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1980 Austin Princess


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I can't get my art mojo on at all tonight, I just keep staring at blank paper with pencil in hand, so I'm putting that aside for tomorrow. Trying to figure out what to do I could feel the dirty vinyl from the Princess taunting me, so I had to clean it. That's something productive with my time, right?

The centre consoles didn't look as bad as everything else at a quick glance, but the water after I'd done said otherwise. First job was to dismantle and remove the cigarette lighter from the rear console.

That shows up a fair amount of greb at least.

As does this, just general scaffs and crumbs and stuff. I'm wondering how best to reinstate the chrome trim on this that's rubbed off in places, must've been done the same way as Matchbox car wheels originally.

This is the front console and is a fair bit cleaner, possibly because when I picked up the car it was stuff full of tissues that I promptly binned.

After much scrubbing in very soapy water, a thorough dry and then a final going over with the old Autoglym, they've come up better than I expected. They don't smell funny either, so that's another step towards a fresh cabin.

Cleaned the cubby in the front console inside and out. I don't know what it was for originally, it's too big to be an ashtray, but it is a useful place to put stuff. When I got the car it was full of all sorts of screws and bolts and bits of wire.


Pleased with that. The carpet got a vacuum as well, but it made no discernible difference to the colour, only seemed to pull lots of sand and dust out and fluff up the pile a bit. Once I get some shampoo for the shampoo-vacuum thing I'll clean the carpet more properly.

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Re: The silvery bits on the centre console panel, it might be better to source a new one if poss. I think attempting it with a paintbrush would look shit. Or if you are handy with a rattle can you could carefully mask and spray it, but it might rub off quickly again. Tough one.

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Liking the 'Prinny' a lot!


I find cleaning and polishing a car very therapeutic and can spend hours getting rid of the tiniest specs of muck from nooks and crannies. Therefore I find your before and after pics of the centre console quite exciting and arousing.


This car is prime candidate for a certain calendar , too.

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I remembered that I'd spotted a thread about refurbing chromed plastic badges by using aluminium tape that looked like it gave a good finish, so I've ordered some of that to give it a try on the basis that if it doesn't work I can just peel it off. Sourcing trim parts for Princesses isn't the easiest thing, because unlike my other car people don't go around modifying them and throwing bits away, so I'm trying to keep everything I can that's already on the car.


Very pleased that you're all enjoying her, makes me smile, safe in the knowledge that at least someone out there understands. Oh, and the Leeds paraphenalia has been removed, I may put it on eBay, people will buy any old dross on there.

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An update every day? I'll slow down with them eventually I'm sure, sort of have to in fact since my wrist was complaining at me today and stopped me doing anything properly productive. That back carpet is going to have to wait another day or two.

Had a better look and a poke at the floorpans in the daylight. The passenger side isn't entirely perfect, it does have a couple of spots of rust. These might turn out to be little more than surface corrosion but I am expecting to need a couple of tiny patches to amend this.

The driver's side wheel arch patch still seems nice and solid, no rust really showing up and the thick black gunk looks to have protected it well. I did notice it was retaining a bit of moisture around here, possibly from wet shoes and that window I still haven't fixed (I'll get round to it, promise).

Lifted out a bit more sponge-type sound proofing to inspect the driver's side floor patch better. Bit of a stomp proves it's quite solid, but there is some surface rust.

It was where the two patches meet that I was concerned. A loose bit of the black gunk was lifted off to reveal a little pink nubbin, and some rust edges.

Looks like someone patched it properly and then, when it needed a small repair later, it got fibreglassed and massively undersealed. From beneath the car it looks pristine, and it is solid, but it's clearly holding moisture and needs remedial work now rather than later. I've got the number of a mobile welder so I'll give him a call when I have some pennies so he can come out and zap this properly for me.

Still, that little hole is not bad for a car of this age and reputation, I'm not scared by it, I'm surprised it wasn't worse in all honesty. I'm still expecting horrors hiding in the sills, so I'm not prodding those any more than I need to for now.

Investigated the wiring for the PYE. Bit of a mess, really, I'm going to have to pull this out and redo it properly.

This makes me chuckle. Top class security with that etched glass, that'll stop them nicking my motor.

