John Knott (VPJ 785S)

I purchased my Merlin 2+2 in June 2002 at the Harrogate Show, it is in excellent condition but as it was built from a Mk3 1600 Cortina Estate it lacks power and the rear axle ratio is too high, so I decided a complete rebuild was in order.

I acquired a Mk5 2000GL Cortina and have completely rebuilt the engine, new rings and shells, head conversion for unleaded, Piper fast road cam, and upgrade Webber (Granada 2.3V6), twin 38 chokes and manual choke, and I am fitting an electric fan, this should bring the BHP up to about 140. (Ed: spoke to John very recently and he's had the bhp assessed at approx.120)

The 4.11:1 Estate axle has been replaced by the 3.75:1 Mk5 saloon axle, which meant making and welding new suspension brackets to the axle. I also noticed that the top spring retaining rings were very close to the rear tyres, only 3/8 inch clearance, and with the weight off the axle moves across and one tyre was touching, so I rewelded the rings ¼ inch further in and ground off the excess on the bracket. I also fitted 5mm spacers and longer wheelstuds.

Next the gearbox, this has been changed for a Sierra 5-speed; as the rear mounting is 3 and 1/2 inch further back I had to cut a section out of the cross member. I then made a new mounting which can be bolted on, hopefully this will mean that if the gearbox has to be removed in the future it can be done from under the car. The prop shaft also had to be modified as the splines were different, the 1600 box only has 20 splines and the 2000 or 5 speed box has 23, but the overall length was the same.

Then it was the brakes, the pedals were so far away and there was no servo, so I moved the pedals 4 inches towards me and fitted a Fiat Punto servo on the back of the pedal box inside the car. The Mk5 rear axle also has 9 inch drums and the old Mk3 only had 8 inch, I also fitted new discs, pads, shoes and all new brake pipes.

The front suspension has also been completely overhauled and the front cradle was shot blasted and powder coated, new top and bottom wishbones fitted and swivel joints, all new bushes fitted and track rod ends replaced, also 2 new shockers fitted.

The new gear stick which came with the 5 speed box is angled back and is much easier to reach but it came over the top of the handbrake so I had to move the handbrake back 6 inches, this left a hole in the carpet so I fitted all new carpets, and the final touch was to have the bumpers re-chromed.

Its just passed its MOT today (21-6-03) and will be on the road on the first of July, so I will be taking it to the Harrogate show on Sunday 17th August, hope to see you all there.

John Knott

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