Cpt.70's NotAHonda - 1983 Triumph Acclaim L

captain_70s

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Oops I did it again, as Britney would say.




I've been on the hunt for something to replace my '05 Civic as daily driver as it costs £560 to insure and there are numerous niggles that need to be fixed which will cost more than the car is actually worth. Essentially anything within my budget was going to be about £800-1000 a year to insure because city life, yo. Then I glanced at the Dolomite's insurance, £200, because classic car. Hm.

Then this Triumph Acclaim cropped up for sale in Kirkcaldy, about 60 miles away from me, on eBay with no reserve... I know one of the previous owners of this car, the chap who shifted my Dolomites around on his low loader, the Acclaim used to be his wife's daily driver. When he sold it in 2013 I was tempted but had no money having only just bought/repaired my Dolly 1300. It went to a young bloke who fitted alloy wheels, bucket seats, a big stereo and smoked the rear lights, he then broke the engine and sold it as a non-runner which would turn over but not fire. The guy who bought it found that the timing belt had snapped, but the Acclaim has a non-interference engine, so a new belt was fitted and it fired right up! He also had the car resprayed for reasons I don't really understand, anyway he then sold it. The next guy is a bit of a Triumph nut but is suffering from the classic "too many shit old cars" problem, hence it ending up for sale. I'd been keeping my eye on it for a while, first up at £1.5k, then £1.2k, then £995, then it cropped up on eBay with a £200 start.

Obviously the only course of action was to go out on the piss the night before the auction ended and put in a cheeky bid. The following morning I woke to find I'd bought an £850 car with a month of MOT left, unseen. Classic.

So, what is a Triumph Acclaim? It's a Honda Ballade. What is a Honda Ballade? It's a Honda Civic with a boot. Specifically a Mk2 Civic, this is from the period where Austin Rover and Honda had a deal going on which resulted in Japanese cars being sold as Triumphs and Rovers after BL fucked everything up. The Acclaim is also the most reliable BL car ever, officially. It had the lowest number of customer complaints of any car sold by BL, possibly due to it being a Honda.



I went to collect it last night, so the first I saw of the car was in the dark and rain. I fired it up, chatted to the PO about Triumphs for a bit, handed over an envelope full of £850 cash, and then hit the road. I stopped for fuel and found out that the Acclaim's petrol cap lock turns the opposite way to the Dolomite's, I found this out by snapping my only door key in the lock, the spare was already snapped. Ok, so not a fantastic start but the ignition key is separate so I mangled the petrol cap lock enough to get it open shoved £30 of unleaded in and hit the road again. I had noticed the exhaust was blowing a little bit but as I went to overtake a lorry on the motorway the downpipe and manifold decided they'd really rather not be friends any more and parted ways. The remaining 40 miles of the trip can best be described as "loud", driving through Glasgow itself was embarrassing. I arrived home, went to bed, woke up, went to work, came home.

This was the first time I'd seen the car in the daylight. It's... Pretty alright actually. It drives really nicely and has only done a genuine 61,000 miles, the engine is a nice little 1.3 OHC which is happy to rev and sounds surprisingly fruity with it's twin carbs. It has a 5-speed manual gearbox which works nicely and is much tighter than the Dolomite's and smoother than the Civic's. Steering is non-PAS and is light and direct, it handles well enough for what it is although understeer can be provoked quite easily in the wet, probably not aided by the fact it has four completely random 145/80/r13 tyres fitted. It is a bit crashy over bumps but the seats are soft cloth and cushion you well enough. Rpm in top is exactly the same as the Civic, 3000rpm @ 60mph and 3500rpm @70mph, it has about 70bhp which is enough for such a small car.



The interior is quite spartan, the "L" was the lowest spec car in the range and you don't even get front seat headrests or a dipping mirror which the Dolly 1300 came with as standard! On the flipside everything works, it's all well laid out and is cool in a late 70s, plastic, Japanese kind of way. I do get a digital clock (optional) as well, which is nice.



The bodywork is... Meh. It looks presentable from a distance but it's had a crap blow over paintjob and there is plenty of overspray to deal with. There are some messy welded patches to the rear of the sills and the rear arches and lower rear wing are a bit frilly, no wonder it didn't sell at £1500! Overall it's nothing I'm too concerned about for a daily driver, patch her up and roll on! Also the tinted rear lights are shit, thankfully there is a set of proper ones in the boot. Also the front Cibie fog lights don't work. :(





I started on the exhaust after work today, cleared away a shit ton of bodgery in the form of Gun Gum repair paste and unbolted the downpipe flange from the manifold.




