Antique Electric Fans
Sport and Classic Car Company
Billions of Car Parts Company
10525 Airline Drive Houston, Texas 77037
A 1961 Austin Healey Sprite
Restorations or Rustorations?
After some 36 years of doing this work we are no longer accepting cars for complete restorations and are doing somewhat less involved work such as rebuilding engines, entire brake and clutch systems, suspensions, complete re-wiring, carburetor rebuilding and such. Not because we are lazy bones have we changed our work interests but we have found that as qualified shops with direct skills and experience with vintage British cars have steadily diminished over the years as the people around the planet with direct knowledge get more vintage themselves and retire, our services are in ever greater need so we want to help as many owners as we can with somewhat less massive and enveloping work. We still accept assemblies sent in for rebuilding or restoration such as carburetors, generators, steering boxes, transmissions, various valves and cylinders and more.
A 1952 Jaguar XK120 heading out.
In the interest of assisting the thinking of those considering an all out restoration endeavor in this chapter are examples of a few restorations we've done with lots of photos about what is involved with restoring a vintage car for street driving use. The owners of these cars shared our interest in doing up a car for their actual driving pleasure as opposed to restoring a car for the sole purpose of winning car shows. Taking on the time consuming restoration of a car that would never actually be driven and hence essentially be an investment instrument like a strip mall just did not interest us as cars on our website are machines that were designed and built to cruise the roads whilst giving great pleasure to their owners. A lot many of the works we accomplished were completed well before the internet or digital cameras were invented so those works were not as well photographed. ( Who knew Kodachrome would one day be like Morse Code!) Before you read about our restoration works de art, read some commentary about common pitfalls of car restoration. It's good to be excited about a restoration but its better to be excited and well briefed.
We are asked for original paint codes quite often. However we do not remember nor have time to look up the paint codes of cars that we were involved with painting over the years so we share the following website that is available for anyone to explore and find the original paint codes for cars built back to 1900. We do not sell automotive painting products and your local auto paint stores will be happy to help you. Have fun and contact us for original body related parts such as body seals and such.
Following are a few quotes from five very smart people whose points of view are worth thinking about in many ways before embarking on a restoration of anything.
"The secret to getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is
breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then
starting on the first one."
"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth"
"There's a reluctance to confront reality and a desire to soften unpleasant realities." George Carlin
"Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing."
" Yeah well it's mine and I'll restore it if I bloody well want to,"
A "distressed" 1958 Austin A35 two door saloon as seen behind a building where it had been quietly waiting for someone to rescue it from doom for some 30 years.
A well dressed Austin A35.
Restoring a car in this condition takes courage, blood, sweat, tears and also being slightly crazy helps a lot actually. If you do not have a car that you want to restore and are searching for just the right one or are wanting a restored car right now, take your time as these days many cars are advertised for sale with on-line auctions as being "restored" and are instead, well dressed junk metal. Sometimes after an owner makes a unfortunate purchase and takes delivery, we get to closely examine the car. Our consensus is that the mechanical and or structural condition of many cars bought using on line auctions is shockingly bad. All too often we find that recent work done on such cars in order to sell them is superficial at best and outright incompetent and or fraudulent at worst. The internet has made it all too easy for unscrupulous sellers to construct webs of lies in order to sell a car and many buyers can't but should be bothered to do what it takes to have a car checked out before they spend their money unless they literally have piles of money to burn.
If you plan on purchasing a car to have restored by using an on line auction for the acquisition, if at all possible have the car checked out by a local shop in the area and do your homework as some sellers regularly and knowingly make broad and specific claims that are simply not factual. It is just the way of the world and probably has been since the cavemen mentally developed enough to conceptualize selling or trading something (some nice berries or arrowheads perhaps) to others.
For example a sales ad about a 1986 Maserati came to our attention. The seller claimed the car was a "one-off". A "one-off" means the manufacturer made a single car to a certain specification, usually a unique body and such a car would be very rare and usually very expensive. In this instance, the seller claimed his car was the only five speed manual transmission Maserati manufactured that year. Interestingly, we had another 1986 Maserati five speed in our workshop at the time and know of many others. So, do your homework and trust but verify.
Let's chat more about restoring cars and a little bit of what the process actually involves.
Typically an intensive mechanical and structural restoration involves disassembling the entire car or assembly to the last nut and bolt. Repairing or rebuilding whatever is encountered comes next. Such an endeavor involves a great deal of very organized physical work and requires many new parts to make happen in a proper manner. As our firm does a lot of work for owners that live an inconvenient driving distance from our workshops, we photograph the pleasant and unpleasant discoveries and e-mail them to our clients so an owner can make informed decisions and evaluate the visual reality of the condition of their car with the work and expenses involved.
Cars that suffer from large rust damaged areas will cost considerably more to restore than cars that are solid. Cars with extensive rust can and should cost a great deal less to buy than the same model cars if solid. Rust is very easy to hide in photographs especially on cars with white paintwork. Restorations can and do involve many hundreds or thousands of hours of labor depending on factors such as the age, condition, complexity of the car, availability of quality properly fitting parts and of course, the sum of an owners desire meaning how large is that sum?
