WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Chas­sis scru­tiny

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

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 con­tin­ues

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.

En­gine ex­am­i­na­tion

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.

Trans­mis­sion checks

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

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