As they say on Top Gear, cue the music.
(Seriously play it, it makes the following essay much more action packed)
This last week or so I'd been starting to feel a little better so I wanted to get some progress made on this sharpish once I'd commited to it.
First off was to give it a damn good clean so I could see which bits of bodywork needed attenting to later. I already knew some rust was creeping through the rear arches, but the rest of it was impressively solid for it's age. The photo below doesn't really do the amount of crap I scraped out of the rear arches justice, it was well packed in and just holding water there.
Sills are in great condition which is nice, not uncommon for them to be bent/rotten on these due to poor previous jacking.
The paint needs a damn good machine polish to be honest as there are a couple of areas where the fade is too bad or there are surface scuffs, but this will do for now and gave me a better idea of what it needs where.
Next up was to get that oil leak sorted. It had reduced drastically after a few runs with that new PCV valve in place which was great, but I still seemed to be getting some from what I suspected was the rear crank main seal. As everything was coming out anyway and there's nothing in it's history about a clutch, I decided to order a new seal, clutch kit and some poshish gearbox oil.
I should mention at this point that since I got it, the car has had a funny rattle under load between 2000-2500 RPM that to me sounded like knock/pinging. I had worried since having the head gasket done this would cause it to go again, but datalogging the engine showed it appeared to be running perfectly and the knock sensor detected nothing. I suspected the knock sensor had perhaps taken damage from a previous overheat, or I had the wrong plugs or something - as I'll get to in a minute, I should have just trusted the car when it told me it wasn't knocking.
I entrusted the clutch job to a local mechanic I'd never used before, and I can't praise the guy highly enough. You'd think he'd never touched the car looking at it underneath, which to me is the mark of someone that's taken care. Not only did he do the seal, he resealed the carrier it sits in to the block, sorted out it's slight off centre steering and he fixed that rattle! All without asking extra. I don't know if it was something in the clutch or something that changed with the new oil in the gearbox, but the first time I accelerated through that rev range in 4th with no noise I couldn't have been happier, he's got himself a customer for life. And I trust the car a lot more knowing it's gone. Lovely having a new clutch as well, much lighter and smoother engaging than one with 100k of town driving on it as you'd expect, and the box oil change has helped the gearchange massively.
As a final job for now and another one that's been there since I got it, I had a slight brake judder through the pedal when braking at higher speeds. I have an invoice for new brakes only a few thousand miles before I got it, but for some reason while they did change the front pads they left the original discs. I knew one was warped but there was also an odd squeak, and on inspecting the pads they were getting their edges eaten away by the lip on the old discs. While it seemed a shame to throw away almost brand new pads, as the discs needed doing anyway and there was a special offer on Brembo parts at a local motor factors, I decided to treat it to some shiny bits anyway.
Disappointingly a fault emerged when I was done here - damn original fitment reversing light bulb blew! I'd say it's had a good run for it's 19 years or so.
I'm so pleased I decided to stick with this car, I've absolutely fallen back in love with it. That rattle being sorted was without a doubt the biggest change, I'm not constantly trying to work the revs around it anymore and you'd be surprised how often you end up with load on it in the 2000-2500 range. The difference all these things together have made to how it feels and drives is absolutely massive for what seem like such small things.
Oh, and I made a right job of the rear drivers tyre. I was losing about 4 psi a week, when I went to get it repaired it turns out I had a nail in it, a staple at both ends, and the valve was leaking.