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Thread: What to do...what to do....

Forum to discuss Austin Healey Sports Cars

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    What to do...what to do....

    I thought I would reach out to the many experienced Healey owners here for some advice/debate/conversation about my plans for my Healey (1959 100-6 BN6).

    Currently it is a good driver with no apparent rust and a 20+ year old lacquer paint job that is starting to show cracks and blemishes. Body panels are all in very good shape (boot and bonnet are aligned with good gaps - doors both have gaps at the bottom and need some adjustment). Both doors close with a solid "thunk". Transmission was recently overhauled by Healey Surgeons and works perfectly (as does the overdrive). Engine compression is fine, a little hard to start but when it warms up will restart almost instantly when starter button is pushed. Engine number and body number match. Transmission is from a later car but is the correct side shifter and not a center unit. Interior (vinyl not leather) is in very good shape with some wear showing on the sides of the seats. Carpet is still in good shape. Other interior panels will need a little stronger glue to tighten up and put back down but otherwise in good shape.

    So here's the dilemma. It's really time for me to make a decision on a repaint. I can (option 1) remove the interior and other bits and pieces and repaint. Or....( option 2) I can dive much, much deeper into it, and do a true body off restoration. Certainly option 1 is easier and less expensive and the results would be visually pleasing from the outside. But option 2 would (hopefully) leave me with a true concours car (at least that's the plan!).

    At issue here is the resulting cost vs. value at the end of either process as well as the difference in the degree of difficulty between those two options. Having never done a body off restoration I have no idea what costs I am exposing myself to with this undertaking. That said what is the "true" value of a concours 1959 100-6 BN6? I can look at the different price "guides" like Hagerty all day but I'm not sure how those apply to the real world. I don't want to be too far upside down at the end of the process but I do recognize that I should not go into this with profit as motivation (and I certainly don't have any plans to sell this car regardless of which option I choose.)

    So there you are..... What would you do if you were me?

    All advice and comments are welcomed!

    Chet

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    Yoda steveg's Avatar
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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    Thoughts:
    1) if I see the car, will I be able to tell at a glance if it's #1 or #2?
    2) #2 way more time and money, and, see 1) above
    3) #1 fairly finite cost; #2 might head into bottomless-pit territory

    Question: - in #1, are you repainting the engine compartment?
    Steve Gerow
    Altadena, CA, USA
    Maker of most complete Big Healey rear disc kit
    Check out my galleries:
    http://www.pbase.com/stevegerow

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    Steve - great questions - especially about the engine compartment. Hadn't thought of that but I certainly should have. The engine compartment would certainly be in need of a repaint to match the level of a new paint to the outside. So the question then is can that be accomplished in Option #1 without removing the engine/transmission?
    Last edited by Chet Zerlin; 10-18-2017 at 08:30 PM.

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    Great Pumpkin Keoke's Avatar
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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    So there you are..... What would you do if you were me?


    LET IT ALONE! until U are ready to OVERHAUL Engine: Paint ,Boot Lid,Bonnet Inside fenders ETC.

    Car must come apart to paint correctly.
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    Yoda HealeyRick's Avatar
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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    A true concours car is a labor of love, rather than an exercise in reality. Everything has to be done correctly, without shortcuts, using original materials. Even if you do all the work yourself, you'll probably still be upside down in the price department at the end of the day and I'd look forward to a multi-year project. If you have to have someone do the work for you the price will go up exponentially and as the BN6 is not as valuable as say a 100 or 100M or BJ8, you'll probably be spending more than it will be worth. You have to ask yourself whether the desire to have such a car is worth that time and expense to you. OTOH, you could have a very nice driver by stripping out the interior, pulling the engine (which isn't that big a deal, although removing/masking the other items under the hood is time-consuming) and doing a good quality repaint. If the car is solid, I think I'd go with the repaint. You'll buy yourself several more years of Healey driving enjoyment and save yourself a ton of work.
    Rick

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    Jedi Warrior red57's Avatar
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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    I think it boils down to one question - do you want to drive it or do you want to admire it?
    Nothing wrong with either desire, just a matter of whatever pleases you, the owner.
    If you go the concours route you will not be able to just enjoy driving it because you will be obsessing on the gravel road/rain/mud etc. and that is what would keep me from going that route, but that's just me.
    Dave

