WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling -

YOU’VE BEEN FRAMED

There’s a steel bodyshell on top of a sturdy steel frame; its thick pan­els help to stave off cor­ro­sion but ma­jor rot can still be present and re­place­ment pan­els are scarce. At least it’s easy to re­move the ma­jor pan­els to work on them; all four wings sim­ply bolt into place. Start by scru­ti­n­is­ing the bulk­head, es­pe­cially around the bat­tery com­part­ment, and all of the lower half of the car; floor­pans, door bot­toms, sills, run­ning boards and valances. All th­ese ar­eas get blasted by road de­bris and then rot. The run­ning boards of Pre­fects and early Anglias are es­pe­cially rot-prone, while wing joints are also likely to be har­bour­ing cor­ro­sion.

BRAK­ING POINT

A puller is needed to over­haul the rear brakes, so they’re of­ten left when they need to be re­placed – or even just checked. An­other po­ten­tial brake prob­lem is wear in the brake link­ages, es­pe­cially the one un­der the rear axle. Reg­u­lar greas­ing of the link­ages can help to slow down the rate of wear, but it will oc­cur. Once things have worn down, it’s a ques­tion of fit­ting over­hauled bits – which is straight­for­ward enough to do. The three-speed gear­box has no syn­chromesh on first gear. Ex­pect some baulk­ing as you change gear but bud­get around £750 for an ex­change unit if some­thing is amiss. Clutch jud­der as the drive is taken up be­trays tired engine and gear­box mount­ings; the sta­biliser bars fit­ted be­low the engine may also be miss­ing. Oil seals on the rear axle can leak, ac­cel­er­at­ing to pre­ma­ture wear. They’re eas­ily fixed but in­volve drop­ping the axle. The rear wheel bear­ings run di­rectly in the axle cas­ing, wear­ing them away, but the FSOC of­fers sleeves which al­low a slightly smaller, much stronger bear­ing to be fit­ted. Th­ese are locked in place with an in­dus­trial ad­he­sive, and of­fer a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion to the prob­lem at £160 per side.

DROP IT

Dropped doors point to rot­ten A-posts, which means ma­jor re­pairs will be nec­es­sary. Al­though se­ri­ous struc­tural cor­ro­sion is less likely than you’d think, non-struc­tural rust is com­mon. Ar­eas such as the ra­di­a­tor grille and bumpers tend to rust, along with the front wings around the head­lamps. The wind­screen rub­bers per­ish then leak, so make sure the footwells haven’t filled up with wa­ter. New rub­bers cost £20 apiece and fit­ting them is straight­for­ward be­cause the glass is flat. If the fab­ric roof leaks, ma­jor prob­lems will fol­low. Ex­ten­sive roof gut­ter cor­ro­sion can leave a car be­yond eco­nomic re­pair.

PLAS­TIC FAN­TAS­TIC

Orig­i­nal trim in good con­di­tion is scarce, but re­cov­er­ing seats and pan­els isn’t dif­fi­cult. All of th­ese cars fea­tured Bake­lite dash mould­ings, ex­cept the 103E and com­mer­cials. Bake­lite ages, so many parts go brit­tle over the years and are eas­ily dam­aged as a re­sult. Good Bake­lite mould­ings are highly prized; if you find a car with a de­cent set you’ll be do­ing well.

GREASE IS THE WORD

If the steer­ing is vague the box prob­a­bly re­quires a re­build, but the parts are avail­able through the FSOC. The sus­pen­sion is an­other weak spot, as the king­pins need to be greased ev­ery 1000 miles in or­der to pre­vent rapid wear. Feel for play in the sys­tem and use a crow­bar un­der­neath the car; if in doubt, put the car through an MoT. All the parts needed to over­haul the sus­pen­sion are avail­able, but re­plac­ing the king­pin bushes will need the help of a spe­cial­ist.

ON THE SIDE

The same side­valve engine was fit­ted across this range in ei­ther 933cc or 1172cc forms. The lat­ter is a bored-out ver­sion of the for­mer and nei­ther unit will go for more than 40,000 miles be­tween re­builds; oil changes ev­ery 1000 miles are es­sen­tial to pre­vent pre­ma­ture engine fail­ure. The use of white-metal bear­ings on the big ends means that re­builds are costly; bud­get at least £2500. Blue smoke from the ex­haust un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion sug­gests a re­build is due. Valve clear­ance ad­just­ment is tricky be­cause you have to grind the stem (to in­crease the clear­ance) or the valve seat (to de­crease the gap). So if the top end is very noisy, bud­get up to £750 to fix it, as­sum­ing you re­move, dis­man­tle and re­fit the engine your­self.

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