Old Tornado- Bringing Back to Life

I recently acquired an old Tornado kit that had been partially built. I am told the first owner died, and the second owner kept it in a garage for a decade. This thread will catalog my build. I have yet to put up a thread in the introductions section. I've been looking (and dreaming) about getting my hands on a kit for years. I am only 23 years old, and the prices of this stuff was enough to scare me away. I *ALMOST* ended up with a Fiberfab Avenger project 3 years ago. Glad I held out!

The body pieces are undrilled/unmolested, the chassis is mostly unmolested, and the suspension is loosely assembled to make it a roller. I have spent the past few days doing a mental inventory on what I need to start with, and doing a LOT of research on the forum here.

My immediate problems-

The previous owner did a lot of the aluminum paneling on the chassis. This is a problem, because he rough-cut the panels and they look/fit like crap. Also, the car has been exposed to moisture in its garage environment, and the powdercoating is flaking off the frame in several spots. The worst spot is the staining against the rear bulkhead from the rust of the mild steel floorplates. The A-Arms are actually pitted to heck, and I will have to disassemble the entire suspension and strip and recoat it. I am not thrilled with the front upper A-arm "Ball Joints" which appear to be tie rod ends. Has this changed with newer cars? Regarding the chassis, though- My thoughts are to build the car, get all the mechanical systems/brackets/mounts in place and drilled, then disassemble it all, cut the frame caps off, drill the rivets to remove the aluminum paneling and extract them out the holes, reweld the rivet holes, and have the entire chassis blasted and re-coated.

I don't know if any of the sealants used are at all conducive to powdercoat temperatures, but my other option might be to trim up the panels on the car the best I can, and get everything coated as a whole. Am I being too obsessive over this? I know most of the paneling in the car will be covered... What have others done to remedy this?

I'll update this as I go! I imagine half my build days will involve heavy drinking and scratching my head. Can't wait.

Some pictures of the car-


Wow big project ahead, if it were me I would have to strip it right back and start with a blank canvas so to speak, if the work you can see appears to be of poor quality, what about the bit you can't see? Lots more work to do it this way but I'm sure you will have that feeling of, "I wish I had" if you don't...

Good luck and look forward to seeing you progress :)

Andy Green

Hi Dylan
Having started in the same position as you over 5 years ago & still not running yet! I’d do the following:
Remove all the panels, but use them as templates to avoid welding all the original holes up – I did this on my chassis, mainly as the rivets weren’t evenly spaced & in a straight line!
Work out what mods you want to do on the chassis – have a read of my build log (Norfolk Tornado) to give you some ideas. Then get the chassis blasted & either paint or powder coated. I debated a long time about getting it powder coated, but I’m glad I painted it, as it’s easy to touch up when late welding mods have been needed.

Good luck with the build
Hi Andy,

I have been slowly chewing through your build log. There is a TON of helpful info there! What did you actually use for the chassis paint?

I have a guy I work with that welds like no other. I might pay him to spend an afternoon on the car and just weld up the rivet holes....Then I could have my OCD-soothing perfectly-spaced rivet holes lasered directly into the panels. Like Paul said, it will probably drive me NUTS seeing the uneven rivets on the bulkhead...

How many guys also paint their panels the same color as the chassis? I've seen a few mentions of it.
Hi Dylan, I would do as Andy says.
Remove all the ally panels and keep them, weld the rivet holes up and grind chassis flat.
Send it all up to the shot blasters and powder coat.
If you want to mod the chassis to suit your desired engine / box then do all these mods before the shotblast.
Make new ally panels that's easy, if you want them black do it with new panels.
What looks shit can be made to look 100% given a bit of loving care.
I restored a 59 Cadillac many years ago and the end result was superb.
Easy Job mate.... Good luck
Hi Dylan
I would go for paint as Andy suggests. I had a lot of problem with the powder coating on my Dax Chassis and that was purchased new. It started flaking off it great big pieces. That was about 5 years after I originally purchased it. I ended up taking as much of it off as I could, and painted it. Much easier to touch up when it gets chipped. That said, we are all different, and probably want different things from our cars. I like to drive mine as often as I can and don't worry too much about what weather I drive it in. I then spend quite a bit of time cleaning it up, and touching up the bits that get chipped. Enjoy yourself. You are embarking on a wonderful journey.
Stephen :thumbsup:

Andy Green

Hi Dylan
After blasting the chassis was first coated with a high zinc etch primer and then a ‘special’ black chassis paint. This I found useless, as it chipped far too easily.
Fortunately .most of the chassis is panelled and where it is exposed to the elements it’s been repainted using a non-drip gloss black paint from the local DIY shop, which I’ve found on this and previous projects extremely durable.

As Keith says, dry build everything before worrying about painting & panelling. Cleco’s are invaluable ands don’t be in a rush to rivet the panels on. Access to drill holes & fit parts is so much easier when panels can be removed.

Hi Dylan

Looks like you've got yourself a great project there. As others have said if you want the car to be a good one then strip it down and start again otherwise you'll always think you could have done the build better.

