Changing Mirrors

Throughout its life the TVR Griffith (and Chimaera) has been fitted with the 'Supercar' mirrors originally from a Citroen, but fitted to various Listers, Marcoses, the Lotus Esprit and Jaguar XJ220. With the announcement of the end of production of the Griffith, TVR produced a final run of 100 cars - the Griffith SE. There were a number of cosmetic changes including Cerbera style seats, a revised rear light set up, revised dashboard and different door mirrors. The door mirror fitted to the SE was the mirror that is standard across the rest of the TVR range and originates from the VW Corrado.

I have never been a big fan of the Citroen mirrors - mainly because of the recesses and rubber bands that go around the housing and in my view spoil the line of the mirror. I understand that the bands do actually serve a purpose, which is to disturb the airflow over the mirror and reduce wind noise. The recesses also work very well in trapping polish! Others have complained that the mirrors catch the door tops and scratch the paint when folded in, for example when parked on a narrow street or to get in/out of a narrow garage entrance. The VW mirrors fold in without this problem.

I toyed with the idea of changing the mirrors on the Griff for a while. When I realised that the SE used the VW mirror, and knowing (hoping?!) that TVR would not have fitted them if major modification (and inconvenience) was required, I took the plunge. When I found that TVR manufacture a conversion block that fits into the existing door recess - in my mind the job was practically done! As with most things TVR, it was not quite that simple!

Here is the finished article:

My project cost £370, but only because I bought new mirrors. With second-hand mirrors, the conversion is possible for £200 - if you are able to paint the components yourself then the cost comes down even further.

I should stress that these notes refer to my Griffith 500 which was built in February 1999. TVR are notorious for changing things in the cars, so if you intend following my notes make sure you check your components are the same!

Sourcing VW mirrors

Job one was to obtain some Corrado mirrors. The Corrado has been out of production for some time, but due to its staus as a 'sports coupe' spares are expensive. There are four sources of mirrors - VW dealers - expensive at £140 +VAT per mirror, TVR dealers (tell them you want a Cerbera, Tuscan or Tamora mirror) - even more expensive at £160 + VAT, scrap dealers/breakers and after market parts specialists.

As my job does not normally enable me to visit breakers during the week - I ended up doing three things. Initially I found a specialist VW breakers in Battersea fairly close to the office: when I visited I found that the edges of the glass in both mirrors was badly corroded - this would always have bugged me. Beware, as new (heated) mirror glass is approximately £50 + VAT a throw from VW. These were the first mirrors I had seen and I passed. It is worth noting that the price was £50 cash each when I arrived and was down to £50 the pair when I left….  Market price seems to be about £45-55 each. If you are prepared to look I'm sure you'll find good ones out there.

I phoned round a bit more (mainly using numbers from the VW Corrado Club of Great Britain website: www.vw-corrado-club.co.uk ) and mail ordered a pair of second hand mirrors from a place in Bristol - £90 + VAT for the pair. The chap confirmed that they were unmarked and the glass was not corroded. However, when they arrived, all was not as described - one mirror was quite badly scraped. There is a lesson to be learned here - never buy anything second hand without seeing it first! But at least I had some mirrors and I took the damaged one apart to see how it worked to give clues about the wiring.

I now have a spare driver's mirror in good condition that I will be selling for £50….

As I'm a really fussy git, I ended up buying some new original VW mirrors from GPC, 504 Dunstable Road, Luton, LU4 8DL - telephone 01582 728 892. These cost £89+VAT each - expensive (but a big saving on the price from a VW dealer) and would be guaranteed ding-free and shiny!

There is also a small black plastic gasket that fits under the mirror column, between the body of the mirror and the car door. It is supplied with new mirrors, but make sure you get them if buying second-hand. VW dealers charge £4.73 +VAT (each!) which is outrageous for what they are! It is worth getting new ones if the old ones are in poor condition - the edges are visible when fitted. The VW part number is: S535857543 01C (the first digit could be a 5 - it is difficult to read the VW parts man's writing!)

Removing existing mirrors

I set about taking the existing mirrors off the Griff. Here is a major learning point. I studied Steve Heath's excellent book on the Griff/Chimaera and it referred to a nut on the inside of the door that holds the mirror on and needs to be undone. This only partly true - there is a nut, but it is embedded in the fibreglass. In finding this out I discovered that Steve's book was also incorrect when describing how to get the door inners off. Mine had 4 hidden nuts holding it on, and 6 self tapping screws on the inner - the book referred to just one hidden nut! Took me hours with my arm stuffed inside the speaker hole in a scene reminiscent of James Herriott/pregnant cow!

But not to worry - you don't need to go inside the door at all to remove the mirror - you only need to remove the door speaker to gain access to the wiring plug - this needs to be disconnected (and, unfortunately, then cut off) to remove the mirror.

