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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.
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Day One

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In the cold light of Day Two

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Came with some great features.

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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.

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Doesn't look as big as it feels, weirdly.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Front seats out, it was time to remove the carpet. This meant removing the centre consoles.
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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.
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This then exposes the four screws, which are the longest screws in the world, that hold the console in place.

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Two at the back obscured by the seat belt stalks.
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Two at the front, obscured by the console itself. Great job BL.
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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.
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The other two are at each side, hidden crudely with two carpet tabs.
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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.
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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.
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Passenger side looks unmolested, which is good. A couple of tiny blebs I'll deal with, but overall nothing of concern.
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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.
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I was disappointed to find that there is still no sign of the cassette for this case that was on the parcel shelf.
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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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      1982 Ford Sierra L. LCR 503Y. I accidentally won this on ebay for £520. Upon reflection, I shouldn't have sold it - but short stop of saying I regret it. I could never get truly comfortable driving it and, in fairness, I could scratch my Sierra itch with the base if I wanted. Sold it at a stupid profit of £1250. It is believed to be the oldest remaining Ford Sierra in the UK.

      1979 Volvo 343 DL by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1979 Volvo 343 DL. DBY 466T As you'll see above, I'd had a 360GLT as a younger lad and fancied one of these earlier cars. The variomatic is, frankly, terrible but amusing. This car has just 8000 miles on the clock and inside was absolutely timewarp. Sadly, the huge bill for the Mercedes 190e cylinder head rebuild meant I had to sell this car shortly after acquiring it. Since then I've had a bit of money luck, and now realise I didn't need to sell it after all. Typical.

      I think that's it. My arthritis is playing up even more now. I've left out a few cars that were actually my wife's, but if I find pictures will add them in at a later date. I'll run this as an ongoing thread on cars and what's happening.

      Current SitRep:

      Purple Avensis: Just about to click over 185,000. Minor drama this week when an HT lead split but otherwise utterly fantastic, fantastically boring and boringly reliable.

      Granvia: Just done 1000 miles in a month around Norfolk, 6 up with suitcases. 31mpg achieved on the way up which is good for an old tub with a 3.0 Turbo Diesel on board. ODO displaying 175,000 which is a mix of miles and kilometers. Say 130,000 miles for argument's sake.

      Mercedes: Being a PITA. It's had the top end completely rebuilt after the chain came off. Now needs welding to pass another MOT and the gearbox bearings are on strike. It's about to go into the garage for winter until I can stomach it again. 151,000 miles on the clock.

      Sierra bASe: Still on sabbatical with AngryDicky who only took it bloody camping in cornwall! Legend.
    • By captain_70s
      Hullo,
       
      I'm a masochist from Leeds who is running two rusty, worn out Triumph Dolomites as my only transport in rural Aberdeenshire. You might recognise me from various other forums and Facebook groups. Realistically I need to buy a modern car of some sort, but instead I find myself looking at £300 Citroen BXs and Triumph Acclaims on Gumtree and thinking "yeah, that'd fit right in with the rest of the broken cars I can't afford".
       
      On to the cars, the main attraction being my 1976 1850HL "50 Shades of Yellow" that I bought for £850 and is currently my daily driver, here is a picture of it before I sanded off some surface rust and sprayed it badly in the wrong shade of yellow with rattle cans:
       

       
      Within a month of purchase I managed to plant it in to a steel fence backwards after a botched gear change on a wet roundabout and ruined the N/S rear wing, although judging by the other dent that's packed with filler it looks like somebody had already done the same. I also managed to destroy a halfshaft and one of my Sprint alloys (good for an extra 15hp) in the incident, so now it's sitting on it's original steelies but painted black (good for an extra 5hp).
       
      It's only broken down on me twice. once with some sort of fuel delivery related problem which may or may not have been an empty fuel tank and once when the thermostat jammed shut and it overheated and blew out some O-rings for the cooling system. It has recently developed a taste for coolant and oil which is rather annoying, although it's done 89,300 miles which is about 80,000 more miles than BL engineering is designed to last, I'm keeping my eye on eBay for replacement engines... 
      I tried to keep ahead of the rust a bit by rubbing down the arches and re-painting them, but apparently rattle can paint isn't great when you are spraying it at -5C, it also highlighted how although my car might have been Inca Yellow in 1976 it's now more of a "cat piss" sort of shade. So I ended up with the wrong shade of yellow which has rust coming back through after 5 weeks. Did I mention I'm incompetent?
       
      The other car is the first "classic" car I bought, so I can't bear to sell it. It's a '77 Dolomite 1300 and it cost £1400 (about £400 too much) and has been nothing but a pain in the arse:
       

       
      It looks much prettier (from 100 yards) but that's most due to the darker paintwork hiding the rust. It lives a mollycoddled life in my garage, where it somehow still manages to rust, and is utterly rubbish. 0-60 is measured on a calendar, top speed is 80ish but at that point it uses more oil than petrol, it rarely ventures over 50mph and if you encounter an incline of any sort you can kiss that sort of speed goodbye, along with about £20 of 20W50 as it vanishes out of the exhaust in the form of blue smoke.
       
      One of the PO's had clearly never heard of the term "oil change" so it developed into brown sludge that coated everything internally with the next owner(s) blissfully pouring fresh oil on top of it. This lasted until about 600 miles into my ownership when there was muffled "pop" from the engine bay and the car became a 3-cylinder. The cause was catastrophic wear to the top end causing a rocker arm to snap:
       

       
      As this was my first classic car I'd assumed it was supposed to sound like the engine was full of marbles, it wasn't.
       
      I put the engine back together with second hand bits declared it utterly fucked and promptly did another 5000 miles with it. After about 3500 of those miles the oil burning started, valve seals have gone so it's been relegated to my parent's garage as a backup car and something to take to local car shows as the 1850 is now embarrassingly ugly. I'm keeping my eye on eBay for replacement engines (deja vu, anybody?) Oh, I also recently reversed it into a parked Ford Fiesta and royally fucked up the rear bumper, rear panel and bootlid. Did I mention I'm incompetent?
       
      There have been two other cars in my life. My first car, a 2008 Toyota Yaris 1.0 an it's replacement a 2012 Corsa 1.4T. I didn't really want either of them, but it's a long story involving my parents and poor life choices. Ask if you want to hear it!
       
      So that's a brief summary of my current shite. If you want more pictures or details of anything do say as I've got photos of almost everything I'd done with the cars.
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