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1980 Austin Princess

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Good work! :)


Cheap Morrisons baby wipes brought a satisfying amount of muck off the roof lining of my MG at the weekend - but then it is dark grey (so I guess I'm spoiled :D ) - including the mould from above the sun visors. I plan to use the baby wipes on the plastic door cappings and see if they make a difference as well, but I suspect the cappings will need more aggression because they are light grey. Thank you for the inspiration to even think about doing this! :) I've been sat there looking at dirt-engrained plastic door cappings for 4 years...



I had two Kingpin remoulds on the back of a Mini once - I bought two anyway, money being tight at that time, but eventually 5 had passed through my hands... They had a playful habit of developing large bulges on the sidewalls (not like in your pics, but small balloons), usually within a month or so of fitting, which rendered them illegal so I got a free replacement for the duff tyre as needed. A few weeks after the first tyre had ballooned and been replaced, the other one did; cue another free replacement. Then a few weeks later one of them did it again. I threw the towel in at that point and binned them. Nasty, and a false economy.


That Mini then had Camacs on the back, and then later on all 4 wheels - they weren't the grippiest tyres ever, especially in the wet (they were pretty uninspring in heavy rain, actually), but they lasted and lasted until the sidewalls perished.

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Loving the pic of it next to the Peugeot...I always remember Princesses as big cars, which I suppose they were in their day. Funny how cars have got lardy over the years



Freelander 2 is bigger than a Classic Rangey


Mk ?5 Polos are bigger than the original golf ...


i'd be interested to line up mk1 and 2 astra with corsa C and D



suprisibg other way though - a Mk 2 Volvo V70 is not that much bigger than mark 3 Astra estate


Best I can do 8)




Old cars are like Wagon Wheels - I am sure they used to be much bigger!


Loving the BL beige resto, inspired me enough to go and look at my stag that has been sat in the garage since Oct last year.

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That Astra pic is astonishing. I always remember Astras as being mid-sized but that looks more sort of... mini-sized! I know which I'd prefer, and it's not silver.

I wish one thing that was instant was money transfers. I've got some money burning a hole in the aether at the moment while I wait for it to get from Paypal to my Bank, it's left Paypal but won't be with my Bank probably until Monday now so I can't get my tyres until it arrives. So annoying! In good news, I can get insurance cheaply on the Princess and am likely to be able to get it cheaply on my Polo too, so I'm likely to be insuring, taxing and MoTing two cars for less than it currently costs me to just insure one (the Polo). Madness, but also the benefit of owning classic cars.

Little tiny widdly little update outside of that today which is from my trip to the Post Office. The tiny market was on in the centre of the village and the carpet man was selling off a book of old samples at 50p each. I grabbed two beige ones as it's massively cheaper than buying car mats and fits with the living room interior of the Princess better than some sporty black items.

Better yet, they cover the holes in the carpet ;)


Tell you what though, buying beige carpet samples makes me feel like I've reached That Point in my life. I didn't expect to be here until I had my bus pass.

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colc said:

Cracking thread. If you want to "de-bag" your velour seats, try ironing them with a steam iron on it's hottest setting [mind the vinyl] I accept no responsibility if it goes horribly wrong....................

I don't want to risk doing that, knowing how badly wrong plastic fabrics can go when heat is applied. Besides which, I don't possess a steam iron, I'm perfectly happy with my non-steam electric I've had since the turn of the century. I think I'm going to save up to have them reupholstered.


My new wipers arrived today. Tricky to find old side-fits when you're wanting them short notice, most seem to be new side fit or hook fit.



The old ones were pretty bad, as we found out when I used them. Bit of rain, wipe the screen, see nothing until it rains some more. Even cleaning the wipers and screen made no difference so how on earth it got through an MoT with them I don't know.



Just so you can see how bent and mishapen the old ones are, here's a comparison. The passenger side wiper arm might need replacing, the wiper is secure but isn't fixed as firmly as the driver's side, dragging the corner a bit when the sweep changes direction. I don't know if spreading the fixing on the end of the arm so it holds the wiper better will cure this or make things worse.



Adjusted the washer jets too so they actually squirt water on the screen, not to the the four points of the compass. Until I get some paint, there's not really anything I can do on the Princess beyond cleaning her, it's weird.

