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Joined: Sep 13 2016
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Hey guys,

Been having a bit of a think/restructure of my automotive fleet and would appreciate some thoughts.

I had a 90 project in the garage that i've not touched for 6 years. I decided to get shot of it, as it really doesnt fit with having a family now. So thats gone barring some bits and pieces i need to shift. My thinking was that the P38 fits much better as a "family 4x4" than the 90 does. I also had a track car which has sat unloved on the drive since the kids arrived 4 years ago, so i parted that out and got shot of that. I've ended up with a TT convertible (swapped it for another car i ended up with), had planned to give it a quick tidy up and smoke around in it for the summer months, but ofcourse these things always take longer than you plan, so its currently sat with no timing belt waiting for some nice weather to finish it. My other cars are an A4 i've had for years, and a Nissan LEAF which fits the "modern, reliable, keep the wife happy" box. The A4 needs to come off the road for some TLC, but i can use the TT while i do that.

So back to the P38. Its not the cleanest example, but i've done various bits on it over the years to keep it going. However it feels like jobs are mounting up, and its reaching that point where it needs a massive overhaul. I'll try to give a brief summary....

Starting in the engine bay, its had a new radiator, and a new brake accumulator, so thats good. Its also had a sprinkling of new coolant hoses and new LPG injectors and petrol injectors. However the engine itself is a sieve. It leaks coolant from the front timing case, inlet manifold, various hose fittings and the LPG vapouriser leaks from its central gasket. The PAS line is rusty and seeps fluid from the swaged joint. The engine oil cooler is also leaky. The engine also leaks oil from everywhere, front and rear oil seals, sump gasket etc etc.It also burns a bit of oil, a hard rev after starting it (when the cats are still cold) will get a nice cloud of blue smoke, and it fouls spark plug 8 quite badly... AC system worked until all the gas leaked from the ORings on the compressor, the condenser looks pretty wrecked though.

Underneath, i fitted new balljoints to the front axle, and its had the brake disks/pads/calipers done all round. I've also done the front shocks. But its needing bushes all round as it drives like a pig. It also has an appetite for axle end oil seals, presumably because the balljoints arent properly centred any more. It probably wants brake hoses, and the brake lines themselves have been replaced previously by a blind monkey, so while they work, they're a bit shonky. Rear axle i think has pinion issues, its a bit noisey on overrun, but hasnt really gotten any worse in the years i've had it. Air suspension all works as it should, Infact its one of the things thats worked perfectly since i bought the car. I did have to replace a height sensor but otherwise its sound.

Moving inside, the headliners knackered, but i've got a kit to sort it out. Various bits of trim are iffy but everything does work. Climate control knob is a bit finicky. Remote locking doesnt work which is infuriating especially after i spent money on the remote filter kit from the guys on here. Cruise control works fine after i replaced the hose. Grey leather is in reasonable nick, though i really fancy some Tan leather for it, have rage with myself that i didnt pick up the interior i saw at U Pull It some years ago.

Exterior is varied. The wife smashed the front bumper, so i got a new one nicely resprayed for it. The rear tailgate was rotten so again i got a nice one all painted up. The upper tailgate is a rusty mess though, and theres a horrible patch of rust at the rear of the roof panel where it meets the tailgate thats particularly worrying. Additionally, it originally had the light guards fitted, which have since been removed but have left holes (and broken off rivnuts) in the rear quarter panels. A couple of the doors could do with replacing, and a lot of the black trim really wants replaced and/or painted.

Theres probably more, but i figure you get the idea. And i'm kinda stuck. The engine clearly needs sorted. And it feels like one of those jobs that basiaclly ends up with a almost complete rebuild... By the time its out and you've got the sump and timing case off to sort those gaskets, you might as well pull the heads and sort those out... with the heads off and timing case off, it probably wants a new camshaft and associated parts... and then, once stripped to that point, do you reassemble the block and hope the liners dont move? Theres also the cylinder 8 issue... It could just be valve stem seals and thus fixed in the head rebuild, but if its piston/bore related then its highly likely at that point its needing liners and basically a complete rebuild. And that feels like a LOT of money to be pouring into an old car, even if i can do all the work myself... and i know once i start the job, i wont want to half-arse it back together with known faults... It also needs all the pipework sorted and a new oil cooler rad, stuff that can be awkward and expensive to source.

