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T O P I C    R E V I E W
mellePosted - 01 Sep 2016 : 15:45:31
I'm fortunate enough to own a 95 and a 96, a hoard of V4 project engines and a workshop and parts and panels storage in the North of the Netherlands. I also have free access to my father in-law's workshops and tools under the same roof and the possibility to use a lift and everything else a hobby mechanic could ever wish to have at hand. My in-laws were blacksmiths, coach builders and car breakers (amongst many other things) after the war until the early 70s and most of the equipment is still there. Its a real gold mine for those who, like me, love old school engineering. My only misfortune is the lack of time to enjoy this lot due to simultaneously living in two different countries rather far away from the workshop. I love getting my hands dirty on old tat (not only cars), so if and when I get the chance I'm in the workshop working on my various projects.

Today it is ten years to the date my girlfriend and I bought our first car, a '70 96 we still own. Aptly christened "The Devil's Own V4" in the first year of our ownership when it caused more grief than joy, I still love this car for all it has brought us in good memories, new friendships and acquired skills and knowledge. When we bought it, I had no clue of the workings of a combustion engine. Within months I had the engine apart, not because I fancied it but because it broke down, to find three broken piston rings and a lot more trouble. This apparently sparked something, as I overhauled quite a few V4 engines since. The body of the car had been "restored" in the 90s, this meant it held the perfect opportunity to hone my budding welding skills (still visible in many places, see below pictures). This car had been properly bodged and neglected, yet we bought it because it had a full year's MOT and no one had ever told us to lift the floor mats before committing to buy a car! My father in law did a lot of the welding back then and he assisted me (or rather: I assisted him) with many of the mechanical issues as well. If it wasnt for his persistence and just do mentality, I would have long given up on V4s, or cars in general, Im afraid. Im glad I can now return the favour by doing welding and other jobs on his car and letting him use the 96 when he needs or fancies it.

Have a couple random pics:

After the initial hiccups, the 96 served us well over the years, moving to live with us in various places as a daily driver and on many holidays and short trips throughout Europe. As said, it's seen a lot of welding and various engines and gearboxes (some better than others) in its time with us, but the last few years it's mainly been living parked up in the workshop without seeing much use. It was doing fine when we needed it though and it always flew through its Dutch MOTs because of the sound mechanical condition weve brought it in over the years. This old soldier has never been honoured with a proper thread on this forum, so from now on I'll try and keep track here. You can read about my slow 95 van conversion project in this thread:

Last February on a long trip, I noticed the oil pressure warning light coming on when the engine idled at a services after a long motorway drive. I'd seen this before with other V4s and I knew what it implicated: balance shaft bearings on the way out. The engine loses oil pressure because the now warm and very fluid oil "escapes" from between the worn front bearing and the (worst case also worn) journal. The pump cant keep up maintaining the pressure because it's driven by the distributor/ camshaft, hence only doing about 400rpm at idle (the cam turns at half the crank speed).

I hoped to make it just a 100 miles further and I didn't mind wrecking the engine doing so, since I was on a mission and I had a replacement V4 ready to go in. I had to adjust the valves on this engine every 200-300 miles, so it was a well-worn beast anyway. I knew the only parts I could damage really by giving the already severely worn balance shaft bearings a good beating, is the balance shaft itself and the balance shaft gear. I had at least half a dozen spare timing gear sets and a couple good balance shafts on the shelf, so no problem should I want to salvage this engine later on.

As said, I was on a mission. I had driven about 250 miles southwards a couple of days earlier and now I was on the way back to the workshop and about to pick up a small but rather heavy antique Wolf Jahn lathe and ancillaries (250kg all-in) on the way. I have a good roadside assistance cover, so I figured once the lathe was loaded the engine could die and the car plus its contents would be brought back to the workshop by the big yellow taxi. It really shouldnt go any earlier, because that would mean I had to go on a 250 mile round trip the following day with a borrowed car to pick up the lathe. Loaded to the gunwales and at moderate speed I made it home to the workshop safely fortunately!

However, on arrival I was greeted by this:

(The shock was removed to assess the damage.)

At first it didn't look too bad and also from the outside I had the impression a quick repair to the shock mount would do.