There was a non-car happening today too. I adopted a helper and I have called him Mister Bunny (because I'm imaginative like that). He's not a very good helper, and he doesn't like getting oil in his fur, but he is at least an honest critic of my work and happily eats my share of that most hated of vegetables, the parsnip.


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Went out to get some petrol tonight now I have the Princess insured for the not so Princessly sum of £170 per year fully comp. Only catch is that the Polo has to be on non-classic insurance, but that's okay, it's doable.


I can honestly say the Princess handles like a fish. I really hope the tyres I'm collecting tomorrow will go some way to rectifying this. I was amused in the petrol station when the chap behind me filling up his Mr Average-mobile (seriously, I can't remember what it was, just that it was red and a hatchback and new) said, in all seriousness and a hint of enthusiasm "Nice car!". I was so shocked all I could say in return was "Thank you".


The 'children' (read: housemate and brother) have a game they like to play too. Just as I'm about to put the petrol in the car they jump around and wobble the car like crazy... 


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Today has been what you might call 'eventful'.

Originally, I was going to head over to Rotherham to pick up 3 part worn tyres in my housemate's car because of the scariness of the ancient Kingpin tyres I was sporting. However, he was busy and after some consideration we decided to risk the non-Motorway route there and Motorway it back. Nice uneventful journey out until the Princess caught sight of the sign for the garage I was going to and she coughed and spluttered, died on me just coming out of a junction and was obstinate about starting again. Fair bit of pedal and we trundled off again, but she wasn't happy. Got to the garage, got three tyres of which two were good part worns and one was brand new, swapping £30 and my decent-but-too-big Camacs with the garage owner for the lovely rubber rings.

Prime photo opportunity presented itself when, upon trying to set off, the Princess had a hissy fit and decided she liked it too much in the parking bay. Went to get chap in garage and she then started okay but grudgingly and we trundled off vowing not to stop unless we absolutely had to.


This is my favourite picture of the Princess so far.

So after a few grumbly junctions at roundabouts we finally joined the M1 and opened up the taps. Wheels need balancing, but it's manageable (should've sorted this at the garage really, forgot to). Trundled along very happily in fourth all the way back, felt good and smooth and much more sure footed on the new tyres. Suddenly, motorways make sense now I'm driving on one in a car designed to do the job. Headed into Bolsover to check my air pressure - all too high, need to be down at 26psi on the front and 24psi on the back, was up at 30ish psi all round. Turned the key... very little happened. Flooded it. Had to collect some envelopes and snacks anyway so we left the car alone on the petrol station forecourt we'd pulled into for the air and after some fiddling and jiggling we got her running again until I got almost home and I broke down... here.

That's my drive, I'm not quite on it. The car won't fire but will try very hard to start, she's too heavy to push, I don't have a tow vehicle and I'm blocking the lane that's only one car wide with no passing points. Balls. Eventually we eased her off on to the lane proper to better fiddle and diagnose and came to the conclusion that fuel is getting to the carburettor, spark is strong, but no fuel is getting into the engine. Much later Dad comes with his Lexus to tow us up the lane past the drive. Then my other shitter comes out to play.

This is my Polo, he was put in the garage with engine problems in October. Recently, we got the engine back together but he won't idle without choke. The only way to get the cars put away was to use the Polo to tow the Princess up onto the drive.

That's a 1043cc unmodified (engine wise) Polo with an exhaust that might as well not be attached and that won't idle tugging probably 2 ton of British crappiness onto a steep, weirdly shaped driveway. I had my doubts, but we lined him up anyway.

Go Go Gadget Polo!

Now it's worth pointing out at this juncture that just as we started to do all this, a couple of reps from TalkTalk came round to save us money, so I was moving cars and talking shop with them simultaneously. As it turns out not only were they too young to remember Mercury (one of the TalkTalk mobile plans is like the old Mercury set up), they were actually pretty awesome because as the Polo was spinning and hopping around in the garage we had my Dad, my Mum and Jamie (one of their neighbours' kids who is taking some mechanicing courses and was along to neb at and help with the Princess) lending their weight to both cars to get it all up the driveway. My brother was at the wheel of the Polo, I was at the wheel of the Princess and, as the smoke started to pour from the garage the reps jumped in and helped, both clad in rep suits. It was so awesome and they were so awesome for leaping in to the fray with no heed for health and or safety. Sadly, no photograph, it was over all too quickly.

