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Preparation 1
Although the Firefox can use any Rover Metro or 100 as a donor car, the most desirable model is the rare Metro GTi with the 1.4 litre 16V multi-point injection engine. I spent several weeks looking for a suitable car and even put a wanted ad in Trade-It (a local free-ads paper). Unfortunately, the only two I was offered were complete wrecks and far too expensive.

Having widened the search to include the less powerful model with single-point injection, I eventually found a suitable car in Swindon - a 1990 GTi 1.4 16V SPi. It had failed the MOT test on severe corrosion to the sills and floors - I think the side skirts are holding the car together! This car will provide the gearbox, brakes, suspension, steering and wiring loom for the Onyx. The engine ran OK during a short test drive, but a later compression test revealed low compression on cylinders 2 and 3. I suspect the head gasket has failed (a very common problem on K-series engines apparently). If so, it will need replacing, or I may look around for another complete engine, preferably with multi-point injection.

Not bad on the outside, but completely rotten underneath.

A reasonably clean engine bay. Note the new MEMS ECU behind the battery.

The quick and easy way to remove the radiator, cross-pipe and cooling fan in one piece. I cut through one end of the slam panel with a hacksaw, then removed the two bolts from the middle, allowing it to be bent out of the way. Such finesse.

Ready to drop.

Out! A bit of blood, lots of sweat, but no tears. Thankfully (and rather surprisingly), I had no problems with seized or damaged fasteners.

With all the mechanical bits gone, it's time to strip the interior. Nearly everything has to be removed, in order to get the complete wiring loom out.


The front lower seat belt mounting came out like this. What a death trap.

After removing the loom, I carefully refitted all the interior components.

Like the front one, the rear subframe came out without a fight. Most of the dark stains are not from oil leaks - they're the result of liberal sprayings of WD40 on various fasteners.

The complete wiring loom. Yes, I did remember to tag EVERY connector.

14 years worth of grime. I've got some cleaning to do!

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