SPORTS CARS OF THE 60's

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    If you tried to take a Healey to concours condition it would probably cost more than $62K for that level of perfection. We are talking pretty fanatical workmanship levels here--certainl way way better than the factory ever built the car.

    Yes, around $25K-$30K would buy you a Big Healey that the Average Joe could not distinguish from "restored". What you don't get for $30K is a perfect steering wheel with no tiny cracks or a powder-coated frame or a chemically stripped and dipped body with high-tech primers and god knows how many coats of perfect paint. And you won't get all new triple-plated chrome or completely re-wired and chromed wheels and all new windshield and door glass, seals, and felts.

    There are a thousand small expensive details that most people never notice by themselves, but that somehow add up visually to a stunning car.

    Personally, I like the British standard of restoration, which is more "whatever".
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    I really like those little marketplace articles in Autoweek. They pull no punches. The write up on a Maserati BiTurbo a few weeks back was almost funny, it was so damning. The AH one makes exactly the points you are both making. $62K is not a normal price for a nice AH but restoring one to the better than new condition that this one was apparently in could easily cost much more than $62K.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think those marketplace articles are written by the guys at Sports Car Market, aren't they? Keith Martin?
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    Yeah, that's him. His commentary can be a bit harsh but it seems to be right on the mark to me.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well no excuses for the Maserati Bi-Turbo. A truly awful car.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Why's the Maserati Bi-Turbo an awful vehicle? Defects, fraught with problems, etc?
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You name it.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    He also had some comments on the Mercedes SL that I'm sure prompted some angry letters. He said that the main reason for buying an SL was to show people that you were rich enough to afford a new one. He reasoned that since the same message is not conveyed by purchasing a previous model, they tend to suffer serious depreciation.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think that's true of all the SLs except the first one, the 300SL, which was a true sports car, and the new SL500, which I also think is an extremely capable car and no pretender to sports car performance or handling. It's an awesome automobile, just like the original 300SL was in its day.

    But the older SLs are sometimes referred to as "valet's cars". The French call them 'baker's cars". All this means is that the owner is getting some residual prestige from the newer versions but is not wealthy himself.

    To me, an old SL is just an old boat but some people are still impressed by them, since they don't know you can buy one cheap.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Member Posts: 414
    I'm sure the comments were not intended to cover the original SLs. Certainly one cannot say they have suffered severe depreciation. :)
    And the new SL may be a very capable performance car but based on my casual observation of who is driving them, I suspect they are still mostly purchased as displays of wealth rather than to take to the track and grind out .9 Gs in the turns.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    That might well be true, yes, but that makes the OWNER the poseur, not the car, right? One reason I always liked Ferraris is that the car itself weeded out most of the poseurs in short order. If you didn't like to drive fast, and you didn't like a certain defree of "exotic behavior", you got tired of a Ferrari might fast.

    I think if you want a modern SL for pampering, it will do that, and if you want to drive within 9/10th of any exotic car made, it will do that as well. A car for all seasons perhaps, which isn't all that easy to build.
  • reallandyachtreallandyacht Member Posts: 28
    WOW! I forgot about those ol' Spider's!

    In the late 80's I had an 850 Spider - that little buzz bomb was a riot to drive as well as EASY to work on!

    2 guys

    2 foot long 2x4

    couple foot of chain

    could easily carry motor and transmission into an upstairs apartment and rebuild the whole thing on a kitchen table!

    My grandmother had a sewing machine that was bigger than that motor! :blush:
  • danny_veedanny_vee Member Posts: 2
    In my opinion, the '69 Charger or the '67 GT500 were the best cars of the 60's. Being from England myself, I don't often see many of either, but they star in 2 of my favourite films of all time (Charger in Dukes of Hazzard and GT500 in Gone In 60 Seconds.) :)
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    Well they may have been the "best cars" but most assuredly neither was a sports car. They were too big, too heavy and had poor weight distribution compared to the great sports cars of that era.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • lokkilokki Member Posts: 1,200
    Is 1972 close enough to the 60's?

    I was always disappointed that the Jensen Healy wasn't more successful. I thought that it was really what the TR-7 should have been.

