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  •   Malcolm Thorne reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    SPAIN: IT WAS FUN WHILE IT LASTED!

    CAR: #Austin-Healey-Sprite / #Austin-Healey
    Run by Malcolm Thorne
    Owned since October 2016
    Total mileage 28,620
    Miles since December
    2017 report 325
    Latest costs £550

    The first big road trip that I ever undertook was 18 years ago: across France and down the coast of Spain to Gibraltar, before heading up to Seville and finally Lisbon. I then turned around and drove home.

    That 6600-mile, three-month odyssey was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and as such I didn’t bother taking any tools or spares. In spite of that, my unlikely transport (a Citroën 2CV) never missed a beat.

    That adventure convinced me that Spain and Portugal have some of the greatest driving roads in Europe, and regular readers will know that I’ve been itching to exercise the Healey on a cross-country dash to Andalucía. But being older and (supposedly) wiser, I thought it prudent to put more thought into the preparation this time.

    A trip to Moss yielded the parts most likely to halt progress: coil, plugs, points, leads, dizzy cap and the like. While I was there, I added some braided hoses (the only thing I’d not changed when overhauling the brakes in the summer, and which have transformed the mushy pedal), plus a couple of new wheels, because two needed replacing.
    I could only get silver, but a can of black paint soon sorted that. With a set of rim bands and inner tubes from the guys at Vintage Tyres, plus a pair of 145 R13 Falkens, they look the business and inspire more confidence than the old items.

    With tools and parts stowed, and the Sprite given a final once-over, María and I were looking forward to a blast down the A3 to Portsmouth followed by a relaxing cruise to Bilbao. And then I checked the weather: ‘Severe Force 9 expected.’

    I don’t enjoy rough seas, but we needn’t have worried: instead of battling wind and waves through the Bay of Biscay, the ship took shelter in Brest and remained there until the storm had passed. It was then full-steam ahead, and we arrived in Spain with just a minor delay and not a hint of queasiness.

    After lunch in Bilbao, we pointed the Sprite south – our goal for that night being Madrid, where we’d arranged to stay with a friend. In spite of snagging the rear silencer on a vicious speed hump (which left the little Healey sounding more like the big variety), the Spanish roads were a joy and it was great to be back there in a proper car.

    Avoiding the motorway, we climbed out of the Basque Country and into the vast landscape of Castilla y León where, after a series of hairpins leading to the Mirador Puerto de Orduña, we enjoyed spectacular views as the road opened up into long, fast and empty straights that could have been lifted from the Carrera Panamerica. This really is ideal sports car country, and a world away from London. With the little A-series revving its heart out we were making great progress, the clouds of the north giving way to golden evening light. All seemed well with the world, until the engine developed an occasional cough. As night drew in, we pulled over to take a look under the bonnet. No obvious loose wires, plenty of petrol getting to the carbs, and the splutter had vanished. We decided to chance our luck, but 60km short of Madrid the misfire returned, accompanied by an angry backfire as the engine died.

    By then it was pitch black and beginning to rain, so we decided to call in the cavalry. When the breakdown lorry turned up, the driver told us that the best he could do was drop us off at a hotel en route to the workshop, where someone would look at the car in the morning.

    Alas, that’s as far as the Sprite got under its own power. The next day, it seemed fine after replacing various bits, but soon came to a halt.

    This time the diagnosis was a faulty fuel pump – the one spare we weren’t carrying. Dejectedly, we got a lift to the nearest town and, after several calls, organised a hire car from the outskirts of Madrid and recovery to our destination for the Sprite. The car’s first breakdown was an ignominious end to the trip, but it is now safely tucked up at our place near Granada and I’ll be taking a suitcase full of spares when we fly down for Christmas.

