WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Condition is everything as tens of thousands of pounds can be spent on comprehensive restoration, and the first place to check is the chassis. The ladder-frame item needs scrutinising for signs of accident damage and for rot in the main rails and outriggers, and the points at which the front and rear bulkheads are welded to it. Aluminium ‘shrouds’ are found at each end which support the steel body panels, and it’s crucial to check for bubbling and oxidation where the two materials meet. And examining the fit of the panels, the consistency of the swage line between front and rear wings, and the door gaps gives a good indication of the overall condition; major repairs are for specialists only, and there’s always the spectre of bodgery to contend with.
Corrosion will attack plenty of other areas, too, so pay particular attention to the bottom of the front wings and doors, the wheelarches, especially at the rear, the inner and outer sills, inner wings front and rear; and the state of the A- and B-posts. If the latter are bad, expect a wallet-draining labour bill. The cabin and boot floors will need carefully scrutiny as well, so lift the carpets to check. Last, sourcing chrome trim can be tricky and much of it isn’t cheap, so ensure it’s not beyond rescue or missing altogether.
Both engines are robust and essentially simple, and should cover high mileages if maintained properly. Rattles and excessive exhaust smoke are warnings that all’s not well, and expect to see 50-60psi of oil pressure when cold and a minimum of 40psi hot. Four cylinder engines tend to suffer more than sixes by way of oil leaks, although neither should be bad, but overheating will quickly do for the head gasket. Silting of the engine block and radiator are common culprits, but it’s worth looking for coolant leaks from the core plugs as well, and while an electric fan can be helpful, it could also be masking problems. Lastly, check the exhaust as it’s low-slung and susceptible to damage. The good news is that parts availability for the oily bits is excellent.
The threespeed gearbox used in early 100/4s was the A90 unit with first gear blocked off, but with overdrive on second and third. BN2 models from 1955 got the more user-friendly four-speed Westminster item, and both need checking for crunching synchromesh and obstructive selector mechanisms. Make sure the overdrive cuts in and out promptly. Reconditioned ‘boxes are easy to source, though, and aren’t prohibitively expensive. Otherwise, just ensure there are no clunks from the driveline that indicate worn