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The story thus far (part one)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2001 7:01 pm    Post subject: The story thus far (part one) Reply with quote

In late 1998 I went hunting for a car, not any car mind you, I knew it would be a gemini, being raised around rally, circuit, hillclimb and motorkhana cars, many of which were geminis gave me a bias towards small light cars, much in the same way that being raised around drag cars might make some people want a heavy car with bad handling...

Purely by coincidence my mother found a lady who was being forced into selling her TD gemini although she hadn't advertised it anywhere yet, she called it her "blue flash" and the story went like this. Her husband had recently bought her a brand new magna to drive but she preferred the gemini and kept driving it, much to the annoyance of her husband, so he ordered her to sell the gemini.

Upon initial inspection I noted that it was an auto, had a tired smoky stock 1600 which was only running on 3 1/2 cylinders, very little rust, the paint was faded on the horizontal surfaces, the interior was stock and in nice condition. Just because of the amazingly rust free nature of the shell I probably would have paid around $900 no questions asked, much to my amazement her initial offer was eight hundred, which I agreed was about fair. After doing all the necessary title and vehicle ident checks I came for a second inspection 2 days later and she knocked the price down to $600 saying "If I make it cheaper you'll have more money to keep it in good condition".

Not one to argue, I agreed that $600 was more than fair and said that we would arrange to pick the car up the following day (saturday), now at the time I worked on saturday's so I handed my hard earned cash over to my parents and went off to work. When I arrived home, sure enough there was my brand new gemini sitting in the garage, much to my amazement my parents then handed me $200 back saying "She reduced the price to $400 so you'd have more money to do it up". I was stunned, but again, I am hardly going to argue.

With the car in the garage we started pulling her to bits, first to go was the interior...

Which was placed in my bedroom, next were the bonnet & quarter panels which were put in a corner of the garage, then went the bootlid which joined the other panels in the corner of the garage. We then ran out a list of parts we needed we would need/want:

5 speed
tailshaft to suit
front windscreen (the original was cracked)
shock absorbers

With the need for parts in mind I purchased my brother's wrecked TE gemini off him for the price of towing it away, it had seen better days, it had ended its run as a road car after hitting a concrete barrier at high speed head on, the front end had been pushed back around 12 inches, with the battery bearing the brunt of the impact. The fan could be seen protruding through the 3 core radiator, I guess that ruins my chance of using that radiator then... The engine itself didn't appear to have sustained any damage.

So after purchasing an endless chain for $100 or so from autobarn we began ripping bits out of the spare car, the major task obviously being removing the engine and gearbox. To achieve this end my mate Martyn armed himself with an angle grinder and proceeded to remove the front of car cutting vertically down from just inside the driver's side headlight and then cutting down just behind the passenger's side headlight, through where the battery would normally sit.

We then looped some rope around the engine and gearbox, attached the endless chain, lifted the engine one inch up and rolled the car backwards, the easiest and quickest anyone has ever gotten a gemini engine out.

Working on a tight deadline to get rid of the shell, me and 3 mates began stripping any component we could find a tool to remove, about the only things I didn't remove that I now wish I had were the windows. Before getting the wreck towed away, Hugh and I had great fun using the gemini shell as a trampoline and for sledgehammer practice, interestingly, the quarter panels are stronger than the roof.

With the new engine sourced we sat it on the garage floor and took photos and wondered what the next step should be...

So with no idea what to do next we resorted to pulling more parts off the TD, out came the front windscreen (in one big piece) and the rear windscreen (in a million little pieces... just don't ask), the shock absorbers, the grille, the headlights, the radiator, the battery, the starter motor, the inlet manifold, the exhaust manifold, the washer bottle... At about this point we ran out of other things to remove so we decided it was time to pull out the stock motor and gearbox, this went easy enough with the exception of forgetting to remove the speedo drive cable until it was pulled taught.

With both motors out I then really ran out of things to do again, so we all sat around and discussed what we should name the car, everybody who was involved (around 8 people at this point) made there own suggestion and refused to compromise at all, I became angered at the lack of open discussion and the pettiness of it all, so in a fit of anger I stormed out of the room yelling "Fuck it! We are calling her 'Gertrude'!!!" and the name just stuck.

To be continued...
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