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.

Upgrading the gerabox makes for a wise investment as it not only adds a lot of value to the vehicle but improves the journey for both drivers and passengers.

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.

They can make do with reassembling the drivetrain and reinstalling it in their car- always an exciting moment!

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.

From the mid-Thirties till the late Fifties a single plate clutch was fitted to practically all British and European cars in the mainstream category.

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.

The carburettor plays an important part in the function of an internal combustion engine carrying out the simple roles of mixing air and fuel to ensure the proper ratio to generate power.

While carburettors have been around as long as the internal combustion engine, many innovations were made, especially in the years between the wars.

The majority of carburettors produced in the last sixty years were fairly simple. Simple enough to be overhauled by a semi-skilled restorer.

Before beginning to overhaul any carburettor, time must be taken read up on how the carburettor was designed, the procedures that need to be followed, and whether the rebuild will requires specific tools.

Carburettors will usually provide long, trouble-free service, provided it has been kept clean and well oiled.

Another major component of a vehicle's mechanical system of is its cooling system of which there are two types- air and water.

The engines in some models, like the flat four-cylinder powerplant in the iconic Volkswagen Beetle, were cooled directly by airflow over the cylinder heads and block.

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.









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