But before too long this had happened:

No half measures here! I made some new panels:

And used some of my donor stock:

Soon things looked a bit better; all welded in place to my current standards, no more plating over:

After a fresh coat of Tectyl in the wheel arch everything was put back together and I was ready to go. Apart from the engine that is, hopefully the Christmas break will see that fixed. I've asked Santa for the same weather as last year, 16 degrees Celsius ambient temperature is ideal for some spanner action.

This car is a keeper for sure. Its worth hardly anything (I really hope V4 prices stay low in general), but to me it means a lot. Should you worry about the multitude of colours on this car: rest assured, I don't.
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
mellePosted - 19 Jan 2019 : 15:52:15
The rear muffler on my 96 previously had rubber hangers as per factory, all the ones I could get were rubbish.
Betsy67Posted - 19 Jan 2019 : 15:46:32
Might just be the weight of the exhaust system and could explain why modern cars used rubber hangers ?
Think Ill be making a U bracket at some point so the weight is supported on the bobbin rather than hanging from a bob in.
mellePosted - 19 Jan 2019 : 14:25:40
Funny, that's the issue I'm constantly having with rubber bobbins and other rubber parts (see e.e. here: The Mini PU bobbins I used seem well made, I also ordered a set for the motor of one of my air compressors.

What PU bobbins did you use?
Betsy67Posted - 19 Jan 2019 : 13:27:49
Great thread Melle - always good reading.

Not a great lover of the non rubber bobbins myself. Didnt seem to last 2 minutes when I used them.
mellePosted - 18 Jan 2019 : 21:02:49
Originally posted by Dirtbiker
Hhopefully you spent an equal amount of time on the 95 van...
Don't mention the war! I was planning to, but the 96 absorbed the majority of my playtime.

Originally posted by Dirtbiker
I'm going to order some of those Mini bobbins as my Jetex knocks on the body on bumpy roads - thanks for the tip!
Beware that they're only 18mm tall; the threads stick out 15mm either end, so there is some room for a stack of penny washers if needed.

Originally posted by Dirtbiker
Looks like you probably had the upper arms off for grot removal anyway
No, but I was changing the springs, so I had them off anyway. Never thought of replacing the bushes with the arms in situ.
DirtbikerPosted - 18 Jan 2019 : 20:30:53
Hi Melle,
Great update, hopefully you spent an equal amount of time on the 95 van...
I recently bought some QH leads that didn't fit, I'll post in general technical so as not to clutter here.
I'm going to order some of those Mini bobbins as my Jetex knocks on the body on bumpy roads - thanks for the tip!
Looks like you probably had the upper arms off for grot removal anyway but of you haven't tried it I have changed the upper bushes without removing the springs just by doing them one at a time.
Cheers and keep up the good work when ever you are back at the workshop!
James RanaldiPosted - 18 Jan 2019 : 17:08:50
Originally posted by green96v4
I love this thread - great creative work Melle!

Me too

1968 V4 96 ,LHD
1984 99 GL
1992 C900i Convertible
1993 C900 LPT Convertible
mellePosted - 18 Jan 2019 : 14:49:16
green96v4Posted - 18 Jan 2019 : 14:45:07
I love this thread - great creative work Melle!
mellePosted - 18 Jan 2019 : 12:02:11
All 5 bar VDO senders should operate in the same resistance range as far as I'm aware. Problem is I got a 10 bar sender with the gauge and only noticed it a year after I bought it. Happy to swap it for a 5 bar unit! Although the one 5 bar VDO sender I have has a "W" terminal, I'll keep the original sender for the warning light as I have no idea at what pressure the VDO sender gives a low oil pressure signal.
DerekPosted - 18 Jan 2019 : 11:38:00
Beware with the sender for the VDO oil pressure gauge. A friend fitted one into his early Audi 80 and had to search out a sender which matched electrically to give a correct reading.
Nice write up, you've been very busy. Well done.
mellePosted - 17 Jan 2019 : 20:06:26
Good one!
72sonett3Posted - 17 Jan 2019 : 19:52:48
I used those rubber exhaust hangers as support for the Facet fuel pump.

