✨ “Take it easy driving – the life you save may be mine.”
― James Dean


Saturday, 28 June 2014

Car of the month - June 2014 - 1953 Austin Healey BN1 100-4 2-seater

After expectantly waiting for 3 weeks for delivery of a 1953 Austin Haley BN1, it finally arrived in all its glory! Black with black leather interior and chrome wire wheels, it's a beaut!

In 1953, this Austin Healey was exported from the factory at Longbridge, Birmingham, UK, to California, USA and was brought back to South Africa in 1985, where it stood in a workshop for 12 years waiting for restoration.

It was bought by a sympathetic enthusiast and lovingly restored to its former glory, finally being finished in 2003 with Black paint and Cherry leather interior, chrome wire wheels and a modern 5-speed gearbox

 It was crowned a Concourse car in its club in Klerksdorp for several years and enjoyed a loving home with several other Austin Healeys, until now finally being acquired by us in March 2009.

Austin Healey with windscreen in normal position

 Austin Healey with windscreen in racing position

1953 Austin Healey Side View

1953 Austin Healey Side/rear view.

1953 Austin Healey grill

Trying out the seating!

Front view

 Austin Healey Sprite, 1953 Austin Healey BN1 and Tiger Moth

NAME : Austin Healey BN4 (1953-56)
ENGINE : In-line 4
CAPACITY : 2600cc
POWER : 100bhp
TRANSMISSION : 3-speed + over-drive
TOP SPEED : 100mph (160kph)

Production was from 1953 - 1956, when it was replaced by the BN4 100-6.


Tuesday, 24 June 2014


As the 20th Century drew to a close, we seemed to look back as much as forward, pining for what were, as we see it, better times. We can't revisit our Golden Age, but at least we can own and experience the material objects that evoke it : clothes, music, films, furniture and cars - classic cars. Glamorous, kitsch, humble or high bred, these mobile time warps powerfully conjure up a particular period.

The hobby of preserving and collecting cars built after the Second World War began to take shape in the early 1970's. Veteran (pre-1905), Edwardian (pre-1919) and Vintage (pre-1931) cars - as defined by Britain's Vintage Sports Car Club - have always been easy enough to categorise, but, by the end of the 1960's, post-war motor cars of the better kind were coming of age. To call them simply "old cars" no longer seemed appropriate : whether beautiful, fast or technically re-eminent, the post-1945 car had at its best all the gravitas of the pre-war machinery. Slowly, quietly, the "new Vintage" had arrived, filling the gap between Vintage and modern for a new generation of enthusiasts.

ABOVE : Classics so evocative as these - the AC Ace, Ferrari 166 and C-Type Jaguar - have always been in strong demand and are priced at a premium. 

One-marque clubs for well-bred sporting marques such as Aston and Bentley had been around for years, but as enthusiasts for the less exalted makes felt the need to huddle together around a common banner, many new guilds and registers sprouted.

Traditionalists had long complained that modern cars all looked the same:, but in the 70's there was a gut feeling that the motor car had seen its best years as safety and pollution regulations made inroads into designers' freedom. Styling, particularly in Britain, seemed to be losing its way.

No wonder older cars began to look increasingly attractive. They were plentiful, cheap, easy to work on and still very usable on increasingly busy roads. Drive an old car and you made a statement about your individualism: you weren't prepared to become just another faceless, sterile tin can on the bypass to oblivion or obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses in the yearly new-model scrum. It all came together in 1973, when a UK magazine, Classic Cars, was launched.

The name "classic" stuck, a useful catch-all term for a sprawling, ill-defined genre that, in just 20 years or so, has blossomed from an eccentric past-time into a multi-million-pound industry. Not much happened for about ten years, until about 1982-83, when the nature of the hobby began to change dramatically. Slowly, under the noses of true enthusiasts, market forces took hold as it dawned on investors that really prime machinery could prove a fine hedge against inflation or an appreciating asset. Suddenly, the market hardened as Americans came to Europe seeking prime collectables.

At first, gilt-edged pre-war hardware - Bentley, Bugatti, etc. - set the pace in auction rooms, but by mid-decade, super cars of the 50's, 60's and 70's were hyped on their coat tails. Once-affordable Ferraris, Astons and Jaguar XK's and E-types became "investor" cars, commodities too expense and precious to be driven (which was rather missing the point).

As the auction houses pulled even bigger numbers, hype went into over-drive. Banks and finance companies offered loans to buy classics. The increasing ranks of classic car magazines bulged with advertising. Enthusiasts' gentle hobby was turned into an ugly, cut-throat brawl driven by greed. Many found themselves with cars that were worth more than their houses, machinery they were now too nervous to use. The boom couldn't last, fortunately. the recession hit in 1989 and demand quickly fell.

Today the market is stable again and most cars are where they could be - with enthusiasts and enthusiastic investors. Rare and high-calibre thoroughbred cars - especially those with a racing pedigree or an interesting history - will always be in strong demand.

Fashion still has its part to play in the lower echelons of the market, but those who bought Citro├źns and Jaguars have learnt about the dedication required to run an old car - some went back to their moderns, others caught a life-long bug!

- Extracted from 'The World Encyclopedia of Cars' by Martin Buckley and Chris Rees


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

ASTON MARTIN DB4 - 1958-70 (£75,000-1million)

DB4 Drophead or Saloon (Volante)

You had the dinky toy - has the yearning ever gone away? These cars just look better and better with age, but; you'll have to be quick, as prices are climbing to Ferrari 250 levels. You could say the DB4 GT has already got there - one recently sold for £1million.

Why so expensive? Aside from gorgeous looks and aluminium panels lovingly wrapped around a steel frame, there's a home-grown alloy-twin engine, giving DB's true British pedigree.