You asked about painting the panels the same colour as the chassis which is exactly what I have done. Personally I like the panels to match the chassis and it just makes the whole car look that bit more tidy. I've had all my panels zinc primed and powder coated but only do this once your sure the panels won't need to be drilled or cut again and only rivet in the panels you know won't need to come out and use plenty of cleco's

One word of warning would be on budget. You seem to have found a good and I imagine reasonable good value project car but be warned. Be realistic about what your end budget will be. Check through the Tornado website and do the sums first as things get expensive very quickly. Also have you got the Tornado build manual with your car? I am not sure if you can buy a copy from Andy at Tornado but if you can I'd suggest getting one as there are a few jobs that I would have done wrong without the manual.
Hi Trev,

Yes, I have the build manual! As far as budgetary concerns for me- I work at an aerospace shop and have access to a 2D sheet laser, and also have a simple machine shop at home. I will be fabricating many of the simple parts myself, poking away at the project in my spare time. This should allow me to get a handle on the larger purchased stuff within a reasonable budget for me!

The rough build order I've got in my head is to get the car mechanically done, take it all apart to remove the panels and rivets, reweld and repaint the frame, laser out new panels using the old ones as templates, (complete with all rivet/mounting holes,) get them painted, and then go for final assembly. And try not to fudge it up at the end.
Looks like you are doing a nice job, looks great,

Did you by the radiator by any chance? And is it sone of those off ebay.

Keep up the good work, cheers nick
Hi Andy!

Yes, the radiator is with it, and it looks to be decent, except for some bent fins. I sat down with the thing in my lap for an hour the other night and started straightening everything with a flat blade screwdriver. I plan to have it pressure-tested very soon just to make sure. The project will kick off for real in a few weeks, when I have gotten rid of my other projects for good and have it in its final place in the garage. Until then, research research research....
Hi Dylan

Looking forward to watching your build. Congrats, on finding a great project. I hope it is not too much work to refit all the panels but I'm sure you will be satisfied you took the extra time in the long run. I'm sure all the other Tornado builders on here will be happy to help you with the small details.

Good Luck!
Dylan, One of my engineers showed me a small tool for straightening rad fins. I didnt no he had this. It makes them look like new and it was cheap.

Get stuck in matey
oh, thats a handy tool, I will get myself one of those too, thats way better then straighten them with a little screw driver.
I've just about cleared my plate now and am settling in to start cutting into the chassis, remove the rivets, and get it prepped to reassemble with new stuff. Some rough plans for the project-

-I want to add front and rear swaybars. I've got a plan in my head for these, but I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has also built their own.

-I am looking at the Dart aluminum-block 302 as the basis for the engine. I've read positive reviews from people using these for street use. The block weighs something like 83 pounds, compared to 180+ for a traditional iron-block. Additional engine plans that are coalescing at the moment are fuel injection, running a single Bosch 044 pump in each tank with a swirl pot, and also using a remote-mount electric water pump. I'm not concerned about being much of a traditionalist here- I want a beautiful car with a modern powerplant, and its something that will put a bit of my own stamp on the project.

-I would like to build a proper rollcage running beneath the spider. Any pitfalls/lessons learned from you experienced builders?

-I am looking for alternative options to the very heavy stock Tornado radiator. I've actually built a few of my own before, welding tanks onto a core, etc..etc. Again...any wisdom from those of you that have been down the same road would be enlightening. I know Andy has an aluminum bolt-in option available as well. Is there any room at all to go with an upper inlet/outlet on either side, or are we all stuck with the inefficient lower inlet/lower outlet configuration? How have people handled heater core routing in the front? I read through one recent build thread debating proper routing of tubes with a remote water pump to make sure there was a steady flow through the heater core.

-I want to decide on a gearbox very soon and get it in the garage. What do people think about the UN1 gearbox? I do not want to go the ZF route for sure. Suggestions on what to do from those that have been there/done that?

Ian Anderson

Lifetime Supporter
Hi Dylan

2 Bosch pumps one in each tank and you are looking to be replacing pumps pretty often.
The Bosch pumps do not lile sucking any air or they fail
And in a GT40 the tanks are long and narrow so as soon as you brake the fuel sloshes forward and leave the pump pick up in the air.
Probably need to rethink on that one and I would suggest.
1) couple tanks together so it does not matter where the EFI return returns to one tank or the other - the levels will work out! If you don't do this you will be running a 6 way Pollack valve (They fail regularily) or a set of solenoid valves and the plumbing & electrics gets pretty complex
2) get an interruptpr type pump that can take sucking air and use that to feed the swirl pot
3) use a single Bosch pump to feed the fuel rail & mount the bosch pump as close as you can to the swirl and on the lowest chassis member possible.

Renault UN1 is a fair transaxle up to about 450 hp. That said they are getting fairly old now and there are newer options from Audi / VW / Skoda group with 6 speeds and probably able to handle power more reliably.

Thanks for the info, Ian. I've seen the Bosch pumps used successfully in many other applications, but I can appreciate that the GT40's fueling scenario is pretty unique. How many people actually couple the tanks? It seems like a very simple solution, allows you to run only one level sender unit, and would avoid most all the pitfalls of a complicated dual draw setup for EFI. What negatives am I missing here, other than the tank coupling has to be large enough to transfer fuel quickly, and the baffles have to be effective enough to keep fuel in the tank the pump is drawing from?

I am very ignorant when it comes to transaxle choices, I must admit. I am sure I will learn all about them after I make the wrong choice. (How it usually works)