Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Classic Car Restoration

Classic Car Restoration

We have made a big decision with the Austin Healey Sprite Mk3 we are currently restoring. The back end is such a bodge that we have decided to cut it all off and turn the car into a Frogeye. What we will end up with is a car that offers the best compromise – it is still a 1966 Healey Sprite to drive with the cute looks of the Frogeye but with disc brakes, seat belts, a heater and decent weather gear. We have found that the full on original Frogeye we are currently running on our hire fleet is often a bit too much for our customer who are used to modern cars so this will make a great compromise and we will be putting the restored version on our hire fleet.

It seems that kids are now looking for something different to arrive in for their school proms. Stretch Limos have been done so now they are looking to us to provide something a bit special. Our Ford Zodiac has never been more popular, it can carry 5 passengers and Dad gets to have a drive so it’s fun for all. All of our cars have been used for Proms and weddings at some time but the Zodiac and the Morris Minor are becoming very popular. Those who want to arrive in style are looking to our Jaguar E-type Aston martin or the chauffeur driven Pontiac Firebird which is just about the loudest way to arrive at a party.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Wheels on, engine in now its looking better!

More progress this week in our classic car restoration department with the MK3 Sprite. The front suspension is back on so now we are back on 4 wheels, and the engine and gearbox are back in so now we can push it about but it weighs quite a bit more! The cylinder head has just come back from the machine shop with new valve guides and hardened seats for unleaded fuel. The next job is to sort out the carbs, ignition system etc and get the engine running again. We then have to deal with the botched backend – classic car restoration can be such fun.

Classic CarHire is moving along with the Frogeye Sprite, Morris Minor and e-type going out on hire despite the weather. The Zodiac continues to be a very popular prom car – the kids love it and it certainly attracts attention. Drivers and passengers have to wrap up warm in the Frogeye as a heater was an optional extra in 1960 – all adds to the fun though.

We attended the Chasewater Classic Car Show on Sunday (15th April) to be honest it was a complete shambles from our point of view with our pitch being stolen by some local dogs home. We ended up in the middle of the field in an ‘un-official’ pitch but we made the best of a cold day – don’t think we will be doing this one again. The next show is a Catton Park in Derbyshire, this is usually a great show so if you come along please come over and say hello.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Beware the Artful bodger!

Working with classic cars means we get to see the best and sadly the worst of the art of restoring and maintaining old cars. Our current restoration project is definitely one of the latter. I bought this as a rust free shell, it had been hand painted but it looked rust free and would make the basis for a very nice little Austin Healey Sprite. On much closer inspection however the full horror of the bodger craft became apparent. The chassis and sills - which are the strength of the monocoque construction - are sound, so it’s a good start. But whoever fitted the outer panels was definitely not thinking about a quality finish. It is such as shame, to buy new repair panels which would make a great job and then ruin the panels and the car with such poor fitting. In this case both rear wings had been repaired with ¾ panels. These are good panels but you have to cut away the old wing first BEFORE welding on the new panels. It’s no use just trimming away a bit of rust and then tacking the new panel on top! Then trying to cover it all up with tons of filler. There panels will have to come off and be refitted. The same applies to the front wings where a very good bottom ¼ panel is available for the worst affected area, we will have to scrap these repairs and buy new panels. Despite these setbacks the Austin Healey Sprite MK3 restoration is progressing. We have stripped the car and painted the engine bay, we are now in the process of rebuilding the front suspension. The cylinder head has just come back from the engineers with new value guides and hardened seats for unleaded fuel and I have ordered a new clutch so the engine and box should go back in next week and we will continue to build up the front of the car. Meanwhile, we will be removing the rear wing repair panels and doing this job again. Classic Car Restoration - never a dull moment!