The Restoration of the First Production Austin Healey
Updated May 2002
It is getting down to the final two months, but Blair
thinks the project can be completed on time. A couple of weeks ago
the car went in for final paint, and it will then go directly on for the
remaining upholstery. While Richard Chrysler continues to be the main navigator
for authenticity and helps Blair weekly with the assembly, the project
has a number of contributors whose collective knowledge is making this
restoration more successful and on schedule. With the images and text below,
Blair takes us through some of the final stages of the restoration.
The restoration continues with the addition of electrical
components. All of the original mounting holes were used to locate
and determine the sometimes unique attachment and shape of the heat shields
on the drivers side.
Richard Chrysler savors the moment at being able to stand
up and install components and the wiring harness behind the dash with the
car positioned on the hoist
The dash panel and instrument cluster had been painted
at the same time as the dash for AHX-14 was done. The restored instruments
were installed and set in place and wired.
The early style bulkhead construction with steel angle
supports on top allows for good access for building up the cowl area.
More components are added to the firewall. Every
component, nut, bolt, washer and screw is reviewed before being installed.
It makes things painfully slow, but we want everything to represent the
original assembly of this car. The majority of the fasteners and
clips are restored originals. A point of interest, when we used very
fine glass bead blasting it was found that the original wiring clips were
all zinc coloured, not goldish. They are all mounted with pan head
Horns, flasher relay, and some of the hydraulic lines
are shown in place.
Another look at the instrument panel
All of the hydraulic and fuel lines were supplied by
Doug Reid, aka Mr. Finespanner of “18G Motorworks”. He advised us
about the differences with the current replacement fittings available and
the original BSF fittings. The wrench sizes are different.
For this reason it was decided that we would salvage all of the original
fittings for him to restore and install on new tubing.
I remember how much work it was to make up the lines
for AHX-14 and it was a real boost to the restoration project to be able
to install Doug’s. They were all a perfect fit, right out of the
box. Thanks Doug.
Jim Sebert of Sebert Motors was fortunate to acquire
the last set of high quality Austin Healey 100 pistons that Jahns Pistons
will be making. Other new engine components are a NOS crank, sump,
Jim Sebert completely rebuilt the engine and transmission.
Before sending it back to me, he ran it on a test stand for approximately
4 hours to make sure that there were no unforeseen problems. The
transmission was attached, but with a 28% overdrive.
This picture pretty accurately shows the colour of the
original engine. It was matched to the original paint on the engine
during the restoration of AHX-14.
This is the original engine for the car, and carries
a cast date of July 22nd, 1952.
Meanwhile the 32% overdrive for this car had a major
problem with the stub shafts for the three planetary gears. All of
the gears were in excellent condition, but new components had to be fabricated
with hardened bushings and new needle bearings in order to restore the
unique original gear set. This was expensive, but we didn’t want
to miss the opportunity to get this overdrive right for this car.
Two weeks later, the transmission and overdrive caught
up to the engine and was ready to install into the car.
John Smyth has now completed the seats. He compares
his seats with a very original seat and explains the important aspects
he has duplicated.
The special modifications and special treatment of the
cushions is noteworthy. David Koch from our Southern Ontario Chapter
of the AHCOA was very helpful in developing the techniques required to
make accurately fitting backing with the original squared cutouts.
Having the seats completed at this point makes the final
upholstery task much easier to schedule. The seats represent such
a large part of the coach trimming task.
The hood is made by Heritage Trim in British Columbia,
Canada. It will be fitted onto the car by John Smyth of Heritage
Coach Trimming in Brampton, Ontario. The colour of the hood
was more of a “royal” blue, and had to be re-coloured to be a “navy” blue
which is correct for the car and matches all of the vinyl and armacord
for the car. The colour change was quite significant.
Russ Bamsey is another member of AHCSO. He specializes
in rebuilding shock absorbers, and he restored the rear shocks for this
car. He told me that these early shocks have a smaller valve than
the later shocks. They can also be identified by the flat top
plate. The shocks for this car were in very good shape Russ told me.
Since they were from a southern car (San Francisco area), one of
them still showed the stamped production date of April 1953.
Now more of the components are assembled, and the body
panels are now being placed onto the chassis for final attachment and fit-up.
The doors and the boot are fitted as the rear shroud is fastened into place
with solid rivets along the back seams.
At the front end the last of the components are attached
in preparation for the installation of the engine.
Chassis Identification Plate #138031 is returned to its
original location on the frame.
The engine and transmission are fitted in place.
This stage was delayed while the overdrive was being repaired. Everything
went easy and the remaining engine components will be re-attached after
the body painting and upholstery stages.
The early style wheels were all rebuilt and restored
by Dayton Wheel. The new tires were mounted and then installed onto
the car. For the first time in a long time, the car was back
on its wheels.
The windshield frame with its new glass was fitted onto
the car. Other components such as the transmission tunnel and the
hood frame were also checked for fit-up. The car is now ready
to load onto the trailer and go back to QRS for final painting. It
should be pointed out that the darker blue colour is only the primer.
The final colour is the ice blue metallic similar to the chassis.