While pushing the car the 500 meters from the street to our garage, I noticed the brakes were seized and clutch didn’t engage. For a car that weighs around 700kg, it was incredibly difficult to move. As with any new purchase, the best place to start is a full inspection.
Hydraulics – brakes and clutch
The brake and clutch pedals went straight to the floor with little resistance but a lot of squeaking. I grabbed a can of spray degreaser and went to town in the footwells cleaning the back of both pedals, the return springs that connect the pedals to the firewall and the firewall itself. I then applied some grease to the pedal hinges and spring holes to ensure smooth operation.
I then jacked the car up and removed the rear wheels. Both rear brake cylinders were leaking and the drum brakes themselves were seized. I slackened the handbrake and turned the rear adjusting bolts all the way out before replacing all of the rear brake components – drums, pads, return springs and brake cylinders. I then readjusted the handbrake by tightening the adjusting bolts until the wheels were locked and backing them off slightly until they spun freely again.
The front disc brakes were also seized, though the discs themselves were hardly worn. I ordered new pads, pad backing plates as the originals were rusted, rubber lines, bleed nipples, seals, seal retainers and pistons to replace the heavily scored ones. The new parts went in and the wheels spun freely once again. Even though the rubber lines connecting the calipers to the hard lines appeared to be in good condition externally, they had swollen up internally and no longer allowed fluid to pass.
Having replaced much of the brake hardware, the next step was bleeding the brakes. Starting at the rear right corner I bled the entire system until fresh brake fluid came through, then moved around the car, finishing at the front left. While the car was in the air, I also bled the clutch at the slave cylinder.
Finally, the brake and clutch pedals were nice and firm.
The rest of the car was in incredible condition considering it’s age. The fluids, however, have not been changed in over a decade.
The motor and gearbox both take 20W50 motor oil, preferably non-synthetic with a high ZDDP value. Contrary to today’s cars, the gearbox has brass bushings that don’t play nice with modern oils. I used Mobil VR1 non-synthetic racing oil.
The differential takes 80W90 gear oil so I used a Silkolene fluid.
Lastly, I replaced the coolant and washer fluids with generic products from the local auto shop.
Gearbox stuck in reverse gear
The shifter would not move out of reverse after I tried shifting through all the gears before bleeding the clutch. I decided to remove the shifter from it’s housing and examine the shifter linkage. Unexpectedly, this gearbox forgoes a shifter linkage and the stick connects directly to the shifter mechanism. I cleaned the nylon bushing and spring and gave it a bit of grease before reassembling the shifter. To my surprise, it popped right into neutral on tightening the base plate.
Fire it up!
Having gone through the car and made sure everything was fresh and adjusted, I poured in fresh gas and turned the key. The starter spun free. I backed off and made sure all the battery connections were tight, thinking a weak connection could stop the old crash starter from engaging. Satisfied, I turned the key again, this time pumping the gas pedal lightly. A few seconds later it fired right up!
As much as I wanted to drive the car around the block, I had to wait until the registration and insurance were sorted. That’s for next time!