How to keep men in fluorescent jackets off the dole!

The SVA Test


The test was booked a couple of times and then postoned when I had a) problems arranging transport to the centre and b) doubts about the silliness they were going to go to in the detail. In the end, I put it in knowing it would fail. The test itself lasted three and a half hours and, as I had roped in a garage-owning neighbour for transport, the cost exceeded the test fee! I bought the chassis in '97as an 'unstarted project' and it had been lying in a garage untouched for at least ten years - long before SVA was ever thought up. I tried to build with SVA in mind, but perhaps I shouldn't even have bothered. A car with exposed suspension is doomed from the start! Still, nobody can say I didn't try! Every part that was 'contactable' was covered in plastic tube, rubber, or Tight-n-Fast and all nuts were covered regardless of whether contactable or not.











The steering wheel that I had found on eBay, covered with rubber strip, fitted with a padded centre failed because the examiner didn't find an approval mark.

On the other hand, the only interior mirror that I have ever found, suitable for this type of application,  with an approval mark, he failed because he could see more of his shoulder than was allowed!

The indicators, mounted on the same pillar as the headlamps were deemed to be just partially obscured by the mudguards and so were a failure point ( I silently put the case that that is precisely why there are repeaters fitted ). I didn't say anything!

I think that these will suffice.  


















The really important failure point that I couldn't argue with ( not that I argued with anything ) was the seat belt mountings.  If you remember, I had extended the seat backs by 10cm to make the 'effective upper mount point', the guide, through which the belts would pass before being bolted through the chassis into captive nuts. This would have been fine had the seats themselves been sufficiently strong.  The examiner, it has to be said, made a point of explaining how to overcome each failure item.  The solution to this was twofold.  Either fit seats of  sufficient strength ( which he said were hideously expensive ) or make a higher mounting platform. I chose the latter!











Other failure points ( and there were eleven of them ), were too silly to go into here,  but the really disturbing thing was the car was too dangerous to drive!

The examiner drove the car around the big open concrete grounds and, before that, ran it up to 70mph on the rollers to test the speedo., but when I drove it two miles to have the track adjusted on the optical gear, I frightened myself silly. This was the day before the retest so I cancelled the appointment. I was going to drive the 38 miles to the test centre because I 'knew' that the car had not failed on any major items.

It turns out that I had fitted my track rod ends upside down thereby altering the steering geometry and causing excessive 'bump-steer'. ( I hadn't even realized that they could be fitted the wrong way ).

If the test didn't show anything wrong, we have to ask what is the point of the test.  I think back to the examiner getting his radius checker to my bonnet catches, specifically bought to pass the test, and saying  "only just".


It must be said that the Midge hasn't been for the retest yet, but I'm quietly confident!

Part of the ' silliness ',  the cheesehead bolts were deemed to be a danger to pedestrians so got the  silicone treatment!











It must be said that the Midge hasn't been for the retest yet, but I'm quietly confident!


Me and my big mouth! With three weeks to go until the six months deadline runs out, as before, because of the bad weather, I roped in my neighbour again.....ouch.
Of the eleven fail points last time, it sailed through TEN of them!

Brakes. Imbalance front to rear. I hadn't thought much about the back axle I had fitted so long ago which was from a Mk1 Escort Sport.
I had imagined that the Mk5 Cortina discs would easily provide the heftier anchors than the Escort. For this test I simply
reduced the friction surface by one third. Result: still greater stopping power on the back!
The ( same ) helpful examiner this time pointed me in the direction of piston bore diameter!

So for another £30 retest fee I'll try that........Watch this space!

UPDATE with two weeks to go!

Having changed the rear wheel cylinders to the smallest diameter bore, I set out to drive the thirty-eight miles to the test station. Imagine the scene: dressed up like Biggles, a hint of snow, but quietly confident ...... until the car started pulling strongly to the left. I hadn't covered five miles, but I pulled into a garage when I saw smoke coming from the calliper! When I allowed cooling off time, there was no sign of anything wrong when I tested the brakes. However, something else was looming. The engine was cutting out at tick-over.

At about eighteen miles the brake problem kicked in again pulling to left then right or no brakes at all! The fluid was boiling in one calliper! I decided to throw in the towel and telephone the test station to postpone my appointment.

The journey home was, thankfully, uneventful if faster ( mostly downhill! ).

Two front callipers were fitted the next day and the test rebooked.

This time a slightly better day and I clocked up twenty-eight miles before the offside engine mounting broke! The engine problems had started again ten miles earlier, both trackrod ends had worked loose and one upper ball joint was quietly slackening itself off!

Because the RAC will not come out to an unregistered car ( despite thirty years membership )I was rescued courtesy of my neighbour and taken to his garage to have the welding done. I volunteered to sacrifice the portion of bodywork that would have made access difficult and the job was first class.

I left the Midge there overnight and phoned for yet another appoinment the next day. This time I wasn't taking any chances so a trailer was booked ( more expense).

A different examiner conducted the final test (for another £30) and the car responded by running out of petrol five minutes before he had finished. Luckily for this part we were able to push the car back onto the rollers.

Three days before the deadline!

All for a bit of paper.

To see how the side-line started click here.


During the last year with moving house the car has moved from storage in Baildon to a new neighbour's  garage just down the hill.

It moved to the new house when I converted the study back to a garage and there it rested untouched until April '07 - normal Mot time.

Apart from not wanting to start without much persuasion, the car failed on two points.

  1.  The handbrake cable that I had shortened several years before ( and had survived yanking on many times in SVA tests) decided to call it a day and shed its nipple/bullet.
  2. Both track rod ends had excessive play in them.

I took the car away, bought a new cable and sent it off to have it shortened. Fitting the new one, of course, necessitated lowering the exhaust and rear suspension.

Taking the car back for Mot, I only made it two miles from the house when the other engine mounting came adrift! A local welder and the RAC obliged that time.

Cutting an excessively long story slightly shorter,  the track end business was eventually sorted out with a new Mk2 rack, rack extensions and new track rod ends suitable for the coarser thread and the larger taper of the Mk5 Cortina.

One day I'll just go for a drive for the pleasure of driving, I hope!

Update 2010  June.

Items needed for the test included two tyres, track rod ends because of torn gaiters, new rear shockers.  Everything seemed to be going well when I eventually made it to the testing station ( my Mot guy has the patience of a saint), and it ........failed .....on too much smoke from the exhaust. It passed on hydrocarbons, CO2 and idle speed, but on the unquantifiable smoke, it failed!

With  another oil and filter change and one and a half Wynn's Stop Smoke additive and other tuning it passed.  Unfortunately, I noticed, when changing the filter,  that the engine mounting that had been welded two years ago and four paragraphs above, was rocking.  I have done a belt and braces job by thoroughly preparing the parts and bolting the mounting to the chassis before welding!

 I have been out to test the car in the sunshine and.......nothing fell off!

Watch this space


 New house in North Yorkshire.  A move to a village life and Mot time again !

I think this must Mot number seven or eight. It passed first time.  I was involved in a photoshoot for Kit Car  magazine a few days before  and luckily nothing droopped off then either.

Over the winter I have put in a new aluminium radiator and some very expensive oil additive as recommended by Quentin Willson. Wouldn't you know, this Mot chap wasn't interested in emissions because the Midge is on a Q plate!

I have already been enjoying driving round the country roads here, but I have still covered only 660  miles since I built the car.


For the latest news you will have to go to the Finished Midge page.

First look at the rear lights in the Newspaper  Cuttings  page to see how a simple job becomes a major winter project.