Stevens Sienna – Prototype Resto 7

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Spraying Bob bodywork specialist cuts locations for my new Land Rover style lighting which should offer a classic look

It was eight months ago when the Sienna finally drove for the first time in decades and it was an opportunity to park her up for the summer.   Back now we face another winter of restoration. Lifted onto the stands, it is time to face the body work with all that entails plus the final assembly, although on writing this, that is weeks away. It happens rarely but when they arrive it gives us enthusiasts fresh impetus to continue onwards; I am referring to that perfect day in the garage. Eight hours where nothing goes wrong, everything fits and works, first time. I decided to abandon the 1970s trailer board lighting that illuminated the Stevens Sienna and chase a more mature look with a set of Land Rover round lights. Britpart was the name on the box and the quality is really impressive, solid units with plenty of wiring attached, they even came with bulbs fitted. Stop and tail, indicators front and rear with side lights for a mere £25.00 delivered. The dash on our Reliant Kitten based sportster was a mess, it wasn’t a pretty sight from new but after 40 years it has become embarrassing. Duct tape secured it to the body panels,

Refitted, the brush stainless cut to shape fits perfectly and the original switches work well with the fighter pilot toggle starter

so the first job was to clean up and mask up; repainted, I then set about the steering wheel and boss. The finish on both had begun to peel but after an afternoon prep and paint they could be reattached with shiny stainless fittings. We removed the old dash front and decided on a radical transformation that included replacing the ignition switch and key with a toggle switch; all very ‘Top Gun’. The original lighting, fan and hazard switches were then incorporated into a brush stainless panel with our new fighter switch and push button start. Whilst I normally prefer originality, the in-car appearance is vastly improved and the best part about the process is that our wiring all slotted into place and the 850cc engine turned over. After a triumphant day with the electrics it’s a return to the bodywork for me, eliminating defects the best I can and cutting holes for those splendid new lights. Measure twice. Weld once

Just when we thought the Mig work was over! Now all parts fit but I will need to repaint

It has been fairly busy in the garage over the past month. The bodywork on the Stevens Sienna has taken priority as I endeavour to get the panels in paint before the worst of winter arrives; hence the arrival of ‘Spraying Bob’ to discuss colour choice plus my below average bodywork, it was fortunate the mysterious veteran restorer arrived when he did. We took time to test fit the fibreglass panels and found that the rear section was distorted once in place. This was due to a miscalculation of about half an inch when we replaced the rear frame; basically, we got the angles wrong and the stress will cause the panel to crack once bolted into place. After that large step backwards we cut holes to accommodate more suitable lighting which came via a Land Rover specialist. Bob assisted in the preparation work, including removing the many imperfections that adorns the 40-year-old fibreglass panels. Those experienced in non-metal car bodies will be aware that removing every blemish is time consuming, whilst eliminating cracking is a thankless task as it tends to reappear not long after paint is applied. The

Templates, folks at ‘Blue Peter’ would be proud but it took ages and several boxes gave up their lives for our floor

n/s rear wheel arch was also trimmed allowing for the exhaust to exit but we could go no further; not without modifying the rear frame and for that I asked Alan to return with the Mig welder. The Sienna was designed with just eight body panels in total. The rear section from the rear of the driver’s door to the passenger’s side is one piece without a boot opening. The frame that supports it is all one-inch box section steel and unfortunately we cut the frame too long and then attached it at the wrong angle; oops. Alan cut away his previous welds, repositioned and tacked in the correct position. Much test fitting ensued before the rear panel sat comfortably, following this cover plates were attached hiding our misdemeanour. Internet shopping can be classic

Stevens enjoyed the limelight in 1977 although I feel the writer was looking through rose tinted glasses

By chance I found the Sienna had been road tested by Autocar magazine back in May 1977 and via the worldwide web I located a copy. The issue featured the Chrysler Avenger Estate and the 320 BMW alongside my Reliant based Stevens that the road tester described as quality, economy and fun; well it was the 1970s. Looking resplendent in black and white, the images show a young mum with two small children in the back, strange as the Sienna never had rear seats or belts, how times have changed. The stars must have been aligned, for it was at the same time I located some replacement headlights. Towards the end of last summer I was trying to source a pair of original sealed beam headlights for my Mark 2 Jaguar, I solved this by stealing them from the Sienna and now the hunt was on for a replacement set; accomplished by the power of the internet at Bowers Automotive. A really nice set of 7-inch Halogen conversions with crystal lens and flat glass, purchased minus pilot light holes for a mere £27.00. Add on a couple of bulbs and new rubber seals/gaskets for a smooth wing attachment and I should light up the countryside for under £50.00. Mend-a-Send-a

Inside a 50-year-old fuel tank sender unit is impressive and delicate but like most things classic its repairable

It was in April 2015 I boasted to have cured the lack of information offered by the fuel gauge with some deft work involving my soldering iron, well that lasted no time at all before failing again. This sender unit is typical too Reliant and whilst I was unable to locate a new version a used one arrived and was installed; this didn’t operate either. Could there be something more sinister at work here? Alan tested the wiring through to the tank, all seemed fine, and when the unit received a direct earth the needle rose to full. We decided to take the units apart as I for one had never seen how they work and consider anything electrical little more than ‘witchcraft’. Inside this tiny box of trickery is something similar to a musical harp with ultra-thin wires getting smaller and smaller. As the float rises, a thin metal strip in contact with the wires moves up and the resistance results in a rising fuel gauge; according to someone much cleverer than I. We had a broken wire somewhere and on the used unit I acquired we could see it was from the rear of the post our earth wire attached. A single sliver of wire was removed from a cable and after much delicate prodding it was attached to the ‘harp’ and then soldered to both that and the post. Refitted and brilliant I had gained nearly half a tank; hopefully this fix lasts but given my track record with such repairs I will continue my search for a new one. Grant Ford for Thanks to Simon Fitch- Brian Marshall Reliant Kitten Register- Peter Bird & Dave CorbyTags:,