Make...   Rochdale.
Model...   GT.
Engine type and size...   Triumph Spitfire 1500cc.
Gearbox...   MG Midget 4 speed.
Brakes...   Front... Triumph discs.
  Rear... MG Midget drums.
Suspension...   Standard Triumph Herald.
  Coils spring and dampers on MG live axle using Olympic phase 1 type rear radius arms.
Wheels and tyres...   4" steel rims with different offsets front and rear.
Exterior...   Gloss Black.
Interior...   Black.


This restoration is one of the more unusual ones we have taken on, in the field of Rochdale's the GT is one of there older designs and the intended platform for these body shells is the E93A Ford Popular.

This car was built late in the production of GT's and was fitted to a Triumph herald chassis. All we got to work with was a very poor body and an old Triumph Herald chassis, everything else had long since gone. Once again all the paint was removed off the shell to establish the condition of the body below, as you can see from the pictures it was in fairly poor condition. The first job was to repair as much of the shell as needed to make it structurally sound so that we could remove it from the chassis and start work on that.


Once repaired the body was removed from the chassis so that we could start work modifying the chassis to fit the car properly. The biggest problem with fitting a Rochdale GT shell onto a Triumph chassis is the difference in wheelbase of the Triumph compared with the Ford E93A which the shell was designed to fit onto.

By using the Triumph as a base the wheels don't sit central in the wheel arches. This means you either have to live with it (as the first builder did) or you have to find some way of matching the wheelbase of the chassis to that of the shell. As I am not a lover of swing axle rear suspension as fitted to the Herald the decision was made to match the wheelbase by removing the swing axle completely and fitting a bevel driven live rear axle from an MG Midget. This was achieved by cutting everything off the chassis behind the rear cross member, and hanging the new rear axle on radius arms as used on the Olympic, by doing that we maintain the integrity of the design and achieve our goal of balancing the cars proportions.

The pictures on the left show the start of the fabrication work on the rear of the Triumph Herald chassis. The first job was to establish just how long the new radius arms needed to be and fabricate the supports for the top of the spring and damper assemblies.

Having hung the new rear axle assembly onto the chassis in the correct place it was then necessary to add the strength needed to allow the new suspension to work in the was it was designed to work. At this point I was also thinking about torsional rigidity of the newly modified chassis, the thought occurred to me that I could use a roll cage to support the rear of the chassis and with the addition of a fabricated transmission tunnel and fabricated driver and passenger foot wells could not only regain any lost strength but actually enhance the structure of the (now) space frame chassis.

All the main chassis fabrication was done using a TIG welder.


The pictures on the left show the basic roll cage and foot well panels being fabricated.

At this point we also swapped the Triumph uprights from side to side, this allows the engine and gearbox to sit about 8" further back in the chassis for better balance.

The pictures on the right show the finished chassis before and after paint.

Far right the rolling chassis has been built up with all ancillary parts fitted, the engine, gearbox, clutch, and brakes have been fitted too.

The car currently sits on it own wheels and is now waiting for the wiring loom to be fitted and terminated before being fired up and tested.


Now we have a more or less finished chassis the time has come to start the long drawn out process of preparing the bodywork for paint and subsequent re fitting to the chassis. At this point I decided that since we were going to be using Morris 1000 window frames in the best traditions of Rochdale Motor Panels that we might as well use the rest of the door furniture from the Morris too.

As simple as it sounds we did have to modify the GT doors to take the Morris 1000 door handles, the series of pictures below show how this was done.


The first job is to take a mould from the inside of the Morris 1000 door skin, two of these would be needed, one for each door.

The next stage is to cut out a portion of the GT door skin (in the correct position) to accommodate the newly manufactured repair panel. This hole is then recessed so that the repair panel sits flush on the outside of the door. It is then bonded into place as can be seen on the right and below

With the door modifications done we can start to finish the preparation of the main body shell for painting and refitting.

We mould into the body any extra strengthening pieces which are necessary, in this case I decided that the front and rear lips needed to be strengthened so that they could be mounted onto the chassis without cracking or distorting. The picture on the left shows this process being done while the shell is still light enough to be manhandled easily.

Below are a few detailed pictures showing the repairs we had to make to the underside of the GT body shell before we could carry on to prepare it for painting.

Below a few detailed pictures of the body repairs on the outside of the GT shell.


After the extensive repair work we had to do to the GT's basic shell, both underneath and on the main body surface it was nice to finally get down to some good old paint preparation work.

The body was given the normal treatment and finally finished in high build primer.

At this stage we also decided to fit the doors to the body shell the final paint colour could then be applied.




The final coats of finish colour have been applied and as can be seen from the pictures adjacent the finished shell looks the part.

Having been asked to do the car in black I have to admit to a little feeling of trepidation, as black is a very unforgiving colour on any car let alone one which is almost 50 years old and made of glass fibre.




It was now time to mate the two parts of the car together once again and the question was have we managed to successfully build a chassis which could take our newly painted body shell without too much cutting and shutting.

The end result speaks for itself, yes we managed with a little persuasion to mount the two bits of the car together and the end result we think is actually quite sweet.