A week and a half ago we went to pick up the vandalised Ambassador that we won on ebay. We decided to bid for it as it just looked so sad and needs to be brought back to glory once again.
It looks structurally very sound but, thanks to the mindless vandalism, there's a bit of work to do. First job will be to get the engine to go. There's a spark and a smell of petrol but sounds as dead as a dodo. Shouldn't be too difficult though, famous last words.
We then set off for the uneventful journey home, stopping at Strensham services on the M5 for a comfort break.
Once home it was maneuvered into our garage and left as we were all pretty knackered by this time.
A good nights sleep and a few cups of tea later, the next morning we attempted to get the engine started. Once we'd discovered a connector had come adrift from the coil we found we at least had a spark but there there was very little in the way of any life from the fuel side. I went and got a gallon of fuel and we poured it in but still, no sign of any fuel proceeding from the tank to the carburetors despite the fact we could hear the electric pump working. We disconnected the fuel pipe from the carb and poured fuel directly in which, upon the turn of the key brought the engine bursting into life! It sounded okay apart from the blow from the exhaust downpipe clamps, but then white smoke started billowing from the exhaust - but as there was so little fuel getting through the engine didn't run for long enough.
There was still no sign of fuel from the fuel pump even with the engine running so I decided to remove it for further investigation as it can be removed in a matter of minutes. Once out it became clear what the problem was. There's a short piece of hose that runs from the fuel filter to the pump motor but this one had completely fallen to pieces. The only way fuel could leave the tank was if the tank was filled above the outlet pipe. I managed to find a suitable piece of pipe and refitted the pump back in the tank.
Once all the fuel pipes were reconnected we could then run the engine for longer, so we decided to fill it with water...
Things got a bit worse from that point on. The engine then ran very poorly and the white smoke, or vapour as we'd now established, got worse. We could see water being spat out of the manifold/exhaust join and pressure built up very quickly in the cooling system. It was quite obvious we had a major coolant leak into the cylinders.
Inevitably the cylinder head would have to come off and so, 20 minutes later (it's hilariously easy to remove on these) it was on the bench. It was quite clear the the gasket had failed on No. 3 cylinder allowing coolant to pass between the fire rings and go straight into the bore and the wet piston just made it more conclusive.
This picture shows the head gasket still sat on the block
We've decided to dismantle the head and have it skimmed after checking it with a straight edge shows warpage around cylinder three.
In the meantime we'll get on and sort the other issues, but we have all of the glass except the bonded rear quarter. The sunroof was ripped out and, consequently, all of the parts that fix it to the frame have broken and are unrepairable but I'm sure that the sunroof is made by Britax and the mechanisms were shared across all other Austin Rover cars of the time so we may be able to source replacement parts to repair it.