I wouldn't have believed the Polo did this had I not witnessed it myself, so here's the best proof I have.


With the Princess out of the way attention could be turned to that SU carb. Off with it's head to find a bent needle - what little history I've found out for this car indicates it's had a 'sticking needle' in the past.

A squelch pot full of dirty oil with sediment in.

And a badly painted top.

Stripped it down in the house to find out the inners were pretty gunky. It all got a jolly good clean before being put back together again. The spring felt like the outside of a chip pan.

The needle was (as a temporary measure) straightened and refitted. All the innards cleaned.

Several coats of somewhat gunky and flakey paint adorned the cast top of the carb. This was stripped off with a razor blade and fine wet and dry paper.

We then put the whole thing back on the car.

By this time it was 10:30pm, it was dark and cold and the car still wouldn't start. She was trying harder. A further diagnosis was made and we found the fuel pump and filter are working well, but after the filter the system wasn't so great. Tomorrow I'll get the whole carb off and clean up the bottom half. We suspect the jet is blocked, probably with sediment or jellied petrol or something equally unpleasant from the car being used so lightly for so long.

Not bad though, I've managed about 85 miles since picking her up before I broke down properly. Now, I just have to hope I can get her fixed in time for the chippy meet tomorrow, I've got a Montego to keep company.

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Blimey! Good effort (+ write-up).


Sturdy little cars those breadvan Polos. I've had 3 over the years, and remember all fondly. From what I can see of the paint job and the rear bumper on yours, it may be just as well you took the photos in the dark! :wink:

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yeah... Wilhelm the Polo is one of those modified types, he's a bit on the weird side so I keep him away from the brown forum. :lol:

Today has been a day of not very much happening and banging my head against a wall. Got up nice and early (for me) and got the airbox and carburetor removed before I'd even had breakfast. Rather than wade into a job I know nothing about, I decided to get my brother who also knows nothing about the inner workings of the SU carb so we could learn and fail/win together.

Following the instructions in the book very carefully, and taking note of how everything went together including the number of screw turns for anything that might be adjustable, we stripped the carb down to the component parts to find out what might be amiss. There was a bit of sediment in the body of the carb but nothing obvious until we removed the jet and found a small stone lodged inside of it.


This would explain the lack of fuelling and the other issues. We're guessing it got into the carb somehow and worked it's way under the needle in the jet preventing the car from running. We carefully cleaned what needed cleaning and rebuilt it all. There was some obvious wear in there so a rebuild kit is on the cards when I can afford to buy one.

Upon trying to reassemble everything the throttle cable presented an annoying problem insofar as the end was so frayed no amount of wrapping of tape or twisting with pliers or swearing would solve it. The cable wasn't in the best of condition anyway so we decided to cut our losses and buy a new one.


The new cable is from a Peugeot 107 as it mostly closely matched the required dimensions. Far too long, but that didn't matter as the diameter and the pedal end of the cable were what we wanted. Also came with a smart black shroud.


Once we'd trimmed the cable down properly, fitted everything back in and checked everything was connected we had another go. Now fuel was getting into and out of the carburetor but the car still wasn't firing, allbeit she was trying to fire much harder.

Put the timing back to where it was when we picked the car up, which helped a bit further and we briefly got the engine running on 2 cylinders out of four, but only with the pedal to the floor and not for long.

Some head scratching later we pulled the plugs to find 1 and 2 sooty but 3 and 4 healthy. We'd already checked and adjusted the gaps on the plugs so they were correct but the spark from the plugs was only weak and orange.

By now we'd been adjusting and readjusting, consulting the book and trying to get the car to run for so long our heads were frazzled. We took a break for a while and my brother rang around a few places to get some advice. On the advice given, we checked the points - we'd completely forgotten this, but it turns out the gap was spot on here - and turned the mixture from where it was to very lean. This didn't really change anything at all.

So now I'm fed up of looking at the engine and hearing it struggle, I can't move the car so my housemate's car is short term evicted and I haven't the money left in the bank at the moment to get the bits that might fix everything.