Finish off with some arty farty shots.


Oh, and I think the source of the funny smell is the carpets. I put the front carpet in the spare room and that now smells of the inside of the Princess, but the Princess smells less like the inside of the Princess... if that makes sense.

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I had two of these back in the early '90s, when they were given away free. around the time they all seemed to disappear overnight. Apart from advanced body rot on the first one (which is why it was free) I never had any problems with them.

supremely cofortable, good motorway car, good in snow thanks to FWD and wide track, decent handling and more economical than the cortina I owned afterwards. I'd have another any time, if only for the reason they have some of the best seats ever fitted to a car. A 1980 vehicle- with folding arm rests on the front seats.

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I remembered that I'd spotted a thread about refurbing chromed plastic badges by using aluminium tape that looked like it gave a good finish, so I've ordered some of that to give it a try on the basis that if it doesn't work I can just peel it off. Sourcing trim parts for Princesses isn't the easiest thing, because unlike my other car people don't go around modifying them and throwing bits away, so I'm trying to keep everything I can that's already on the car.


Very pleased that you're all enjoying her, makes me smile, safe in the knowledge that at least someone out there understands. Oh, and the Leeds paraphenalia has been removed, I may put it on eBay, people will buy any old dross on there.


let me know how it goes - the Vitesse I just got needs its plastic chrome running strips sorted

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It looks a great car and im glad your pleased with it. With regard to refurbishing the chrome bits on the centre console, am I right in thinking its just silver paint on plastic? if so I have a great way you can fix it, with something fairly cheap that will last and its easy to use but the problem may be finding one, what you need is a silver permanent marker (they do exist), do you have any art shops round by you as thats the most likely place you can buy one either there or maybe an office stationary shop. They are a sort of liquid paint they have a ballbearing inside and you shake before using. I used one I bought years ago on the front grille of a MKII Escort where the silver painted plastic parts had been painted over in orange I chipped off the orange paint and used the marker to go over it, that was in about 1995 and I stilll have the car and grille and it looks fine.

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Good to see you over here :wink: And a fantastic score with the car, as well - I've been in denial about these for a long time, not wanting to admit to myself just how much I liked them! I shall be following the thread with interest, I'd like to know just how practical a daily they make.

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Re: the silver trim.


I've got a gold marker pen like the silver one described, bought it as a tyre lettering pen. It works well enough, but it does rub off as it's non-permanent. However, if the tape idea doesn't work it gives me a backup since I do have access to a number of art and craft places, what with me being an artist by profession.


Using the model kit rub-on chrome stuff is not something I've ever had much luck with, I can never get it to stick properly, I'm guessing I must be doing something wrong.



Not done anything on her today, been having a needed rest day (stupid wrist), but I'm going to put the driver's seat back in tomorrow so I can trundle up and down the lane outside the house a little bit, just so she's not sat idle on the drive.


So far, the only problems have been rust scab on the rear pillar which is as resolved as it can be until the rear screen comes out, a small hole that isn't a hole thanks to a previous bodge in the driver's footwell, a blowing exhaust and the engine running a bit rich. Oh, and the dirt. I'm trying to find what the catch is, I don't feel like I've really bought a £450 car.

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This cubby...

Is actually ONE of the front ashtrays. Apparently I'm missing the one that was located in the tape deck's current spot. I suppose it's so big so you can put two pipes in it for the two gents in the front while the ladies in the back get the smaller, more petite trays down at ankle height in the rear door cards. Ah... the 70s.

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@DarrenH: thanks, that's quite handy. I'll be popping the doorcard off tomorrow if the weather's not too bad and if I've got this manflu out of my system.

So, yesterday I had a bit of a poke of the car. Not very much done, to be honest, I couldn't find my copper grease and wasn't feeling 100% so removing those seatbelt bolts didn't happen. However, I did get the driver's seat front bolts in enough just to be able to run the car up the lane near the house... then when I was turning around in a drive entrance (it's a very narrow lane) the Princess decided she didn't like reverse and wanted fourth, and that fourth was perfectly good and being parked across the lane and halfway up someone's driveway was perfect.

