Kelvin's 1985 Rover SD1 Vanden Plas EFI with Speedweeeeeeno

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Sigh. This car must have the cleanest coolant of any car – ever.

I replaced the water pump today. The old one started leaking from the weep hole, indicating that an internal seal had failed.

I’m not overly sad about having to replace it. Someone badly painted it black at some point and it was bloody ugly. It wasnt in good shape anyway.

Since the car was already in the garage overnight, the first step was to drop the coolant. Again. It seems like this car gets new coolant every month or so.

I caught most of it this time, with minimal spillage. Wish they had added a drain plug to the radiator when they reconditioned it. Yes that’s coolant on the grille and valance…. 

The coils had to be moved out of the way so I could take the tension off the alt belt to remove it. Thankfully someone smart built the coil bracket and it moves out of the way easily with only two bolts. The fan was also removed.

Then it was a matter of undoing all the bolts, and removing the pump. Thankfully someone in the past had used grease and copper grease on all the bolts, and all of them came out ok, not a single one broke. Guess I don’t need the Ez-Out set that I purchased last night.

It wasnt a pretty sight. Badly painted

The reason im replacing it. The weep hole.

Looks like it was an original Leyland part. Maybe it was rebuilt years ago?

This hose outlet has been weeping since I got the car. Even with the brand new hoses. This is why, it’s got a horrific buildup on it. I tried to wire brush some of this off last time I had the hose off, and got no where.

The insides don’t look much better. Some weird crusty stuff inside it

And compared to the new pump

The new pump is much nicer to look at, and it spins smoother too, so maybe the bearings on the old one were starting to go.

The replacement pump has a shorter snout than the old one, so the fan will sit slightly further away from the radiator

The front cover of the engine looked pretty good. No buildup and only slight discolouration.

I swapped over the pulley, with all new bolts and washers

And then a fail. I forgot to fit this bolt, and it wont go through the hole with the pulley on. Oops

These are the PN for the pulley bolts and washers. 3x each

So I didn’t lose track of where the bolts go (even though in the end it didn’t matter as its pretty obvious), I traced the pump onto some paper and laid the bolts out as I removed them

Water pump came with a new gasket, which I fitted with a thin smear of sealant on each side

Now this is where it gets annoying. I ordered all the bolts as per the parts guide, and even though I ordered more than the quantity needed, I still didn’t have everything I needed. Maybe I mucked up, who knows.

I needed 5x BH505441, which are the really long bolts

Somehow I ended up with 2x slightly shorter bolts too, which were useless. I needed 5x SH504091, the shorter bolts

I also needed standard flat washers for each short bolt, which somehow I completely missed. This wasn’t an issue as I ended up just reusing all the washers as they were in good shape. A couple of the long bolts have weird, really thick washers too, which don’t show in the parts guide.

There was one bolt at the top of the water pump which is a different size to all the others. Its short, but 5/16″. I think it might be 254020 in the guide, but Rimmers doesn’t list it. I reused mine, but you would be buggered if you broke it off.

The newly fitted pump looks awesome. So much nicer.

With the shorter snout I chose to try the “correct” fan, that wouldn’t fit with the other pump.

Looks good, but dammit, the bloody thing has a stuffed clutch. Locks when cold. So I had to swap back to the other one, which I will now stay with. I can trust and rely on it. Its a bit colder than I would like to run, but i have set the Speeduino up to compensate. I’ll change to an electric fan at some point anyway.

Since the coolant was out again, I chose now to loop the coolant lines for the throttle body. I don’t need the coolant “hot spot” anymore. Apparently its there to stop the throttle plate freezing over, but there are other theories about it helping fuel atomization when cold too. Either way, I’ll let Speeduino do what it needs to do, without warm air being added in after the IAT. It was easy to do, remove one hose, and loop the other into the inlet manifold.


Also, since I found the source of the intake drone, I refitted the air inlet trumpet

All buttoned back up and ready to go

I finally got to drive the car again, to bleed the system and get it up to temp. God its good to drive this car, I love it. The last tune we did was really good, it pulls like a freight train and drives very smooth.