My shopping list as possible solution to the problem runs:
new leads
new coil
SU Carb rebuild kit
possibly new spark plugs

What a frustrating day.

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Sorry I can't advise on the non-starting problem, other than to be methodical and change just one item at a time. Remember, just because it is new doesn't mean it works properly.


Tip: I use ATF in the SU dashpot on my Triumph as recommended by many on the Triumph forums.


Good luck with it.



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After some info provided via the blue forum from a chap whose advice has always been sound, the next attempt to solve the problem is a new condenser which is going to be about £6. There's another chap keeps telling me to fit an Accuspark system but that's £30 and if the condenser gets the car moving it's much more within my budget at the moment and I can save up for the Accuspark system at a later date (if it really is as good as it's made out to be).

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Thank you, Michiel, those are some classy pictures :)




Updating my to do list while it's on my mind. Been a long day catching up with non-Princess work.



> Get a quote for and repair the small hole in the driver's floor pan before the end of the year/MoT in September - have a willing welder, but will only get price on proper inspection.

> Cut and polish the existing paint, if possible - now have the materials for most of this.

> Finish painting the C pillars. - have the materials for most of this.

> remove the rear screen and treat any rust



> fix driver's door window mechanism - part sourced, just need to get the cash together for it.



> Buy SU carb rebuild/refurb kit (£40ish)

> Buy Accuspark ignition stuff to update current system (£30ish)

> Buy and fit new condenser (£6ish)

> fix blowing seam on exaust

> oil change and new oil filter (no idea when this was last done)

> possibly fit new thrust bearing/clutch kit. (£30ish for clutch kit)

> general health check before committing to any long journeys/regular use - Partially done.

> Distributor O ring needs replacing, source of leak.

> New spark plugs

> New spark leads and HT lead

> Possibly new coil (will decide on further investigation)


The only thing holding me back at the moment is money, or the lack thereof. I do hate it when customers mess me around when it comes to payments.


I eventually went with Performance Direct for insurance, they were offering me the cheapest policy with reasonable fully comp insurance at £170 for the year (£50 deposit, 9 monthly payments). The other insurers wanted the whole payment up front which, at the time, I couldn't afford otherwise I would likely have gone that route.


I have to have the Polo insured at the end of May when it comes to renewal to keep the Princess insurance valid, turns out you can't insure two classics and use them to lower each others policy price, which was a shame. I think the assumption is that one uses the classic as the fair weather toy, not the daily hack, hence the much lower premiums but also that one has a daily hack that's a fair bit younger to do most of the work.


The Polo will go on a supremely low mileage policy and I may revert some of the modifications - back on steel wheels and standard suspension - to bring his policy down and allow me to continue insuring the Princess for cheap. I can get agreed valuation (at no extra cost) on the Princess, but I want to make sure she looks cosmetically that little bit better and that I can get some really nice photographs before going that route as I want the best agreed value I can get for her.

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rotor arm is fairly new and works as it should from what we can tell and the coil seems okay, the weak point at the moment appears to be the condenser so that's going to be the first replacement (in part because it's also the cheapest part to replace). Will work through and eliminate stuff as I did on the Polo since it's a very similar issue and I'll likely end up replacing all of the above to get things working again.

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I know it looks a bit odd on the list. The idea is to see if the condenser fixes the issue, if it does then great I know that's what's wrong and the electronic ignition can be saved for. If it doesn't then I know there's a problem somewhere else so I hold off on buying the electronic ignition until I've found out what... does that make any sense?


Update in a mo, just sorting out some pictures of the day's progress.

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we briefly got the engine running on 2 cylinders out of four, but only with the pedal to the floor and not for long.


Some head scratching later we pulled the plugs to find 1 and 2 sooty but 3 and 4 healthy.


Inlet manifold gasket? A big air leak will make it run mega lean on two adjacent pots. Also make sure there's not loads of wear in the distributor spindle. A new set of plugs might be a start - one they've been really shitted up, they're often useless. Had an old carbed XJ6 that wouldn't run once and it was the plugs.

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@rev: There's more evidence pointing at the condenser at the moment than at other items and if the manifold gasket has gone, then it's gone all at once with everything else. The plugs were healthy and clean when we first checked them and it's only after we've been trying to get her running that they've become sooty, but even the good plugs only produce a weak spark which again, points at the condenser because we get a big spark at the points... It's so frustrating not being able to just march out and buy a condenser so I can find out if that's what the problem is, but such is the joy of waiting for money to move around bills.


