WHAT TO LOOK FOR
KEEP IN TRIM
Refurbishing the cabin is fairly straightforward thanks to superb parts availability, but the costs will soon mount. Budget accordingly if trim is damaged or decrepit, and watch for mustiness that indicates damp creeping
CHECK FOR WEAR
Suspension-wise, the B can suffer from leaking lever-arm shock absorbers, worn front wishbone bushes and sagging rear leaf springs. All can be fixed without breaking the bank, but rot around mountings is a pricier problem. Front kingpins need to greased every 3000 miles. Also check for cracks around the steering rack mounts, and sloppiness that indicates wear in the rack itself.
The Lockheed disc/drum brakes are trouble-free (unless neglected) and easy enough to overhaul, although it’s worth ensuring that lack of use hasn’t led to corrosion of the rear items. The system was servo-assisted as standard, too, so a hard pedal or lack of efficiency points to a leak somewhere. Lastly, it’s worth examining the original Dunlop wheels if they’re still fitted; they used an alloy centre and steel rim so there’s the risk of galvanic corrosion.
WATCH FOR ROT
Notable corrosion on the outside will be much worse deeper in, so be very wary. The usual spots need scrutiny – inner and outer wings, wheelarches, door bottoms, bonnet, and tailgate – but pay special attention to the sills. Replacement involves cutting off the bottoms of the front and rear wings, so watch for bodges and badly-fitted cover sills hiding epic rust. Many examples have been restored but quality work is crucial, so check for filler and ill-fitting panels; door alignment is hard to get right, too, and will expose a shoddy restoration if the door catches the B-post. in and floor corrosion. Make sure that the electrics haven’t been subjected to bodgery. Also worth noting is that late examples could feature non-matching trim as stock dwindled, so ask the clubs about the correct specification if you value originality.
YEP, MORE ROT
Floors, outriggers, jacking points and spring hangers all like to dissolve; and remember to check the state of the body pillars, battery trays, fuel tank, and the numerous box sections. Rot also attacks the scuttle and windscreen surround. A reshell is possible, but major surgery will see costs well into five figures. Chrome bumper models were the most numerous (around 750 rubber-bumper cars were made).
The extra torque can stress the standard gearbox, so watch for jumping out of gear, worn synchromesh and general whines and rumbles. Chipped teeth on second and third gears are usually indicated by a ticking when driving. A five-speed conversion using a hardier transmission is a common fix. You’ll also need to check the operation of the Laycock overdrive as dirty or incorrect oil or wiring issues causes problems, and watch for a worn or oil-contaminated clutch and clonking propshaft UJs. If the back axle is noisy, budget around £500 for replacing the crown-wheel and pinion with remanufactured items of the correct – and V8-specific – ratio.
The V8 is reliable with proper care, so look for regular oil and filter changes; every 3000 miles is best – it staves off wear in the rocker shaft and prevents sludged hydraulic tappets. The rearmost cylinders are often worst affected by the latter so listen for a rattle when driving. Oil pressure should be 40psi when warm. Correct coolant strength is a must to prevent corrosion of the all-alloy engine, and look for signs of overheating or compromised cylinder head gaskets, along with leaks from radiator or water pump. Poor running is often worn SU carbs or a tired ignition system. An aftermarket electronic fuel pump can improve matters. Do establish whether it’s a genuine V8 or a conversion.