To get the mirror off, simply rotate the whole mirror anti-clockwise - lean on it hard and it will turn. If it starts to rotate without unscrewing then it has come loose on the mounting collar. This is not insurmountable but it is a pain!! If this happens send me an e mail or consult Steve Heath's second edition book - there is far more detail on mirrors in the second edition than the first.

Conversion mounts

These are available from TVR through the dealer network. Ask for the mirror-mounting block from the Griffith Special Edition. Do not let your dealer convince you that the block only comes with the mirror (mine tried to - 'They only come as a complete unit, sir'). The TVR part numbers are B1122 and B1123 (description 'Mirror spacer CE LH/RH) and they cost £17.50 each + VAT. The factory make these to order and I received mine after about a week. They are designed to fit into the circular recess in the door and the new mirror screws into the block. They look like this straight from the factory:

The blocks are complete except for a hole you need to drill to accommodate the mirror wiring. This is a bit of a leap of faith. I drilled a small pilot hole from the back of the block, then gradually increased it to 10 mm. The trick is to get the hole fairly central between the 2 mirror screw threads, but so that the hole goes through the circular recess close to the edge, thus missing the large brass mounting nut on the underside, plus the one embedded in the door.

Once I had drilled the block I dry fitted it to the car and drilled through the block and the door. If like me you are a bit squeamish about taking a drill to your pride and joy, don't worry - the block covers any mistakes.

Drill the holes before you have the blocks painted! Once drilled and painted they look far better:

The circular recess in the door, with the large original mounting hole plus the smaller, 10mm hole I made for the wiring to the left is shown above. The method I decided on for attaching the blocks was to use an M12 bolt, 25mm in length, with a large (40mm washer). The bolt passes through the large hole in the door you see above (hence the need for a big washer!) and screws into the thread on the base of the block.

To stop the whole lot rotating I used black Sikaflex sealant to part bond the block into the door and to stop water getting in under it. I had some Sikaflex anyway from sealing the headlamp inspection panels - if you don't have any you can order it through a marine supplier on the internet. I forget the name, but the tube of sealant costs £11.99 (ouch!). Don't be tempted to use silicon sealant from B&Q - it cannot be painted over later and is not as durable. Another tip here is to wear disposable gloves - Sikaflex gets everywhere!

Block successfully fitted:

Wiring and Mirror ECU

This was my biggest problem. The Citroen mirror is fed by 5 cables: two do the heated element and three drive the two motors - an earth with a +ve feed for up and another +ve for right. These three switch polarity to do down and left.

The VW mirror has a different solution - with one motor for left/right and a direction 'clutch' which gears the same motor for up/down. Again, two wires for the heater - but this time 4 cables for the directional movement. In the VW case there is an earth and +ve to do left/right (again with a polarity switch). The other two cables feed the magnetic clutch. 6 cables in total! This was a setback, as I had been expecting a straight swap on the wiring front. I only had 5 cables and the VW mirror needs 6! One cable short!!

After some enquiries with the factory, I discovered that there is a two pin connector in the door, wired into the mirror control unit, which is unused. This connector provides the required 6th wire.

As you need to cut the existing 5 pin connector off the Citroen mirrors to extract the cables through the door- you can re-use the connector for the new mirrors. You will also need a 2 pin male connector for the 'extra' wire - I got a pair from my local TVR specialist - they are a common TVR part and they had some old ones lying around.

If you are lucky enough to have a late mirror ECU, then a simple modification to it will enable the VW mirrors to work. If not, then you will need to mess about with relays or buy a later mirror ECU (or one from a crashed Tuscan/Cerbera). A new Cerbera ECU costs £78.20 +VAT (quote from Peninsular). You could try calling Douglas Valley Breakers (01257 472866) who break TVRs. You need to tell them where to find the ECU on the car - on the Cerbera it is up in the near side footwell. TVR confirmed to me that the ECU has remained unchanged throughout the life of the Cerbera, and uses the same 16 pin connector that is in the Griff/Chim loom. I haven't tested this theory though!

The mirror ECU looks like this:

It is found under the dashboard on the drivers side - accessed by sticking your head in the footwell! It is held on by two cable ties (note these are doubled up ties, so unless you have very long cable ties, you will need to use the same method to reattach it).

Having removed it, I unscrewed the end of the ECU (you can see the screws in the picture) and noted the description written on the printed circuit board. After discussion with the factory, they confirmed that it would run the VW mirror, simply by snipping the black wire in cavity 16 of the connector. Please note though, that mirror ECU's that pre-date mine (Feb 1999) are unlikely to prove compatible.