Mechanically, its not tooo bad, if i can get a spare set of radius arms i can get the bushes swapped out in my spare time and i can probably tidy up the brake lines (though i do hate working on those!). Rear axle i'll probably jsut ignore unless it gets worse, but it probably wants rear radius arm bushes and rear shocks.

The bodywork is a sticking point, i dont like working on body, and i feel tarting up the exteriors the last job that really should be done when all the other stuff is busted. But putting a lot of money into a rotten shell also makes no sense?!

I sometimes wonder, should i try to find a better one? But knowing these cars, the question is then, am i better with the one i know, rather than potentially buying into a whole host of new issues? If i do plan on keeping this one, then i need to start sorting stuff thats actually broken, rather than just ignoring it. But its difficult to figure out what to do... Thoughts much appreciated!

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Joined: Feb 25 2020
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Aragon son of Arathorn thanks for being so open and frank. I will respond with equal openness, as I take delight in debating these matters, being in a very (very) messy swamp myself, with too many toys to deal with, and will benefit from some advice as well!

No mention to the LEAF or the A4 as they seem to be the normal "runners" you have. In particular, the A4 B5 is a nice package and brilliant when everything is in order. I work on those regularly, and once you sort out the known stuff there is nothing that can really go wrong. We can debate more elsewhere not to distract too much from the topic.

TT - fix it and unless you want a summer runner, get rid of it. These cars are becoming quickly "demode'" and have a very specific target ... unless you can make it on the cheap and can be competitive market-wise, you could be stuck with it a long time ... I wouldn't like to be stuck with a car I don't like :-)

Honestly, your P38 sounds like a basket case. Unless you have a powerful motivator (emotional attachment or else), I am not sure you have the best base for a project car - I mean, always a second hand car becomes a project!
You basically have a good running EAS, some decent seat trim, good steering and brakes, probably a good transmission, and perhaps a good chassis (you did not dwell on that).
The rest is knackered, or needs replacement ... you got an engine to rebuild, axles to rebuild, A/C/coolers, electrics, HeVAC, PAS, BeCM and fobs, various interior plastic trims, various outside trim, a few panels, plus paint afterwards ....
And go on to consider the additional stuff: if you do engine, aren't you going to do water pump thermostat change hoses and radiator? Make the cooler oil trans as well. Make the BeCM rebuild electrical connections HeVAC fobs?
The interior plastics are a nightmare, second hand nice condition parts are not easy to find, and expensive as well.
If you can paint ok, but if you need a guy for that ... and now if you take out the handles to repaint, aren't you going to rebuild them? And then why not the door latches - you're there! Make the headliner you need to drop it which means also half of the interior go stripped ... might as well remove seats and do the carpets and ... where do you draw the line?

Mind you, the above might seem unrealistically insane, but it is actually very close to the reality of almost every "a to z" project I see and I ended up entangled with, both personally and in my job. I've had a customer bringing me in a car "just traded for a debt, can you tidy it up for a quick sale?"

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Joined: Feb 25 2020
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sorry it went off ...

..and we ended up repainting it whole, full engine rebuild from new liners! new upholstery headliner seats door panels, insulation all around, suspension brakes new tires rims, rebuild headlights and rear lights, windscreen, 6-sp g-box .... a nightmarish work because the car was 20+ austrian so a mess of rust, and being a '95 A6 2.5 diesel (not quattro) not worth the investment. But it was his roll so ....

