WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Inspect the chassis rails to see if they run straight along the car’s length – if there’s any rippling or wavering it’s a sign of previous accident damage. It’s also worth snooping around the chassis outriggers for signs of corrosion, as Austin-Healey didn’t rustproof these areas from new.
Take a look at the swage line running down the car’s profile – it’s a complicated bit of the 3000’s construction with several overlapping panels, so if it’s misaligned it’s a sign of bodged repairs in its past. You should also check carefully for signs of corrosion along the top of the front wings, the area behind the doors and the outer sills.
Watch out for overly heavy, vague or sloppy steering on the test drive, which often indicates the steering box wearing out. Jack the car up and gently rock either wheel up and down to check for signs of excessive movement, which can help to diagnose poorly kingpins. Ideally, these components should be greased every time the car’s serviced, so ask when it was last done.
The C-series is a fairly tough unit that can take big mileages but it’s important to make sure it’s been looked after. The occasional drip of oil shouldn’t lose you any sleep but be wary of a 3000 that can’t keep an oil pressure of around 50psi when out on the open road.
Plenty of the 3000s that have already been restored have been decked out with leather trim to replace the original vinyl, so don’t be surprised if the one you’re looking at isn’t quite factory-spec. If it hasn’t, it is possible to buy replacement trim sets and seat covers. Look too for carpets that are harbouring damp – if left untreated it can spark corrosion on the floorpan beneath.
WORLD OF LEATHER
Have a look at the car’s rear-end stance – suspension modifications on the MkIII models mean a big gap between the tyres and rear wheelarches is normal, but if the car’s leaning to either side it’s a sign the spring hangers are corroding. Get this sorted out, as it’ll affect the car’s handling.
A NICE SIT DOWN