    Although Shifty doesn't care for the styling, as I recall, but I rather like it.

    image

    Lotus developed 2 liter alloy OHC engine , with 4 valves per cylinder. 140 BHP at 6500 RPM. 4 Speed!

    I always wanted one - might still be a fun toy if you can get parts. Anyone know?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It's a Lotus engine---buy a tool kit first.

    Sure you can buy 'em cheap and they are a pretty good deal for the money. And if running right, a very good performer.

    They are, in real life, pretty homely IMO, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course. Your photo is very flattering because of the angle it is shot at (the rear end of the car isn't very appealing) and the color black, which hides a lot of the clunkiness.

    However, judging by the marketplace, values and interest level, in this case at least most people seem to agree that it's a car nobody much wants.

    Parts are strictly a matter of lining up the networks. The internet has made parts available for just about any car, but don't expect them next day UPS like you would an MGB or Alfa Romeo.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    There were a number of reasons that the J-H didn't succeed but the big part of the problem was that it missed the market niche that it's predecessor the big Austin-Healey held for so many years.

    The A-H 3000 was a big, comfortable cruiser with lots of torque and great styling while the J-H was none of those things. By the time the Jensen-Healey came on the scene that niche had been well-filled by the even more popular Datsun 240Z.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Once again that ol' Golden Rule seems to apply here:

    "Unloved when new, unloved when old"

    I don't think Donald Healey had anything to do with this car, and in fact disowned it if I recall correctly.
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 10,645
    Late, but...IIRC they had a blow-through turbo setup that would cook the carb, going lean, an fry the engine...not to mention poor reliability along the lines of a bad Fiat...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I was told by a Ferrari mechanic that they are essentially....unfixable....that is, they can't run right, ever....ever.....no matter what you do.

    I do recall you can blow the cylinder heads clean off them suckers (so to speak).
  • hudsonthedoghudsonthedog Member Posts: 552
    Donald Healey was involved with the Jensey-Healey project, but withdrew his name after a year or two, which is why the last models were simply the Jensen GT.

    As for parts, the Jensen-Healey is an assembled car. Many of the parts are simply transplanted from another British car of the time. All you have to do is figure out which vehicle donated that part and call Victoria British (or whoever carries that particular part) and order it.

    I owned one briefly. I wasn't all that impressed by the way it drove.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Now this could be fun until you hit the tree....

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/car/305992762.html
  • bocatripbocatrip Member Posts: 194
    The Jensen GT is probably the only Jensen worth going for. Quite rare, without that crappy british convertable top and very unique. I seldom see any for sale, however there are a zillion of the Healey Convertables in California. Why so many in one state? If this car is maintained and pampered, it is alot of fun to drive and not a bad performer. I had a few of them when they were only a couple of years old and the body fit was horrific. If not careful you could actually cut yourself when the hood is up on the edges of the hood. I'm sure these cars can still be bought for a song in decent condition if you a patient enough to search for one.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Probably $4,500 for a decent GT if you can even find one. Most of them have disintegrated by now I think and what's left isn't pretty.
  • hudsonthedoghudsonthedog Member Posts: 552
    Come to think of it, the reason why so many are in California probably has something to do with the owner of Jensen at the time.

    Kjell Qvale bought Jensen in 1970. Since Qvale was a big import dealer in California, he probably sold a large percentage of Jensen-Healeys in the US.

    I prefer the bigger Jensens...the Interceptor and the FF.
  • fiatlux1969fiatlux1969 Member Posts: 52
    "A pleasant cruiser but it didn't hold a candle to my MGB."

    The 1500 was a "boulevard sports car," but there were the 1500S and 1600S variants, with the OSCA twin cams. I think they cost a lot more than the MGB did, though. And then there was the questionable steering geometry...But then the 124 Spider and Coupe showed up in the mid-sixties and the MGB became an instant anachronism, not only with respect to performance, but also in creature comforts, particularly the convertible top.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    But then the 124 Spider and Coupe showed up in the mid-sixties and the MGB became an instant anachronism, not only with respect to performance, but also in creature comforts, particularly the convertible top.