    THANKS TO

    Brittany Ferries: www.brittany-ferries.co.uk
    Vintage Tyres: 01590 612261; www.vintagetyres.com
    Moss: 020 8867 2020; www.moss-europe.co.uk

    The reason for the trip: Spain is blessed with stunning scenery and fantastic driving roads – ideal for some top-down fun in a British sports car. Bull keeps a watchful eye on Brit’s progress. Thorne and Sprite, full of hope after rolling off Brittany Ferries’ Cap Finistère in Bilbao. Rear silencer damage makes Sprite rorty Oh, the shame! Healey’s saviour arrives. A trailer takes the strain for the final leg.
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  •   Malcolm Thorne reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CAR: #Austin-Healey / #Austin-Healey-100/6 / #Austin-Healey-100
    Run by Graeme Hurst
    Owned since 1979
    Total mileage (1) 66,561
    Miles since May 2015
    report 286
    Latest costs £410

    BELTING AROUND SOUTH AFRICA

    Residing out in the colonies has its benefits when it comes to enjoying classics (weather and great roads!), but the distance, cost of freight and our punitive import duty can make buying parts a trial. That is why, on my annual trip to the Goodwood Revival, I inevitably arrive in the UK armed with a shopping list.

    Last year it was the Healey’s turn, and first priority was a set of periodstyle seatbelts. Middlesex-based Quickfit SBS installed bespoke inertia-reel units in my XK150 10 years ago and so was the obvious choice, but this time the car was 6000 miles away. Not a problem: the firm has done belts for most classics and has the measurements on file, so sets can be made up and dispatched by post. Only I couldn’t decide on the colour, so stopped by to peruse samples before ordering. It was just as well because there are lots of options, including aircraft-style buckles as well as clip-and- eye anchoring points. The latter allow flexibility in locating the belts – handy for cars that have been modified or those assembled abroad (like ours) and which possibly harbour construction anomalies.

    I didn’t get a chance to fit them until Christmas, by when I had forgotten the verbal instructions from Quickfit’s foreman Pawel Podchorodecki. Luckily, the belts (which came neatly packaged with all the fasteners, spacers and anchor plates) included fitting advice, so it was just down to the choice of drill bit and deciding where to aim it Seatbelts weren’t mandatory when Healeys were rolling out of Abing don, but if specified they wer usually Britax items in light grey, so that’s what I went for. Their shiny appearance does jar somewhat with the patinated interior, though.

    Also looking overly new were the second big ticket items on the list: set of sidescreens from AH Spares. When my late father bought the car, the originals were intact but the Perspex was too opaque for them to be used. Fast-forward 37 years, and they were even worse, hence the purchase. Unfortunately, installation wasn’t as easy as the seatbelts.

    I don’t know if the measurements on CKD cars are different, but the locating hole on the tie-bar was ¼in out when offered up to the door. Some serious heat and a press would have been the only way to adjust the shape, but I had the bright idea to unearth the bars from the old sidescreens. Besides fitting perfectly, they had the bonus of making the new units less shiny!

    THANKS TO AH Spares: 01926 817181; www.ahspares.co.uk / Quickfit Seat Belt Services: 020 8206 0101; www.quickfitsbs.com

    New sidescreens replace cloudy originals. New seatbelts replicate those often fitted by the factory in period, and were straightfoward to install.
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  •   Graeme Hurst reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    AUSTIN-HEALEY 3000 MkI

    Year of manufacture #1960
    Recorded mileage 28,011
    Asking price £54,995

    Vendor Knowl Hill Performance & Luxury, near Maidenhead, Berks; tel: 01628 825110;  http://knowlhill.com

    WHEN IT WAS NEW #Austin-Healey-3000MkI / #Austin-Healey / #Austin-Healey-3000 /
    Price £1326
    Max power 124bhp
    Max torque 162lb ft
    0-60mph 11.4 secs
    Top speed 114mph
    Mpg 21

    This home-market, Lancashire-supplied Healey could conceivably be showing the genuine mileage, because all of the MoTs tally back to 1985 when it read 16,055. It’s had just three owners, the latest since 1999. Either way, the body is straighter and with better front wing/door/ sill fit than average, and has been repainted in its original colour – less the black scallops with which it left the factory. The Heritage Certificate also confirms that it was ordered with a laminated windscreen, heater, overdrive and disc wheels. At some stage the steels have been replaced by wires, which pass the pen-and-tinkly-spoke test. They’re shod with Avon ZZ tyres – always an excellent sign of an enthusiast owner – that have lots of tread, and the same on the spare. All the chrome is smart, plus it has H4 headlights and discreet orange indicators under the rear bumper.

