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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
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    384

    427 Viper to 289 Le mans Cobra

    I've previously shown this build in the Viper section, but figured that unless you looked in there, quite a few people might have missed it. I'm a professional body man by trade and prior to semi retiring, I used to restore top end classics for a living. this thred shows how I modified a wide arched 427 Cobretti Viper into a 289 style Le mans car. There's a bit of tech stuff too for those that want to see how to work with fibreglass etc.

    When you first look at a Viper it all appears to be visually correct, but as soon as put a tape measure to it you enter into a world of hurt. The o/s headlight is 30mm nearer to the centre of the car than the n/s. Not only that but it's also 20mm lower than the n/s too. The profile of the front of the wings ie the crown is also dramatically different. If you sight the car down the drivers side, or put a straight edge along the door, you'll find that the wing actually tapers inwards at the arch by, yep you guessed it 30mm. The grille opening isn't the right shape either & isn't elliptical, the opening is larger on the n/s than the offside, plus it's actually canted higher on the n/s too. It would seem that the car that it was moulded off could well have been a 289, that has been made to look like a 427. Whatever car it was moulded off, I can only assume it has had damage & been repaired incorrectly, hence throwing out the dimensions. Incidentally, the rear 1/4's aren't the same as a 427 either & the rear decklid has been raised so that the profile off the bootlid is wrong.


    I was originally going to narrow the front end, but as I'm a panel beater sprayer by profession, I decided to modify the body/arches instead, which would allow me to correct some, of the dimension discrepancies. I say some, as to rectify them all, would take a huge amount of work, for something that 99% of people would never notice anyway. I must admit I've wondered how many Viper owners, or others that are into Cobras have ever noticed how far out they really are.As I said at the beginning, it's not until you put a tape to it that it all became glaringly obvious.

    To rectify the horrid front arches, I bought two outer front wing skins. I cut off the Viper wings where necessary & bonded on the new wings, whilst squaring things up a bit. I then cut off the arches from the new wings, cut off the arches from the old wings & fitted them in the right place. It was a case then of fiberglassing it all up & giving it a skim of filler to finish it all off. here's a couple of photos of it in the process of being done.


    The new wings were put loosely in place & the arches were removed. I left a small part of the arch on there for me to be able to have something to bond the new arches to




    This is the new wing offered up in place with the trimmed old arch screwed on to see how it looks








    A bit of cutting was required to get the profile right around the headlight area









    At this point it's all just screwed in place





    If you look at the grille aperture you can see the shape is different from side to side





    I cut the grille aperture & pulled it & clamped it to where it should be





    cheers..Nige

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
    Posts
    384
    Once happy with the shape of it all, the winds were unscrewed & the gaps where it had been cut were fibreglassed





    Some bits of steel just holding things where they need to be. The steel was removed once the 'glass had cured





    The wings were then bonded into place with fibreglass matt & resin




    Then fitted to the car, the join is clearly visible here





    Once that has cured, the 'glass was sanded down & two layers were then glassed over the top of the joins, so that the new panels are now sandwiched in between layers of 'glass.





    Not visible in the photo's but I bent some 6mm bar to the shape of the arches & bonded it in place. I've also smoothed out the underside of the arch so that if you were to put your hands under there it would feel smooth ie no fibreglass & it has a wired edge as per an original




    Once all of the fiberglassing is done, it's then a case of give it a few light skims of filler & then the paint process.

    All in it's taken me just under three weeks of spare time to get it to this stage. next on the agenda is the 289 style front valance & grille, but that's another story

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
    Posts
    384
    The fibreglass was ground down to shape & a light skim of filler was applied. At this point the new arch was still in fibreglass finish, as I was concentrating on getting the main part of the wings correct prior to doing the arches. In this pic you can see roughly how the front grille will look, as I want it to resemble a 289 rather than the more common 427 style. I'll also be modifying the rear 1/4 panels to replicate the red car below, which will visually make it look more like a LeMans 289

    The lower grille aperture will have an aluminium air intake similar to the LeMans cars.






    The front will hopefully look like this once finished





    Here's the aluminium lower grille that will protrude from the lower valance










    Here's the new arch taking shape




    This side still has a guide coat of satin black sprayed over the filler to allow me to see what's been rubbed & if there are any parts I may have missed. It'll also show up any low areas or scratches/pinholes that may need attention. At this point the both front wings are almost there, they just need a bit of fine fettling to get them ready for primer. Once happy with the wings I'll finish off the aperture around the side vents






    Cheers...Nige

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
    Posts
    384
    I didn't want the side light plinths or the vents to the side of the grille opening, so I cut them out & re-fibreglassed it back smooth.

    In this first picture you can see where I had to cut the grille aperture & modify it to make it elliptical





    All 'glassed up





    This is trial fitting the new 289 style front valance/grille opening, along with the aluminium lower oil cooler vent. The black painted areas will be cut out and a piece formed to make the brake duct vents. Also the earlier L539 side lights have been offered up to see how they look








    cheers..Nige

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
    Posts
    384
    here I've cut out the holes for the brake cooling vents & fabricated some aluminium inserts. Since these photos were taken I've since added a piece to the back with the 2" dia pipe for the flexible hose to attach to. The front valance is also bonded on in these pics. The front end's almost there at last, woo Hoo!!







    cheers..Nige




  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
    Posts
    384



    Loosely trial fitted in place





    Cheers...Nige

  7. #7
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    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
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    384

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
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    just about finished the front end, just the side vents to fit and give it a clean.

    The paint finish looks nice, but though I've cut the paint back, I've not cut it back & polished it within an inch of it's life, as I want it to look like a survivor car, rather than it have a 100% concours finish. I've intentionally left some chips & marks on it & just gently touched them in, rather than flat them out & paint them. I don't want a car that looks like it's just rolled out of the paintshop, I want it to have an aged look, and wear its scars with pride, just as a race car would. This way it'll be easier to live with, without having to worry too much if it gets marked when being used or parked up. It's all a part of the fun I managed to get away with just painting the modified panels, so the rest of the car from the wings back is as it was when I bought it, apart from the roundals, wheels and tyres which were added after the modifications. The rear end will be modified when I get time. the rear arches will be re shaped, the rear valance will have a bit more curvature and I'll then fit the L542 tail lights.









    That's the front end all done, so the next instalment will show how I overcame the problems of fitting a Hawk Le Mans hardtop to the Viper. That didn't fit at all, so was a bit of work to get it fitting nicely. what a job that was


    cheers..Nige
    Last edited by Outcast; 07-07-17 at 04:35 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
    Posts
    384
    This is how the car looked when I first bought it. Some of you may remember it being advertised for sale on here.






    And this is how it looks now




    I'll post up how I tackled modifying and fitting the hardtop, making the ali sidescreens, interior paneling and engine bay detailing in future instalments

    Cheers...Nige
    Last edited by Outcast; 07-07-17 at 04:59 AM.

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