As a loyal reader you’re probably wondering why there has been no update to this blog in the last few months. Perhaps you’ve been experiencing sleepless nights because of the unbearable anticipation of the next post, or have simply adopted a life of petty crime in an attempt to suppress that hollow feeling inside? Well, put down your crowbar and settle down with a nice cup of tea, for here is the update on what has been going on in Rustyland since April.
The last post ended with me mid-clutch replacement, awaiting a new release bearing carrier to be shipped from the UK. Parts from the motherland generally take a couple of weeks to wind their merry way down under and unfortunately my attention span sits at around the week and a half mark. My fingers began to wander and before long I was casually checking out classic car offerings on Gumtree. As my wife knows only too well, this has rarely ended without another ‘bargain’ littering/adorning our property.
Enter Project 27.1b:
Project 27.1b, or ‘the white car’ as it shall be known for the foreseeable future, was advertised for sale by a local breakers yard. The scrappage rules are different over here – yards are free to either break or sell cars that they buy, there is no compulsory destruction as there is in the UK which has led to many a savable classic being needlessly introduced to the jaws of the crusher. Apparently an old boy drove the thing into the yard early one morning, despite it having no brakes whatsoever, and just wanted shot of it from his garage. The yard owner thought it was too good to crush and advertised it on Gumtree for $1500. Unfortunately for my wife, and for the blue car (more on this later), that’s exactly when I decided to partake in some casual and innocent window shopping.
The advert looked tempting but it was difficult to tell from the couple of grainy photos accompanying it what the overall condition of the car was. I ignored it for a couple of days. In my defence I even posted the ad to the pages of a couple of Australian Triumph-related Facebook groups I follow. By the end of the week the ad was still showing and I could resist no more. I spoke to the breakers yard by phone and they confirmed the car was ultimately solid. I was there at 8am sharp the next morning – just to take a harmless look obviously…
I gave the car a fairly good once over at the yard, with the help of my trusty fridge magnet, torch and Mr Pokey Screwdriver. It was scruffy but solid. Best still, it was not metallic blue. I started doing the sums in my head, weighing up the additional purchase cost of this car plus the jobs it needed doing, against the cost of ultimately having to undertake a full-body bare metal respray on the blue car. The white car won and a couple of hours later the breakers yard had very kindly delivered it free of charge.
The car was a genuine 2500S, which gave it more of a pedigree than the blue car which was a TC with an S engine – and registered as the latter (possibly erroneously) by SA’s boys in blue. It also had a very nice set of genuine S alloys (including an unused spare), power steering and even an original 1970s AC system. The headlining was virtually unmarked, and the dashboard in great shape other than one small crack – neither of which were jobs I relished the thought of doing on the blue car. The rego label in the windscreen shows 2011 – it has presumably been sitting since at least then, I suspect it may have been longer.
The downsides over the blue car were the mismatched interior – judging by the vinyl on the parcel shelf and pillars, it looks like the car originally sported bone-coloured velour with the seats and door cards having been replaced at some point with a red vinyl set (the driver’s seat of which was in very bad shape). The wood cappings of the doors were also in a bit of a state with peeling lacquer and, in some places, veneer.
Whereas the panel fit on the blue car was actually very good, the driver’s door on the white car has at some point been swapped – the replacement a very subtly different shade of white, lacking the sexy gold pin strip and very badly aligned, with the latch end having dropped by several millimeters meaning the door had to be lifted when closing to avoid it merely bouncing off the striker plate.
The biggest job needing doing on the white car which I would not have had to have worried about on the blue car is the crusty front end of the driver’s sill – the jacking point of which promptly chose to relocate itself about 5-10 mm skywards when I first tried to put the car on axle stands. The inner skin looks solid but I presume the middle and outer skins need replacing. At some point a previous owner or one of their agents has lovingly given the sill a dose of filler and a bit of paint to hide the problem – but I know it’s there and waiting for me. Lloyd Reed can expect a phone call at some point…
The only other rust I can find on the car is at the bottom corner of the rear valance panel – it’s going a bit crusty in one spot but it’s not particularly widespread.
The underside of the car looks in great shape and all of the factory warning labels are present under the bonnet, which is a nice touch of originality.
So, what of the blue car you ask? Well, I am still in two minds about its precise fate. It is a very tempting source of spare parts for the white car – the brown tan interior (seats, carpet, door cards, door cappings), for example, can be transplanted over to the white car, thus ticking off a big item on the ‘what makes this car look a bit shitty’ list. Likewise, all of the coolant system hoses are brand new, the ones on the white car are very perished, soft and swollen. The white car was driven into the breakers yard (and subsequently from the tow truck into my garage) with no brakes – the pedal just sinks to the floor with little or no stopping power. The brakes on the blue car have been completely overhauled from master cylinder to hoses to slave cylinders to friction material. The tyres on the white car are worn and old, the ones on the blue car are brand new. The engine in the white car is an unknown quantity, the engine in the blue car has proven to be very good and would make a good substitute if needed. I also still have the newly-rebuilt OD gearbox originally destined for the blue car if the need ever arose. There are also multiple niggly little items – the boot lid catch, the evaporative control system (missing on the white car with hoses capped and left dangling), the centre console, boot lining etc – all good on the blue car and not so good on the white car.
The reality therefore is, that the blue car will be (well, already is being) used as a parts car for the white one. It is annoying to have to undo and the redo the work that has already been done – the brakes for example, no-one likes doing brakes, let alone thrice – but it will save a fortune over buying and shipping new parts again.
At the end of it I’ll have a decision to make – do I spend the time away from my family fitting all of the less-than-great stuff I remove from the white car into the shell of the blue car and try to sell it on as a project, or do I take the easy option and bundle everything I don’t want inside, strip anything else that I might need in the future, ring the same breakers yard from which I bought the white car and pocket an easy and quick $250. Not a good investment when you consider the original cost of the car but very tempting in terms of recouped man hours. Plus, let’s face it, the blue one is not pretty, is not a great spec and will definitely need a full respray to look remotely presentable. That in itself would cost more than the price of a similar example with already decent paint and would presumably put off all but the most determined of Triumph saviours.
The wife says I can’t keep it on the driveway outside the kitchen window so I’ll need to decide soon. All opinions welcome…