A common question we receive concerns the expense of restoring a car vs. the eventual resale value. The simple answer is the extensive labors and high cost of quality parts used in restoring a car will greatly exceed most resale values just as the purchase price of new cars exceed their resale values immediately after signing the sales agreement. Occasionally we have a interested party contact us about restoring a car that has been stored away for 20 or 30 years or more. They have saved up a $3000.00 nest egg and want to know if that amount will completely restore the car. Let's set an imaginary 200 hours of labor for the job. That amount breaks down to $15.00 an hour with nothing allowed for parts or anything else. No shop in what are considered first world countries work for $15.00 an hour or anywhere close to such a figure. Performing a complete or extensive restoration in a quality manner is an expensive project to undertake for the car owner and a time and space consuming commitment for the shop doing the work. This is just the way it is and this said there are a great many cars out there that have had unskilled work done on them by instant experts. Instant experts are guys that have no regard for the experience of shops like ours. Instant experts tend to make pronouncements that difficult to do jobs are "easy" and the need for new parts to do the job right is a waste of money. They do all sorts of horrible things to cars to avoid buying new parts or to avoid paying for skilled workmanship. Eventually frustrated as the car is further damaged and not cooperating they sell the car for as much money as they can with lots of claims of perfection or originality and someone else ends up with the mess.
So why do it at all? Why do anything? Why not have a boring little life like a jelly fish does? A simple answer is that most car owners that bring their cars to us and to other shops like us are quite smart and have attained discerning skills to choose refined mechanical contraptions (cars) that bring them great pleasure. Of course many fellow creatures on this planet also choose things that bring them pleasure but those creatures cannot drive cars. Yet.
There are many reasons why car owners choose to restore their cars. Such reasons as they really like the car or perhaps the car belonged to someone they loved very much like their grandparents, parents, family member, friend or well regarded person. These enthusiastic owners appreciate the hard work that goes into making their dream projects into driving reality. They plan to enjoy their car for many years to make the considerable investment sensible to them and we enjoy working for such owners that plan to continually enjoy what we have done for their car.
Properly restoring most cars with the object of selling them for a healthy quick profit seldom makes financial sense as every car is not super rare nor in high demand at the moment. Of course, buying a new car with the object of selling it for a profit seldom works out either except for car dealers.
We have found that owners without an emotional attachment about their vintage car or that lack a real sense of excitement from owning and driving a particular car or that require instant gratification do not make the best of clients as the car means little or nothing to them. The car is just another soon to be boring object in their cluttered lives and we prefer to work for owners that have a real affection for their car and care about its future as well as their personal safely. (They definitely want good brakes.)
And now a few words from our Sponsor!
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Better hurry! Only one of each left! However if you buy twenty two we will throw in another one for free! These products are guaranteed for what we really don't know and are unavailable anywhere.
After we sell out of these products we are going to write a car dieting book so car owners can help their cars lose weight.
We approve of this message!
Back to car restoration:
So how much time does a typical restoration take? ( A lot)
What does such work cost? ( A whole lot)
These are amongst the hardest questions to definitely answer as there are no typical restorations and owners have their own ideas on what they want. Factors such as condition, age, availability of quality parts and owners desires make huge differences in costs and time. You should watch the movie," The Money Pit", as an introduction of sorts to restoring vintage cars. It's a very funny movie yet some of the truths about the common pitfalls of restoring cars, houses, boats. aeroplanes and such that are in poor condition are ever so true. Essentially anything done well that involves a great many labor hours and a lot of parts and machine work is going to be expensive for the 99% that are not in the 1%. Expensive, uncommon, beautiful and stylishly fun things tend to be very desirable and sought after things though don't they?
Again, why restore anything? A good reason is that many fantastic things were made in the past such as Hammond organs, Klipschorn speakers, Harmon Karden tube equipment, lots of guitars, Fender tube amps, Sunbeam T-9 toasters, Genelex KT-88 tubes and many cars that had wonderful character and enduring beauty. Besides, after tomorrow, everything was made in the past sooner or later!
We always tried to make sure that owners understand the costs of automobile restoration work as well as we can as we wanted to make sure they had the financial means to finish the project in a proper manner. However, we expected clients to behave responsibly and not ask us to do works that they did not have the means to pay for and no one is well served for an owner to get well into a restoration and run out of funds to finish it. We have completed many restoration attempts that other shops and individuals began and did not finish for reasons explained below.
It is unseemly that all may not be what it seems to be when it comes to restoring cars.
To restore or not to restore,
is that not the question?
The concept of what a proper restoration involves can certainly be broadly interpreted thus we liked to have good meaningful discussions with the car owner on what we wanted to do with a car and why. Here are photos of the under chassis on a Frogeye Sprite that was purchased as being restored. The new owner of the Sprite brought it to us to replace the interior and told us the car had been restored by a master Sprite restorer. The paint work was very nice but the rest of the car was not very nice. We didn't know what was under the new paint or what was inside the engine.
In this photo those happy fingers waving at you are poking through a rust hole in the drivers floor. The floor and hole were covered by a piece of shaped plywood laid under the old carpet. Perhaps the fellow restoring the car thought that laying some 1/4 inch plywood over the hole rather than replacing the rotten floor was a good way to restore the car. Or perhaps the restorer left it that way as a toilet?