The wiring for the VW mirrors is as follows:

Blue motor 1
Black motor 2
White clutch1
Brown clutch 2
Brown/red heater 1
Black/red heater 2

They work like this:

To move up
Motor 1 = 0v
Motor 2 = 12v
Clutch 1 = 12v
Clutch 2 = 0 v

Down:
Motor 1 = 12v
Motor 2 = 0v
Clutch 1 = 12v
Clutch 2 = 0v

Left:
Motor 1 = 0v
Motor 2 = 12v
Clutch 1 = 0v
Clutch 2 = 0v

Right:
Motor 1 = 12v
Motor 2 = 0v
Clutch 1 = 0v
Clutch 2 = 0 v

The information I got from TVR was that the VW wires (listed first) should be connected to the following wires in the doors (i.e. that terminate in the two and five pin connectors):

Drivers side:
Blue = pink
Black = red/blue
White = black/yellow
Brown = black
Brown/red = blue/orange
Black/red = black

The orange wire in the two pin connector is not required.

Passenger side:
Blue = light green
Black = slate
White = black/red
Brown = black
Brown/red = blue/orange
Black/red = black

Again, the orange wire is not required.

Finally, the wires on the VW mirrors are not quite long enough to meet the connectors in the door. I made some extension cables from ordinary household cable and connector blocks - noting carefully which pin in the connector corresponded with which terminal in the block, so that I would end up with the connections as noted in the guide above.

Painting

Obviously you will need to get your mirrors and blocks painted to match the car. When you phone for a quote tell them that there is no dismantling to do. Body shops which specialise in TVRs are well used to re-spraying door mirrors due to stone chipping. This job should be simpler for them as everything is off the car and you may therefore be able to get the price down. The paint shop will need the TVR (ICI) paint code which is shown in the car's handbook. I also let them have a part of the old mirror to double check the match.

Mine cost £100 all in and I was very pleased with the colour match and overall finish. 

Fitting

Everything can be done from the outside of the car, or through the speaker hole in the door. I fitted the blocks to the door first, using the bolts and Sikaflex. I applied a small amount of Sikaflex to the back of the mirror block, placed it in position and then reached through the speaker hole to do up the 25mm bolt and washer. The bolt goes through the original mounting hole, but it took a while to get it to engage as it is difficult to get the bolt to align when you can't see it and there is limited room. You can get a spanner in there to tighten things up (an 18mm spanner in my case). Do not over tighten or you risk cracking the glass fibre. It is also useful to be able to align the mirror when it is attached, then tighten the block mounting when you are happy.

Some white spirit on a rag cleans up the sealant which is horribly sticky stuff. To ensure that the cables wouldn't be trapped by the big washer now on the inside of the door, I ran the drill through the hole again once the block was fitted.

The mirror is then screwed on to the block (with the plastic gasket in between) with 2 screws - these are accessed by folding the mirror back or forward. I got the fixing screws from VW - 4 required at 60p + VAT each - they are the right length and size, plus they are self locking (VW part no. N10128201).

Connecting up

All that is left to do is connect up the wiring in the doors via the speaker holes. I also wrapped the terminal blocks in self-amalgamating tape to help stop corrosion - it gets pretty damp in the doors.

In this picture you can clearly see the 5 pin connector from the harness - with the two pin connector just behind it.

Replace the speakers and Robert's your father's brother!!

Overall costs

Item

Cost including VAT
 2 x VW Mirrors (new from GPC) + delivery £217.38
Conversion blocks £41.13
Painting £100.00
Fixing screws (VW) £2.82
Connector blocks, bolts, washers £3.00
Total £364.33

As you can see, the single biggest element was the mirrors themselves. Had I bought the mirrors from the first breakers for £50, my overall cost would have been a more reasonable £197.

Comments (30) Join the discussion on the forum

  • johno 16 Jan 2003

    Nice job !

  • griff2be 16 Jan 2003

    Here are a couple of pics of Griff SE’s with the Veedub mirrors that give a wider view of the car than I could get with mine still stuck in the garage. Also shows what they look like in different colours:

    Rosso Paul’s car no 70:



    Johno’s car:



    It was partly Johno's car that inspired me. Thanks for the pics gents (he said in a slightly guilty should I have asked first before nicking them off your profiles....!)

  • RCA 16 Jan 2003

    How do you fancy a mirror conversion on a Chimaera?, I think yours looks great and if you would like to attempt a chimaera I am very willing to pay that and a bit more on top!!!!

  • griff2be 16 Jan 2003

    RCA, you lazy bugger! The whole point of the guide was to enable you to do it yourself!!

    None of it was difficult other than figuring out how things worked/fitted together/came off/or where they could be bought from. And hopefully I've explained those bits for you now!

    Having said that, if you pay me enough to give up the day job, I'll certainly consider doing the Chimaera for you

    I wonder if someone can do a photoshop mock up of a Chimaera with VW mirrors...

  • plipton 16 Jan 2003

    Great job Andy.

    I'll be doing this to my Chimp soon (when I get time between going to work and renovating the house )

    Do you by any chance have pix of the hole you had to dril in the mount? I don't quit efollow. Perhaps all wil become clear when I have mine in bits in front of me.

    As mentioned before, I think my ECU will need to be changed (or I'll use a few relays to achieve the same)

    Anyway, Well done and thanks for posting the story.

    Plipton

View all comments in the forums Make a comment