System bled OK, heater is hot, and coolant temp is stable. Its holding all its coolant for the most part. I noticed that the long bolt that goes into a coolant gallery is weeping, so I’ll need to get some sealant on that one.

I did find come up against the infamous Rover SD1 engine ground issue though. When trying to start the car, it would act like it had a flat battery, despite it being a new battery and even adding a jump pack to it. I remembered hearing about another SD1 owner that had a grounding issue and mentioned that their throttle cable ended up being the main engine ground and melted.

Sure enough, the cable was warm to the touch. Dammit, the main cable was attached, on both ends, and obviously still wasn’t good. Back when I fitted the coil bracket, I moved the ground strap to one of the bolts on the alternator bracket, and it was working fine. I loosened it off, gave it a wiggle, did it up again, and bam, the car started. Guess I’ll need to look at that at some point, maybe even add another ground just in case. Oh well, its working again now. Typical Rover.

Oh, and just as a little teaser…

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Finally, another thing that’s been bothering me, fixed.

I started prepping the washer bottle the other day, and today I finished it.

My painting skills leave a lot to be desired, but its a whole lot better than it was. The rust converter left a fairly rough surface, even after some prep work, maybe the metal was pitted?

The new strap from the club fits and looks great.

Bit of a difference?

I forgot to take a photo of the new brass radiator fill plug I fitted, so here it is

From this old plastic one that always felt like it was going to cross thread and strip when fitting

To a nice brass one which screws in smooth as butter

These stickers came in the other day, so one went on the car.

Jolly good.

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It’s been a bit of a rough weekend, so what better cure than to take the Rover out for a spin and an Italian Tune-up.

The sun was out, so off came the car cover, and out came the Rover.

I had been meaning to check out the new Kapiti Expressway that has just been built, but hadn’t had a chance to make it up that way, and every time I wanted to drive the Rover recently the weather has turned to mud, and what fun is it cruising in the pouring down rain? Not to mention not being able to button her back up again after the drive due to the car being wet, and then getting covered in pine needles.

So yeah, this was an adventurous trip. In my whole time with the Rover, I have never driven it this far from home. The furthest is usually to either Upper Hutt or the CBD, roughly 20-30km away. The Rover has been running well recently, and after the water pump failure it’s been holding its fluids and been mechanically sound. A pleasure to drive.

Firing the car up for the first time in a couple of weeks, it didn’t start quite as sweetly as usual, and was running a bit lumpy and spluttering when given gas. Obviously not happy with the tweaks I did last time (in an effort to make warm starting easier), so I tapped a few keys on the laptop and reverted back to a previous tune. Started and idled much better this time.

The first test was the new Haywards Interchange, which is an utter clusterfark, no matter which way you try to go through there the road markings are a mess and everything is guided by some messy cones. It will be good once it’s done, but blegh.

Once the temporary 50kph zone changes to 100kph though, it was time to unleash all 190hp, and the sound of my people. Pedal to the floor, trans kicks down and off we go in a roar of V8 anger. She may not be fast, but it hardly matters with a sound like that.

It was a fairly slow drive around SH58 thanks to a typical Prius driver which couldn’t hold more speed than a 30 year old Rover through the corners. Oh well, more time to enjoy the cruise and the scenery.

The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful, other than seeing a sweet steam train choo chooing its way to Pram. Lots of railfans hanging around taking photos of it. Probably got some with a Rover photobombing them, lol.

The Kapiti Expressway is a new 18km long grade separated four lane expressway built to bypass a rubbish bit of roading that used to go through a couple of towns and slow everything down.

This is only one section in a bigger project, which will include the Transmission Gully Expressway that will take traffic off the two lane coastal route between Porirua and Paraparaumu (Kapiti), but the Kapiti Expressway is the first section to be completed and drivable. Gives an idea of what the rest of the project will be like.

Four lanes good.

Heading to Paraparaumu for lunch, we took the exit that said “Paraparaumu”, as expected, and strangely got shunted straight off the new expressway and back onto the old State Highway. Not the glamorous expressway I expected!

Stopped at BurgerFuel for lunch, snapped a sneaky bum shot

After lunch we found a proper on ramp to the expressway and decided to head North. Not knowing how far the expressway went, we just cruised along until the new road ran out, and we were on the old one again. Turning around and heading South again allowed us to sample the whole 18km expressway.

