A new old toy for me…

Posted on November 24th, 2014 by Dave under Austin Healey, auto restoration.
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As some of you know it was necessary to sell my “collection” of fun old cars to satisfy the demands of my divorce last year.. The results of which left me on a bit of a financial shoestring.

I knew I wanted something to bang around in and take to the club meetings or even a few laps up at the race track. The first affordable possibility was a ’60’s TR4. It had sat outdoors for years and had been stripped of most everything..even so I drug it back to the shop thinking I could take my time (probably years). I stared at it for a few days, even pulled it indoors for a start at cleaning all the crud out of the body work. Then the light came on.. WTF am I doing.. It would have cost a fortune to restore (don’t they all!) It needed every single part to be worked on, replaced or repaired.. I called the tow truck and had it shipped back to the owner..

Then, one sunny day, a friend I’d recently met told me he was going to purchase a car that I had referred to him a few weeks earlier.. It was a 1968 Triumph GT6+. Visually a sort of attractive automobile. I had no great love for Triumphs of the “spitfire” series. I have always been disappointed with the marque in general. Saw a fellow roll a TR3 in the 60’s and be killed, my father always groused that they rode like a buckboard, I always disliked the Rube Goldberg front suspensions/steering, lack of HP from the TR6’s.. in other words they didn’t float my boat. Well, he sent me pictures of the car, which I knew a little about having belonged to a local LBC club member. This member had decided he wanted the car the factory never built. A Spitfire with a 6 cylinder engine.  The 6 cylinder only came in the fastback enclosed bodywork. Well he set about taking a very nice example and removing a lot of parts to make his “Spit6” and this car was left outside for about 12 years before he sold it to another enthusiast, who parked it his his garage for a couple years before selling it to my friend. Here’s a couple pictures as I first saw it..GT6 1DSC03048

It was sitting pretty forlornly in this guys garage. The exterior trim had been largely removed and the paint was badly oxidized from sitting in the sun.

GT6 4DSC03044

The interior, especially under the dash, had been disassembled. The original seats were missing and a pair of Miata seats were there, but not yet installed. Apparently, that is a popular up-grade? Here’s another shot.GT6 2DSC03047.

Maybe they are good for the Spit6 or straight Spitfire, but even with them sitting on the bare floor, my head rubbed the head liner and I’m not a big guy. Under the bonnet (hood),again, a number of items had been removed. Here’s the only picture taken on the day it was picked up..GT6 3DSC03045


Well, much like the TR4 at the beginning this car sat for a couple months, mostly in my way, in a corner of the shop.  I just could not wrap my head around the idea of owning a Triumph after all the years of mostly negative Juju. Friends and customers would comment all the time.. ” I like the lines”, “..a paint job would be easy now” ,”parts are available from so and so” and so on. Well, I was at the painting supplier one afternoon and thought I’d get a new bottle of aggressive compound and spend a couple hours seeing if the paint would clean up some. As I was quite sure I wasn’t going to strip it for a proper re-spray. And here it is after the first pass..IMG_4942

Well, that put a new spin on it. I next set to getting it running. Fresh gasoline, new battery, some cursory wiring, an alternator, a fuel pump…well, quite a bit of stuff as it turned out. However, it started up and sounded great mechanically. The exhaust was a pair of undersized glass-packs and it was way too loud for the highway, sorta OK for short around town runs.

The Rotoflex couplings (the Triumph half solution to proper half shafts or CV joints) were replaced. The differential howled at any speed over 60MPH and was rebuilt at great expense. New tires were mounted. I had subsequently purchased 2 more GT6 “project” cars, from which I was able to harvest a lot of the missing trim and interior bits. The good news is that the gearbox and the overdrive were good to go. The interior carpeting and panels were either replaced or repaired. I just wanted to get it to a decent state of respectability and reliability.  So as it is today, after about 200 hours and a couple grand in parts this is what I have. A nearly rattle free, spunky, fun to drive, eye catching little British gem. It actually gets more comments from other passersby than my really nice Healey 100 did. Who knew… Here are a couple more pictures..IMG_5049IMG_4964IMG_4966IMG_4965

Perhaps over the winter I’ll consider new carpeting and all the upholstery and a new paint job by springtime.. Right now I’m enjoying it and turning down offers to sell it.. Who Knew


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