These front suspension parts do not appear to have had genuine restoration work in the last thousand years. See the shiny triangular thing inserted into the lower coils of the front spring? This wedge is called a "spring helper" and it is a horrible device used by crooks and people that know nothing about car springs. When we encounter these we know the car has been in the wrong hands. As a road spring ages and sags "some people" will jam a spring helper into the spring and it will push the sagging spring up somewhat so the car does not appear to have bad springs. This is an old trick and does nothing for the suspension but it does enable a car to be sold to an unsuspecting buyer.
Here we see the rotten 60 year old wiring. The rest of the cars mechanicals appear to be pretty much just a tired old car.
The work is moving along. We have stripped, prepped and repainted the engine bay and are refitting the prepped and painted black parts and new mechanical and electric parts.
The re-chroming or plating of the brightwork on a car can involve great risk. The risk is losing small and perhaps irreplaceable parts. Plating work is a nasty business as it involves dangerous and hazardous to health chemicals, a hot environment and a lot of hard physical polishing labor using large polishing machines that can take your fingers right off or grab the part and fling it at high speed into whatever is in the way. Keeping track of a bunch of small parts and sometimes large parts can be difficult for some shops to manage. We had a chrome shop lose an entire bumper and often hear stories from clients looking for very hard to replace parts that were lost at chrome shops. Here are some tips:
1. Always inventory and photograph all parts sent to a chrome shop. Give them copies of the photos and inventory so everyone knows exactly what was left and are expected to be returned. Get written confirmation. If they lose a part, what happens next?
2. Check for how long the business has been around.
3. Regarding chrome plating, as some assemblies like outside door handles have buttons and key lock cylinders, thick layers of brass and chrome will reduce the bore size of the button hole and the button will no longer fit in the handle. This detail requires discussion. This sort of thing happens with other parts as well.
4. Some chrome shops do no repairing and plating over a dent will not make you happy. Enquire as to what their skills are.
5. Do not expect absolute perfection on parts that are very thin or that are made of pot metal.
6. Parts that have threaded holes will need to be re-tapped and this takes time.
7. Assemblies made of other parts like outside door handles require complete disassembly to be plated.
8. It is always better to have everything intended to be plated done at the same time as chemical mixes do change.
9. Never leave the finished goods at the chrome shop for very long. Never tell them that you don't care about how long the job takes. Pick the parts up the day they are done if at all possible.
10. Good chrome work is very expensive. If your car is dripping in chrome with big chrome bumpers and lots of mouldings, get ready for a large bill.
Reasons for an uncompleted restoration do vary.
1. The car in question may have been in far more pitiable condition than the owner knew. This is a common problem as many cars have been "worked over" many times during their long lives. Very bad and expensive problems can be well hidden only to surface after much work has been expended. ( See the " Money Pit".) Thus some jobs grow extensively as discoveries are made and most owners want newly discovered problems solved as well. ( See the Money Pit again.) The end result can be great but getting there takes stamina and considerable fuel. i.e. funding.
Thus it's financially but not necessarily emotionally better to start out with a car in relatively good condition. Restoring a car that is rusted out, worn out, trashed, abandoned for years in a swamp, used for target practice or dropped out of a bomber over Baghdad during "Shock and Awe", is not a good place to start unless the car in question has emotional significance to the owner or the car is highly desirable. Cars bought from on line auctions can and many times are especially risky purchases. It's best to carefully examine all such purchases beforehand.
2. Perhaps the shop entrusted to do the work did not manage the job properly or lacked the experience to handle the job in a proper manner. #2 can probably be avoided by properly vetting a potential shop to find out how long they have been in business and what sort of business they do. A paint and body shop that only does late model crashes may not be the best place to have a classic car body done as such work is too time consuming for their business model. Look into how well organized a shop appears to be, keeping in mind that vintage car shops usually have a lot of vintage parts around that they are working on at all times so clutter can mean a busy shop and many restorationists are packrats. It's in the blood. Clutter does not mean cars are sitting around covered in layers of dust with parts, old boxes and beer cans piled on top of them. These cars have become a part of the scenery. You don't want your car to become a part of the shop scenery.
How enthusiastic about the cars and work are the employees? If an car owner gives a shop $5K or $10K or more to work with at a time, does the shop have the integrity and organizational ability to manage the funds properly so the work moves along? We have found this last part to be a real problem that results in many unfinished projects. It is not a bad thing to "trust but verify." We provided photos of works in progress via e-mail for owners that are a distance away and were always happy to show owners the work in progress. It is all part of the enjoyment of having a car restored.
3. Maybe the car owner or shop encountered financial or personal problems mid-stream during the job that caused the work to slow down or stop. These problems can happen to anyone at anytime. Divorces, cyclical stock market crashes, family or health problems can create a lack of funds or focus. Life is hard sometimes and we did our best to work with our clients while they sorted out the vicissitudes of life that hit us all upon occasion.
4. Perhaps the car owner had unreasonable expectations on costs or time to complete the work. #4 results in many uncompleted cars. Once upon a time, we had a client with a car in the workshop, a car that we were well into restoring. This client had placed a bet with a pal of his without telling us beforehand. The bet was that we would restore the car for him by a date certain. The car was in much worse condition than the time frame would allow (lots of rust covered with bondo and heavy paint kind of thing) and no doubt the person that placed the bet had restored a car before and knew they had suckered their friend. The car owner made this bet without consulting us beforehand and lost as restoring a car is not a game. Working people are not playthings and people should not treat people as pawns in their games.