I think if you want to finish "your" P38 you will spend so much time and money on parts and getting them around and to work you might be better off buying a donor for parts. If not just to have everything at hand. But, you might also consider yours a donor and thus search off for a RR with a desirable look, trim and extras, and build that up, and salvage whatever you have new/made on your actual one, and sell/donate/junk the rest.
At the end of the day, this might be something you get to do once or twice in lift, might as well do it starting with the best possible platform, and aiming at the most sought after goal.
Now, I shrink again and disappear before you will start questioning me about _what am I doing _on my stuff ... :-)

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Isn't this the car you inherited so has an attachment beyond just you like it? I was in a similar situation about 5 years ago. My P38 hit 285k miles, although I had done the headgaskets it really needed a bit more. It was slightly pressurising the cooling system, not enough to spit the coolant out but enough to make the hoses hard, it was leaking oil from just about everywhere and the compression was down to no more than 110 psi. I considered selling it and putting some extra money to it and getting another but then thought about it. As police spec with an odd range of options, very high mileage and a very tired engine, it wouldn't fetch a lot. I had gone through it getting the EAS working properly, done the heater O rings, the blend motors, the door latches, etc so I knew what bits were good and what weren't. Rust isn't a worry in most cases (unless they've lived near the sea) as the chassis is damn good and the only parts of the bodywork that rust are the rear arches, bonnet front edge and, if you are really unlucky the base of the rear lower tailgate. I decided that rather than sell it and buy someone else's problems (they are selling a car for a reason after all) and having to start from scratch again, I'd put the money into mine. £2,100 to V8 Developments gave me an oil tight engine complete with top hat liners, big ends, mains, cam and followers, etc. Two years later, on the instruction of her indoors, it got a respray and East Coast Range Rovers supplied me with a complete (identical) interior, with seats and all interior plastics so I did a mix and match using the best bits from the two sets I had.

It's a case of the devil you know. You know what yours needs, but it doesn't need to all be done at once, whereas buying another you are into uncharted territory. Whining diffs are common but cheap enough for a recon unit from Ashcrofts. My rear has been replaced but even at just short of 400k miles, the rest of the transmission is still original and still working fine.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
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Sounds like you need a fair bit doing alright...

Out of interest - does the key sync WITHOUT the RF filter plugged in? or just no key sync/central locking at all?

The engine does by and far sound like the biggest project alright - the only real part of that I read and find to be the biggest pain would be the rear crank seal - the rest of it you can do with the engine in the vehicle if needs be...

Cosmetic bits... I guess they could wait a bit until the mechanical bits are sorted...

I'm definitely a 'if it can be fixed then it's worth having a go' kind of person - but then my 1998 that I'm restoring has become a real labour of love, and motivation lacks a lot of the time... but I'm slowly persevering with it - I think I've had it going on 4 years now and it's still all in bits!

I don't know the answer to your question about whether to keep it or not - but I'm always happy to look at anything on the electronics side... if we were nearer, then I'd have looked at the central locking for you by now ;)

Marty

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Joined: Sep 13 2016
Posts: 497

Thanks guys.
leolito wrote:

Aragon son of Arathorn thanks for being so open and frank. I will respond with equal openness, as I take delight in debating these matters, being in a very (very) messy swamp myself, with too many toys to deal with, and will benefit from some advice as well!

Thanks leolito.

The A4 is a long term project. Its a 1.8T Quattro which i've got a 4.2L V8 to swap in. General plan is to get the TT sorted with minimal expense, and run that while i sort the A4, then punt the TT on. I've had the A4 10 years and have no plans to sell.
LEAF as you say is just a daily runner. Cheap, reliable etc.

Its certainly something of a basket case, i paid £300 for it as a non-runner 3 or 4 years ago. Fixed a crank sensor and a few minor bits and it went thru an MOT just fine. The previous owner had spent cash on it sorting various bits (like airbags, compressor etc). However to be fair to it, its never actually left me stranded (although been close a few times with a string of shitty aftermarket crank sensors!). It goes thru MOT's with relative ease, it has working LPG etc etc. For all the bad theres plenty good stuff.