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    I'm finally getting close to finishing my BJ7. I dove in full force over 20 years ago, and soon found that the car needed a frame. We finally took it to Canada for a new Jewel frame. I doubt that your car is as bad as mine was but there will be surprises. Ten years after receiving the car back from Marty with a new frame I'm going to finish it. I'm not a procrastinator, really! A job this size is overwhelming to say the least, and life just takes over. I justify my project by reminding myself that my Dad bought me the car when I was a teenager, and my son and granddaughter, to name a couple love the car. What do I have in it? Gotta be over $40k but I really don't want to know or let the budget manager know! I trust all of the guys who have given feedback above. They and others have given me the most solid input. I'd follow their advice.
    Dale

    BJ7 frame up restoration of "the car that would not be restored"; began Dec. 2005, est. complete 2023

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    I went thru this some years ago with a '54 MGTF. I did a body off back to the metal respray which cost me much more than I expected even after doing all the paint stripping and dismantling myself. A really dirty, time consuming, expensive job!. Wouldn't do it again. I was afraid to leave it anywhere in case it got scratched! A concourse restoration will cost a fortune in time and money and as soon as you finish it immediately starts to deteriorate. Just patch the rust spots and drive it till you need to take the engine out and then think seriously whether you want a trailer queen or a car to drive. If you do decide to paint it you've got to do the engine and interior as well. If you don't you'll regret it every time you lift the hood and everyone looking at it will wonder what else was only half done.
    AJ

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    If you think about every nut, bolt, screw, etc... on the car being correct it can seem unattainable. My car will be close but I gave up on concours a long time ago. As I worked through it I went from gold to silver to bronze...I think I may be at aluminum now.
    Dale

    BJ7 frame up restoration of "the car that would not be restored"; began Dec. 2005, est. complete 2023

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    If it's about appearance of exterior paint shine and luster, it may be possible and easier to "re-fresh" old lacquer paint. Cracks and blemishes could be corrected with matched paint and any original paint colored sanded. I believe in California, only water soluble paints are allowed now for painting vehicles; there are restrictions on lacquer paints. Lacquer application is also an art, but it looks great when restored and re-freshed. GONZO

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    I'd say leave it as is . . . . I personally prefer the looks of a used classic vs a concours restored one. I've restored my BN6 decades ago, it took 7 years and even back than . . . and a lot of money. Now after being used for over twenty years she has aged beautifully with some scars, both interior and exterior. I like that very much.

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    I agree with those who posted above. I'm in a similar boat. My car has a lacquer paint job from the late 1980s. It's fine but has some issues from being stored for 20+ years (and lacquer cracks)... things were dropped on it and the mice had fun with the interior.

    Unfortunately lacquer doesn't play well with modern paint so the only choice is a complete removal and respray. Who knows what we'd find lurking beneath. So I decided to drive and enjoy. A new interior and only touch ups to the paint. Eventually the car will be taken apart and repainted but it's not a priority for me.

    A side benefit is I never worry about paint chips or scratches. So, as stated above, it comes down to how do you want to enjoy your Healey.

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    Quote Originally Posted by johnea View Post
    ... she has aged beautifully with some scars, both interior and exterior. I like that very much.
    Patina! (as Reid would say).

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    Thank you all for your many and very well thought out comments. You've certainly given me a lot to think about!

    " Do I want to drive it or do I want to admire it. " (the truthful answer is I much more want to drive it - and I guess I'm ok with admiring it from afar..)
    " I'm finally getting close to finishing my BJ7. I dove in full force over 20 years ago " (yikes! Will I be finishing it just in time to give it to my kids through my estate??)
    " A concourse restoration will cost a fortune in time and money and as soon as you finish it immediately starts to deteriorate. " (very good point....)
    " If you go the concours route you will not be able to just enjoy driving it because you will be obsessing on the gravel road/rain/mud etc. " (I can certainly see me doing that...and not driving the car!)

    Through all of your sage counsels I am now thinking that a complete repaint, including under the bonnet (engine out) and perhaps a new interior (leather?) and re-chrome of bumpers and other parts is the way to go. That will give me a nice, clean sharp looking car that can get muddy or dirty and be put back in shape with a simple car wash (by hand of course!)

    My sincere thanks for all of your replies!

    Now to find a good paint shop in the Southwest Florida area.....

    Chet








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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    If you don't want to go leather, 'amblin' (vinyl) with some quality sheepskin seat covers works well.

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    Hi Chet,

    I find it interesting to read the previous comments because my own experiences are completely opposite. As with many things, results will vary!

