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BLOG: race/rally MG Maestro 1600 - "Pink Panther"

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  • John C
    The Pink Panther has been requested by Nick and he has now got it on long-term loan TFN (hopefully to make its first appearance this year at the famous and very popular Ormskirk Motorfest on Sun 30 Aug 15.

    Nick's got the following with the car:
    1x Haynes manual
    Wheel rims: 4 cheesegrater type
    Wheels (rim & tyre): 3 cheesegrater type (+ 1 spare wheel in boot of car?)
    Halfords car cover (in large green holdall)
    2x black bucket seats
    Various pink colour items: spray cans, masking tape, face paint, paint pen, insulation tape etc.
    Battery-powered Interior lights: round silver LED light + a black filament torch on a sucker (missing its battery cover)
    Self-tapping screws & washers to hold the lid of the battery box on
    NUMAX 12v battery & spacer (to go below the lid)
    Keys & battery cut off
    Black plastic portfolio File with MSA logbook, V5, MoT etc.
    Alloy sump guard (from one of the ex-works Maestros)
    Gearbox (possibly seized)
    Metal tubing: 2 lengths (to fabricate seat mountings)
    Rear strut brace
    Nightstick alarm lock & power cable (rechargeable 9v batteries inside?)
    Harnesses: 2x blue LUKE (4 point)
    Washing line (blue) -to be made into door pull cables
    Magnetic oil filter attachment
    Throttle cable
    red windscreen squeegee
    Austin Rover jack (black)
    Wheel nuts
    Mudflaps: 2x red
    Lower ball joint (NIB)
    Flashlube (in a Castrol Valvemaster bottle)

    The soft furry Pink Panther in the rear window was evicted by Nick (so remained here)!

    If the exhaust develops problems in due course then Nick said that he may use this firm to get one made in Stainless steel (which will probably be about 400):

    Nick found the reason for the clunking. It wasn't what we originally thought (a worn lower ball joint). It was actually the bolts loose on the nearside caliper -causing it to bind on the wheel! The caliper was removed and secured out of the way with cable ties.
    Last edited by John C; 18th July 2015, 13:24.

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  • John C
    Car needs the following put in it before it goes back to Autoskills:
    -rear view mirror?
    [N.B. its keys are already in it]

    We also need to purchase a lower ball joint for it
    Last edited by John C; 6th June 2015, 21:19.

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  • John C
    I robbed the fanbelt from this car to keep the white Maestro going at the Autocross. I drove the car 400m up to the garage with no fanbelt but it didn't appear to get overly hot in the process.

    The new component to fix the suspension has arrived

    I see that the car is eligible for this category:

    49.1.4. Historic Category 4 Rally Cars:
    Includes cars registered and homologated in Groups A,
    N and B between 1 January 1982 and 31 December
    1985 excluding any cars that were regulated out by the
    FIA in period from rallies for safety reasons. Cars in
    Category 4 must comply with their Homologation forms
    and Appendix J of the 1985 FIA Yellow Book.
    Cars homologated in Group B with an effective engine
    capacity exceeding 1600cc must have been issued with
    a valid FIA Historic Technical Passport (HTP), be in
    compliance with this document and the current FIA
    Appendix K at all times

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  • John C
    We're having some problems making the seats fit at present.

    We might need to bolt some of this stuff:
    1 x Aluminium Rectangular Tube (1"x1/2"x16SWGx1000mm) Metal Alloy Box Tubing
    across the gap to enable the seat mounts to be sited closer together.

    or possibly cut (& drill) some metal plates along the following lines (the OMP components are a rip off for what they are):

    Prod Code: OMPHC729
    Last edited by John C; 10th May 2014, 10:45.

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  • John C
    Thanks Pete!

    The car was rolling roaded by T&M Auto Electrical of Colchester:

    old school boys who each have 40 years of experience in the trade -just the job

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Hi John,

    Enjoyed reading your Blog. All good work. I fitted a Janspeed exhaust system on my Maestro and got 100 mph before braking at the end of the back straight at Snetterton, whereas with the standard Rover item I hadn't previously got above 90 mph.

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  • normanmg2000
    rolling road

    Hi john that's good isn't it, where did you have it done,? near you?

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  • John C
    Had the car rolling roaded on Thursday 12 Dec 13 and it needed no re-jetting, which is good.

    It is producing 116Bhp at the flywheel, and Ray concluded that it must have a camshaft with a modified profile.

    I think this is a strong output for a 30 year old engine (and a 40 year old design)! Anyone else got any views on the achievable tuning output from the R-Series 1600 (which produced 103Bhp as standard when new 30 years ago)?

    [separate thread also refers: ]

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  • John C
    The old exhaust system had no centre box and for its rear box it had a rotted out straight through centre silencer! With this system in place it was very noisy. With the new Cherry Bomb DIVER in place for the Woodbridge Targa Rally (Nov 13) the Noise check showed a very reasonable 83Db. However, the exhaust had been bodged on the day before with an ARC welder (and so it had to come off to be put back on properly (without leaks, knocking on body and pointing straight).

