READER RESTO

RES­CU­ING THE EH STAN­DARD

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS -

This story might have started a long time ago when I was a kid. The EH com­ing out was a big thing at the time, when I was 13. It had the new ‘big’ en­gine – the 149 or 179 – and to me, it was the best-look­ing shape to come out of Holden. Things were dif­fer­ent then – cars were more ex­pen­sive com­pared to what peo­ple were earn­ing. So if you had a new EH in the drive­way, you were do­ing very well in­deed.

It’s not cer­tain that I was re­ally look­ing for a car at the time, but I was play­ing about on the com­puter and came across this one. The ad said it was an early car, with num­ber 49M stamped on it, so in the­ory the 49th ex­am­ple out of Mel­bourne.

This wasn’t a per­fect car. It was all there, but it had been mod­i­fied over time and needed a few things fixed. When you saw the body it looked pretty good. A lit­tle rust on the doors and a lit­tle on the guards. But when the body was dis­man­tled it was a dif­fer­ent story. It had the rust that’s in all of these old cars.

When it got here, I started to pull it all apart. That was the easy bit! Ev­ery sin­gle bolt came out, it was down to the sub­frame and body shell. Even­tu­ally I came to the re­al­i­sa­tion that I couldn’t put it back to­gether again and had to en­list the help of a mate, Mark Sand­with, who re­stores cars for a liv­ing.

As it turned out, this was a much big­ger job than we first ex­pected. Ev­ery­thing has been done. If it’s not new, it’s been re con­di­tioned.

For ex­am­ple, while it had been fit­ted with new

floor pans at some stage, they hadn’t been done prop­erly and the new metal was over­lap­ping the orig­i­nal. So out they came and new pan­els were fit­ted. The rear par­cel shelf turned out to be a big headache, as the orig­i­nal had been cut to take big speak­ers. This is a piece you can’t get new, so we even­tu­ally sourced a donor part.

That area, plus the lower doors, bot­tom of the front guards, the fire­wall, beaver panel and rear quar­ters are all rust spots. Win­dow frames can also be an is­sue. Mark found a prob­lem with the bolts at the bot­tom of the frames and, be­ing a fit­ter and turner by trade, was able to make up a new set. We also re­placed the front guards – one is a new unit, while the other is a good used item.

This car was orig­i­nally a Stan­dard, but had been dressed up over the years, with a 179 en­gine, a white roof and an HD front end. We de­cided to take it back to stock. The Stan­dard was a very ‘plain’ car: one colour only, no chrome trim strips and rub­ber floor mats. We did add a cor­rect pe­riod heater, which was a dealer-fit­ted op­tion back then. Mark did the paint, Am­ber­ley Blue is the colour and it was ap­plied as a two-pack.

As for the en­gine, we got a lit­tle bit lucky and found a re­place­ment 149 that had been sit­ting in a shed for the best part of 40 years. It was in pretty good shape, but we de­cided to

do a top-to-toe re­build any­way. It was stripped down to the crank – which was ma­chined – and we put in new bear­ings, camshaft, plus valves on hard­ened seats so it could ac­cept un­leaded fuel. Parts avail­abil­ity was pretty good, ex­cept for one thing: pis­tons!

We could have left it on the orig­i­nal bores, as they just needed a hone, but the only fac­tory set left in cap­tiv­ity was 40 thou over­size. They were dis­cov­ered gath­er­ing dust on a parts shelf some­where – it was a lucky find. That en­gine is now whis­per quiet and starts al­most in­stantly.

The three-speed trans­mis­sion is a col­umn shift, with no syn­chro on first. So you have to be at a com­plete stand­still to en­gage it. We put new bear­ings through the trans­mis­sion.

The fi­nal touch un­der the bon­net was the fit­ting of a new wiring loom.

In­side we man­aged to re­trim the car with ma­te­ri­als that look right, and even in­clude the orig­i­nal stamp­ings on the door cards. Rub­ber mats turned out to be pretty easy to find, as were most of the panel and door rub­bers.

I guess the whole project took more re­sources than I orig­i­nally ex­pected, but that’s a com­mon story when it comes to old cars. My ad­vice for any­one plan­ning on do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar is to join a club, as the peo­ple there will have a lot of in­valu­able knowl­edge.

This EH was well worth the trou­ble. They’re a light and sim­ple car and I love the shape of them, so it’s not go­ing any­where!

ABOVE Pe­riod ad reck­ons Valvo­line is the go for you new Holden.

LEFT GMH lion and the south­ern cross were cal­cu­lated to build a lit­tle na­tional pride.

ABOVE Ev­ery­where you look, the de­tail is good.

BE­LOW Owner man­ual in­cludes a les­son on how to drive a threeon-the-tree.

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