OUR CARS – TOR­RENS

KEEP­ING THE SIGMA ON THE STRAIGHT AND NAR­ROW

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS - WORDS & PHO­TOS GLENN TOR­RENS

MY MATE Johnny 2-Pack seems to have ab­sorbed a cou­ple of life­times worth of wis­dom. His knowl­edge is the re­sult of his me­an­der­ing through sev­eral ca­reers – high-school art teacher, TV set con­struc­tor for the ABC, opal miner at NSW’s re­mote outback set­tle­ment of Light­ning Ridge, car­pen­ter/ builder and panel beater/ spray painter… That lastlisted job giv­ing him his nick­name ‘2-Pack’ af­ter the type of paint used by the crash re­pair in­dustr y these days.

So un­like many oth­ers, when Johnny speaks, it’s be­cause he has some­thing to say, not be­cause he has to say some­thing. And af­ter driv­ing my ’82 Mit­subishi Sigma for the bot­tle-shop run a cou­ple of times, Johnny said that I should in­stall power steer­ing.

He had a point. The Sigma was built in the era when things such as elec­tric win­dows, cen­tral lock­ing and power steer­ing were ei­ther ex­pen­sive op­tions or sim­ply not avail­able on Aussiemade fam­ily cars. And even though I grew up with now­col­lectible 70s and 80s cars such as Kingswoods, Fal­cons and of course Sig­mas, I cursed my Sigma’s heav y steer­ing ev­ery time I drove it – it was heave-me-out-of-the­seat cum­ber­some.

Johnny backed his opin­ion by men­tion­ing that any­one un­der about 30 years old these days has grown up with power-as­sisted ev­ery­thing – even tooth­brushes! – so as lovely as my one-owner, shed-find, fac­tor y-spec , time-warp Sigma is, the heav y steer­ing might scare­off some po­ten­tial buy­ers if I ever wanted to sell it. My Sigma has the com­fort of air-con­di­tion­ing, so power steer­ing would be the cake un­der the ic­ing! (ged­dit?)

So I de­cided to retro-fit power steer­ing. I found what I needed – the pump, hy­draulic lines, steer­ing box and steer­ing col­umn

– at a spe­cial­ist Mit­subishi wrecker in Ade­laide. How­ever, I live 1600km east of Ade­laide and although the wrecker feller was will­ing to re­move ev­ery­thing from the donor car and pack­age it, freight­ing heav y car parts can be ex­pen­sive.

“WITH POWER STEER­ING, MY SIGMA IS A COM­FORT­ABLE REG­U­LAR DRIVER”

Quite con­ve­niently, Johnny 2-Pack’s brother Mark (yes, be­ing Johnny 2-Pack’s brother, he’s known as Marky 2-Pack!) lives in Ade­laide and vol­un­teered to col­lect the parts and de­liver them to me dur­ing a hol­i­day road trip. Leg­end!

With all the re­quired com­po­nents de­liv­ered from Ade­laide, one af­ter­noon I jacked the Sigma onto chas­sis stands, re­moved the stan­dard steer­ing sys­tem and swapped-in the later-model power-as­sisted com­po­nents. At the same time, I stripped the front struts and in­stalled fresh Mon­roe gas dampers, match­ing them with a new pair of Mon­roes un­der the rear. Af­ter 35 years, the old shock­ies were loose and the car han­dled like a bowl of milky Weet­bix.

Job done! It’s no Brock Com­modore, but with its fac­tor y-spec power steer­ing, four fresh tyres and a quar­tet of sharp dampers, my time­warp Sigma is now a ca­pa­ble and com­fort­able reg­u­lar driver.

The ‘new’ power steer­ing pump, box and lines, as de­liv­ered, next to the old stan­dard stuff. 01

Four new Aussiemade Mon­roe dampers to re­place the bitsa-miss­ing orig­i­nals. 03

02

The power steer­ing re­quired the Sigma’s steer­ing col­umn be swapped, too.

04 The ball-joints were in good con­di­tion but I re­placed the per­ished dust boots.

05

Spring com­pres­sors are es­sen­tial when dis­as­sem­bling struts for fresh dampers.

A lit­tle trans fluid poured into a strut hous­ing helps new dampers dis­si­pate heat. It’s an old rally-car trick. 06

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