I suspect also, i have a tendancy to want things "right", but the knock on effect is that because of that, i've actually NOT touched many of the P38 bits because i've shied away from the snowballing that will liekly occur. I could just chuck headgaskets into it. BUT its a Rover V8, with an arms length list of stuff that wears out and needs attention. The cars on 190k, but it had a new engine fitted by landrover in ~2000 when it had 100k on it.

The biggest thing that worries me is actually the rust on the rear of the roof..

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Joined: Sep 13 2016
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Gilbertd wrote:

Isn't this the car you inherited so has an attachment beyond just you like it? I was in a similar situation about 5 years ago. My P38 hit 285k miles, although I had done the headgaskets it really needed a bit more. It was slightly pressurising the cooling system, not enough to spit the coolant out but enough to make the hoses hard, it was leaking oil from just about everywhere and the compression was down to no more than 110 psi. I considered selling it and putting some extra money to it and getting another but then thought about it. As police spec with an odd range of options, very high mileage and a very tired engine, it wouldn't fetch a lot. I had gone through it getting the EAS working properly, done the heater O rings, the blend motors, the door latches, etc so I knew what bits were good and what weren't. Rust isn't a worry in most cases (unless they've lived near the sea) as the chassis is damn good and the only parts of the bodywork that rust are the rear arches, bonnet front edge and, if you are really unlucky the base of the rear lower tailgate. I decided that rather than sell it and buy someone else's problems (they are selling a car for a reason after all) and having to start from scratch again, I'd put the money into mine. £2,100 to V8 Developments gave me an oil tight engine complete with top hat liners, big ends, mains, cam and followers, etc. Two years later, on the instruction of her indoors, it got a respray and East Coast Range Rovers supplied me with a complete (identical) interior, with seats and all interior plastics so I did a mix and match using the best bits from the two sets I had.

It's a case of the devil you know. You know what yours needs, but it doesn't need to all be done at once, whereas buying another you are into uncharted territory. Whining diffs are common but cheap enough for a recon unit from Ashcrofts. My rear has been replaced but even at just short of 400k miles, the rest of the transmission is still original and still working fine.

Aye, the thing is the P38 has soo many issues, i suspect buying any other "cheap" one is just likely to result in another arms length list of jobs. And buying a "sorted" one is likely to be expensive, and still might have issues...

I think i just need to start chipping away at jobs instead of ignoring it all. Start collecting bits to sort the engine, and maybe sort out the front radius arms as a starting point. Ofcourse running it with a "known" gasket issue somehow makes me more anxious than driving it around blissfully unaware haha.

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Joined: Sep 13 2016
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Martyuk wrote:

Sounds like you need a fair bit doing alright...

Out of interest - does the key sync WITHOUT the RF filter plugged in? or just no key sync/central locking at all?

The engine does by and far sound like the biggest project alright - the only real part of that I read and find to be the biggest pain would be the rear crank seal - the rest of it you can do with the engine in the vehicle if needs be...

Cosmetic bits... I guess they could wait a bit until the mechanical bits are sorted...

I'm definitely a 'if it can be fixed then it's worth having a go' kind of person - but then my 1998 that I'm restoring has become a real labour of love, and motivation lacks a lot of the time... but I'm slowly persevering with it - I think I've had it going on 4 years now and it's still all in bits!

I don't know the answer to your question about whether to keep it or not - but I'm always happy to look at anything on the electronics side... if we were nearer, then I'd have looked at the central locking for you by now ;)

Marty

When i first got it, the remote had no batteries. I got a new holder and a new stack of batteries and paried up the key and it worked. At elast for a few weeks until the battery holder moved in my pocket and reset the fob... Crappy design that for sure.

The car battery also went flat a few times, because of the usual wakeup issue. So i unplugged the receiver and ignored it for ages. The car often sits for a week or more so the drain was too much.

It locked me out one day 500miles from home, which at the time i didnt realise was a dicky microswitch. In typical P38 style i ran it with the iffy microswitch for ages, just making sure that the car actually unlocked before opening the door (sometimes you had to unlock 2 or 3 times), as if you opened the door before it had actually "unlocked" it would get angry.

