WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Check everywhere for corrosion, including the bulkheads, sills and chassis rails. If the drain holes are blocked the inner sills will probably be as rotten as the outers, so major welding will be needed. The outer panels are more rot-prone than the structural ones, so inspect everything for filler or festering steel. Home in on the valances, front wings (around the headlamps and along their trailing edges), the door bottoms and the rear wheelarches. Also scrutinise the underside of the inner wings which feature a box section that’s welded in to provide additional strength. They tend to rot badly, weakening the car’s front end. Also lift the carpets if you can, to check for bodged floorpans and sills; if there’s significant corrosion visible when you check the footwells, expect worse out of sight.
The 2912cc C-series straight-six is smooth, long-lived and easy to maintain as well as rebuild. Thanks to its fitment in the big Healey it’s easy to tune too; gas-flowed heads and a hotter camshaft can make it breathe much more efficiently when done properly. It’s not cheap to overhaul though, which is why most owners fit a used engine, available from around £500. Simply engineered, blue smoke when you start up or accelerate through the gears betrays worn piston rings and/or cylinder bores. If the engine is really worn it’ll be knocking from the bottom end, especially when starting up or pulling away. Also keep an eye on the oil pressure gauge; expect at least 25psi at tickover and around 55psi when cruising.
Until the MkII cars arrived in July 1964 there were threespeed manual or automatic transmissions; later manual gearboxes got an extra ratio. The earlier manual boxes have synchromesh on third and fourth only; later transmissions were all-synchro units. All cars featured a column change until 1961; from this point on the three-speed manual came with a floor-mounted change instead. The manual gearboxes are tough but once worn they whine loudly and gearchanges will be crunchy because of tired synchromesh. A used transmission is your best bet; £500 bags something decent. The Borg-Warner automatic gearbox was a DG unit until 1964, then a Type 35. Both are strong, most problems stemming from poor maintenance, so check the fluid level; be wary if it’s black and smells of rotten eggs. A worthwhile used transmission costs from £100, but good ones are scarce; a rebuild costs £750 plus.
WHAT LIES BENEATH
Steering boxes leak while power-assisted cars can suffer from leaky