Solid, reliable and worth a look
Car was acquired as a gift from my brother - the second owner - in the following condition:
Rust in left front and rear guards, repaired with fibreglass.
Leaks in boot (trunk) and front passenger floor, repaired by replacing obviously worn-out rear window seal and applying non-setting compound to windscreen rubber.
One trafficator globe, the choke indicator globe and one rear numberplate globe needed to be replaced.
Driver door had been replaced with a secondhand unit after a side collision. This door was laden with about 12 coats of paint of the wrong colo(u)r and had to be stripped to bare metal prior to priming. Note that the door frame was unaffected by the collision!
Door timber trims had been restored prior to collision, so the new door's trim strip had to be brought up to the standard of the others. This was OK since the dash panels still had to be done and so it wasn't much extra effort.
Slight engine oil leak from one of the rocker cover studs, fixed by fitting a fibre washer under the metal washer.
Front struts and steering mount rubbers were picked up as being in need of replacement by the roadworthy test station. These are being replaced today.
General maintenance was also required, such as:
Greasing the steering rack and water pump (watch this item, since it requires fitting a 1/8" grease nipple and pumping until grease exudes from the breather hole. It required 21 pumps (!!!) which shows that it had probably never been done). Also greased the inner driveshaft grease point, which is fitted only on later cars.
Top up of the auto transmission fluid, required one litre.
Repair of rear parcel shelf with new vinyl, and deletion of three mismatched rear seatbelts. In Australia they were not required until 1971, and since I only use this seat for parcels I'm better off without them. Yes, it does have front inertia-reels, and yes I do use them. I'm not stupid.
Cleaning/restoration of front and rear indicator light assemblies, including respraying chrome paint into rear units and making new rubber gaskets. The original owner had used hard body putty, which took quite a lot of work to remove.
Replacement of two peeling and badly rusted hubcaps. I also have a full set of secondhand carpets on order to replace the water-damaged carpets, which had rotted away and were missing.
Removal of the steering wheel to tighten up the indicator stalk and get the horn working. The brass pin which connects to the horn ring had dropped out at some earlier time and had been replaced with a flat-headed roofing nail. I also repaired by drill-pinning one of the bakelite mounts to the horn cap, which had been poorly glued.
Removal of the dash light dimmer rheostat, disassembly and cleaning to get it working again. The parking light switch also needs this (it works nine times out of ten) but I'll leave that until the dash is removed for covering.
Front door checkstraps still need replacing, but I haven't been able to find these items yet. I'm also looking for the rather weird 1.35 volt hearing-aid battery used by the dash clock, if anyone knows where to find them.
The car's paint is in poor condition, having been resprayed by the original owner without scuffing the surface first or clearcoating over the grey metallic paint. It's therefore crazed and peeling, and I'll probably take the whole car back to bare metal over the next few months, one panel at a time, and then repaint it.
Interior is in good used condition for a 35-yo car and apart from the parcel shelf, timber and carpets mentioned above I'll probably revinyl the dash and clean the head lining. There are two minor rips in the seats and some split stitching, which will also be attended to as time permits. The rear seat top will also be capped, since the vinyl hardens in the sun - common to all cars - and has both faded and cracked. The car has a rear-window venetian blind so this is unlikely to occur again anytime soon.
This is a highly under-rated car, and well worth the time and effort to restore. I plan to use it as a daily driver, and with less than 100,000 miles on the odometer the engine will last for quite a while before needing to be overhauled.
They're a strong car, and ran well at Bathurst in the sixties and I'm utterly surprised that their resale value is so feeble. This car had been for sale unsuccessfully for about two years.
My brother had the top-end done a few years ago for a valve job, but the engine has obviously never been taken out.
It's a delight to drive, sedate and yet when you "give it a bit of welly" has enough zip for modern road use. I'd have preferred a manual transmission, but the auto is relaxing to drive and the brakes stop all that weight ferociously.
Compared to the similarly-sized Alfa Romeo 2600 of the same era, this is a much better car for the restorer. Parts are readily available (unlike the 2600, for which even the tires or pistons will require a mortgage on the house) and with a bit of elbow-grease and a few bucks you can be driving something that doesn't look like it just came out of a wind-tunnel clone factory.
With the rarity of these cars, it's literally a head-turner. In the three weeks I've had her, I've already been asked by several service-station (gas-station) attendants what kind of car it is.
Oh, and I've dubbed her Michelle. After her Italian body designer Giovanni Michelotti (1921-1980), but of course.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 25th August, 2002