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 '77 95 V4 van conversion

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mellePosted - 10 Mar 2012 : 23:25:27
As requested by some of you, here we go with a project thread on my 95 V4 van conversion. Yes indeed, I'm a bit van-mad: You might have seen some of the pics before elsewhere on the forum.

I got this '77 95 V4 for free couple years ago. The car was partially dismantled and the owner had to get rid of it because he couldn't afford the space any more he'd rented for its restoration. I had the car transported from the South of the Netherlands to my workshop in the North with the intention of breaking it.

Interior and bumpers weren't included:

It came with some spares as a bonus though:

The car was on very good tyres on powder coated rims, so these went straight onto another 95 I had back then. On further inspection I found it was fitted with a VeGe engine (1500 HC) and a reconditioned gearbox. These went in my 96. I had the car on the lift the day before I planned to break it and found it to be pretty solid over all. This made me decide not to break it, but convert it into a panel van instead. I've always wanted to have one of those, but as they're pretty rare and I'm a poor fella the real deal has never been an option for me.

I decided to stay true to the style of the original vans (1969/ '70) and fit it with chrome bumpers. But since for the rest of it it's not original anyway, I thought I'd make it exactly as I want it: with a heightened roof and MK I/ II Ford Escort van rear doors.

Conversion sketches:

Mock fit heightened roof:

For practical reasons (mostly lack of time) I finally decided against heightening the roof, so I'm only closing off 3 out of 4 side windows and converting the interior.

Most of the structural welding (mostly floor) is done and the inside is starting to take shape:

I have an overhauled V4 for it and a gearbox with only 17k kilometres. Couple weeks ago I found a set original van-seats in Finland (hope to find a way to get them southward). Progress on this project has always been slow and will also be slow in the future, since I used to live in Amsterdam, Aberdeen and now in Aarhus, Denmark and my workshop in in Groningen (NL).

More to follow!

1970 96V4 "The Devil's Own V4"
1977 95V4 van conversion project
1988 900i 8V
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
greg124Posted - 16 Apr 2018 : 00:29:22
I did this in the 'outside workshop' so didn't notice any fumes, and hopefully any nasties were carried away on the breeze
mellePosted - 15 Apr 2018 : 22:25:30
That's how I did a part of the engine bay, but it stinks as hell and I can't imagine the fumes (probably including PAHs, PCBs and other nasty stuff) being healthy either.
greg124Posted - 15 Apr 2018 : 22:14:27
I found the easiest way to strip original underseal is apply gentle heat with a hot air gun, then get the corner of a blade under the edge and it will peel off in sometimes surprisingly large strips. This just leaves a few remnants to wipe off with white spirit. This doesn't damage the original zinc primer - where is is sound that is
mellePosted - 15 Apr 2018 : 21:24:03
Originally posted by Dirtbiker
That bulkhead looked lovely in bare metal!
It did! In the pic with primer on it you can clearly make out where the metal's been overheated. I welded the centre section in very carefully, making sure not to bring too much heat into the metal, but messed it up when grinding off the welds in a hurry with a flap disk on the angle grinder. I find a power file gives much better results if you're a little heavy handed by nature. Not that it matters much here, it will be invisible with the heater box back in place.

I recommend you get a cheap oscillating tool (Aldi/ Lidl?) for removing underseal, it took me about an hour to clean the one I used as everything was covered in black sticky muck. I may buy a cheapy for the rest. When done scraping, I'll quickly wire wheel what's left of the underseal and then wipe the remains off with naphta (can't find it in the UK, sold in NL as "wasbenzine", I think Coleman/ stove fuel is similar). White spirit, kerosene, diesel etc. all leave a residue, not ideal on a surface that needs paint later.
DirtbikerPosted - 15 Apr 2018 : 20:03:41
That bulkhead looked lovely in bare metal!
I have found with the SAAB under seal that soaking it in white spirit helps it soften up nicely but I'm guessing this one has been coated with something else. I have also heard diesel works well. Like you say, all messy though!
I haven't tried one of those oscillating tools - I'll add it onto the Christmas list!
mellePosted - 10 Apr 2018 : 13:08:43
Long overdue update! I see I never updated this thread with the work I did when I last worked on this car in March 2015, before the 96 and other projects claimed my sparse workshop time.

Bulkhead and windscreen channel fixed (the blue/ black stuff is Fertan rust converter):

Repairs in primer and factory seam seal replicated:

Starting to look like a car again, before being taken apart again for further rust repairs:

Before I weld the airbox back in place, I want to hang the doors to make sure everything aligns. Before I hang the doors though, I want to fix the door bottoms and the floor. To do the latter, I will tip the body on its side, which is an easier job without the weight of the doors.