Some owners think that we or other shops have a magic wand of sorts that we can wave over their cars and poof, the work is all done and the cost is whatever they want. Actually, car restoration is a lot of hard physical work that takes considerable planning, thought, parts and funding to accomplish. This work is not done by a computer app or program and is certainly no video game. Working with skilled hands and a clear mind in a time honored manner completes a restoration. Nothing else will make it happen.
5. Sometimes events happen that are beyond the control of the restoration shop such as a mechanic or specialist intimately involved with a job will quit, retire, become seriously ill or die in the middle of a large job. This sort of event means the remaining shop employees will have to re-organize the job and determine exactly what remains to be done to complete the work and continue on with their own jobs as well. These unfortunate situations have happened to us over the years and to any shop that has a pedigree. Life just does not cooperate at times and it is what it is. If the shop is a one man shop, then the situation can mean the car owner has to retrieve their car and parts and hope they get it all. Over the last 35 years we have seen these situations happen many times and have known of car projects that were literally thrown out in pieces before the car owner knew something was wrong. Thus it is best to keep in touch with those working for you.
Once upon a time, a very rough 1956 Jaguar XK140 was towed in to the shop with an owner than wanted it restored. We removed the body from the frame and found it severely rusted. The best thing about the car was that it was a XK140 roadster. After we discussed the likely cost of sorting out the car at well over $110K the owner decided to have it taken to guy that lived out in a rural area and have him restore the car at a much lower cost. We were relieved as this car was on the edge of rusty scrap metal and we really did not want the job but we would have done it as we liked the owner. We lost track of the car for a few years and eventually the owner called us and told us that the fellow that was restoring the car had disappeared. The Jaguar was totally disassembled and had been dumped into a field behind the garage at some point. The money paid was gone with the wind as were a lot of the cars original parts. We declined to take the job on and he had the pieces picked up and taken to a hot rod shop that operated out of a creepy location. They kept the car for some ten years and eventually the owner abandoned it and whatever money paid was lost.
Recently we heard the sad tale of a 1967 Austin Healey 3000 that an elderly owner wanting to have the car restored took to a shop that works mostly on new cars. He took the car there because someone in the Austin Healey Club suggested them. For unknown reasons the shop decided to work on the car and quoted a complete restoration cost of $12,000. This was a ridiculous lowball figure and instead of running away the owner left the car. Three years later the car was "finished" and the cost was $48,000 a figure that is still far below a properly done professional restoration cost. The car has a transmission that does not shift into third gear, has numerous wiring problems, poor brakes and an ill hung exhaust. It has many problems everywhere and worst of all no invoicing from the shop that reveals anything at all about what parts and labors were used.
We no longer respray cars, yet are involved with the process as we frequently disassemble and reassemble cars to be painted and supply many parts for such work. Once a car is re-sprayed and the body looks great, it is time to replace all the body rubber and sometimes the lenses. Over the years, plastic lenses crack, darken and get sandblasted by air borne dirt. The sun deteriorates the plastic and the material eventually crumbles. New lenses not only make the car look crisp again but they allow more light to shine through as well. yes, we stock many lenses for the cars we work with.
We offer Vredestein tires for many of the cars we work with. Check our tire section here.
For parts orders call 281.448.5165 or Send us an e-mail!
Here be Dragons! (or parts of them)
Some of the cars we have restored are vintage fire breathing fuel drinking dragons that swept the roads of all that lingered before them in their day. Cars such as big Austin Healey's, Jaguar XK120, XK140, XK150, all the E-Types, Mercedes Benz 6.3 and perhaps an Iso Grifo, Bristol or Jensen Interceptor amongst them were and still are for many good reasons some of the most desirable cars ever made. They roared and shook the earth with their powerful engines and tuned exhausts while hurling their delighted owners through the air on down the road. It's been a real pleasure to bring these cars back to action once again. Here are a few cars we have done over the years.
We converted this 1966 MGB from L.H.D. to R.H.D. as it was going back to England. We also performed a total restoration including new leather cockpit, canvas top, ANSA exhaust, total rewire and all mechanicals rebuilt. The ground under the car looked great as well.
How about a 1962 Bentley Park Ward Continental Convertible? In for transmission rebuilding, differential work, replacement of the top wood parts, total rebuild on front and rear suspension and steering, upgrading the air conditioning system and various improvements.
Everyone looks good in a great Mercedes Benz 1967 250SE Convertible. In for brakes, steering, front and rear suspension rebuild, stainless exhaust, general road work and freshening up on the mechanicals before a cross country road trip to Florida.
We totally restored this 1952 MGTD a while back.
Some 18 years before we were engaged to restore this MG. The car had been totally disassembled by the owners son. After he had parts scattered all over the lad took off and left the car in pieces. The owner moved several times in the interim and many critical parts were lost. Parts like the crankshaft, main caps, oil pump and connecting rods among others were gone. This MGTD was brought to us in several truck loads. We rebuilt the car and these days the owner drives the car whenever she wants to.
The MGTD interior in leather.
Secret Sins of the Automotive Ages
Restorations in Various Stages
This 1956 Jaguar XK140 roadster was poorly restored several decades ago. The owner wanted some refreshing.
Check out the horrible structural condition. There was old rusty nasty stuff hidden here.