Impressions? Its nice. Very smooth, very flowing and very fast. That said there are already some surface repairs in places, and something about the road surface and my high-end SuperCat tires meant that I had an annoying rattle whilst driving on the new road. A strange resonance or something.

I do hope to see the speed limit increased on the expressway at some point; its very easy to speed as its so open and wide, and its a prime candidate for a trial of 110kph.

It’s nice to see the work they put into the area surrounding the expressway too. Lots of green; new plantings and what will eventually be mounds of grass and bush. You can catch glimpses of the wetlands they build in various spots as well; just little ponds of water here and there.

Anyway, back to what is important here. The Rover ran faultlessly the whole time, and was great to drive. It’s equally at home puttering around town, as it is at passing cars up hills and cruising the motorways.

We made a quick stop for a rest, and take a couple of photos. Shes filthy, but in a well-loved kind of way.

Unfortunately though, it doesn’t run on hopes and dreams, so a stop at the local Dino station was on the cards.

What a surprise that was though!

Yup, a drop of 2.2l/100km down to 15.9l/100km. Not bad for an old beast tuned by me. I have clocked just under 1200km since getting her, most of those done with the Speeduino setup. It’s good to see the economy finally working out, and becoming somewhat reasonable.

I love driving this car, so will be using it as much as possible, as long as the weather holds out. Oh what I would do to have a carport or garage, instead of a car cover.

More to come. Might FINALLY get around to doing the front speakers at some point, and it’ll need another warrant next month, so there is that to look forward to. Yay.

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Rover passed its warrant, excellent. Heres to another 6 months of motoring.

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Except for the hand brake cable which decided to snap when i parked up at home. British cars know how to celebrate getting a warrant.

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Another six months down, so last weekend it was time for another Warrant of Fitness on the Rover.

No matter what car it is, but especially old cars, Warrant time is a bit of a pain. After doing lots of pre-emptive work for the last warrant, and having only covered about 1200km since, I was hoping for another easy pass.

Here she is ready for the inspection

After a thorough poking and prodding, she came away with another clean sheet. One of the rear seat belts had to be untwisted, and the front wheel bearings might need tightening or replacing before next WOF, but otherwise she is a solid old beast.

So that’s another six months of motoring to do, and coming into summer, I’m intending to put far more than 1200km on it by the next WOF. In saying that though, the car was off the road for a couple of months recently due to various reasons (Speeduino install, waterpump failure, my wedding….).

To celebrate its new warrant, the car decided to surprise me when I got home, buy snapping the hand brake cable as I parked up. *sigh*

Off to Rimmers to buy a replacement. Thankfully the parking pawl on the trans works, so the car wont roll away.

Since the Rover has been uncovered the past couple of days I finally took the chance to grab the camera and grab a quick video of the exhaust.

It’s a good sound. I like it, but I do wish it was a smidgen louder, and more grumbly. At some point I’ll unbolt the rear section (which has a muffler in it) and see what it sounds like without it (so then it will only be a single muffler, and a resonator in the system). If I like it, I’ll get a pipe made up to replace the muffler.

The next job is to change the auto trans oil and filter. It’s a messy job, and a pain to do, but it should be done.

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The Rover has been running pretty well recently, and I have been using it every opportunity. Its been great, but unfortunately the other day whilst under the bonnet I noticed something that really annoyed me.

Back in December 2016 I spent considerable time and money replacing all the fuel hose in the engine bay due to perishing and cracks in the old hose. I used proper high quality EFI rated fuel hose from a hose supplier in the UK.

Sadly 8 months down the line this is what greeted me

Yup, cracks in my lovely new fuel hose. Thankfully no leaks, but you cannot be too careful when it’s pressurised fuel.

The hose above is the feed line to the fuel filter, and it’s not only cracked in the above spot, it was also cracked in the large curve just before the filter.

The outlet from the filter also had some cracks in it

I don’t know why, it’s not like the hose is subjected to huge under bonnet temperatures or anything. The rest of the hose that I can see under the plenum and on the injectors all appears visually OK.

