Tag Archives: Austin Healey

    • Projects, Headaches, Love Affairs.

      A lot of you know that while I’ve had hundreds of American cars over the years (and love our early numbers Mustang test vehicle – a shame it’s too far gone to bring back), I’ve always had a soft spot for English cars.  As I’m getting used to blogging, I thought it would be fun for me to share with you a few stories about the latest cars parked in the Strohacker garage.  My ’63 Austin Healey is right up there at the top as far as stories go.  My son and I have covered many miles in it and it loves to be driven.  None of the usual English car “gremlins” as long as it is exercised regularly (they need love and attention!).

      We found the car in 1999 in northern California inside a warehouse where it had been sitting on jackstands for 15 years. It was a true California car (yes I know you hear it all the time, but this one actually is!) with its original black and yellow plates and it's tags and inspection sticker dated from ’84.  Cosmetically, it was in pretty rough shape – torn seats and padded dash, the convertible top was in tatters and the paint was pretty far gone.  Structurally, the body and chassis were incredibly sound.  No rust, at all.  There was a bit of bondo at the bottom of the front shroud where someone had backed into the car, but other than that, no structural work to be done!

      The odometer read 75k, and we felt this was accurate.  The car ran great, was fast as hell compared to the other Healeys I’ve driven and aside from a big puff of blue smoke at startup didn’t seem to have any other issues.  Once we got the car back to Pennsylvania, we sorted everything as best we could and drove it around “beater style” for a few months (I’ve always loved seeing time warp cars on the road even if they don’t look the best!) before fixing up the body and having it painted. (trust me our best friends were the welder, sandpaper, and a spray gun!) We also had a new interior put in.  Then we tackled installing new valve seals (blue smoke problem solved) and updated the wire wheels to 72 spoke for a bit more safety through the turns.  Not sure if you’ve ever experienced this but in the old days the sound of spokes breaking on wire wheels as you put the car through its paces on a twisty road isn’t exactly inspiring!

      We’ve put about 25k miles on the car since and it continues to run well.  The six cylinder Healeys have such a great exhaust note, and the stainless exhaust we put on only makes it better, a real treat in tunnels and underpasses!   Even though my muscle car friends out there can absolutely blow the doors off of me at a red light, I can keep up in the turns and have a decent amount of torque – starting off in 3rd gear from a dead stop is never trouble. I often think it would be fun to get another one and drop in a narrow 289 V8 – lots of people have done it and the Healey rear end is robust enough to handle the extra power. (not to mention it'd be fun to surprise some traditional muscle cars with this setup!)

      Next up for this car may be some engine mods for a bit more power – perhaps a rebuild, port/polish the head, bigger carbs and bit of tweaking with the header and exhaust.  I’m also inclined to put taller tires on, as the ground clearance is pretty terrible – any Healey owner who says they haven’t torn at least one exhaust system off of their ride are either lying or haven’t been driving their car enough!

      Next time I’ll tell you about the 1967 Austin Mini Countryman I completely restored many years ago – a unique car that was ahead of its time and continues to impress me.  Stay tuned!

      I hope you get to spend lots of time in the garage, and keep in touch – we want to know what you’re working on!

      Best,

      Curt

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    • Year In Review.

      2010 is well underway and we’re already off to a good start. While the world remains an uncertain place, I find I can still get away from it all by taking a “garage break.” Our projects are still there (in a variety of running and non-running forms!) and I am encouraged by the market in general. Classics of all shapes and sizes continue to trade well on Ebay, at swap meets, and in the local classifieds. It’s good to know that in a time of uncertainty our hobby exudes a sense of permanence. Old cars, trucks, and bikes aren’t going anywhere, and neither are the people that work on them.

      That said, all the more reason to get on those projects so that they’re cruise night ready! We have a whole bunch of products I’m particularly excited about – for any skill level, and any budget. Last weekend I was in the garage getting organized and finishing up a brake master cylinder overhaul on my ’63 Austin Healey. It’s an older restoration and I was getting tired of less than adequate pedal performance, not to mention the safety issue!

       We used the master cylinder as a good test of our Eastwood Brake Gray, a tough coating that comes in the form of an epoxy ester resin combined with a pure stainless steel pigment. Best part is that it’s not just for metal – it can be used on ceramics, wood, and even leather. The stuff is tough as nails and refused to fail even after constant exposure to DOT 3 brake fluid. It also “looks” good too – it’s the same color as our Detail Gray. The fluid reservoir in the Healey is also a trouble spot – they originally painted them black in the factory and as you can imagine over the years, brake fluid does its best to eat the paint, especially when yours truly cheats and tries to top off without a funnel. I know, not smart. In this case I used our 2K Ceramic Chassis Black to ensure a durable finish that would stand up to DOT 3.

      On another note, one of the kids who lives down the street recently got his first car, an ’81 Chevy Caprice Classic wagon. Hot ride! I think it belonged to a family member, so he got it for the “right price” and has been busy trying to trick it out on a pretty tight budget. The alternator gave up the ghost last week and I suggested that he replace it with one of our Maxx Power alternators –we have recently started carrying starters, alternators, and even distributors that are completely new (no refurbs here) and in every aspect better than OEM products. They’re perfect for both reliable daily drivers and performance engine builds. The job was a quick swap – it bolted right into place, and with a fresh belt, he was good to go. At $200 bucks, you can’t go wrong. What’s more, this unit puts out 105 amps, much higher than original equipment, and also has a higher output at idle, which will be important once this kid puts in the stereo system he told me has plans for.

      Ancillary engine parts are just another way Eastwood can get you on the road quickly, deliver the performance you’ve always looked to us for, and do it without breaking the bank. I’m pretty excited about this new line of products. 

      Before I sign off, I’ve got to mention how impressed I am with our team for combining two great products into one portable unit. I am of course, talking about our Master Blaster – The Eastwood Dual Blaster.Now you can effortlessly switch medias or even customize your own media mixture – sand, abrasive, whatever you want! It can be done on the fly with our exclusive mixing valve and can cut blasting times in half. Impressive stuff. I was cleaning up a grimy, painted, set of extra wire wheels I have for the Healey and used a relatively strong mixture of crushed glass. That same day, my son wanted to strip the bottom of a small fiberglass boat he has. We simply set the mixing valve to pure soda (which was in the other tank) and he went to work. The soda was strong enough to remove multiple layers of thick bottom paint (from what I understand that stuff is pretty brutal), but delicate enough not to etch the skin coat covering the fiberglass laminate. Best of all, when we were finished, we rolled the Master Blaster back into the shop!

      I’m certain your experience with these new products will be as rewarding as mine.  Let us know, and remember, you can always read what the Eastwood Family (you!) has to say about the products here on the site and also in the forums.

      Drop us a line!

       Best, Curt     

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