The car had a nice looking paint job over who knows what horrors lurking underneath and the owner did not want to ruin the paint to find out. He asked us to solve the structural problems without damaging the paint, a difficult assignment. During the discovery process we discovered that the right hand structural door sill was repaired in the past by grafting two pieces of galvanized sheet metal together with pop rivets. This "repair " provided no strength to the chassis. A thick layer of plastic filler was applied with some paint on top of the junk metal and that was that. It's very disappointing to find such scary work on these great cars. The car also suffered from shake, rattle and roll from worn out suspension and dubious brakes. We sliced away both sills and cleaned and chemically treated all accessible rusty areas.
We made a removable jig to hold the body in place and fitted new structural pieces that were welded into place. We replaced the door hinges as this car had the typical door sag from badly worn and seized hinges. This is a difficult job as the hinges are not designed to be replaced without removing the nicely painted welded on fenders.
We saved the expensive paintwork by "surgically" removing the hinges from the inside in a manner not envisioned by the original designer. The car is structurally solid once again and the owner can enjoy the car as it was intended. We rebuilt the rear suspension , front suspension, steering and brakes on the car as well. The original column push horn was also rebuilt and now the cockpit works as intended.
A fresh stainless steel exhaust was fitted once the structural work was completed.
The now great XK140 driving off to Florida after it's reconstruction.
This 1962 Bentley S2 Continental drophead (ragtop) was treated to a major "pit stop".
We completely rebuilt the front suspension and steering on this Bentley. All good parts were removed, cleaned, bead blasted and repainted and all worn parts replaced.
This Bentley now steers as it should. We custom made and installed the convertible top tacking wood using a nice close grained mahogany. This fresh wood allowed a new top to be properly fitted.
A 1977 MGB enjoying a nine month restoration with tasteful customizations that include a total change of paint color to a 2001 BMW deep red metallic, custom tan leather seats and interior, tan canvas top, bolt on chrome 15" wire wheels with Michelin tires, detailed engine compartment, , upholstered trunk, rebuilt steering, suspension, new wiring and stainless steel headers with an ANSA exhaust. This is a fine toy and it looks fabulous.
Jaguar Mark II Restoration
We converted this Jaguar from right hand drive to left hand drive. We also converted the car from an automatic transmission to a four speed with overdrive transmission and changed wheel specification from steel wheel to original spline drive wire wheel specification. The enhancements included new paint work and body seals, fitting an electric aerial with a state of the art sound system, rebuilding the engine, brakes, suspension, steering, replacing all wiring, and fitting additional insulation as well. The entire interior is fresh with new leather, carpers, panels, headliner etc. This car sports a set of original and rare recliner front seats and will have all the bells and whistles.
MGA Coupe Restoration
In this photo, the rebuilt engine is being re-fitted.
We can completely strip down any mechanical system, clean and paint all components with high grade automotive enamel and rebuild the entire vehicle with whatever new parts are required to return the car to as new or better drivability and endurance.
Nash Metropolitan Restoration
A 1961 Nash Metropolitan that was once owned by Graham Nash of Crosby Stills and Nash. Hidden in the car was a scrap of paper with these lyrics. We believe it was an alternate version of "Our House".
is a very very very nice Nash.
With two cats on the dash
we sure hope we don't crash
and our very very very nice Nash
as the cops might find our stash
In our very very very nice Nash
Anyway, the little car somehow made it's way to Texas and we restored it to daily driving condition for the new owner. At some point in it's long life, the car was actually brush painted with a broom and allowed to slowly rot away.
In this photo, we were stripping the car to it's basic shell, cutting out all the rust we could find and welded in new steel, replacing about half the floorboards, discovering that the left front fender had been in a collision and the "repair" included about three inches of thick bondo.
We removed the
old body filler, reshaped the steel properly and painted the shell with a catalyzed
This last photo shows the car painted and ready to be assembled.
A 1968 Jaguar E-Type 2+2 Mechanical Restoration for a Street Driving Man
This 1968 Jaguar E-Type sat up for several decades and is about to begin a major mechanical and electrical restoration with some interior redo as well. Here is the engine and bay as we began as found after it's long slumber.
Actually, this gross photo is not the anal sphincter of this Jaguar. The photo shows the bottom of the old fuel tank with the many layers of debris and crud that build up in these tanks from many decades of old fuel, water and additives evaporating in the tank.
In this photo the mummified rear end assembly is removed for rebuilding.
This photo shows some of the rear end components after a lot of work ready for reassembly.
Here is the inside of the Pow-R-Lok Posidrive differential after we replaced the clutches and bearings.
This photo shows the rear brake calipers ready to fit. We replaced the caliper halves with new assembles. We made new pipes and did some pretty work as well.
Here you can see the original motor, steering and suspension assemblies still in the space frame just before we stripped it all down.
In this photo we have removed the engine and transmission, stripped the engine bay of components and removed the space frame. We will be repainting the engine bay the original Primrose yellow before refitting the rebuilt steering and suspension.
This photo shows the newly painted bulkhead. We previously repaired some rust damage by cutting out the rusty areas and welding in new steel. The entire bulkhead was ground down to the metal.
Here the engine bay assembly work is moving right along and we re-wired the entire car with new fuse boxes, switches as required.
In these photos the newly rebuilt engine is being fitted. You can see the newly fitted electronic ignition in the distributor.
The engine is now settled into it's nest and is mated to a new stainless exhaust. The 1968 2+2 model featured the across the top of the engine polished mixture crossover manifold as seen near the rear of the engine. On later cars Jaguar did away with this manifold part but kept the cutaway in the cam covers for many years.