'72 97
'77 96L conv.
'79 96GL (LPG)
'83 900i (LPG)
'95 900SE conv.
'99 9-3T
mellePosted - 17 Jan 2019 : 18:44:58
Belated 2018 Christmas update. "Christmas" doesn't mean much to me, apart from catching up with friends and family in NL and having some much-desired workshop time. I always have plenty projects going (not only cars) and I was only going to do some small jobs on the 96 this time. And then it got out of hand, again.

I started by replacing the plug leads with QH V6 items. I can highly recommend these; they're cheap enough, decent quality and a set gets you some spares as well:

Then I replaced the starter with one I reconditioned earlier:

I removed the mechanical fuel pump because I wanted to install an electric one as the membrane was past its best. After consulting 72Sonett3 for advice, I bought a Facet 40105 pump.

I was hoping an electric pump would improve cold starting (it does, also helped by a bigger starting petrol jet in the carb) and removing the mechanical pump would create some more room for the oil pressure sender I plan to fit. The electric fuel pump lives under/ behind the rear seat; I first mounted it directly to the body with self-tapping screws, which resulted in a horrible ticking noise. I later added some small rubber door stoppers and rubber washers to isolate the pump from the body; it's now hardly audible at idle and you don't hear it at all when driving.

For some extra safety, I installed a toggle switch under the dash and a used inertia switch from a Jaguar S-Type under the bonnet.

Next, I was going to replace the off-side front wheel hub/ CV joint assembly, because a bearing was starting to fail. I cleaned out a used unit, repacked it with fresh grease and installed new seals (see here for a discussion on the seals I used: After a few failed attempts with cable ties, I made a proper tool to install the old driveshaft in the new outer CV joint; loosely based on Saab special tool 78 41 612, but without the fancy splined section. It worked a treat. (I'll add some more pics to the home made tools thread:

When removing the driveshaft, I noticed a small split in the brake hose. Good time to install the Goodridge braided brake hose kit I bought in 2014 and the calipers I refurbished with stainless pistons (discussion on those here: and a set of seals from John-Saab ( in the same year. The brake hose and bleed screws both have 3/8" UNF thread (rear bleed screws are 1/4" UNF), I used a tap and a small wire brush in a drill to clean the rusty threads out. I used the inner race of a C900 front wheel bearing to seat the metal seal retainer.

I knocked up a tool from an old 14mm spanner (I didn't have an old 9/16"AF spanner at hand) to help tighten the brake hose nuts, as none of my brake line spanners would fit. On the 95 I'll make sure brake hoses can be changed without special tools, what a horrible design job Saab did there (not helped by the horrible welding that has been done to the brake hose/ pipe coupling bracket in the past).

Also made a fresh batch of caliper bolt locking tabs from a galvanised back panel off a scrapped gas stove:

While removing the wheel hub/ CV joint assy, I noticed some rust... No what I was hoping for, but wishing it would fix itself didn't help (by the way, to my knowledge, wishing, just as hoping and praying, has never solved anything). So, I chopped it out and let some fresh metal in. Clearly someone had been there before and it was a right mess. I didn't have much time and I decided to leave everything that was structurally sound well alone. However, I should have taken out a bit more towards the top of the bit I removed, but because of the thick layer of old Tectyl, I noticed too late that that wasn't very sound either. I was now running out of time, so I quickly filled it with weld. Not very pretty and not how I normally like to do it. Also, in hindsight I'm sure this bodge was false economy, because properly patching it wouldn't have been much more work and I'm afraid I'll now have to address this area again in the future.

I cut down an old lower control arm to use it as a jig to make sure the tracking wouldn't go out of whack as a result of the floor repair. Fortunately, I could retain three of the original four mounting holes. For the eagle eyed: there is a 1mm gap between the control arm bracket and the new metal, this is so I could weld in a reinforcement plate that bridges the floor on both sides of the suspension tower leg. I'm normally not a fan of double sheeting, but much of the reinforcement that normally sits inside the engine bay had rotted away and it would have been really difficult to replace that without removing the engine and partially rebuild the lower rear section of the suspension tower.

