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1980 Austin Princess


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So many broken picture links!  I'll fix it one day.
I feel I can finally unlurk properly now that I have something worthy of Autoshite to post about.

Day One




In the cold light of Day Two


Came with some great features.




The best thing about vinyl is that you *can* scrub it clean and with this old boat that was needed; everything was sticky and left a black residue on the hands. I've only been able to bring myself to spend an hour on the driver's door, the rest will have to wait for now.



Doesn't look as big as it feels, weirdly.

This is going to be my new daily in a few months, just got to get through a lot of cleaning and a bit of fettling. She's actually not that bad overall and only cost me £450 (plus £25 day insurance to collect her).

The problems?
>Quite a few rust blebs, but nothing serious or structural
>Handbrake needs adjusting, I have to chock the wheels when parked on the drive
>Driver's door window doesn't work
>Probably decades of hand grease and silicone spray, built up in alternating layers. The engine bay is cleaner than the cabin.
>Bonnet rams don't hold up the bonnet.
>Neither do the boot rams.
>Garage fitted electric fuel pump has no supressor, interferes with the LW/MW radio
>PYE tape deck needs new belts, music played on it sounds like it's underwater
>Bad previous respray with water contamination.

But you know what, none of that matters. She's supremely comfortable and with some TLC over the summer should be in fine fettle. I'm not sure whether or not the people that look with face agog and jaw slack as I drive past are impressed, worried or amazed that a beige Princess with a brown roof still exists and is out on the road with someone a long way from pensionable age driving it.

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Well, to find out the whole gory story, there's a build thread over on Retrorides here: http://retrorides.proboards.com/index.c ... ead=123005


I'll add updates here too from now on so you can watch the progress. Having a break from the old girl today, the weather is pretty nasty here so I'm staying indoors and drinking lots of tea.


In a nutshell, I went from wanting a Princess to buying one in a week, via a series of surprising events. Proved to me that putting a note through the door of the house that has a dirty old car on the driveway is the way to buy in future. Keeping it almost as BL intended, there's very little I want to change on this car, I just want to get her working and looking better than factory.

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But you know what, none of that matters.


Absolutely the right attitude. People(especially those working in the council planning departments) never consider that old houses have character because they have had 100+ years of bodging maintenance and adaption to latest trends. Its the same with cars but on a lesser timescale.


Welcome to Autoshite by the way, I think your car is fantastic, as archetypically English as my DS is French if you know what I mean.

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Hello and welcome, I've been following your story over on the blue forum and was impressed with how quickly you went for inquiring about them to atually buying one, no pissing about there!


I remember a lad from school's dad having one of those you bloody years and years in that colour as well.

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I'm not sure whether or not the people that look with face agog and jaw slack as I drive past are impressed, worried or amazed


I'm sure they're impressed. Some of them for the right reasons, even. Anyway, we're impressed and you're impressed and that's what counts. Welcome to AS.


(And if a beige Princess is the required qualification for membership now, I may have to demote myself back down to lurker :oops: )

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Ace! 8)

I love Princesses, and had a '79 2200HLS myself for a year or so not long after I passed my test. (Never really did 'yoof' motors!)

They're such a fantastic shape with some beautiful detailing that I just can't understand why they're not revered as a design classic. No doubt the BL badge does them no favours, but it didn't put me off.

They have the sexiest wheel arches on a car ever IMO. :P

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The Austin Princess; a great way to make friends and influence people! Who knew?


Thanks for the warm welcome folks, it encouraged me to get out in the wind and rain and do some work anyway, even if all the work was done inside the car. I'm just sorting through the pics and writing up the day's exploits and I'll update you in a moment.

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Just lately I can't seem to help myself for working on the Princess. I feel very enthused about it, possibly because the jobs aren't quite as involved as with the Polo and it's mostly just cleaning.

Following on from yesterday where the two front outer bolts on the front seats were seized and I was worried that the captive nuts had gone nasty, I've had some progress. Last thing yesterday I doused the bolts with a good amount of WD40 in the hope it would soak in overnight and magically free them off.

After tightening and loosening the driver's side bolt a few times with the 6mm allen key it came loose easily and the seat was out, hurrah! The passenger side required some persuasion with a multipurpose tool, a 6mm allen key and a few swear words but it too came free eventually. No apparent damage, just the end of the bolts had got a bit rusty. The bolts are getting copper greased before going back in those holes, I'm likely going to be taking these out again when I can afford a new carpet and I don't want a two day ballache of a job again.

I then remembered to get a snap of the ICE (lol). PYE tape deck fastened to the right of the steering column and wired to the speakers on the parcel shelf. It needs new belts.


I don't know what make these are. I may be keeping them but putting new cones in, the passenger side speaker doesn't work very well.

Front seats out, it was time to remove the carpet. This meant removing the centre consoles.

Following the book instructions, as I couldn't see any fastenings and didn't want to risk breaking difficult to source parts, I pried off the trim from the rear console.

This then exposes the four screws, which are the longest screws in the world, that hold the console in place.


Two at the back obscured by the seat belt stalks.

Two at the front, obscured by the console itself. Great job BL.