Rolls-Royce six banger
Here is a photo of a 1950's six cylinder Rolls-Royce engine being disassembled for a complete rebuild.
Here is the finished engine fitted into the restored rolling chassis. (My that was quick wasn't it? No, we did not use our magic spray.)
Our intent is to return the various systems to like new or better functionality and appearance. During these jobs, we may offer a client subtle improvements like electronic ignition, stainless exhaust systems, body soundproofing, state of the art sound systems which are carefully hidden and more.
MG Midget Restoration
Here is the as found underbody
We cleaned and stripped
The engine bay was cleaned again, prepped,
The entire brake
system was replaced including the brake master cylinder and all metal pipes.
That is sort of a repetitively redundant sentence isn't it.
Jensen Healey Restorations
Jensen Healey's are great driving sports cars with their hot Lotus engines.
The owner of this 1972 Jensen Healey roadster completely disassembled his car 20 years or so before we received it. Eventually frustrated yet still enthusiastic he brought the car to us to complete his dream. Enhancements included Dellorto carburetion, Lotus 777 cams, burled walnut dash, canvas top and fancy stereo as well as a total rebuild on all mechanical and electrical systems.
Here is a 1973 Jensen Healey Roadster. This great sports car was restored for a State of Maine owner that embarked on a large scale restoration involving rebuilding the chassis with new rockers and various rust repairs.
entire front and rear suspension, steering and rusty brakes
Here is a photo of the renovated differential with a very rare set of KONI rear shocks fitted.
The body was rebuilt, reworked
We sandblasted and painted the seat frames.
Here is a photo of the rebuilt seats. Our upholsterer rebuilt the seats with high grade hand sculpted foam and a nice material of a color to the owners liking to make these seats comfortable and very attractive.
Custom made Wilton wool carpets of Rolls-Royce quality are bound in the seat material and fitted. This Jensen Healey received new Dellorto carbs, high performance Lotus cam shafts, canvas top and matching boot and much more. The owner supplied an original Jensen Healey 8 track and the car will be great to cruise the beautiful Maine coast and find some fresh lobster rolls with Shipyard Ale from the brewery in Kennebunkport.
This last photo is the car on delivery day soon to head out on a nice drive to Maine with the owner and his dad sharing the wheel. We hear from the owner every year and he has won many prizes with the car. He drives it all over the east coast of the USA. The owner and his machine are a great pair and we consider this Jensen Healey the best example on the planet. The car has now been driven more than 22,000 miles after the restoration and the only work the car has required have been oil changes. This sort of job is why we go to work everyday.
This photo of a rare MGC-GT
The car is nearing delivery in this photo once we locate a few more missing parts that were lost on the journey here.
Mercedes Benz 350SL Re-Restoration
Here are photos of a scarce 1972 Mercedes Benz 350SL that is enjoying a nice restoration. This car was bought new by the owners father and is a family pet.
We fitted a remanufactured engine and rebuilt transmission. The entire brake system was replaced and the suspensions totally rebuilt. We stripped out the interior and replaced some of the floors. We removed the dash and sorted out the climate system and vacuum systems while upgrading the air conditioning system. We repaired and carefully serviced the unavailable original wiring. We replaced the old brittle fuel injector harness with a fresh new harness , replaced the fuel injectors, all mounts and rubber parts.
The interior has been done with new leather and all seat pads and chrome parts replaced as well as original style carpets with original Mercedes floor mats. We supplied new red rubber door treads so the entrance looks nice again. A period Becker radio/cassette player was installed with an I-pod jack modification that makes the vintage unit much more useable.
A new canvas top was fitted and of course the car was repainted to a fine appearance with the engine bay detailed and painted as well.
This Mercedes restoration was completed in 2007. In 2008 the owners young son while driving the car at high speed lost control and drove over some major tree roots knocking over a fire hydrant and abruptly stopping against a tree thus ripping the suspensions and steering into twisted pieces. The driver fought the tree and the tree definitely won. Much of the original restoration work we did was destroyed by the impact. The car sustained extensive damage to the body and mechanicals but did it's job as the young laddie came through without a scratch. The owner decided to have us repair and restore the damaged car back to it's former glory regardless of the damage and so it begins. In a different world than our company inhabits, such cars are considered totaled as the damage is massive and the eventual cost unknown. In this case the ingredients for a successful outcome are in place. The car is an old friend, the owner wants it fixed, has the means and the owner agreed to allow us to have full control over the work to make the determinations of what needs to be done to save the car so we did.
The smashed differential. The large non stock hole was made as the differential was partially ripped off the car from the impact. The rear trailing arms were both bent as were the axles and just about everything else to do with the steering, brakes and suspension.
In this photo, you can see the center tie rod bar bent into a "U" shape. It was straight before the crash.
The right front tire was torn right off the wheel. The wheel is a bit bent as well. Once we complete the mechanical rebuilding the car will go to the frame shop to make the body straight again. When the car hit the tree it flipped up and then down so hard it bent the frame upwards thus the door gaps are badly skewed. However these old Mercs are tough and very well built cars. They can take a massive smash and be repaired well if there is enough mind over matter.
For parts orders call 281.448.5165 or Send us an e-mail!