Hit the hazard's switch, got scowled at by at least one dog walker, and trotted off down to the house to get the trolley jack. Jack up the car, front wheel rotates, small clunk, gearbox back to normal again. Bloody thing. I've got some diagnosis on the problem so the next step is to have a proper look underneath and see if anything can be tightened up. If not, I'll probably be getting a set of new rubber bushes for the selector box so it sits more securely and gradually working through to get rid of the problem. In the meantime I just have to make sure there's always a jack in the car.

I'm getting ahead of myself though. When I got the car, the driver's seat would rock a bit, we suspected it had collapsed but of course you need to remove it to check. So, when I was going to refit the seat I found that every time I tried to move it, the runners wouldn't go straight. Turn it over and have a look and found:

I remembered finding an odd bolt in the centre console when I cleared the car out. Sensibly, all the nuts and bolts and washers and things were put in a tub 'just in case' and it turns out this one was for the driver's seat. As far as I could see, there was nothing wrong with the bolt, it serves as a locating pin and screws into a captive nut, why it was removed, I have no idea.

Reattached, seat feels great and doesn't rock, no sign of collapse. Brilliant. This is the other rail before I'd put the seat in, they now both look like this and the seat slides on the rails properly.

Time for a suitable snack (because I own a Princess and a Polo). If you ever see these, they're just like Blue Riband but covered in dark chocolate, they're very tasty and only 25p! They also do a white chocolate (ew) version called Princessa.

Didn't really get anything else done until today, man flu was making me fall asleep everywhere, but my dice from marc0polo had arrived so they had to go on the car pronto.

None of my valve caps matched, three were plastic and one was metal.

So they came off and my new dust caps went on. Went for some disco-tastic red with gold sparkles ones.


Remembered I'd also bought some terribly tacky tiger print fuzzy dice (with no numbers) for the Polo, but the colour was much better for the Princess. I think they were 75p or something, good bit of kitsch tat.

Admittedly, not much of an update. If we've got good weather and I'm feeling better tomorrow (I feel much perkier now than I did) then I hope to do some more deep cleaning on the car. The boot has dried out nicely so I'll eventually be putting some drain holes in and my handbrake seems to have improved all by itself.

So, jobs to do that I know of:
> Get a quote for and repair the small hole in the driver's floor pan before the end of the year/MoT in September
> Cut and polish the existing paint, if possible
> Finish painting the C pillars.
> remove the rear screen and treat any rust
> Fit new wiper blades - check if the Polo ones fit, they're almost new
> Give the car a more thorough wash

> fix driver's door window mechanism
> shampoo the carpets
> shampoo the seats
> scrub the interior vinyl some more
> refit sun strip

> fix blowing seam on exaust
> get the engine running leaner, too rich at the moment
> sort out the small amount of hunting on the engine, timing is likely off a little bit.
> new air filter (if needed, not inspected yet, probably wouldn't hurt)
> oil change and new oil filter (no idea when this was last done)
> possibly fit new thrust bearing/clutch kit. Need to investigate this more fully.
> general health check before committing to any long journeys/regular use

> swap the wheels front to back so the taller tyres stop scrubbing the front arch liners on full lock
> adjust windscreen washer jets so they actually do something other than make pedestrians wet

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Werther's Original dash-mounted dispenser? DO WANT.


Today I washed and polished the car, the idea being it would give me a real chance to have a close up look at everything and see just how well she comes up. Looks like the passenger wing has had some serious boggo put into it, I'm expecting bad things there. The rear arches are starting to go, but some remedial work looks to have been done in the past, whether this is more boggo and paint I don't know and I'm not digging until I have the money spare for repairs. No point picking at stuff if it's okay for now is there?


Still haven't fixed the driver's door and still haven't cleaned more of the interior. Took all the spare time I had this afternoon just to clean the outside and polish it. Good thing is that she scrubs up pretty good, all things considered, and I now know where the worst bits of paint are for light remedial work. Plan is to get some Champagne beige in rattlecan form and go around the car a panel at a time rectifying poor paint and rust blebs and then give it a good cut and polish to bring it up something like.


