Jump to content

1980 Austin Princess


Recommended Posts

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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: )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@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!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Similar Content

    • By tommotech
      Having fetched this French delight from deepest, darkest Norfolk (well Norwich actually) in an underwhelming collection, for no other reason than the van was scooped up onto a trailer for its journey home, it was time to see what was needed.
      I knew a RH side load door was needed, luckily an item was procured for £20 from a guy breaking a Scudo. I drove across to Swadlincote in the van and it proved to drive well, as expected from wuvvum’s write up. On the way home it started surging when the fuel level dropped below quarter on the gauge, again as expected.
      Door was fitted and adjusted on return, it was even the same colour!
      During the week I looked at the rear doors and fettled and adjusted the locks / latches.
      Today I dropped the fuel tank and found a loose baffle, along with crud in the fuel pick up / tank unit. A road test will be the proof of this repair.
      I also achieved a working temperature gauge today and changed the power steering fluid out.
      The to do list includes a coolant flush, new tyres (cracked side walls), new discs and pads, LH door slider and lock handle, a deep interior clean and removal of the ladder rack. In the meantime have some photos.



    • By rusty_vw_man
      Been a serial lurker and occasional poster of nonsense, but have never quite got round to posting some pictures and the ongoing tribulations of being a serial VW licker.
      First a disclaimer - I like old VWs, partly as I grew up with them and partly because I understand how the work and I can fix* them. I do not like the 'scene' attached to them, it seems to attract too many of a certain type of person I am often allergic to - they bring me out in a shouty rage. 
      First car was a'69 beetle in red, driven flat out everywhere  until the rust took it. This was followed by a succession of Mk2 golf , vauxhall omega (vauxhall being close to VW in the sales ads)  a free Mk3 golf which was dire and tried to kill me multiple times. I have no photos of any of these as they were pre-camera phone and mostly awful. 
      Then came a T25 camper bought using generous donations from friends and family at our wedding . Bought, and a week later after hovering 15 years of dog hair out of it, we drove it all the way to northern Norway on honeymoon. Used it for a while.
      Bought a vauxhall astra estate (again, it was almost a VW in the sales section). It sucked. It did a year of commuting then it was scrapped. Was gifted a skoda fabia estate by my dad as a sensible run around. 
      During this time my wife wanted a sensible runaround for her and the kids, so we bought a bright orange 1971 beetle (rusty of course) which was excellent fun. People were openly critical of apparent lack of regard for our offsprings safety. I pointed out it had seat belts.
       Due to rusting the T25 was sold as a project, the Skoda was sold for being too dull and a T2 purchased.
      Here is the peak of VW ownership, where the beetle, bay and T25 are all in one place just before sale:

      So now we had two aircooled vehicles, the newest of which was  made in 1973.
      This lasted for exactly 9 months., during which I did lots of this:

      to be repeatedly rewarded with this:
      When the breakdown driver asks how the kids are getting on, you know you've seen him too much....
      I also conducted some invisible repairs on the rusty bits of the beetle. I'll point them out if anyone can't see them:

      A promotion and car allowance then allowed me to purchase a C3 Picasso (best not ask, I hate it). Its purple. I feel like a dick when I drive it. 
      Beetle then had to go due to third child and not enough seats, but it had the good engine, the van did not. A swap occurred. My neighbors love* me and find my antics endearing*. I clearly have no need for a drive or garage.

      After 1 too many FTPs, I was told van or family. I chose family and the van left. 
      I then went a looked at another T25 minibus (three kids now) and was in much trouble for even considering another van. 
      Two weeks later, after some small* arguments* we were in total agreement* and the van was purchased. 
      Roughly 18 months ago - note lovely laqueer peel, mismatched rear wing and low level tide mark:


      After some light fiddling I have made a very basic day van affair, and we dragged it with camping gear and the three kids all the way up to the arctic circle in Finland last summer (wife has family in that part of the world).
      6 days before departure I noticed the rear suspension had a bit of paint hanging off. I pulled and it showed this below:

      Trip to machine mart, a google of "mig wleding for numpties" and a youtube video later and I'd made this:

      and away we went. 
      Here it is in a moody B&W photo  in the land of the midnight sun, which really brings out the high quality paint. the rear suspension is still attached though, so winning. 
      That's an epic catch up post really, but will use this space now to document the exciting* repairs and work done on it to keep everything attached .and working.... 
    • By Broadsword
      I think the Broadsword fleet has become sufficiently complicated to merit a combined thread so that gradually all new additions will appear in one place.
      As of Sunday 17th March the situation is interesting.
      Two Citoren Xantias (remember the white Xantia of Excellence is for sale people!)
      A turquoise XJR6 pending overdue-collection (need that gone now!)
      An XJS 3.6 manual project which will get in high gear soonish. Wont be a keeper but will be fun getting it back to something presentable. Drivers fantastic!
      A Range Rover P38, which is turning out to be really rather good.
      And to mix things up even more I'm off on a collection caper today. Had first refusal on it and was expecting it to come around in a year, but things soon changed and no way was I going to pass up on it. It may well render the second Xantia redundant as I've got a really good feeling about this motor.
      In the meantime here are some snaps of the Range Rover. As usual it was a car I said I would probably never buy due to their reliability*. I have said the same of Jag XJR, XJS, XK8 and I have had all of those now. Basically the moment I declare buying a particular car is impractical or improbable, I end up buying one.
      Things to note on the P38. It's a nice colour with tidy body. The EAS has been removed. It runs and drives lovely and it doesn't have enough electrical problems to hinder progress. The main one is the driver's side window not working, but that should be fixable. I've tried changing the outstation, that didn't fix it. Might be wiring under the seat. Other than that I bought it and took it for an MOT the very next day, and it passed. Since then it had what seemed like a battery drain, but since unplugging the RF thingy for the remote locking and putting on a proper lead-acid battery, which the car can actually charge, unlike the modern lead-calcium batteries, it has been perfect. I will treat it to a full service soon.
      Stay tuned for the latest collection later today!