I replaced the cracked hose with more of the same hose (because I had a meter or two spare), and I will keep a close eye on how it holds up. If it cracks again, then I don’t know, guess I’ll have to buy some different hose.

Since I had the car in the garage, I also decided to fit this secondary earth strap I found in my spares the other day. The engine has one main strap from the alternator bracket to the inner guard near the battery, and that’s the only engine ground.

I added this ground from the valve cover, to the inner guard on the other side of the car, so now there is a ground on each side of the engine.

Cranking is now much faster, so obviously there was quite a bit of voltage drop going on. Hurrah!

Speaking of cranking, a new feature was added to my Speeduino ECU today. Previously the cranking enrichment has been a single figure that covered all cranking, no matter the temperature. I have had huge issues with my starting since fitting Speeduino, where it just takes forever to start, with lots of cranking.

The other day I did a lot of work on the cranking and starting and got the car to start quickly when cold by upping the enrichment from 20% to 70% (this % is on top of the base fuelling). Obviously when cold it was cranking lean. Unfortunately this had the knock on effect of also adding 70% on top when cranking warm. This resulted in long cranking times, pumping of the gas, and often a plume of black fuel smoke when it did start.

Today, with the latest firmware update, that single cranking enrichment figure was changed to a coolant temperature dependant four point table. This allows me to have a different cranking enrichment figure warm or cold, and anywhere in between.

This is my current cranking table

So from that table, at -10c coolant temp there is an additional 100% fuel when cranking, to help with those super cold starts, and when the coolant is hot at 90c, it actually pulls 40% fuelling out. Normal coolant temp for me when warm is around 75-80c, so starting at those temps I’m pulling about 30% or so out.

This has allowed the car to start cold quickly like before, but now also allows the car to start with about half as many turns of the engine, no throttle, and no plume of smoke when warm. I still have some tweaking to do when warm, but now I wont risk killing the battery when starting warm.

Hopefully with winter slowly going away (although I swear it’s getting colder), I’ll be able to use the car more, and complete some of the work I want to do to it. A replacement rust free sunroof panel arrived the other day, so that will need some rust-proofing and then painting, so I can replace the crusty ugly old one on the car.

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July B firmware for my ECU turned out to be a bag of dicks, made the car run rough and idle like rubbish, yet when i revert back to June firmware with the same tune, it runs and idles mint. Guess ill live with the hard starting for now.

I had some spare time this evening, so decided to finally unpack the replacement sunroof panel I purchased a couple of weeks ago.

My old sunroof is stuffed, rust is bubbling through the top of it, where it has previously been touched up, and when the panel is opened you get covered in chunks of rust. Its pretty bad, thankfully its not leaking. Yet.

It looked like this when I got the car, back in November

And its got worse since.

I put the call out a while back for a good rust free sunroof panel, and heard back from Gareth at SD1 Spares. He had sourced a decent one, and would I like it? Heck yes!

It arrived a couple of weeks ago and I just haven’t had the time to do anything with it. Tonight I unwrapped it from its packaging and had a good look over it.

Gareth had mentioned there were a couple of little crusty surface rust spots, and he had treated them, so it was no surprise when I spotted a couple of sections on the underside that were coated in rust converter. Nothing too serious, but left untreated it would have ended up the same as my old one. Good to catch and stop it now.

I noted a couple of other small little spots of surface rust in various places, and wanted to make sure that rust converter got into all the little gaps and creases, so with wire brush and my can of CRC Rust Converter in hand, away I went.

I wire brushed all the patches that I could see, including the areas that had already been treated, and then hosed on the converter. I made sure to rotate the panel, and spray into the holes in the rails to try to get the liquid into all the gaps.


I’m not worried at all about the paint as its Oporto red, and the wrong color, so will need a paint anyway.

This is a little spot at the back where you can see the rust converter changing some rust into a black coating

And these two spots are the sections Gareth treated for me. I made sure to go over them again, and get into all the gaps nearby.

The sunroof panel isn’t a great design, so many places for moisture to get into and get trapped, causing rust. There are some places you couldn’t get to without hacking the panel to bits. But its all I can get, so it will have to do.

