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Project biota is underway!!

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As some of you remember I not so long ago bought myself a little project known as a Biota. Click here to see the original post. http://www.briskoda.net/forums/general-car-chat/can-anyone-identify/67570/

Well it has now well and truly started. After much research it has been discovered that this is one of only 31 cars ever made, of which 6 are known to survive, 3 in Japan, 2 in Norway, one in surrey and then ours is the 7th!!

So as such all cars are different (great that really helps!), and there is next to no information on them.

It is essentially a space frame with a GRP body, no doors, or roof, only 2 seats and a few mini bits bolted on.

I think it is fair to say that our car has suffered in its 36 years. It was reportedly in a scrap yard in Kent about 15 years ago after having suffered a front end smash, and has ever since slept outside with nothing more than a plastic sheet covering it until just before Christmas.

It was then dried out and the stripping commenced.

1.This is a front back photo showing the fiberglass fuel tank in the rear


2.Next is one showing a random piece of framework we think is to hold part of the bonnet. Also you can see the original wiring loom


3. This is the coil over suspension that is on the rear of the car, and the mini rear radius arm.


4.From the inside looking forward through the dash it is possible to see the space frame, and the wrap around of the body.


5. This is the rear of the car that i have started to sand down, it is not metallic paint, just a bit of a bad finish! Here you can see that it has been as many as 5 colors on top of the GRP which is a nice shade of blue.


6. This is showing the coming together of several bars below the dash on the drivers side, here you can see how it has unfortunately rusted. It is however in remarkable condition for its age. Also in the background it is possible to see the remains of the mini exhaust bobbins, on the hanging bracket for the exhaust. When complete it is a side exit system.


7.This shows the worst of the rot/rust in the same place on the passenger side, the fun will begin with the welding.


8.This is from the front looking back. This is the first time since 1970 this car has been this far back to basics. Unfortunately the discovery of the rotten bars means this is necessary.


9.This shows the handbrake from what should be through the aluminum floor, this has been removed to aid replacement of the rotten bars. The car has been so damp the handbrake is actually sized solid in the down position.


10.This is the car from underneath with the aluminum removed, showing what the bars looked like, we feared all these would be wrecked, but apparently they actually cleaned up well. This also shows where everybody else's painting stopped.


11.This is the same shot, prior to removal of the aluminum floor.


12.This shows the drivers side mountings for the front sub frame, here there is evidence of a bad repair to the frame work, possibly from the crash damage. Where the engine steady bar is mounted on the cross brace, it is hiding the fact that the 2 sections of tube either side are not actually joined.

I hate to think what may have happened if anyone had tried to drive it like this!


13.A shot form the inside showing the rear coil over, unfortunately it has worn the fiberglass way on both sides.


14.It is possible to see from this shot of the bonnet the amount of damage that has occurred to the bonnet over the years, all of which has to be rectified at some point. I think we need a bigger compressor for the air sander. You can also see the ply wood floor which had soaked up all the water, doing the frame work loads of good!


15.A shot to show potentially what the car would look like complete at the moment.


16.Here you can see the ply wood floor in the bottom of the shot, and to the left of the lamp is the chassis plate.


17.Another shot of the boged repair to the drivers side of the frame where we think it goes.


18.The passenger side mount, gives and idea of what the drivers side should look like.


19.The corner showing the state of things the engine side of the bulk head.


20.The float in the fiberglass tank.


21.The last photo shows the start state inside, the gear lever is the chrome piece that is pointing to the drivers foot well, that is also sized solid, as were the brake and clutch pedals.






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Ever since my last post, things have steadily progressed with the project.

Due to the corrosion on some of the space frame mostly concentrated around the lower parts of the chassis, it was decided that it was necessary to replace some of the frame.

We assume to to having been stored outside for a long while that this has caused some of the deterioration of the frame, lets face it though this chassis is nearly 37 years old!! Thats got to be pretty good going in anyones books.

The decsission was therefore taken that it would be best really to cut part of the fiberglass away due to the corrosion being fairly near to it, and the fact that were going to have to weld in the area coupled with the flammability of fiberglass.

1. This shows how the body wraps around underneath the car.


2.This shows exactly what we have cut away. We chose to do it this way so that when it is joined again, the join should not be visable unless looking from inside, behind the various guards that will be there when complete, or unless you get right down on hands and knees with a torch looking for it.


3. This Shot shows down the side of the car along the new cut.


4. This shows the cut on the other side of the car, note how the rust doesn't really seem to have spread above the bottom 4 inces of the frame in the most part.


5. This shows the same cut from the front of the car.


6. In doing this it we also discovered that there was some damage to the front drivers side corner of the frame. This fortunalty doesnt seem to have affected anything other than this bar.


7. This is another shot from a different angle to demonstrate the damage to the bar.


8. Upon further inspection there has also been a bad repair to the top sub frame mounting point on the drivers side. This is bad because, on the other side of the car, the top rail that runs the length of the car, has a join in it to turn the end of the bar up a little, this is to allow the sub frame to sit at a tilted angle in the car, to lower the center of gravity a little apparently, but more importantly, lower the top of the engine allowing a little more clearance for the rocker cover to the bonnet.

This repair is just a straight section, but in order to compensate for it the top sub frame mounting is tilted on the bar at a greater angle than it should be, overall some of the cars strength is lost here I could guess.


9. Next we removed the entire bottom part of the chassis, in order to replace it. This shot shows the interior of the car minus the bottom of the chassis.


10. In doing this we have uncovered some more rather rotten bar that must be replaced, this is an example that is at the front edge of the rear driver side wheel arch.


11. This shows what I believe was once one of the seat mountings. I really wouldn't want to trust my life in this anymore!!!