    • By Zelandeth
      Well I've been meaning to sign up here in forever, but kept forgetting. Thanks to someone over on another forum I frequent poking me about it recently the subject was forced back into my very brief attention span for long enough to get me to act on the instruction.

      I figure that my little varied fleet might bring you lot some amusement...

      So...we've got:

      1993 Lada Riva 1.5E Estate (now fuel injected, as I reckon the later cars should have been from the factory...).
      1989 Saab 900i Automatic.
      1987 Skoda 120LX 21st Anniversary Special Edition.
      1985 Sinclair C5.
      2009 Peugeot 107 Verve.

      Now getting the photos together has taken me far longer than I'd expected...so you're gonna get a couple of photos of each car for now, and I'll come back with some more information tomorrow when I've got a bit more time...

      Firstly...The Lada. Before anyone asks - in response to the single question I get asked about this car: No, it is not for sale. Took me 13 years and my father's inheritance to find the thing.

      Yes, it's got the usual rusty wings...Hoping that will be resolved in the next couple of months.


      Next, a proper old Saab. One of the very last 8 valve cars apparently, and all the better for it. I've driven two 16v autos and they were horrible - the auto box works sooooo much better with the torque curve of the 8 valve engine. Just wish it had an overdrive for motorway cruising...

      Next up a *real* Skoda...back when they put the engine where it belongs, right out the back. In the best possible colour of course...eye-searingly bright orange.

      Seat covers have been added since that photo was taken as it suffers from the usual rotting seat cloth problem that affects virtually all Estelles.

      Then we have possibly the world's scruffiest Sinclair C5...

      Realised when looking for this that I really need to get some more photos of the thing...I use it often enough after all! We have a dog who's half husky, so this is a really good way of getting him some exercise.

      Finally - again, I really need to take more photos of - we have the little Pug 107.

      Included for the sake of variety even if it's a bit mainstream! First (and probably to be the only) new car I've bought, and has been a cracking little motor and has asked for very little in return for putting up with nearly three years of Oxford-Milton Keynes commuter traffic, before finally escaping that fate when my housemate moved to a new job. Now it doesn't do many miles and is my default car for "when I've managed to break everything else."

      I'll fill in some more details tomorrow - I warn you though that I do tend to ramble...
    • By Tickman
      First some background:
      I was brought up with no car interest, a car was transport and nothing more which resulted in a selection of poor cheap cars being the cars of my youth.
      Fast forward many years (just over 9 years ago) and I have a wonderful* Vauxhall Vectra estate to carry us about. Unfortunately it is crap and throws fault codes at us with nothing being there when it is checked (even at Vauxhall)
      As Mrs T is the main pilot of this chariot with the two little miss T's on board, it has to go.
      The hunt is on for the new steed to safely and comfortably carry the family around. I have a company car at the time so big journeys are not an issue.
      ebay is my weapon of choice to find the new family car. It has to be good value cheap for no other reason than I am tight.
      Weeks of research with lots of cars that are too expensive and too far away for easy collection end up in my watch list.
      Finally a possible is spotted in Fife. I go and have a look and find a poor looking but solid car. One previous owner and lots of history.
      The auction was to end on the Saturday at midday, we were going to be out! I decided on how much I was willing to gamble on it and on the Saturday morning I put in my max bid but straight away it went to my max bid, I was winning but it had three hours to go with no room for me to go up! We went out anyway.
      I spent the next three hours kicking myself for not bidding more while we were out as it was the first car I had seen that fitted my criteria. Fate was in charge.

      On returning home I go straight on ebay to find 'Congratulations.............'
      For the grand total of £500 I had just won this fine vehicle!

      It has 5 months MOT and after fitting seat belts in the rear for the girls car seats it is pushed into daily service.
      My gamble and subsequent use results in a perfectly reliable car that actually does what it is supposed to do.
      Even more importantly Mrs T loves it so a win all round.
      All my cars have names (most are earned over a bit of time) and this one is called 'Gwendolen' ( G reg car and from Wales originally. I hate the name but I am not going to argue)
      That sums up part one, more will be along later (probably much later)
  • Create New...