Looking at this panel also shows there was no way to save my old panel once the rust got that bad. The rust that is coming through is between the outer skin, and that rail on the RH side of the above photo.

I’ll give the converter a couple of days to cure, and then I’ll hose all the gaps and seams with cavity wax. I don’t have the money to get it painted yet, and I still need to source a good condition front seal retainer, so I need to keep it in good shape in the mean time.

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It was a stunning day outside today, so I decided to get out and do some much needed work on the Rover.

Way back in December last year I did some work on the right hand rear door, replacing the failed window regulator, reconditioning the window switch, and fitting a new door handle gasket. I needed to do the same work (except the regulator) on the other doors, but it’s just been put off time and time again.

Today I decided to bite the bullet and just finish the work. I started on the left hand rear door. Step one is to remove the door card.DSC00591.jpg?resize=1280%2C719

Once again, its secured with one screw in the carpet at the bottom, and a screw in the handle recess.

A whole bunch of clips later, and the door card is off. This door looks like it hasn’t been worked on before. The moisture barrier didn’t have any replacement tape on it, or damage. Yes, apparently the duct tape is genuine BLMC fitment.

I removed the handle surround and the handle so I could partly remove the barrier to gain access to the door innards.

The old tape was very hard and the adhesive was slimy and sticky. I peeled off as much old tape as I could around the top and sides (left the bottom undisturbed as it was holding fine).

This is the back of the door handle. There are two small 7mm nuts that you back off to loosen the handle. Once loose, you can just slip the new gasket over the handle and tighten the nuts back up. Done.

Out of all four handles, this one was the only one that had some old gasket still in place. Super brittle and crusty.

New gasket fitted. Much improvement, and the handle feels nice and solid now

The other job I did whilst in the door was to lubricate all the rails for the window. I didn’t take any photos of this because it’s a flippin messy job, and mostly done blind. I covered greasing the rails in this post. The window was already pretty good, but now it’s smooth and fast, and I know it’ll keep working happily for a bit longer.

Speaking of windows, another job I did was to refurbish the window switch. I popped it out of the door card and took it into the garage for cleaning. I know from the other door that the switches are prone to corrosion, but are easy to clean. Most of the window switches, except the drivers one, are a bit dodgy and need a few tries before they work.

Off with the cap, and the extent of the corrosion was visible.

Well that wont be helping anything. Serious corrosion on the base terminals, and the pin wasnt flash either. Some scraping with a fine scraper, and some sanding and I have nice bright contacts again. I smothered the lot in dielectric grease before assembling.

With that done, back on went the door card, and I moved onto the front passengers door.

Much the same as the rears, there is a screw in the handle recess, but this has a screw up top instead of in the carpet.

With the door card off, I was greeted by another door that looks like it hasn’t been worked on since new. Although, unfortunately this one has some issues with the moisture barrier…. in the form of a hole

A hole, which no matter how careful I was, just kept getting bigger and bigger. For some reason the plastic in the middle of the sheet was super brittle and fragile. It just shattered and crumbled when you look at it. The rest of the sheet seemed to be fine.

I lubricated the rails, and cleaned the window switch on this door too. The window is now very smooth and the switch works every time (previously worked about 1/10 times).

The door handle gasket was a bit more special to do than the rears. I had been warned about doing these as the handle is a prick to get at. Its tucked up and hidden, and unlike the rear, has no access hole.

No worries, using my trusty random screwdriver, a 1/4″ wobbly extension and a 7mm socket I could reach one of the nuts. I found that if you insert the screwdriver above the white plastic door lock lever you had a pretty decent clear shot.

The other nut, closer to the front edge of the door, can be accessed with a 1/4″ ratchet and 7mm socket…. and sticking your arm inside the door. Its tight.

With the new gasket on there, back on went the moisture barrier…. with some new duct tape and some creative hole patching.

But of course I’m not done there. See that little speaker up there? Yeah, its stuffed. No foam around the cone and bits have been falling out of the door for ages now. I had to fade the radio to the rear so the fronts don’t distort. Time has not been kind.

Four screws and out it comes. It’s in this cool little mount which protects the speaker from water.

