Sunday, 10 April 2011

Good day, cat!

For Sinter Klaas my nephew got a 'My First RC Car' type present.  He loved it, and was busy running everyone over thinking it was a great joke.  My niece (who is older) also loved playing with the car, and said that she wanted a pink convertible for her birthday.  I immediately thought that would be something nice to build - and i had an old car that I thought I could rebuild in the attic.

Coming from a council estate, and growing up in the 80's and being a petrol head I have always had a soft spot for fast Fords.  It's odd when you think about it - whilst Fords may be the peoples cars the fast Fords rarely are.  These days I prefer fast Volvo's to fast Fords - another oddity, once you get to the point where you can buy and insure a fast Ford you wonder if you actually want to buy one (the Volvo is nearly as quick, much less in your face - in fact it looks almost the same as a slow Volvo, and so much more comfortable on a long trip).

But, when in university, and still driving a 957cc Fiesta that was only 2 years younger than me, I was still into them.  And so I treated myself to a toy:

It was a fun project - you had to build everything - including the gear boxes and differentials.  And if you get a chamfered washer the wrong way around in a differential it makes the world of difference.  Or in other words, it doesn't work and you get annoyed :)

I haven't used the car in years, but had not thrown it away - it was sitting in the attic gathering dust.  So we had a choice of trying to find a toy car that fitted what she wanted, or rebuilding this and having something that was possibly too grown up for a 5 year old to play with.  We went for the latter, in the hope that she gets used to it fast enough not to destroy it before he has really played with it.

I dismantled it to down to the main components (I did not want to have the issue of rebuilding the diffs, or rather not being able to rebuild the diffs) and gave everything a good clean.  We brought new wheels, a new battery and speed controller (an electronic one that makes it easier to control) and a new convertible body.

As she is a huge fan of a certain white cat with a red bow we decided to make the new car a tribute.  Mrs Stace is the artistic one and drew three of the cats on the car, long with a couple of flowers and a butterfly.  I sprayed it a pearlescent voilet / blue (depending on the light).

To finish it off we brought on of the said cats and, err, how can I put this...  Decapitated it to use as the driver of the car.  We were really happy with the finished result:

The car went down a storm, and survived the huge impacts it had within a couple of seconds of her getting the controller.  But she learnt very quickly not to go full speed, and without being told figured out that you an use reverse to stop the car quicker.  The good thing about the flexible top is that it doesn't break very quickly in an impact, and when it gets dented you can 'ping' them almost completely out.  It doesn't look quite as good as these pictures any more - but it's not too bad :)

I have no doubt that in 6 months I'll be spraying another top for her - as long as the chassis remains unscathed the tops are fairly cheap.

Seeing her face when she unwrapped it made the effort of rebuilding the car so worth it :)


  1. That's cute!

    I have friends in the hot Ford community who would probably weep at what you have just done. :)

  2. Well done Mr.& Mrs. Stace.
    I hope Miss cat won't need the 'ping' doctor to often.

  3. Nice job, Stace & Mrs. Stace!

    Melissa XX

  4. Thanks all! It was a bit of a labour of love, and whilst it's not purr-fect it's good enough :)

    Jenny: If it's any consolation the Escort top itself is still upstairs in one piece (well almost one piece, I had enough prangs with the car myself :p)

    Ellena: I'm not sure, I think that she will get it - she now knows that it's very quick, and that speed can do damage (I was told off for driving it too quickly when she wanted a demonstration from me). I think that she will get the hang of it quickly enough - but once she is competent to drive it quickly I'll probably make her another lid so that it's as new again.

    Melissa: Thanks :) I think that both of us were quite stressed getting it done on time, and in a condition that we thought she would like. But as I say it was so worth it :)


  5. Stace, soooooooooooooo sorry about the Mr. in my last comment. Thank you so much for not biting my head off.
    Mea culpa.

  6. What a nice labor of love for your niece, it looks beautiful Stacy!

    Hugs, Elly

  7. Carolyn Ann: Thanks!

    Ellena: OK, I'm not sure what is worse, what you typed or me not noticing :) Thanks for the apology though, there was no offence taken :)

    Elly: Thanks, I was really happy that we could give something that had part of us in it. I was really pleased that we could give her something that she wanted, but was still better than you could get in a toy shop :)