Classic car lovers, expecially those who get themselves involved in a restoration for the first time come into the project with some form of practical knowledge.
It many have only have been tinkering around cars for years waiting for the right time to begin their project while there are others who are highly skilled and experienced professionals, having worked in one of the specialised branches of vehicle maintenance and repair, bodybuilding, panel beating, spray painting or any of the other aspects of mechanical upkeep and vehicle maintenance.
Out of these specialist skills, it is most likely that most people instigating a restoration project will have been involved in auto mechanics. In other words, they may have been trained and worked on car engines and gearboxes as well as other ancillary skills in that field.
It is testament to the UK and European cars of the Fifties and Sixties, that while their underside and bodywork rarely stood the tests of time their drivetrains- engine and gearbox mostly remained physically intact, except in the case of a significant catastrophe.
Their logevity was most likely due to the combined factors that drivers of these times were more refined, and the transport framework of the immediate post-war years was far less developed, and cars travelled less.
Experience mechanics, when they set off to examine a Fifties or Sixties classic car for purchase and restoration, do so in the knowledge that the engine has not been turned over for decades. They may even be excited at the prospect that it may well still be in a salvageable condition on which to test their skills.
While the engine is the heart of any vehicle, the gearbox plays no less of an important role. Most UK and European cars of the Fifties and Sixties came fitted with manual transmission with automatic gearboxes being rare.
Driving some of the larger saloons of the Fifties fitted with a manual gearbox could be a challenge as the deveelopment of synchromesh was still far off in the future.
To make for an easier and smoother driving experience, a lot of experienced restorers remove the sluggish and overworked manual gearbox and replace it with a modern automatic.
If the car was in running order pre-purchase and the gearbox is in good running order, quiet, with efficient synchromesh and does not jump out of gear, little will need to be done to it.
Unfortunately, the rule of thumb states that if the car engine is in a state of disrepair, the gearbox will be in a similar state, with the rigours of old age or misuse having played their part.
Once again, a proper analysis of the gearbox’s state of repair is a must.
If the gearbox is repairable and the restorer has the skills and tools to do so in-house, then this is always the preferable option.
If the necessary skills or relevant workshop facilities are not on hand, then the new owner will be well advised to save themselves a lot of time and aggravation by investing in aftermarket or reconditioned unit.
The third and no less critical component to be scrutinised is the clutch. As stated, most Fifties UK and European cars came fitted with a manual transmission as standard meaning that a clutch was a necessity. The clutch is the least complicated component of the drivetrain, and therefore the easiest to repair and, if need be, to replace.
As its title suggests carrying out a rebuild on a single plate clutch is a relatively simple process. The first step is to identify and examine the thrust springs and ensure that they are all the same height.
Evidence of the clutch having overheated should be checked for, with a sure sign being that the coils will be discoloured. If this is the case, then the coils will need to be replaced.In an air-cooled engine, there are no separate cooling system to service, no coolant to drain and flush, no thermostat to change, and no water pump to leak and fail, just a belt-driven fan to blow air over the engine. Other important systems that need to be in the best condition for the mechanical aspects of the vehicle to perform to maximum capacity are the fuel system, while all the relevant fan and timing belts, air and water filters should be in place and in perfecvt conditioto allow a classic car’s mechanical systems to perform to their maximum capabilities. The aspirations of any classic car restorer, from the rawest beginner to the most experienced, should always be to return their classic car’s mechanics to the standard when it rolled off the production line – if not improve on it.
Automatic Gear Box
Morris Minor Engine
Engine head three valve per cylinder system
Ferrari 166 Engine 1950