    The upholstery was redone in 1995, and the front leather is just taking on patina. The rear seat has the factory vinyl covering, there are belts front and rear, and there’s a Moto-Lita wheel. The carpets, dash and instruments are good, sidescreens lightly scratched and the hood is okay. The engine was rebuilt in ’92 at 22,644 miles. It’s clean and tidy, with no significant leaks and still with the original-type oil filter and dynamo. The coil looks newish and under the distributor cap we find an Ignitor replacing the points. The coolant level is correct with decent antifreeze strength, while there’s clean oil to the top level. The exhaust looks fairly recent, too.

    It starts easily with a sonorous boom that’s a little louder than standard and drives smoothly and sweetly, but with a sticky right front caliper that was freed off by working the pedal. No doubt this is due to standing and more use can only improve it. If not, new calipers are circa £180. It shows 60psi oil pressure at any revs and 40psi at tickover, with temperature steady at about 190ºF, and the overdrive clicks in and out smoothly. This nicely kept BT7 will be sold with a photocopy of the owner’s manual, a large history file and Heritage Certificate, plus new MoT at sale.

    SUMMARY

    EXTERIOR Excellent panel fits; nice paint
    INTERIOR Retrimmed in mid-’90s; front seats taking on a little character
    MECHANICALS Motor rebuilt 5500 miles ago

    VALUE ★★★★★★✩✩✩✩

    For Mostly standard, in fine order
    Against One sticky brake caliper, though it might free off

    SHOULD I BUY IT?

    It has all the signs of a well-cared-for example that has suffered slightly from lack of use. And there’s one way to put that right…
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  •   Graeme Hurst reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    #Austin-Healey 100
    Year of manufacture #1955
    Recorded mileage 14,812
    Asking price £56,000
    Vendor Rawles Motorsport, nr Alton, Hants; tel: 01420 23212; rawlesmotorsport. co. uk

    WHEN IT WAS NEW
    Price £1063 12s 6d
    Max power 90bhp
    Max torque 144lb ft
    0-60mph 10.3 secs
    Top speed 115mph
    Mpg 30

    This 100 was restored from a left-handed US car repatriated in #1987 , and upgraded to 100M spec (less the cold-air box) by John Chatham. You may recall it from a Best of British sports car test with John Surtees in CASC, November #2001 . More recently, Rawles has fitted a reconditioned four-speed gearbox, and its dyno sheet shows 80bhp at the wheels. So, allowing for transmission losses, that's around a healthy 110bhp at the flywheel.

    The body is very straight, with good panel and door fits, plus the paint is pristine and shiny. It was applied only nine years ago, as part of a bare-metal accident repair by Le Riche when the car was resident in Jersey, The original numberplates are in the boot and it should re-register in the UK quite easily. Jersey is British Isles but not UK.

    The seat leather is excellent, as are the vinyl tonneau and hood, with clear rear window and sidescreens. There's a small Moto-Lita wheel, with the normal ½ in of play at the rim.

    The chassis rails are lightly dinged, as usual, although they're straight and not hammered, plus the big-bore exhaust is in fine nick. The wire wheels pass the 'tinkly-spoke' test - all sounding the same tension - wearing well-treaded Dunlop SP4s on the nearside rear and the spare, with equally sound Firestone F560s on the other corners.

    The motor is clean and tidy with no leaks and various new fuel hoses and clips. Its oil is clean and to the 'Max' mark, with coolant to adequate j level but slightly rusty. It starts readily with a throaty note from the pipe.

    There's plenty of lusty prod, with an easy gearchange and responsive overdrive. The play in the steering does become more apparent at speed, although this may just be down to the four-cylinder car's lighter, livelier character. All-drum brakes pull up well, and straight, while the gauges show at least 50psi of oil pressure and temperature steady on 170°F. The car comes with a decent history file including bills and rebuild photos, Heritage Certificate, new MoT and three workshop manuals.

    SUMMARY 1955 AUSTIN-HEALEY

    EXTERIOR
    • Fine panel fit, paint and chrome.

    INTERIOR
    • All smart; leather just settling in.

    MECHANICALS
    • Healthy John Chatham motor; recent gearbox and clutch.

    VALUE ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

    For Looks spot-on; lots of gruff go.
    Against It's not original, but would anyone really complain about the four-speed transmission?

    SHOULD I BUY IT?
    Best looks with extra grunt and the BN1's supposed 'shortcoming' eliminated. What's not to like?
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