The DB4/DB4 GT IS THE BEST DRIVER, THE DB5 the best looking, the longer, taller DB6 the 'sensible choice despite being labeled the lardy one - in reality there's only 18kg in it. No power steering or air conditioning as standard in the earlier cars though.

DB5 - immortalised as 007's car, but an ejection seat wasn't standard!

ENGINE : 3670-3995cc, six-cylinder dohc
POWER : 240-325bhp
PERFORMANCE : 0-60mph - 8.1sec
TOP SPEED : 141-148mph

To good motoring!
Dave Clarkson


The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.
 - Napoleon Hill


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Car of the Month May 2014 - Triumph Spitfire (1962-80)

Triumph's Spitfire is affordable, pretty, simple and fun, so it doesn't need
to be a road-burner appeal. It can be bought and run cheaply, up-rated
easily and give excellent service.

On sale for almost 20 years, the Spitfire was conceived by Triumph in 1957 as a response to the market for Ford side valve specials and cars like the Standard Ten-based Fairthorpe. BMC brought out the Austin Healey Sprite and MG Midget, but Triumph's foray was delayed by development costs, finally arriving in 1962 with an uprated version of the Herald 1200's 1147cc engine.

The pretty and practical Spitfire offered a decent-sized boot, wind-up windows and a more spacious interior than a Midget. It was one of the most successful shapes from Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti.

Making use of mainstream Herald componentry, it boasted independent rear suspension and a tiny turning circle. It had a better ride than other small sports cars and, although criticised for a tendency to 'jack up' if the driver lifted mid-corner, it only let go if driven hard. the problem was eradicated with the s[ring spring set-up fitted to MkIV's in 1070, which can be fitted to earlier cars.

Pretty and practical, but the Spitfire can rust in many areas.
Trim is simple and widely available.

Spitfires are great fun on a sunny day and civilised enough in bad weather, especially with the optional hardtop. MkI's am II's are the cutest, MkIII's the most turnable, MkIV's the cheapest and lat 1500's the most practical.

Spitfires out-sold Spridgets throughout and more than 300,000 were built. They were rallied and raced at Le Mans, spawning the fastback GT6. Triumph never built an open GT6, but many have been converted.  If a Spitfire body is fitted to a complete GT6 chassis/running gear, the conversion is successful - fitting GT6 running gear to a Spitfire rarely works as so much must be changed.

Many more Spitfires were sold in the US than the UK, but very few have come back. Emissions equipment took the MkIV 1300 down to 48bhp and US cars used the 1500 engine from 1973.

For a restoration project, you should walk away from a car that needs major body work. It costs too much to do it properly. The sills are key to a good restoration, and they are key to a good Spitfire purchase. The sills are structural and are critical to good door fit and consequently also affects the fit of the hood.

Spitfires can rust in many areas, but thankfully most of it is easy to find because of the way these cars are built. Door bottoms rust, as do rear wheel arches as well as the valance below the rear bumper. The optional hard-top is a desirable extra, but check that all fittings are present and look for rust along the front edge and below the windows, especially on MkIV's. The Spitfire chassis rarely suffers any rust, but should still be checked.

The worst engine is the MkIV 1300, though its cylinder head has better porting and bigger valves than the MkIII, which is easily swapped over.

Despite starting life in 1953 with 803cc, the four-cylinder Spitfire engine is robust and dependable. Spitfires never had an oil pressure gauge as standard. If one is fitted, expect 60-75psi at speed when cold, dropping to 40psi when thoroughly hot. A good blast on a motorway is needed before the pressure on a worn engine will drop to around 25psi at speed.

Marks I-III used a three-rail gearbox with synchromesh on the top three gears and optional overdrive; the MkIV added synchro on first (and stronger overdrive in 1974), while the 1500 had a stronger single-rail gearbox (with four synchros and optional overdrive).

Mks I-III used a 4.11:1 Herald-spec differential; MkIV used the 3.89:1 larger flange diff developed for the Vitesse 2-litre, while the 1500 went to 3.7:1.

Spitfire suspension is simple and reliable if well maintained, but needs regular attention. You cannot over-lubricate them and neglect leads to rust forming at the top of the thread on the vertical link.

Scruffy interior is inexpensive to refurbish.

Spitfire trim is simple and virtually all available. It's vinyl on early cars (with extremely rare leather option), but seats acquired hounds tooth cloth centre panels on 1500's from FH100020. Hoods made on the original tooling are still available for MkIV on, ut Mks I-III hoods vary in quality.

 ENGINE : 1296cc four-cylinder OH valves Twin SU carbs
POWER & TORQUE : 75bhp @ 6000rpm
 TRANSMISSION : Four-speed manual, optional overdrive, rear-wheel drive
 PERFORMANCE : Top speed 95mph, 0-60mph - 12.5sec


1962-64 - Original 63bhp gave 92mph, with 5.20x13 crossply tyres on 3.5in disc wheels.  From 1964 optional 4.5in wires, overdrive and hardtop.

1964-67 - Carpets replace rubber mats, vinyl trim over metal dash, power up to 67bhp, with new camshaft and tubular exhaust manifold.

1967-70 - Re-designed for US bumper legislation: 9in higher in front bumper, one-piece folding hood, wire-spoke Vitesse/TR4 steering wheel, wood-veneer centre dash panel, 1296cc eight-port engine giving 75bhp.

1970-74 - Major re-design by Michelotti cleaned up body styling and modernised interior. Hardtop also re-designed. All synchro gearbox and alternator standard.

1974-80 - 1493cc long-stroke engine with 2.5in SU carbs gave 71bhp. Stronger single-rail gearbox plus higher final drive.

Info from 'the World Encyclopedia of Cars' - Martin Buckley and Chris Rees

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...