I reversed the TVR into one of those big fibreglass bins you find on garage forecourts. I wish I'd found it before I'd reversed into it, but you know what those postage-stamp sized mirrors are like.

Anyway, the damage comprised one smashed rear lamp unit, a 'dent' in the rear wing corner, the rear bumper cracked in several places and some stress-cracking to the side of the offside rear wing. The good news is that the cracking seems confined to the paint, there's nothing crunchy in the area and no evident broken fibres etc. on the inner surface of the wing.

Even so, the bumper was going to need work. I unbolted it and cleared the workshop to allow me to make a mess! :O) It was immediately evident that the bumper mountings were shot. They're simple fabrications in mild steel, glassed-in to the bumper. Over the years the water had got in and the resultant laminations of rust had caused two swollen areas that were visible from behind the car.

I wasn't about to spend time repairing the fractured GRP and put the bumper back on with knackered mountings so out came the Wizard (Black & Decker's answer to Dremel) and the old mounts were cut out.

I guesstimated the dimensions and welded up some new mountings (using stainless bolts):

which were duly glassed back in. I then ground the areas that would receive new reinforcement:

and liberally applied mat and resin to restore the bumper's shape and rigidity:

There wasn't much I could do about the swollen areas in the GRP where the old mounts had been rusting but I filled the cracks from the bin incident and repaired a few other odd holes where screws had been used to secure the bumper to the bottom edge of the wing (from inside the boot). I primed the bumper and filled a few more small defects that showed up in the primer. Then it was time for paint! And that was where the fun started. I knew the car had been resprayed at least a couple of times in its life and was no longer the 'factory' silver. The present colour has a much stronger metallic effect with black speckles and a hint of gold in certain lighting!

I paid a call to Glen at Cleveland Bikespray and he obligingly produced a swathe of colour chips from which we narrowed down a batch of three shades that looked pretty close. As luck would have it I'd called in at late afternoon on a bright day so almost every panel was lit slightly differently. There was only one chip that almost disappeared into the bodywork from any angle and we wrote down the code from it. I asked him what car it would have been from. You've got to be kidding, was his first response. His second response was to present me with a huge, telephone directory-sized book, cross-referencing colours to cars. The slight problem was that it only worked one way: it could tell me what colours had been used on a given car but it couldn't work in reverse. After all, if you take your car to a paintshop you know what the car is, you just need the colour match! The only way to do it was to work through the book, looking for any car that had used paint with the code from the chosen colour chip. I took the book home, made a brew and sat down. So, where to start. I could have begun at page 1 and worked my way through. Tedious! OK then, how about starting with the big names: Ford, Vauxhall, Mercedes, Rover, Fiat. That took an hour, no luck. Right: Nissan, Toyota, Renault, Volkswagen, Porsche. Another hour. Another brew. OK, let's rule out all the small-volume makers like Ferrari, Lotus, Lamborghini, Lancia... there it is! The Lancia Y10. Surely one of the most obscure cars in the UK and my TVR is wearing its paint. Fantastic.

Meanwhile, Glen had ordered a litre of our selected colour and I duly collected it along with some thinners. I even blagged an old spraygun from him! It was time to clear the workshop again...

The Lancia colour proved to be a near-perfect match. With another lamp unit sourced via a helpful chap on an internet forum, the bulk of the damage remained on the rear wing. I wasn't too concerned about the stress cracks along the side but the 'egg-shelled' area just above the light needed something doing. The Wizard was employed again to chase out all the loose fragments and I laid-up mat and resin on the inside of the wing to maintain rigidity. As a temporary fix I merely filled the outside with a dollop of resin to prevent rain getting in and delaminating the GRP but one of these days I really must crack on and finish the repair...

One of the most obvious distinguishing features of the TVR 390SE is the rear 'underwing' that hangs below the boot floor. Allegedly fitted to help high-speed stability, its main purpose seems to me to be catching road muck and becoming stained by the exhaust gases ;o) Whilst my major overhaul of the suspension and drivetrain was in progress I decided to remove the underwing in order to have better access to the chassis tubes for cleaning and repainting. It also meant that I could de-rust and paint the wing's mounting brackets. I did try to remove the brackets from the wing with a view to sandblasting them, but the captive fixings crunched and splintered ominously so I opted to leave the brackets where they were and used a stripping disc instead... not as good but it'll do for now. This is the wing as seen from above (although you don't see this when it's on the car) - TVR clearly intended to use a dual-exit exhaust at some point...

View of the lower surface; the cutaway area in the middle is to fit around the spare wheel well:

Just to show there was some serious aerodynamic intent, the aerofoil cross-section is clear here. Note that bracket fits where it touches!

Mounting bracket is more elegant than you might expect (rust aside...); wing is made from GRP and weighs 9.7Kg.


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