Today's update involves paint. The paint on the Princess is a bit of a Stevie Wonder special though you wouldn't know it from 50 yards. For all I was going to be tidying up the roof, I put that off in favour of seeing just how good or bad the paint on the rear quarter was. Crack out some wet and dry paper, cutting compound, polish, polishing machine and a bit of water.

First of all, take back the rear quarter above the coach stripe with 1000grit paper. Didn't take very long.


To get a smoother finish, took it back again with some 1500grit. There's a lot of paint on the panel and the very top coat seems to be a different colour. None of the resprayed paint has been flatted back or properly finished.

Eventually (I have no pictures of the progress made) this bit was treated to finishing cutting compound, polish with the machine and polish by hand and came up pretty good. The colour doesn't have a lot of depth and the finish isn't perfect yet, but it's a lot better than it was and should take a coat of lacquer if need be at a later date.

Moved on to one of the worst bits of paint on the car which was on the passenger door, again above the coach stripe. Tackled it first with 1000grit.

The panel has blobs or blisters on it, like the paint has been applied heavily or there was moisture contamination. On taking it back, the bumps turned into white spots that look like a spray filler or undercoat or both. Took a while to cut through them all and you can just make it out in this picture. I'll have to blend some new paint in here eventually.

Comparison shot fail. In person, it's much clearer which bit has been done but the camera seems to disagree.

This is the two passenger side doors. The front one is a very different colour, slightly greener looking in person, than the rear door which now looks much more like Champagne beige (at least more like the examples I've seen).

Much more polishing and effort later, I have the two bits I started as finished as I can get them. I don't know what paint has been used, but it's clear that it's had a blow over at some point in the past and not a very good one. I'm not sure, but I also think the rear passenger door has had a bump as there's a bit of a wibble where the door handle is and the trailing edge sticks out a bit further than the body. Of course, that could just be standard BL panel gaps.

Not come up too badly, all things considered.




I'm going to work around the car a bit at a time, rectifying the orange peel and blobs as I go. I'll then go back and catch all the bits that need fresh paint and any small dents and the like I find. It'll take a while, but at least it's not costing me anything since I've got the materials sat in the house for the job from when I was working on the Polo. I may need to get a new bonnet on the polisher, getting that brilliant shine on the smooth paint is proving difficult and it's either the paint won't come up because of whatever it is, I need to apply a lacquer coat, or some other reason I'm not aware of. After all, I'm not a pro, I don't know everything.

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Taking 1000 and 1500 grit to your paintwork, you're a braver man than I :) . Looks damn good afterwards though!


The colour differences between panels can be put down to "history", and add to the car's character ;) .


Incidentally, if the rear door hinges mount onto the rear-facing side of the B-pillar, you can hopefully adjust the panel gap there (loosen the hinge bolts, ease the position of the door hinges, tighten the bolts and test the door fit and panel gaps but don't force it shut; redo as necessary) so the rear nearside door can sit flush.


Alternatively, you might be able to adjust the panel gap by moving the hinges' mounting on the door as above (if that makes sense?) to get the door sitting flush.

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You won't need the condensor if you fit accusparc.

If you ate using this as a daily the single best thing you can do to improve reliability is to fit accuspark..at 30 its a no brainer. Pureists will gripe but they rarely rely on their classic as a daily. There is another very good reason for doing this and that is the pisspoor reliability of many remanufactured ignition components. When I had both the 244 and the moggy both cars condensor issues. Out of 6 new ones I bought 4 were duds. These were all UK made from different suppliers. Thing is you can't assume that a new one fitted is a good one it could be did so you spend more time and money fixing it.


My old moggy had nothing but problems 5 rescues in as many months. I eventually fitted accuspark and the car never let me down from that point proving even more reliable than the 850 in the bad snow and cold 2 years ago.

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Off topic slightly (Sorry Volks) but are those Powerspark and Accuspark electronic ignition kits any good?, my Cortina can be a sod to start from cold at times and isn't always great even when it's warm, I've just had the cap of and it's still running it's old points and condenser.