Eventually i spent out and bought a refurbished door latch and remote filter from you. After that i couldnt get it to pair the remote again (albeit i hadnt tried to for a long time). Tried with and without the filter. Scoped the output from the box and the fob is definitely transmitting info when the button is pressed. The BECM just wont pair with it.

I guess the biggest thing with the whole project is you start thinking "if i'm going to spend ££££ on the engine, what else could i buy instead?". I sold the 90 thinking i should sort the P38 out, and now i'm thinking "yeah but should i sort the P38?" I do like driving it, and with a fresh engine that had a bit more zing would definitely improve the car quite a bit. I will admit i saw a cheap 2 grand L322 on ebay recently and thought "hmm!" However i suspect realistically an L322 is liekly to be just as much of a money pit.

Theres also the fact that its approaching the age where if i AM going to spend a lot of money sorting it out, i should probably get the chassis cleaned up and protected. Because while its not bad, its 25 years old.

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Aragorn wrote:

I will admit i saw a cheap 2 grand L322 on ebay recently and thought "hmm!" However i suspect realistically an L322 is liekly to be just as much of a money pit.

Near where I live is a place called Avenger 4x4 who are basically Range Rover breakers. Originally it was Defenders and Series that weren't worth reconditioning, then it was P38s and I called in there a few months ago as I needed something urgently and they'd got a couple of L322s sitting there. I mentioned that it looks like you can get a decent one for 3 grand and he burst out laughing, if you think a P38 is a money pit then you haven't even started. Apparently the L322 has far more 'little' jobs that will need doing and the main difference is the prices of parts are much higher. He was saying that he's bought L322s that look very tidy but when he's come to strip them hardly anything other than bodywork and trim is in such a state that he can't sell them as spares as they are no better than the bits people are looking to replace..

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yeah i figured as much. I'd end up with a nice reliable modern V8 and everything else knackered around it haha.

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Apparently the Vanos unit isn't that reliable either and the breathers behind the engine turn to mush and clog up too. I did think a good mod would be to fit the 295 bhp, 4.4 litre BMW V8 into a later, Thor, P38. My logic was that as both the original and the later engine both use Bosch Motronic engine management, it shouldn't cause any problems with compatibility but I've since been told even they are so different it wouldn't work.

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I've heard from various people in garage trade that the BMW engines suffer camshaft issues --- my boss got L322 tdv6 cost him £310 for pads/discs all round --- that's parts only 😲 from what I here about all the more modern rangeys---- glad I got a P38

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BMW stuff on the L322 is mostly junk, if the P38 is a money pit the L322 is a chasm.
The only decent V8 worth putting in a P38 is the M62 pre-Vanos (without the "TU" suffix), which also runs with the 5.2 Motronic. But is a revvy engine, don't think suits the RR ... and although fairly compact, not sure it has the height clearance issues that it needs to run properly with the front axle.
Plus, after my woes with one of my workhorses (a 2.8 V6 30V), and messing around with a host of 32 and 40 valves Audi V8s I don't want to hear anymore about multi-head, multi-valve engines ... screw that.

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Well what about Cummins diesel --- just a thought --- I got a 4.6 HSE gems P38 the engine is fubar -- I'm thinking of going Cummins diesel or chev V8 I can get a 300tdi with manual box(disco 2) whole thing £200 but am seriously considering Cummins

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Hmm... I want to look at your RR in person then at some point and try to sort the key sync out... things like that bug me when they should all work! lol... maybe if I host a summer camp, then if you wanted to come over to that we can try and get a few bits ticked off... I have the press and tool to do radius arm bushes... people have the knowledge/experience to do the headlining, I can take a look at the key/locking stuff...

And probably get a few more things looked at too...