It doesn't look massively rusty, I reckon the exhaust is loose as it rocks about easily and is sitting low at the back. I'll have a nosy at the mounts when it's next not fucking freezing and raining.
 

GRtak

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Is that like the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times"?

No offense Cap, I hope you enjoy the car, but I think it is a bad idea.
 

MWF

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If you can find an Acclaim with low mileage and in good condition they aren't a bad car for their time, and the BL badge means they aren't suffering from current classic uber inflation as much as their JDM nagged equivalents. Only time will tell if the Cap needs to stock up on Gordon's gin and Scweppes' tonic to go with his lemon. I approve.
 

gaasc

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As do I. It should be the most reliable BL car...in the world. And cheap to run as a daily to boot.
 

CraigB

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My first car was a Japanese wagon version of this. I approve!
 

MXM

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Hm, I didn't know this existed. A pretty good looking car.
 

luokyio

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That's not bad at all. An old Honda with low mileage should serve well unless it rusts away. Best of luck with that :)

PS. do their prices go already up hence the classic status? I've always thought UK used car prices are ridiculously low but that's a bit more expensive what that would go for here?
 

captain_70s

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luokyio;n3547588 said:
PS. do their prices go already up hence the classic status? I've always thought UK used car prices are ridiculously low but that's a bit more expensive what that would go for here?
As far as my insurance company is concerned anything over 20 years old = classic!

5 years ago you could picky up a tidy Acclaim for about £500-600, now they happily sell for £1500, mine was cheap because it needs obvious work and is in Scotland where old cars always fetch less money due to lower demand. If I fixed the immediate issues and did a bit of detailing and intensive cleaning I bet I could sell it for £1000+. Most BL cars are already well on the rise, only resto projects are cheap, other brands are insane. Hillman Avenger 1.2s fetching £2500, what is this madness?!

The Acclaim has been spared a lot of price inflation as it is the most old man car which ever existed, they were a popular retirement car when new and have the "old man with flat cap" image. Even so a few people after cheap JDM cars (old Hondas, Datsuns etc now command £1500+ even when full of holes) will buy Acclaims and rebadge them as Hondas and then utterly fuck them with the usual JDM scene lowering, huge wheels, too many stickers etc.

MWF said:
Only time will tell if the Cap needs to stock up on Gordon's gin and Scweppes' tonic to go with his lemon. I approve.
I work for Bacardi now so I'm obliged to use Bombay. ;)
 
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MWF

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I just re-read the first post while rested and sober.

You bought this car online while drunk, then paid for and collected it at night in the pissing rain???

I know your life seems to have improved somewhat over the last little while, and Lord knows it's a blessed relief to us all, but it's also comforting to know that underneath it all, when it comes to cars you're still, basically, a complete fucking idiot! ;)
 

captain_70s

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AND it only has a month of MOT and the exhaust fell off on the drive home. It's all in the details.

Been underneath the thing today for a poke aroumd, it is remarkably solid to the point where it was up on stands on the factory jacking points and everyfink. The inner front valance support is gone and the rear valance is wafer thin but structurally it's sound!

The exhaust is a bit shabby, lots of repairs and it sits fucking terribly. The downpipe is actually still thick metal, looks like it's snapped due to the stress of the front mount being missing the centre mount being... this:



Should be an easy enough fix, once it stops snowing...

Oh, I also blacked the bumper corners up with linseed oil, because priorities.


 

Matt2000

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Well, it's certainly more interesting than your other Honda was and it'll probably be more reliable than either of your other Triumphs will be. Surely that's a win.
 

public

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Not too bad! It's probably one of the few British cars from its time that one would dare to buy, but it's also an old Honda in Britain, so... :lol:

Anyway, good luck and I hope it's not too rotten!
 

captain_70s

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Tightened up the alternator belt and pulled the rest of the downpipe off this morning before work. It's actually pretty solid so I'm going to try and weld the flange back on and fabricate some more substantial mounts. Of course as soon as I'd gone through the hassle of lowering a power cable down to the street from my 3rd floor flat my angle grinder decided it wanted to die and I couldn't be arsed cleaning up the metalwork with a wire brush. Looks like tomorrow morning's job will be dismantling my angle grinder...
 

captain_70s

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Bloody weather, slowing progress...