I never fully grind welds down where it doesn't visually matter, as you'll inevitably remove some surrounding metal as well, thus weakening the repair. I treated the patch with Bilt Hamber Hydrate 80 and seam sealed it with Bilt Hamber Dynax Seam before red oxide and a layer of very tough black boat paint (I decided to try a "hard" finish instead of Tectyl this time).

Not the best time of year for paint though...

All in all not too shabby for an amateur I think, happy enough with the final result:

While working on the panel repair, I discovered the upper control arm bushes needed replacing (same as 900 uppers). The old ones were in a really sorry state. The new ones are from Professional Parts Sweden (formerly Scantech), so I'm afraid they'll look the same as the old ones in less than five years from now. Seems impossible to get decent rubber products these days, the alternative is expensive poly bushes. Could have done the lowers as well, but I'd already put the order for the upper ones in when I noticed they are going bad as well. Sigh... Quick and easy to remedy later on though and there is no need to take the springs off when removing the lower control arms. I pressed the new bushings in place with my Aldi pillar drill and two sockets (and some Vaseline to make them go in a bit easier):

Now I had the springs off anyway, I thought it would be a good time to install the "new" springs RhysN had recently given me ( I'd love to install a set of "box fresh" springs, but I can't really justify spending 300 on a set of springs for a car that does less than 2000km per annum on average.

Rhys's springs come from a car that came from the factory without an ARB. The old front springs are a bit longer than then "new" ones, but those have one less winding and are a fair bit stiffer. The new rears are a bit longer than the old ones. The car sits a fair bit higher (about 1.5") and the camber is now pretty much spot on.

Front springs, new one top, old one bottom:

Rear springs, old one top, new one bottom:

Then I replaced the anti-roll bar bushes that had been on the shelf since 2012 ( The old ones were past their best, to say the least:

The middle ones fit beautifully, the outer ones are a bit sloppy on the ID; I may add adaptor bushes when I have time. The car handles lovely now, I can only start to imagine how it would handle with tightly fitting ARB bushes and brand new springs!

When I fitted the rear springs, I also made new axle straps from a roll of Balata belting that must have been in my father in law's workshop attic for at least forty years. I cut it to width on the table saw, which resulted in a horrible smell in the workshop that lasted at least a day. It's good material though, the same stuff as Saab originally used, so it should last for another 49 years.

I've never been happy with the way the rear exhaust muffler was mounted, it was always touching on either the wheel or the body. I finally got around to making an adaptor and installing it with Mini poly bobbins (, instead of the original rubber donuts. It's now fitted with poly bobbins front and rear and rubber bobbins at B-pillar level and there is a flexi exhaust section between the Y-coupling and the long silencer (see page 2 of this thread for pics). I wasn't sure if this was going to result in a lot of vibration, but it's actually much, much quieter now, especially on the motorway. I always wear earplugs on the motorway (mainly because of wind noise), but it's actually fairly acceptable to drive without them now. I'll replace the last two rubber bobbins with poly as well, they're only a few years old, but they look very much like the other rubber parts I replaced.

When all was fixed and fitted, I did a 350km round trip with a trailer to pick up yet another V4 engine for the collection. I love a good old shakedown run after fixing stuff and I'm happy to report that everything held up nicely.

Finally, I stuck a Porsche 944 oil pressure gauge in the hole in the dash extension I made last year. I've already bought some fittings to install and wire up the sender in the block next time I'm in the workshop. By the way, I've got a nearly identical gauge (but with yellow hand and lettering on the dial face, see page 2 of this thread) for my engine test bench. I'm still looking for a sender for it, so if anyone has a spare VDO 5 bar oil pressure sender, give me a shout.

Maintaining this car seems like painting the Forth bridge, but I still love it!
72sonett3Posted - 06 Sep 2018 : 22:20:53
... 72sonett3 visited and diagnosed why the horn had stopped working: the wire had unplugged itself...

That turned out to be easy. I had this 'no ground' problem too and that was caused by a broken brass strap inside the rag joint at the bottom of the steering rod.
In Melle's car it was just a wire that somehow got disconnected at the horn...

'72 97
'77 96L conv.
'79 96GL (LPG)
'83 900i (LPG)
'95 900SE conv.
'99 9-3T

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