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The A4 is a long term project. Its a 1.8T Quattro which i've got a 4.2L V8 to swap in
This is a project on its own, and not a small one. Might got very off topic in here ... many pro and many cons to that.
If you have the engine and it is running nice and fine and you crave only the throaty V8 sound go for it, but for me the 2.7TT is also a sensible proposition. Equal power, fantastic run-up if you tune it properly, fairly robust, and all in all equally expensive to run ... you'd miss the V8 roar but instead you get the whine/hiss of the turbos ... equally deadly :-)

I suspect also, i have a tendancy to want things "right" ...
Look, there is nothing wrong in wanting to have a RR project, or even a P38 project, but you need to make sure you are convinced of the basis of what you got: at the end of the day, you might want a P38 looking and running great and you will most likely do get to it - what I was questioning is whether it should be the one you have.
Mine is a basket case: car which I paid fairly expensive (should have been 2500 euro max and I shelled 4k for it), it had a lot of work done (gaskets, EAS, engine bits, shocks, exhaust) lots of service history but I did learn - painfully - that most of the work addressed "curing the symptoms, not curing the disease).
Nevertheless, it was the right combination for me (late 4.6 Thor, classic green and lightstone interior), and I made some initial work (brakes, fluids, plugs, etc.) and then went 100% use as I needed a daily commuter, a workhorse, a holiday car, and a 4x4). It behaved perfectly (never left me stranded although once it took me 45min to make 5km) for three years and 30K km until I knew it was time to stop it and get stuff sorted out ... the constant "mending" scheme had reached a limit.
Basket case I said .... it sips water and oil, cats to be replaced, exhaust "made" is a horrid concoction, TF chain slips, brake accumulator was a goner, shocks from shitpart were ... shit, sunroof not working, remotes not working, heated seats not working, trim broken here and there, leather frayed to pieces, fogs not working, headlamp washers not working, some dork fitted wrongly the windscreen so in certain situations howls curiously, HeVAC was not working (pressure sensor gone), blend motors stuck and flaps partially missing ... there is certainly more, but now I don't want to cry any more.
I certainly would have been better off buying a better car, at least a better cared for one. But I can't replace it with no other Range Rover. The Classic is a dinosaur, the L322 an oversized mongrel of a X5 and assorted junk. Later LR/JLR stuff has nothing in common with my view of the "breadth of capability" a Land Rover, or especially a Range Rover, must have. Perhaps if I was a rapper or a soccer player would suit me.
But mine was - and still is - straight, never hit, no rust body or chassis. This for me is the killer. You can fix everything but rust.

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There's a lot of thought going into this, so I'll just make two points.

  1. It's hard to forgive corrosion on a P38 as there are plenty around with good bodywork
  2. As you're already set up for EV, don't sell the P38 before the much rumoured (trailed?) scrappage scheme comes into effect or you might be losing £3k or £6k depending on how you look at it.
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Did someone mention the R word (rust) I've had to do whole floor/sills/ trunk on my 65 rover p6----- still not as bad as a defender 🤣🤣

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On the other hand, I've done everything on mine, done it properly and now all I do is use it. Everything works (even the rear washer now). I've fitted a Direnza alloy high capacity radiator and a Hankook battery and everything else is standard. All I do to it these days is service it when it's due and if anything doesn't seem right, I deal with it. There's no need to do everything at once, do it a bit at a time and it doesn't seem such a daunting prospect when you can do one job, use it for a while, then do the next.

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Martyuk wrote:

Hmm... I want to look at your RR in person then at some point and try to sort the key sync out... things like that bug me when they should all work! lol... maybe if I host a summer camp, then if you wanted to come over to that we can try and get a few bits ticked off... I have the press and tool to do radius arm bushes... people have the knowledge/experience to do the headlining, I can take a look at the key/locking stuff...

And probably get a few more things looked at too...

Yeah i'll keep an eye out on the forum and see what gets arranged. I'm in Fife, Scotland, so its a fair old trek to make...

I guess the fact that theres only one key is also annoying, dunno wether to try and get another key-set with a pair of good fobs or something.