Andrew's Kobra build

My Classic Coachworks experience

Part 1 

So, having reached that stage of my life where the kids are charging about under their own steam and not really knowing where they are from one moment to the next, I was in search of a project which would keep me occupied through the winter months. 

I am a qualified highways civil engineer and work on the commercial side so my practical experience of working on cars was very limited although I had ‘tinkered’ with motorcycles during my MotoX days back in the late 80’s early 90’s but having had Company Cars for many years even lifting the bonnet was a rarity. 

Whilst browsing ebay one day in search of the next bargain and or inspiration I came across an advert which grabbed my attention for a body-kit to transform a BMW Z3 into an AC Cobra style sports car. The concept seemed to be an attractive option for my limited mechanical skills. I was very interested when I discovered that Classic Coachworks were based in Basingstoke which was only one junction up the motorway from home. 

A quick Google search tracked down the company website which contained some more information so with some trepidation I used the ‘Contact’ tab to see if I could go and have a look at the whole process to see if it was truly something, I thought I could undertake. I read all the articles on the website thoroughly including the Z3 buyers guide and researched ebay for potential donor vehicles. 

Within a couple of hours I’d had a reply from Ian and made an appointment to go and have a look at the cars and kits on Saturday 13th October 2018. I will always remember Ian’s directions which included turning left at the ‘tank’, I didn’t clarify the description but assumed water tank or fuel tank but was shocked to find it was actually a Chieftan tank (I think)! 

Having spent a couple of hours with Ian and Belinda both of whom were charming hosts, very knowledgeable and full of excitement of the project I decided to pursue looking for a donor car. 

I had noticed a car that appeared on Ebay, Auto Trader and Gumtree which seemed a good buy as it was a 2002 2.2litre car from a dealer based in Marlow, Bucks so on returning home on Saturday I gave the dealer a call that afternoon and arranged a viewing for the same day. 

Turned out that this Z3 was a trade in for a dealer who specialised in high end cars and was keen to ‘move on’ this car from his stock. A quick test drive confirmed that it didn’t have an overheating problem and almost all the gadgets worked. It did have a warning light on the dash which was in the advert description and research had suggested that this was a relatively easy fix. 

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I’m not the best ‘haggler’ but I purchased the car for £2,500.00 and thoroughly enjoyed the journey home back to Fleet in Hampshire as the owner of my first ever ‘sports car’

The remainder of the weekend was spent thoroughly cleaning the car and looking for things that didn’t work and needed fixing. I have a strange obsession when washing my cars to remove the wheels so that I can clean the wheels thoroughly inside and out. This exposed my first task as the rear wheel disks looked rather unsightly.

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I think my enjoyment of this project will almost certainly be the journey more than the finished product so with huge enthusiasm I trawled the internet and social media to source some new brakes. By chance I discovered in Lincoln someone selling brand new in the box never used discs and pads for a Z3 for £100. My wife’s brother lives in Lincoln and was due to come and visit the following week so I agreed to purchase the brakes for £80 and for my brother in law to collect them for me. 

Whilst I explained to my brother in law that he was collecting brake discs and pads I hadn’t actually stressed that these would be heavy so was somewhat surprised to discover that he collected them on his scooter and was actually bitten several times by the seller’s dog who found the whole vent hilarious! Still £20 for each corner seemed a bargain! 

Space in my garage is sparse so it became clear that selling off the removed panels from the car promptly would be necessary before taking delivery of the new body-kit. The panels all unbolted very easily and the following week after getting the car home the front wings, sills and rear wings were all on ebay for £0.99 each. I always start my auctions at £0.99 on the basis that items are only worth what someone is prepared to pay so I set my expectations very low. Those that buy and sell on ebay will know that it often throws up some odd negotiations and the same happened with these six 16 year old car panels which could have been purchased for the total of £6 at auction but I had a buyer want to pay £300 and send a courier to collect them, I guess he wanted to make sure he was guaranteed the full set !

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The next job was to replace the broken seat belt guide on the passenger seat which also had a fault where the height adjusting motor seemed jammed. The seat was unbolted and lifted out onto the work bench. A trawl through the various BMW forums seemed to suggest that the motor had been wound against the stop and become stuck which could easily be fixed whilst the seat was upside down on the bench.


The seat belt guide was a very much different task as firstly the damaged guide needed to be removed as the back plate is stitched onto the seat cover then the replacement fed up inside the seat and held with the press washers attached whilst the new guide is firmly pressed together. 

Lots of swearing, cuts and scratches later the new guide was installed

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Having now become committed to the project I paid a deposit for the bodykit and progressed with removing and disposing of the front end of the car so the bonnet, headlights and front bumper were photographed and advertised on ebay. I didn’t have much interest but again had an enquiry from someone who wanted the parts plus the roll bars for his car. I wanted to change the roll bars for a nicer looking chrome set anyway so negotiated the sale of the parts plus a swop for all the interior trim from a pre-facelift car which would be required for the aftermarket chrome roll bars plus £250. 

This where my haste and inexperience started to bite me as I didn’t remove the latches from the bonnet as I didn’t realise I needed to keep them plus the ‘ebay swopper’ forget the brackets which support the sub-woofer in a pre-facelift car. He promised to pop them in the post but they never appeared! He also left behind all the fixings for the roll bars and no forwarding address so a valuable lesson learnt! 

The body kit comes this weekend which will be part 2 ………..