others learnt a lot from my (many) mistakes. :rolleyes:

However, I wouldn't beat yourself up for having a go at painting the car.

I know my paint finish is rubbish, but it is my rubbish. :icon_wink:

Hope all goes well for you in the professional paint shop.

Good luck, Paul. :)

clinkadink 7th June 2019 15:56

Paul, thanks for feedback. I will keep trying with the spraying, but maybe start on my son's bike next time :)

I can't wait for the phone call saying "Your car is ready to collect". Seven days and counting. Once done, i'll update the build thread (in real time!).

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