The Austin Healey is one of those classic cars that cause an extreme emotional reaction. It’s distinctive lines can’t fail to impress. However it is often a love hate relationship, and if you are the proud owner of an example it is possibly in need of a little tender love and care, or even complete restoration.
If you are contemplating an Austin Healey restoration project, what are the stages you will go through? The following short procedure should give you an idea of how to restore a car, and what you can expect to encounter.
Your first job in any restoration project is to assess the condition of your car. Make a list of obvious jobs that will need doing; bodywork holes, rust, mechanical condition, etc. Once you have this list you will start to have an idea of what your task will involve.
Make a preliminary schedule of jobs, this will give you an idea of the possible cost of the project, as well as the time it will take. This will only give you a rough idea, as car restoration is one of those tasks that will throw up many problems, and tasks, that you didn’t envisage as you get into the work.
There are many different levels of restoration. You need to decide if you are going for a concourse ready finish, in which case you are going to be looking at minute detail, and a restoration to original factory condition, with the corresponding high cost. Alternatively if you are looking to restore the car to a state where it is road-worthy, and drivable, your plan will be quite different, and the bill will be lower too.
If you are facing a complete restoration project then your first job will be to dismantle your Austin Healey. Remember your vehicle will have many years of dirt, and rust, depending on its general condition, and some of those bolts are going to be a bit stiff. The key here is patience as rushing this can cause more damage, and expense, if you start stripping threads or shearing of bolts.
Stubborn ones should be given a liberal dose of penetrating oil, and tapped gently with a hammer. Repeat this over time until the oil works its magic. Remember to label all the parts carefully, as this will help greatly when it comes to putting everything back together.
It is essential that you have a workshop guide or manual, and a plan to help you through the project, there are many available. Work tidily and take plenty of notes. Most projects are part time labors of love, that are completed when the owner has a few spare hours, for this reason there can often be large gaps between work sessions. Your note book will be an invaluable aid to help you to keep track of what is going on.
As with any project of this size your Austin Healey restoration will be an emotional journey, but worth it in the end. Just keep the mental picture of your finished product sitting gleaming on your driveway if you need motivation. I hope this article has given you a taste of the processes involved in how to restore a car. Whatever model you decide to buy I wish you lots of luck and happy restoring.