    If your objective is to have a perfect show car, have it professionally restored and trailer it to preserve it. If your objective is to have a wonderful, gorgeous car to drive and enjoy, have it professionally restored and drive it! A professional restoration doesn’t mean that you must only admire it. My car is stunning to look at and drive, and I am not concerned that the underside is as perfect as the topside. I’m careful with it, but if it gets dirty, I wash it. I park it in parking lots and in the street. As it inevitably gathers the signs of use, it will mean that I have enjoyed my car. My advice is to have a professional restoration if you want to have a gorgeous, brand new car to drive and enjoy and not spend years getting it to that point.

    My shop does fixed price restorations, in sharp contrast to the tales of restoration bottomless pits. The price they quoted is exactly the price I paid, and I got a perfect, show quality car, in less than a year. It needed significant welding and body work—it was a pretty typical Healey restoration. I upgraded certain things including mohair, wool, leather, chrome Hendrix wires and SS exhaust, and total cost was in the $70k’s. My shop restores cars to sell just like mine, and they sell them for over $100K. I had little into the car in the first place (my dad bought the car in 1978 for $2,000), so I am not upside down with a professional restoration.

    My cost/value numbers are for my BJ8, so I can’t comment on the equation for a BN6, but I suspect that both numbers would be less. I thought I would reveal a bit about the cost of my restoration to give some perspective. If a number like that does not give you heartburn, then I can say that, at least in my experience, you will have a jaw dropping, gorgeous car that is a blast and a joy to drive!

    Hugh
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Hugh
    1965 BJ8
    1958 AN5


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    Cool Re: What to do...what to do....

    I'm with Mr. Turtle . . .

    I bought my car in '95 and was told that it was painted in the late 1980s which seemed about right. There were some small blemishes in the paintwork, and the interior was a bit ratty. The seat cushion padding had disintegrated and there were a few tears. The carpet was obviously old and faded, in both the vinyl on the dash and other areas exposed to sun, the dark blue had been made lighter and had a silvery sheen to it.

    All these years later the paintwork still looks decent from a few feet away but with a bit of increased cracking of the lacquer in the trough between the wing and the bonnet on the driver's side.

    Cutting to the chase . . .

    Recently I decided to redo the interior and get to the paintwork when I get to it . . . if I get to it.

    At this point, I took everything inside down to the steel; made some minor repairs and primed everything. New carpet has been installed as well as new inner door panels, rear quarter (inside) panels, new dash, new dash pad. Seat backs and bottoms are new steel and the parcel shelf is brand new ash. All the padding is new and the seats have all been recovered with Ambla and silver piping. Door pulls, window winders and door handles all new.

    When sitting in the car, it feels like a new car and the blemishes in the paint are not visible to the driver.

    It's literally a matter of perspective.

    Eventually I will likely get the car painted but in the meantime I'll enjoy it.

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    32085-082617-1.jpg

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    Jedi Warrior pan's Avatar
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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    I too am at a similar crossroads. I completed the (2nd) restoration of my 100 13 years ago and I have done heaps of miles (including several long distance trips) since then. I was recently discussing my car with a prominent and well respected Healey restorer and he gave me a price on a thorough makeover, without going the whole "body off" route.
    But I fear that I will then regard it as too precious to drive, (it's already precious).
    By the way, I'm not seeking advice. I know that it is up to me to make that decision.
    Fifty years in one 100, still going strong!

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    I have rolling restoration, been at it for 15 years now, the door shuts are not quite right, but from a distance it looks OK. Am I bothered - not likely, I drive it throughout the year and get great enjoyment out of it, both driving and tinkering.
    I have had all the wings (fenders) off it at one time or another, and cleaned down / repaired the inner wings etc. and repainted them, fitted new floor panels and sills ( rockers), engine rebuild, sprayed the engine bay, rewired, the works and I have yet to tackle the boot ( trunk ) floor which is very lightweight now thanks to the rust holes. If you do not need to cut into the car I would go for a re-spray to freshen things up.



    Bob

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    Re: What to do...what to do....

    My twopenneth...

    Whatever state the body is in by the time you have stripped it down it will be much worse than you think it is now - to a certain extent safety excluded - ignorance is bliss. Enjoy driving it, theres a lot to be said for cars with patina. If you enjoy driving more than fixing up then give it a quick (cheap?) respray and keep driving until more than the paint needs work then go the whole hog. If you plan to do that it will give you time to save the large amount of cash you will undoubtably need to do the full restoration!
    Steve K.
    '55 BN1/225574


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