Then the front console to remove. Couldn't find anything for this in the book but I found three screws. One screw is at the gear lever side, right at the bottom.

The other two are at each side, hidden crudely with two carpet tabs.

All free, carpet could come out... well the front half could come out. The back half is held in still with the seatbelt mounting bracket and those bolts have also seized so a dose of WD40 and leave them until tomorrow when I'll have another crack at them.

Front carpet and soundproofing lifted to find that unsurprisingly, the driver's side footwell has a patch welded in. The work has been done well and looks solid, but I'll clean it up, rust treat and repaint it before refitting everything just to keep it solid.

Passenger side looks unmolested, which is good. A couple of tiny blebs I'll deal with, but overall nothing of concern.

When we picked up the seats we'd put out of the way in the kitchen to put them back in the car, some money fell out. Only one of the old 10 pence pieces, sadly, from 1977.

I was disappointed to find that there is still no sign of the cassette for this case that was on the parcel shelf.

I guess tomorrow I'll be cleaning again.

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Super looking wedge you have there.


If you want a BL owners handbook for the price of postage (about a quid) let me know.


Thank you, and yes please, I have very little history before '97 for this car, much less wonderful stuff like BL paperwork for her.

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Super looking wedge you have there.


If you want a BL owners handbook for the price of postage (about a quid) let me know.


Thank you, and yes please, I have very little history before '97 for this car, much less wonderful stuff like BL paperwork for her.


Mr Volksangyl, you have a PM.

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This one just has the 1700 O series engine with manual box, but that's plenty for me, I'm not much of a speed freak really. I am a supremely lucky chap and I do feel ever so slightly guilty for paying so little, right up until the point I touch anything inside that hasn't been cleaned yet.

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Stunning. That's Champagne beige iirc...?


I have a real soft spot for these as my dear old Dad had one as a company car back in late 1980 - it was a 1979 T 1700HL in Denim blue metallic and it had already done 70'000 hard miles including towing trailers of garage equipment accross Europe. It was - battery and clutch apart - totally reliable. There were many good things about it but one of the better features was the ashtray on the right hand side - for Rothmans Kings like him, that was only a good thing. Also the Unipart BL radio which had unique knob spacings so other radios wouldn't fit. Good old BL. He found that with an extra 5 psi in the tyres, the handling was transformed. They always seemed to be a more robust car than the other BL chod, and indeed the Cortina. The body was surprisingly rot resistant and apart from oil use, the Oh! Series engine was a tough old bastard. You'd have the odd leaky PAS rack and a faulty displacer, but they were a good strong car and superb for towing. I'd love a black 2200HLS.


Lovely car you've got, but I'd ditch the Ambastardor type steering wheel and fit a traditional Princess wheel - more in keeping with the 70's feel.

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@Rev. Bluejeans: That Ambassador wheel is... well it lets the side down somewhat. When we picked the car up there was so much filth on the wheel it looked like lovely smooth plastic but once we'd cleaned it the whole thing is crazed and cracked. Not only that, it's a horrible chunky thing and I hate it, I've not seen any Princess wheels proper up for grabs yet, but a brown one is high on the want list. The clutch might need doing on this one, and according to the book it's very nearly an engine out job, which I'm not looking forward to. I wouldn't be surprised if in the 71k miles she's done, she's never had a clutch replacement. Looking at the skimpy paperwork, I reckon the first owner used the car to commute and haul family and from '97 it was used as a show car, covering a mere 7k in 15 years, which is insulting for such a capable beast, but also what's probably saved it for me. I have no power steering, it's saving me a fortune on gym fees.


@Eddy: If it helps, I still look out the window and wonder who's parked her on my drive, I can't quite believe I have a Princess either, especially such a good un!

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The Princess 2 wheels were leather bound and were all black, with a grained vinyl centre piece - very late ones had the horrid corporate Austin Morris badge. Princess 1's had the wheel with a different centre - same odd shape but with the wonderful BL logo and, one posh ones, a strip of real Formica.

Unlike the 1800 Landcrab, you can do the clutch with the engine in on the 1700/2000. These had a strange set up with the primary and idler gears, like a Mini/Maxi but arse about face.

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The Princess 2 wheels were leather bound and were all black, with a grained vinyl centre piece - very late ones had the horrid corporate Austin Morris badge. Princess 1's had the wheel with a different centre - same odd shape but with the wonderful BL logo and, one posh ones, a strip of real Formica.

Unlike the 1800 Landcrab, you can do the clutch with the engine in on the 1700/2000. These had a strange set up with the primary and idler gears, like a Mini/Maxi but arse about face.


I shall have to reconsult the book, it's likely it'll be lying to me or I'm reading about the wrong engine - it covers all the engines - and I'm sure I've seen a brown Princess wheel, unless it was a picture that just made it look brown, like most pictures made things look brown in the 70s. Mmmm... genuine Formica.

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He found that with an extra 5 psi in the tyres, the handling was transformed.

I remember reading somewhere that the recommended tyre pressures for Princesses were lower than on most cars as the tyres were intended to be an integral part of the suspension system, so pumping up the tyres improved the handling but shortened the life of the Hydragas.

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