Right, angle grinder was dismantled, turned out the Chinese child labourer who made it had routed a cable right next to the mechanism inside so turning the grinder on instantly severed it. I reattached the wire with the professional "twist the ends together and apply black electrical tape" method, rerouted the cables and ended up with a working angle grinder. I then tidied up the flange (ha) and end of the downpipe (ha) and stick welded the two bits back together in my back yard. You don't get to see the welding because it is fucking terrible, it is however holding the exhaust on for now... Tomorrow I'm going to pick up some new wiper blades and something to make a functioning exhaust mount out of as the whole thing rattles like a bitch due to the jubilee clip bodgery.

I also swapped the smoked rear lights for stock ones:




The smoked examples just looked dirty and were dim as fuck to boot, swapping them also gained me a working reverse light.

I also re-attached and insulated this mess:



The fact I never shorted out the ignition with my knee while driving home is quite impressive. The passenger side door lock being non-functional from the outside, missing steering lock, severed cables and loose ignition barrel suggest this car has been broken into and hotwired at least once...

I also attacked the door cards with some warm water and fairy liquid with pleasing results!




Found some rot behind the rear seats that has been patched up at some point and there is another patch in the boot near the rear shock tower but I don't think any of it is an MOT issue, solid enough but untidy repair work. Car drives really nicely and only the rattly, low hanging exhaust and a slightly lumpy idle let it down, I'm pleased with it although I did have to buy some METRIC spanners!

 

Andeh

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If you want to deep clean those door cards, use CIF lemon oven cleaner, just the original cream one. Put some of that on a soft nail brush with warm water, and it removes all of the filth from the grain, really does make things look like new. Then apply some vinyl cleaner, as it does dry the material out a bit.
 

captain_70s

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Andeh;n3547855 said:
If you want to deep clean those door cards, use CIF lemon oven cleaner, just the original cream one. Put some of that on a soft nail brush with warm water, and it removes all of the filth from the grain, really does make things look like new. Then apply some vinyl cleaner, as it does dry the material out a bit.
Cheers for the tip!

Trying to chase down electrical gremlins recently, unless I disconnect the battery overnight it goes flat, haven't yet sourced the cause of the drain. Judging by the amount of scribbling in the wiring section of the Haynes book of lies that came with the car I suspect I'm not the first person to have played with the wiring...
 

captain_70s

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ScarFace88;n3547932 said:
Get a multimeter and start taking fuses out one at a time.
Done! The only draw from the battery with the ignition off is 70mA from the clock. This is actually way too high, a post on another forum from a member saying how much he liked the way pressing the cover for the time adjustment buttons would light the clock up if the ignition was off made me realise something wasn't quite right as my clock is constantly lit up. Went out to check and found the button was sticking. If the clock isn't lit up the draw drops to 04mA. While this represents a considerable lowering of the draw even at 70mA/h it should still take several days to drain the battery enough that the car won't start. Given that the car has already been driven more miles in my ownership than it had in the 10 months previous I suspect the battery has been drained flat quite a few times but rarely charged and it's capacity has been largely reduced. Sitting with the clock constantly lit up on a frosty night will drain it enough that the starter can't get enough oomph (need to check the connections for that as well). Thankfully the car almost always fires on the very fire turn of the key!

I also disconnected and cleaned all the earthing cables on the car, I also popped open the air box to find it contained the ENTIRE AUTUMN...



I also bought some of that self adhesive chrome trim that old people and people who modify PT Cruisers to look even shittier seem to love so much, used it to spruce up my rubbing strips a bit. My car, being an L, shouldn't have them at all but they seem to have been on the car for ages, might have been a dealer add-on.






Not perfect but for £5 you can't really complain!

I also fitted some new 10cm speakers to replace the broken factory example and the random Alpine that were fitted previously. My car, being an L, only had one speaker as standard but I've gone mad and fitted a second one...


My ICE now bristles with dash vibrating power...

I also added an additional jubilee clip based exhaust mount to try and take some stress off the downpipe until I can get the whole lot sorted properly, in doing so the screwdriver slipped and went straight through the passenger side chassis leg in a most depressing manner. :( The other side has already been repaired (2 years ago judging by the MOT history) so I've bought myself some more welding electrodes...
 
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