Triumph TR6 Restoration
Here are some photos of the car as delivered to us and just after separating the body from the frame. This 1969 TR6 was in dry storage for some 20 years. The car owner wants the car to look like an old heap but wants it 100% rebuilt mechanically and electrically. he also wants the frame restored. So some of the photos show some strange appearances as the engine compartment was not painted but the rebuilt engine was.
For this job we are doing no body or interior work. The restoration entailed removing the body from the frame, repairing the frame for stress cracks and having the frame powder coated. We rebuilt the engine with performance enhancements, rebuilt the transmission and overdrive and rebuilt the differential with a new gear set. We rebuilt the suspensions, steering, cooling, fuel system as well. Once the nice looking rolling frame was completed we refit the beat up body.
1966 Bristol 409 Renovation
We supply quite a few parts for certain models such as the elusive and seldom seen Bristol 409. This very scarce hand built high performance all aluminum body English muscle car is one of 42 or so Bristol cars built that year ( Bristol Cars won't reveal what their production figures were. ) The car features a factory fitted 5.2 litre V8 Chrysler 318 engine with push button shift Torqueflite automatic transmission. These V8 engines replaced the venerable six cylinder pre-war BMW derived engine that were previously manufactured by the Bristol factory. Bristol Cars purchased new engines from Chrysler and would totally disassemble them. They would check the tolerances to make sure they were perfect enough for them as merely perfect was not deemed good enough. Many bolts and fasteners on Bristol cars are wire tied or used Nyloc nuts like were used in airplane construction. This is because Bristol Cars emerged from the old Bristol Airplane Company that manufactured war planes during WW2. The Bristol 409 car body is an all aluminum body construction mounted on a very stable steel frame using four wheel multi piston disc brakes. These were the most advanced brake systems available at the time. Considered by automotive enthusiasts then and now as one of the finest driving automobiles ever built, Bristol cars are still hand built in very limited numbers ( they won't say) for owners with plenty of cash and discretion.
For this Bristol 409 restoration, we rebuilt the entire brake system with new caliper pistons, brake pipes, brake hoses, new brake servo and brake master cylinder. The brake discs were lightly surface machined. We rebuilt the Marles steering box, replaced the ball joints, bushings, tie rod ends and we installed Royal Purple synthetic lubricants. The suspension systems were rebuilt with attention to associated details like replacing the copper wire used to wire tie the differential cover bolts. The front suspension subframe was removed, disassembled, sandblasted and repainted with epoxy primer and black paint. The no longer available new vintage KONI shocks were rebuilt, up-graded with improved valving and restored for this job by the KONI factory.
The exquisite interior wood trim was restored and all aspects of the mechanicals were refreshed. ANSA tuned exhaust tips are fitted. We installed a Pertronix electronic ignition of course. There was not much rust in the steel body sections and these areas we cut away and welded in new steel. The original carburetor and alternator were also rebuilt. The engine received a new timing chain with new sprockets and we replaced the oil pump for good measure. The heater box was removed and restored. The radiator was rebuilt with a high efficiency core and the original Kenlowe radiator cooling fans were restored. The front grill was disassembled, the frame repainted and the grill reassembled. New Vredestein tires were fitted. The front and rear windshield seals were replaced.
Triumph Spitfire Restoration
Here are photos of a completed transmission and differential rebuild from a 1970 Triumph Spitfire.
The car belonged to the owners father and we are restoring the mechanicals. Parts for these cars are really drying up but we were able to supply what was needed to rebuild these assemblies. All bearings and syncros were replaced and parts that are unavailable, made by us and fitted.
The almost completed Spitfire 1300cc engine now mounted in the engine bay. We had previously rebuilt the front and rear suspensions, brake system, complete rewire, fuel system rebuild and so forth. This car is now completed and on the road again.
Austin Healey 3000 Basket case and Modification s
A "basket case" 1965 Austin Healey 3000. "Basket case" means a car or assembly arrives disassembled with degrees of organization ranging from parts just being tossed into baskets, boxes or just placed in the interior and trunk. This Healey is a mess but is now a car again. Off the road since 1983, the car was partially disassembled many years ago and not completed.
We began by removing the radiator and fuel tank for renovation. The original wiring harness had been removed and a replacement was partly fitted in the past. The entire cockpit had been removed and dumped back inside.
In this photo are remnants of a 47 year old rear transmission mount. The rubber sections of the mount had long disintegrated. Behind the old mount is a new mount.
Next is a near death photo of a rear steel brake pipe. Notice the rust and corrosion on the pipe. This fragile pipe could have burst at any time and the result would have been fast fluid loss and catastrophic brake failure.
In this photo you see the right front brake and rusted brake rotor as discovered.
This photo shows window screen and bondo used to "repair" rust damage on this 1973 MGB-GT. It's classical trash bodywork. We sliced open a rocker panel so as to observe the extent of the rust and do a proper repair plan. We will be replacing body sections on this MGB-GT and photos of this work will follow as it moves along.
The car lived in Michigan and became quite rusty. Here you see large chunks of rust that have cracked off inside the rocker panel.
A few photos of the rusty under carriage.
Here are photos of the front subframe and suspension and soon will be another photo with the work on it well under weigh.