Popped the old speaker out, and BAM, the new 4″ Pioneer TS-G1045R speaker fits like a glove.

I even reused the original screws. Plugged it into the standard wiring, and away we go. Couldnt be easier really.

Peeking through the door card.

And onto the final door. The mighty captains door. It all comes off like the passengers one, except for a few more wires to disconnect.

This door had been opened at some point. Someone had used more masking tape on it. Unlike the rear one this tape wasnt blue, and was only at the bottom. It was still old as though.

Heres a slightly more detailed pictorial on accessing the door handle nuts, featuring my small torch.

Hey nut

Hey screwdriver

Being friends


New gasket made a ton of differences on this door. It’s always bothered me, being the door I use all the time, that the handle was loose as a goose and clunked around when I opened the door. Now it’s solid as a rock and feels good.

Another thing that bothered me was that the door card was loose when I pulled the door closed. It turns out this bracket from the door card to handle recess (which is bolted firmly to door) was loose and turned sideways, and missing the screw.

I reconditioned all the switches on this door too, so they all work without issue now. Another new speaker slotted in, and I refit the door card, and now its tight and glorious. It doesn’t feel like im going to hulk the door card off when I close the door now.

Over all, it’s a job well done, and a job worth doing. I shouldn’t have put it off this long, it was actually an easy job to do, it just took ages. Now I can listen to music without having the sound faded all the way into the rear of the car.


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A teaser of what i have been working on (amongst other things). A new mount for the throttle position sensor.

Going from this (since painted black)

To this, a custom designed mount (currently 3d printed, which i will use for testing)

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Thanks to my wife, the parts mule, ill have some lovely new fog lamps coming back with her from the UK.

Ive been dying to fill the big black gaps in the front spoiler for ages, but good fog lights are REALLY hard to come by as the lenses are often broken by stones, and the reflectors and housing rust out. The set i have coming isnt perfect, but ill be able to make a good pair from the bits of old fog lights i have originally from the car.


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I finally got the balls today to fix something that has bugged me about the car since I got it. The saggy bonnet liner.

I knew it was hanging down in the front corners when I got the car, sagging onto the battery and airbox, but recently more and more of it has started to sag and hang down at the top onto the various components in the engine bay.

It was an embarrassing ugly-ness at the last show when I had the bonnet open, but the problem was that I had no real idea what was under the liner.

I could see under the corners that were sagging, that there was some sort of adhesive that had been applied, and it was super ugly with bits stuck to it here and there.

How far did that adhesive extend? Did it cover the whole bonnet? If I take the liner off will it look worse? Is this a good idea? All questions I had to find answers to, today.

So I started off by popping all the clips. There are three metal clips on each side, offset from the center and two small clips at the top. The metal spring clips are a bit weird. Kinda like pre-historic versions of the plastic Xmas tree push clips used today. I guess they work though, they were the only thing holding the liner on.

To get them out I just used a flat blade screwdriver to lever them out, gently. My clips were stuck to the liner, but were obvious when free from the bonnet.

Off came the liner

It’s a weird mixture of materials. A felt-y material on the engine side, a pressed cardboard-y material on the bonnet side, and a whole bunch of chopped strand fabric in between.

This is what was left on the bonnet with it removed

Not perfect, but really not as bad as I expected. Lots of glue on the sides, but nothing down the middle.

The reason for the sagging was obvious, the fabric and cardboard was still stuck to the bonnet.

Unfortunately there is some surface rust where the clips were, so I’ll need to deal to that

I had a quick go with a scraper to remove the worst of the chunks, it’s come up OK for now

But I want to remove the rest of the adhesive. It reminds me a lot of the thick, smelly yellow glue that mum used to fix my school shoes with back when I was a kid. Its kinda rubbery in texture, but I know brake clean will not touch it.

At the end of the day, I’ll probably keep an eye out for a black, self adhesive sound deadening material (like Dynamat but cheaper and without branding all over it), which I will cut into three sections and place on the flats of the bonnet (leaving the two long supports exposed).

In the meantime though, I feel it’s an improvement.

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I need a louder exhaust. There is a great sound in there just waiting to come out


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