Tippett 404 Coupe Restoration

One thing I have learned about embarking on a restoration of a 404C is that if the slightest sign of rust bubbling is evident on any visible panel, it’s perforated and probably much worse and more extensive that you think! The first 404C I had was a lot rustier than this one. I went into this restoration with my eyes wide open….

This car has a full history and has never been in a collision. I had an estimate of $50K plus tax CAD at Coachwerks of Victoria BC for the work – the shop had budgeted 300 hours for metalwork and 200 hours for body preparation and paint. Now, very near the end, it seems as though this estimate will be correct.

One thing that certainly helped along in the metal repairs was all the NOS panels I had accumulated. Pat, the metal master, told me that just when he thought there would be a really difficult bit to make, I usually had the OE part :

  • L and R front fenders

  • L and R rear fenders

  • R sill/rocker panel

  • L and R half floors

  • L and R floor buttresses

  • L and R rear jack mounts

  • L and R shock tower reinforcements

  • Engine hood, inner headlight circles, plus a few smaller pieces

  • Cross member

I had only two weeks to strip the car to the bare shell and get it to the restoration shop. The scope of work was to rebuild the body and paint the resulting shell, carefully fitting the trim during final preparation before painting to make sure the end result will be superb. The car was left on its suspension with the gearbox removed and the torque tube head held to the transmission mount with short bolts and nuts.

The first step was to get the car to the media blasting shop. That work cost about $3400 CAD, for stripping the entire shell and all the opening panels plus all the NOS panels. Coachwerks in the strongest terms possible recommends against stripping the shell chemically in an immersion bath, as the aftermath is really quite bad. The shell then went back to Coachwerks where work began.

With the C models (Cabriolet and Coupé), the shell is entirely welded together, including the front fenders. This certainly gives sedan and wagon owners better access to the inner fenders, strut tower reinforcements and related areas. However, removal of rear fender skins is required to properly get at the rear jack mounts and inner wheel wells.

The car was mounted to a rotisserie and the floors were cut completely away, leaving the transmission tunnel intact (above).

After tidying up the areas that connect to the floor, as well as the leading edge of the sills, the floors were welded into place with a combination of plug welds and spot welds (above).

The right sill/rocker panel, after opening up and welding repair sections in.

The right sill/rocker panel, after opening up and welding repair sections in (above).

The outer sill panel was then spot welded into place and closed up, with the anchoring points for the new floors ready to receive the new panels. The floor flanges are welded to the lower flange of the sill panels.