I know as well why the driver's floor pan has rotted where it has. When I was rinsing the car off the water got in the air vent in the scuttle, which I didn't know about until I moved the car and, as the incline changed, water literally came pouring out of the air vent and into the footwell, sitting precisely where the rot was. Not sure what to do about this beyond trying not to get water into those vents.


Also noticed an oil leak, looks to be where the distributor joins the block - same place as the Polo, funnily enough - that has been leaving the odd tiny spot on the driveway.


Still overall very healthy, but there's going to be some remedial welding ahead of me in a year or two I think. Not too worried about it, I just have to be a bit patient.


Oh, and when I put the blowers on I got hit in the face by the remains of a dead moth. Thanks for that, car.


Sorry for the lack of pictures, not really anything to photograph for this update.

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Found myself at a loose end again, so rather than play games or something, I thought I'd be productive and get on with rechroming that centre console trim.

I forget where I saw this done first, but someone had redone the badges on their VW and mentioned they'd used flashing tape. I think they were Spanish or Portugese or somewhere like that... anyway, that's not important, what is important is that I gave it a go myself and decided to share the results.

You will need a bit of trim that has worn silver/chrome on it, ideally something flat rather than something with compound curves.

You'll also need some of this tape. I searched on eBay for 'metal tape' and it came up with lots of results for people selling strips of it. No need to get a whole roll, the bit I bought that cost about £2 was far more than I needed. You'll get something like this in the post.

It has a paper backing and is very sticky. Be warned, if you work the tape too much it will tear, it's about the same thickness as kitchen foil, for all I know it could be kitchen foil with glue on the back.

The best technique I'm aware of for applying it is to peel some of the backing off and apply to the edge of what you're rechroming, rather like applying a plaster. Smooth the area you're working on a little at a time, don't get too hasty with it, and gradually peel the backing off.

Eventually, you'll have no backing on the tape and it will be smoothed to the high points (in this case) as wanted.

Then get a trusty craft knife, the sharper the better really and a pointed one for precision. You don't need to apply pressure, the sharpness of the knife will do the work for you. Carefully cut around the edges you want to.

Once you've done that, lift the excess tape from one corner and remove. It's quite sticky stuff, but if you've not pressed the excess down while you've been cutting it won't pose any difficulty. You should be left with nice crisp edges.

Looks and feels better than the original worn out paint.

I could do that square with one piece as the tape was wide enough - it comes in different widths - but the outer strip needed to be done in two halves. This requires a little more attention to detail as you've got to match the two pieces up. To start, apply the tape to one half as you did before.

If you can roll the tape around the edge, do, it's more secure and gives a tidier edge. The same applies if you're doing a much larger piece like a dash insert.

Once you've got one half secure and trimmed it all, you then need to line up your second strip precisely with the first. It can be fiddly, but if you peel enough backing off to secure one end and then the other, it is straightforward enough. Eventually, after you've smoothed it all out and got it where you want it, trimmed the excess off and smoothed all the edges you should have something like this.


Good as new!

It is worth noting that the plastic trim I used isn't the smoothest in the world so there are some minor dimples. The more work you put into making the surface smooth, the easier it'll be to get a perfect finish. Time will tell how hard wearing this solution is.

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Nice touch. If you get some brasso or autosol action on that tape, it comes up even more shiny.


When I was about 9 the gas man left a roll of it in our kitchen. I decided I wanted a silver TV like what they gave away on the Big Breakfast, so I covered the front bezel of telly in my bedroom in the stuff, however it built up a static charge and after about 5 minutes of use it would shock the shit out of anything within a few inches.

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I know as well why the driver's floor pan has rotted where it has. When I was rinsing the car off the water got in the air vent in the scuttle, which I didn't know about until I moved the car and, as the incline changed, water literally came pouring out of the air vent and into the footwell, sitting precisely where the rot was. Not sure what to do about this beyond trying not to get water into those vents.


This will most likely be the plenum chamber drain blocked........the plenum chamber is the space under those grilles and it is where the heater air intake is. This intake has a ridge around it to stop water going into the car but if the drain is blocked water gets gets deeper than the ridge with inevitable results. Drain is in the bulkhead and visible from under the car.......I think on these it looks like a round pipe with a flat end. Insert fingers here and remove shit.......be prepared for wet arm as it holds quite a bit.

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