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  • John C
    ++++++++++++Sun 10 Nov 13 - Targa Rally - MOD Woodbridge, SUFFOLK
    The event had a difficult start when the scrutineer was awkward about the door handles, so I had to bodge a 'pull cord' onto them, not to mention some conflicting gen on when to scrutineer/sign on which put us dead last to get the process. The event started for me and my co-driver David Cammack with lots of handbrake turns on the stage. The HB worked well on slippy surfaces but on the tarmac, the car either spun virtually to a halt (resulting in lots of lost time trying to get the notchy gearbox into first not reverse, as the lever's detente isn't working), or the back end didn't unstick at all. By going into the corner too fast but being still on the brakes as you turn in, it worked better but Ding Boston (OUMF) doesn't use the HB at all and he is a front runner so I'll try this next time. However, the HB was great to throw the car through 90 degree bends on the loose/slippy areas.

    Several cars were spotted off the stage e.g. beached on a bush at the end of a buddleia section, and one had a wonky rear wheel angle from clouting a kerb (unsurprisingly he was subsequently turned away by the start marshal!).

    We had a late co-driver spot of the next gate, which resulted in an overshot of the corner over the top of a bush (which resulted in a bodge tape repair of the front air dam being needed).

    Nick Grahame (fellow member of was there in his MX5, and was good craic, as always. Thanks also to Nick for the loan of various tools/items to do the above bodging.

    We had some classics out on the stage e.g. coming the wrong way round a grass island to the passage control checkpoint and being sent away by the marshal to come back around from the right direction! As a result, I was pleasantly surprised to see that we weren't last overall -in fact we still beat a number of other cars, which topped off a great day all in all.
    Last edited by John C; 6th January 2014, 13:12.

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  • John C
    Thanks Nick & Jeff!

    Latest update:
    After careful research on noise levels, etc. I've taken the plunge and ordered a Custom Chrome 'Cherry Bomb D.I.V.E.R' exhaust:
    This has a couple of half moon baffles in it (and also a 20% restrictor made of perforated material) to make it quieter.

    Graham of Custom Chrome (CC) advised that a cherry bomb centre box may also be necessary to bring their silencer's volume down to noise limits, but recommend going for the longest and fattest silencer possible to reduce the noise. I've just spoken to Ray (very experienced Rally co-driver) at the local Rolling Road and he said that Cherry Bomb's are noisier than anything else around, so recommended going for the DIVER to get the noise down to a reasonable level. He also said that the slightly increased back pressure is unlikely to make any difference on the rolling road (plus the older Austin engines e.g. Mini etc. actually do better with a bit of back pressure).

    At present, the exhaust pipe (which is 2" OD) is chopped off behind the rear axle. However, it has a 1/2" long extra flange at its rear edge (which is 2.25" ID). Therefore, I presume that we need a 2.25" ID silencer inlet to slip over the existing pipe?

    We also had a sesh to sort the Battery box and make its lid (and the box itself) strongly enough attached to be 'roll proof'.

    This involved replacing the self-tapping screws with beefy bolts (and big washers) after drilling out the holes. We put in a metal '2 bolt' battery strap and joined the 2 bolts up underneath the box's floor (with a cable tie or 2) to add extra strength against the J-Bolts straightening out/pulling through in a roll (I have had this happen going round a bumpy field rallying a Mini once!).

    We also rust treated and then painted:
    a) The bolt holes and edges of the floor where it had been cut through (red Hammerite)
    b) the top of the cross beam that will be obscured by the box when it's refitted (Screwfix Galvanising spray paint and then Wickes silver metallic metal spray paint)

    We also cleaned out the spare wheel well and fitted a foot press button for the co-driver's horn.
    Last edited by John C; 6th January 2014, 13:11.

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  • Jeff Turbo
    Excellent progress John

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Spare tyres

    Hi John, looks like your continuing to makr great progress on the car. Just a quick note, that within the spares package are a great set of trackday tyres on beadblasted and powdercoated rims (white). These have enough tread for road use, but would also be fine for getting the tracking done. That was what I used when it was last set up in 2011.

    There should be two good Colway intermediates thatI purchased new for the car as well. The others were secondhand and came with the car, so are at least 14 years old now.


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  • John C
    Latest update from Russell on Sunday:
    Fitted new bolts in front seats,

    changed over the n.s.front wheel so that all tyres were matching to allow for the wheel alignment.

    I found that the near side front suspension leg was loose, so adjusted and tightened to bring in the camber of the wheel.

    Once the steering wheel was put to centre, it showed the the n.s. front wheel was toeing out by about an inch. I traced up accordingly/adjusted the wheel alignment.

    Patched up the exhaust, until I can repair it with new pipe.

    Subsequently, I drove the car across town and it still pulls pretty strongly to the LHS (even when driven at a steady speed) so putting similar size tyres on the front axle hasn't fixed the problem. Maybe it's down to a tracking issue?

    I tried getting the tracking done in Fast-Fit but they said that the front tyres were too worn/misshapen. As such we should try fitting the back tyres (Which are only lightly worn) on the front and then seeing if FF can do the tracking.
    Last edited by John C; 18th October 2013, 08:53.

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  • John C
    Will do.

    Latest update:
    Mark's replaced the throttle cable (which suddenly seized rather oddly). I fitted in-date FIA harnesses and adjusted them up + put a Pink Panther in the rear window (and several related decals)!

    Mark drove the car home along the back roads to test it and reported:
    -it drives well -impressed
    -it pulls to one side (probably because the tyres are different sizes across the front axle
    -it hesitated/stuttered for a few seconds while cruising along the A12 dual carriageway (despite pumping the throttle) but it then cleared. He thought it was fuel vapourisation but I don't think so -at that sort of speed the slipstream would prevent this. I think it was probably some contamination in the fuel or another cause
    -the brakes are now great (the 'soft pedal' issue is now gone)

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