12.This picture shows the mounting for the rear radius arms, we have had to cut away the fiberglass in order to see the frame work underneath, note you can just about see the 3 holes that are visible that can be used to raise/lower the rear of the car.


13. This shows the bottom of the chassis now separate form the car, minus a couple of sections due to being very difficult to remove as one, so rotten they snapped off, part we removed in order to order new steel.


14. This shows some of the new steel sections in the jig that we have made in order to ensure that everything goes together in the correct place etc.


15. The last 2 photos show the old chassis base on the new one in the jig. The new one is still being cut to size at this point, so it doesn't sit quite as well as it will yet but it gives a good idea, and is looking goo so far i think.


Also this past month I have in my attempt to find information contacted the motoring editor for the Sheffield local paper, due to the car having been made in the area.

See the article Here

The red car that is pictured in this article is the car that belongs to Martin Hockley, which is the car that is pictured on the mini marcos website, I have been fortunate enough to also be able to contact him for help in the process of restoration which has proved to be very helpful, this is how i was able to obtain the photos shown.

If this link becomes inactive it will probably have been removed from the system.

This has resulted in locating several of the people who were involved in the project originally, which is proving to be very helpful to us.

We have also from this had the original owner of this car contact us, apparently it was involved in sprinting and racing around the country for several years, and it even won a championship!!

If anyone happens to have any photos of the car we would be very greatful for a copy.

Up to the point when it was sold, in 1979 the car had done 90,000 miles, which is a remarkable amount of millage considering.





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Right its been a little while since my last update on this little project. Progress recently has been steady, but things do seem to happen fairly quickly.

Since the last update the base frame has been completed, as can bee seen it fiited very well when trial fitted.



But whilst doing this it was possible to see that there was some nasty looking rot further up the framework, and the only way for us to be able to access it and repair it involved us removing the side of the car.




This was a fairly daunting task as you can imagine. However this rather brave desicion became more and more necessary we realised as it went on. This is because the outer most rail that runs along the outside edge of the upper sill, ie the steel piece that is right in the corner the state of what was left can be seen here.



Luckily after some close scrutiny it was decided that the oposite side looked fine.

As you can see all that remained of the original bar in some places was the 4 corners of the bar.

Whilst doing this it was decided that it was going to be necessary to improve the design of the weak spot that was known about on these cars. This being the design of the rear suspension top mounting brackets. The problem is that, where the shock absorber mounts it causes the mounting bolt to pivot on the bracket, which slowly tears the bracket from the frame. This is pictured here.


So due to this and the condition of the surrounding metal meant that it was decided that it was going to be necessary to repalce that as well, seeing as it had to be removed to remove the really rotten section that casued us to have to remove the side in the first place this was no great hardship.


It has been dicided that to stregenthen this we are going to spread the load by putting a plate both sides of the frame rather than just the one side. This hopefully will result in this issue not arising again.

The next step was to weld the new frame in the base of the the car, and replcae all the rotten bars that needed to be replaced. The results of which can be seen here.







After this process was compleated and the bar that caused us to remove the side in the first place was all replaced, it was possible to look at repacing the bar that runs down the side of the car. As shown below.


with a little careful cutting and welding the side now fits straight on in exactly that position it should do.





We have also started to refit the front subframe, which can be seen in some of the photos above. This is proving a little more difficult than we would like as , things dont always seem to meet as we would like, but this was expected due to the bad repairs that we are now having to try and make good.

Other recent develpoments are that I have been contacted by a third Biota owner living in Essex, which now brings the know tally in this country to 3 cars.

I have also managed to contact the man who originally did all the bodywork on these cars, and he confirmed to me that the fibreglass that the body of my car is made from is the lightweight motorsport spec.

Thats all for now I think. No doubt be back again soon.

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Well progress recently has been quite slow going, and hasnt been helped with holidays, weather etc, but we have kept on plugging away at it.

One of the things that we have addressed recently is the rear suspension mountings, these I am told are a bit of a weak point.

The slightly blurry pics below are what they looked like once removed from the car, notice how they have flexed, the top of the 3 spacers has snapped off, and they have separated from their bracings.




This was fixed by making the mounting plate overlap on to the chassis uprights, and having two plates either side of the framework. Theoretically spreading the load across the mounting, as apposed to allowing the whole lot to pivot, instead of compressing the spring.

This is shown here.




That then completes the rear of the car.

The last major part of the chassis that we needed to do to complete it was to replace all the sub frame mounts at the front of the car, firstly we had to reconstruct the bottom mounting points, because of the prior damage (see the second post) we firstly cut the front bar to length, and cut the front of the bottom of the frame to length, we then intended to use the original "ear" pieces but on trying to fit them it became obvious that they were bent too far out of shape in order to for the,m to work, so in the end we made new ones, the results work quite well.



Once that was in and in the correct place all carefully checked with the original top mounts, wheelbase and cross dimensions all checked and rechecked.

It became time to bite the bullet, and cut the top mounts off to replace them, something we didn't want to do, but had to due to the rot which had unfortunately had caught these it was necessary, the drivers side had also been badly repaired at some point.



as well as this we have also replaced the strut bracing that was originally slightly bent, and out of line, so the finished product came out looking ok.





So now the chassis is pretty much finished, next job is to paint it all, then the fiberglass can go back on.

As well as this I have been contacted by two more Biota owners, one is in restoration, the other sounds like it is in need of some.

One of these is also the first car to be built by the factory, and is chassis number 1.

Now that brings the total tally up to 5.

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Nice to see things progressing, all be it slowly. Look forward to seeing all bits put back on the chassis.

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