Would it be worth chucking £30 at it for one of these? http://www.simonbbc.com/electronic-igni ... -ohc-pinto and would i see much improvement?

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       Driving around aimlessly I’ve covered around 160 miles in a couple of days.  I decided to drain the gearbox and refreshed it with some 75W90 SS Gl4, after a few embarrasing car park CRUNCHES into reverse gear enough was enough, definitely was well overdue a change and now it’s silky smooth. 

      Blue Lagoon Metallic is the colour for anyone wondering.
      (Removed the faded Skoda badge and sprayed the 3D Favorit badge and grill black - perhaps not to everyone’s taste but it’s my car ?)
      Next to do is fit new brake discs & yellowstuff pads which have been sat in the boot for a couple months, need to file the edge of the pads down a tad and find a way to remove the locking pin screw from the disc- I can’t seem to get them to turn using an impact screwdriver but perhaps I just need to hit harder!
      The goal is to fit a few unnecessary modifications,  just some stiffer lowering springs and alloy wheels with good tyres. Nothing too crazy. The ride is pretty good, very little body roll, the strut brace seems to work well. A very throwable and responsive supermini, town and rural road driving is an awful lot of fun. 
      If anyone has some Favorit "Skoda" mudflaps let me know as I really would like to replace the ones that are fitted!
      Updates to come.
      All welcome to share thoughts and stories alike ? 
    • By Peter C
      Woke up this morning, had a little time before I had to leave the house for work, had a quick look at what’s new for sale on Retro Rides and saw an ad for a W124 200E manual, located 15 miles from home. I had no intention of buying a car today but I had to have it! I called the seller and arranged a viewing.
      2 x rusty front wings (TADTS)
      1 x rusty rear arch
      Needs a polish
      Tracking is out because new track rod end was fitted for MoT
      Engine has oil leak/s
      Good points:
      It’s a W124 200E!
      5 speed manual transmission
      New clutch
      Brand new MoT
      Superb MoT history
      4 x as new Continental tyres
      Last owner for 15 years, her husband before that for 4 years
      Very tidy MB-Tex interior
      Drives well
      All electrics work
      The dealer kindly delivered the car to my house but I managed a pez station shot on route:

      Remove front wings, cut away rust and apply plenty of wob.
      In-situ similar repair for rear arch
      Clean and polish
      Service engine
      Adjust tracking
      Leave patina and enjoy the car as it is
      I will update this thread once progress is made.









      Hopefully these two will become good friends.

    • By PhilA
      Well, here we go again. I bit the bullet and bought me this.


      It's still up at the lot right now, there will be a miniature Collection Thread embedded in this thread when I go fetch it. Hopefully if the weather's good, that'll be this weekend.
      So, what is it?
      As the title suggests, it's a 1951 Pontiac Chieftain.
      It's got a flat-head straight eight hiding in the engine bay, 4.4 litres of it. It's bolted to a 4-speed Hydra-Matic Drive gearbox. No torque converter on this one, just a fluid coupling. 116 horses at a screaming 3700 RPM, 240lb/ft at 2000. It idles at 375 RPM. Redline just shy of 4k.
      Did I mention it's quite big? Sixteen foot eight from end to end and it seats six people in comfort. Every door has a quarter-light, too. Comfort is provided by properly sized tyres and (quite surprisingly for the age of it) double independent wishbone front suspension. Steering is via worm/wheel steering box so is moderately direct and the brakes are hydraulic drums all round. Modern and scientific!
      It's an honest example; looks to have had a "restoration" about 15-20 years back and the rust is coming through the seams and filler. The bottoms of the door skins have gone, the bottom of the A-pillars have gone (the front doors, on a single hinge a piece still open and close with one finger!) And it's got a couple holes and blebs in all the places you would expect.
      Not much electrical works. It needs to be completely rewired because someone has "converted" it to 12V. Thankfully it was originally negative ground so that's a good start. Gauges and such can be driven from a 6V bucking converter.
      Engine has had some work done on it- starts and runs nicely with very little greb coming out of the exhaust. It's got a few gaskets that need replacing and the tappets need some major adjustment, the gearbox engages gears correctly, the steering is okay but has a lot of slack in the center and the brakes work well, dont sink or feel spongy but need adjustment.
      More to come. I'll post up more pictures when I get it home.
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