This photo is a section of the MGB-GT lower chassis where the section has collapsed from rust weakening the structure. This is a difficult repair that requires substantial preparation involving sandblasting, grinding, fabrication and welding to accomplish in a long lasting manner. Yes, it's easier to slap window screen and bondo on and send the car down the road. The people that did this work should be banished from "repairing" automobiles. Perhaps they have more skill with drinking beer. Perhaps not.
We are cutting away the rusty areas and grinding away rotting metal in preparation for welding in new steel sections. This car will be strong once again and the rust will be laid low.
Here the car is right after painting by a local body shop to a color of the owners choosing. Our re-assembly work has just begun. The car body was customized by a little "smoothie" inspiration of the owners by removing the side moldings and repainting the car with a non original metallic. The interior will be leather with lots of enhancements to be fitted as we go along. An earlier all chrome grill will be fitted. ANSA exhaust with stainless headers, new chrome wire wheels and Vredestein tires. Leather interior. . Instead of replacing the bumpers with the el cheapo reproduction bumpers, we had these original bumpers re-chromed to a superior standard.
Here are photos of the almost finished car.
We don't well remember all the cars we have done over the last 35 years and a lot of the old photos are in dead hard drives or were done with Kodachrome so we may not get around to listing them.
Austin Healey Sprite
This car was purchased from a purported Sprite restoration expert that neglected to rebuild the engine or suspension or brakes, or anything else that we could determine other than repainting the car. The paint did did look nice. The new owner wanted the car properly done so away we went. We found that the crankshaft was bent, the timing chain was shot, the inside of the engine was filthy, the suspension was totally worn out except someone had replaced the front shocks but not the bushings. There were holes in the floors, the rear axle had never been touched in 60 years, the carburetors were a disaster, the radiator was rotten, the poor car needed a big pit stop.
And away she goes!
We rebuilt the engine, steering , suspension, brakes, clutch, replaced all the wiring, replaced the interior, replaced a floorboard that was rusted out, fitted state of the art cockpit insulation and generally made the car into a fine driving machine again with electronic ignition fitted as well. Sprites are great little cars and the owner of this car has a fine one.
Odds and Bobs
This photo shows a 1958 Austin Healey 100/6 transmission brought to us in a wheel barrow. No, this is not a rare Austin Healey wheel barrow as AH did not make wheel barrows. The transmission is resting after a failed attempt was made to replace the bearings. After a lot of no doubt frustrating time, the owner decided to bring the transmission to us to "get it back together again."
This photo shows the very dirty inside of the overdrive unit. All that black stuff on the bottom is a combination of burned clutch material and ancient lubricant. This is not what you want to see in a Laycock de Normanville overdrive. What you want to see is a very clean assembly. This sort of basket case job is not exactly our favorite to undertake but it has to be done and as we know how to do this sort of rebuilding, the job has landed here.
If Frodo had owned a car (say a Mini) that we had restored, he and Samwise would have cruised on over to Mordor a lot sooner. We re-manufacture engines to a very high standard and of course they always receive new rings and pistons. As we rebuild engines by Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Lotus, MG, Jaguar, Triumph and Mercedes Benz, the specifics of the rebuilding process varies by engine type and owner desires. Please contact us with your engine details for more information on costs and the many possibilities for performance.
These photos show a brace of Lotus engines being rebuilt.
A rebuilt MGA 1500 motor ready to be installed into an owners car.
1. All parts are of the finest quality available.
2. All worn parts are either rebuilt or replaced or machined if available or possible.
3. Owners will be advised about enhancements or upgrades available to increase performance, reliability or drivability.
4. Attention to detail. All parts are painted in original colors and all work is performed to keep the car as original as possible in appearance. Enhancements such as electronic ignition, modern style fuel pumps and accessories can be subtly fitted where possible for enhanced reliability. We offer many enhancements to improve reliability and drivability.
Smiths and Jaeger Instruments
If your dash instruments need repair or restoration, send them to us. We have a great many used and some new gauges as well.
Light up your life. The various light bulbs used on cars last a very long time. Sometimes the bulbs can last 50 or more years. However, the brightness of a light bulb steadily diminishes over time as the bulbs are not modern LED bulbs and are miniature Edison style bulbs burning a filament so bulbs get dimmer and dimmer as the filaments burn. Thus our workshop replaces all the dash light bulbs and all exterior bulbs when we rewire or restore a car. New bulbs really do work a lot better than old bulbs. We stock many light bulbs.
Lord of the Dings
For a proper restorative paint job, the car should have all chrome, lamps and trim removed. In many cases the interior is removed as well. The body is sanded down to the original primer if it exists or primed with a high grade catalyzed primer. All dings and body flaws are repaired and the entire body shell is laboriously hand block sanded to remove waves and body flaws. The result is a smooth finish able to show the top coats well. To achieve a "show car" paint job, the car usually has to be painted two or three times to achieve virtual perfection. This is a tedious, expensive and very time consuming process as perfection is not possible on this world but humans still try to get close. We suggest that owners critically evaluate any paint shop for signs of how well they are organized as we regularly supply parts to body shops that have lost expensive and hard to obtain parts. Some shops throw parts away without regard for what they are dealing with. Thus its always good to take a lot of detailed photos of your car to document what was there. Always tell your body shop NOT to cut the wiring to remove an electrical part and always call us to purchase your parts of course.
A 1977 Jaguar XJ6C
For parts orders call 281.448.5165 or Send us an e-mail!
Sport and Classic Car Company
10525 Airline Drive
Houston, Texas 77037