I promised myself a full week to work on the car around Easter this year, but of course other commitments claimed a few days to begin with... I planned to do some welding, but after taking the cover off the car I realised I had to face reality and start scraping underseal before committing to any sheet metal work...

Started by removing the rear axle and lifting the car a few feet to create a slightly more comfortable working position:

I've tried several methods to remove underseal in the past (torch, wire wheel, petrol, paint stripper etc.); they were either not very effective or very, very messy. I recently saw someone on RetroRides use an oscillating multitool with a scraper and as luck would have it, my father in law has one. Like the powerfile and Dremel in the past, I always thought it was a bit of a novelty rather than a serious tool. However, I have to admit that, like the two aforementioned tools, it certainly has its use! I found it works best if you keep a keen edge on the scraper blade all the time; I used a flapper disk on the angle grinder to quickly sharpen it every few minutes.

Still took me a day and a half to remove the underseal from one rear arch and the donor rear floor, unfortunately the previous owner used good quality stuff:

I've tried a small section and what underseal remains, will come off quite easily with a wire wheel on the angle grinder. I'm afraid next time I'll have to do the other rear wheel arch, but then the fun can begin! No amount of rust scares me these days, but I think I'll pass on the next car with this amount of underseal...

The current rear floor has quite severe rust damage and has been patched in numerous places in the past. I will use good sections of the current floor to repair the donor floor and then weld that in place. Many other small rust repairs needed in and around the rear wheel arches, but nothing insurmountable. I have a complete rear tub in reasonable condition, but most parts are easy to fabricate from sheet anyway.

PS: not sure what happened to some of the pics in the opening post, will try and fix that at some point.
mellePosted - 03 Apr 2017 : 23:17:34
Yes, I still have it and it's going nowhere fast. I was going to continue on it last summer, but the 96 needed a fair bit of work quite unexpectedly ( My workshop time is very limited and I am, amongst other projects, also restoring a lathe and building a K-Jet V4, an engine test bench and an air compressor. All those projects I can work on in between work stuff and visiting friends and family when I'm in NL; for bodywork I really need a week or two in a stretch to gain momentum. I'm in no hurry though, I don't have time to drive it anyway! I might redo the off-side inner front wing by the way, never been 100% happy with it and I was given a reasonable condition engine bay/ front section last year by a chap who's building a 95 trailer.
ZagatoPosted - 03 Apr 2017 : 21:02:44
What happened to the project Melle, have you still got her? Incredible chopping/welding work you have put into her.

mellePosted - 22 Sep 2014 : 20:20:00
It's in my workshop in the Netherlands and it won't come to Ireland in the foreseeable future I'm afraid. Gives me good reason to pop over to NL every now and then (don't tell my family and friends ).

1970 96V4 "The Devil's Own V4"
1977 95V4 van conversion project
1988 900i 8V
Peter96Posted - 21 Sep 2014 : 15:56:13
Hi Melle just been through this thread the van conversion looks brilliant. Take it you haven't brought it to Ireland with you.
mellePosted - 12 Apr 2014 : 20:45:56
@Simon: where did you find those pics? Is the car being advertised again?

1970 96V4 "The Devil's Own V4"
1977 95V4 van conversion project
1988 900i 8V
mellePosted - 12 Apr 2014 : 12:29:57
This one is RHD and it went from the UK to Germany about 10 years ago, so could be the one. I know Nick Senecal had a 95 van, but iirc that was a '69 and this one is '70. See my original van topic for more pics:

1970 96V4 "The Devil's Own V4"
1977 95V4 van conversion project
1988 900i 8V
DirtbikerPosted - 12 Apr 2014 : 11:36:38
Might this be the one I saw at Beaulieu in about 1991? Not sure if I've rambled on about this before but there was a blue one at Beaulieu belonging to a SAAB specialist whose name I can't remember...
mellePosted - 10 Apr 2014 : 15:12:33
He once emailed me "I have a 7000 euro offer here..and It dont make me warm..." Draw your own conclusions. The photos you posted are old, I've seen some of them before. I also have interior pics where you can see that a lot of bodgy welding has been done to it and that it needs a lot more to make it a solid car.

Having said that, I want that van!

1970 96V4 "The Devil's Own V4"
1977 95V4 van conversion project
1988 900i 8V
UK_SubPosted - 10 Apr 2014 : 15:02:59
How much does he want for it then?

I've asked him to put together a feature for the Saab Enthusiast.


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