    Yep that's all true, most Brit Sports cars of the 60s featured 1950s bodywork on 1930's mechanics. The 124 Sports with Five Speeds and 4 wheel disc brakes were a revelation to those who grew up on MGs and Triumphs. MY TR-4A was such an anachronism it featured small aluminum strips atop the fenders to hide the unfinished seams and for some reason, a hole in the grille where you could insert a crank, even though it wasn't equipped for crank starts.

    Given the reliability of Lucas Electrics a real crank would've been a worthwhile option. ;)

    I'd give anything to have my '71 124 Spider 1608 back. :cry:

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • texasestexases Member Posts: 10,645
    How'd the 124 Spider compare to the Alfa Spider?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Alfa was a better built car with better materials but in terms of performance, I'd say the Fiat was softer and lighter to drive. The MGB was a stagecoach in comparison to either car.

    Fiats are a pain to work on, though, and MGBs were so easy.
  • fiatlux1969fiatlux1969 Member Posts: 52
    "I'd give anything to have my '71 124 Spider 1608 back."

    Ditto my '72.
  • fiatlux1969fiatlux1969 Member Posts: 52
    "Fiats are a pain to work on, though, and MGBs were so easy."

    Guess it's a matter of what you're used to. Valve adjustments are the only procedure that I would say is easier on an MGB, but at least one needn't pull the cams ala Alfa and Jaguar! And you can do a clutch replacement without having to pull the engine.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Don't forget the shredded flesh when you work on a Fiat 124. There is simply NO ROOM in that engine bay.

    The top goes up and down real nice, though.

    An MGB you can fix with duct tape, a pipe wrench and a stick.

    The Fiat engine is just not as strong as the Alfa engine either. The MGB engine is virtually indestructible, as you might expect from a Vermont Wood Stove.
  • fiatlux1969fiatlux1969 Member Posts: 52
    "The Fiat engine is just not as strong as the Alfa engine either. The MGB engine is virtually indestructible, as you might expect from a Vermont Wood Stove."

    It has not been my experience that the FIAT twin cam is fragile. I would not want to approach 9000 rpm with a stock Alfa or MGB lump, which I have done on many occasions with the 124 engine. The steering box is tight to the intake manifold, though.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Come on! I can understand your enthusiasm, since my Dad owned three Fiats, at various times, back in the day, but that seems like and exaggeration.
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    It seems like it to me too but Fiat's Lampredi-designed DOHC was redlined at about 7K IIRC and it was easy to blast right thru it as there was no rev limiter and the torque/power curve was such that it was still pulling past redline. Most other engines I've experienced stop making additional power and torque before you get to redline.

    Add the top-notch 5-speed gearbox and you're in Sports Car
    Heaven.

    The only Alfa I drove '86 Spider wasn't nearly as much fun but by that time emissions and safety regs had taken their toll.

    Fiats are a [non-permissible content removed] to work on compared to MGs and Triumphs with their antediluvian motors but I was lucky enough to be friendly w an ex-racing mechanic who specialized in Jag, Rolls and Mercedes. He regarded working on my Spider as a vacation by comparison. ;)

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    9K?---well good luck and may god have mercy on your soul.

    Fiat engines are more cheaply built I mean, and don't have the bottom end strength. On the top end, they seem about the same as Alfa, prone to head gasket leaks, etc.

    I do think Fiat engines from th 80s revved better because Alfas had that variable cam set-up and the 2000 cc motor. It just couldn't rev. But you take an older 1600 or the 1750 engine and you could actually get 7,000 rpm out of them----but you might bend a valve, which you would certainly do in a stock Fiat at that rpm I think.

    The Fiat 124 Turbo was really screwed up and a real devil to work on, but it was fast and fun and handsome. I like that car very much but they are very troublesome in the engine/turbo department. I'd certainly consider owning one since I can work on them.

    The 80s Alfas with the Bosch system are extremely reliable cars. Probably not as much fun as an 80s Fiat to drive because they are kind of slow and doggy, but that CAN BE REMEDIED! Aha!

    Somehow I'd like the Alfa reliability coupled to some of the 124s endearing characteristics to make up the ideal inexpensive Italian sports car.
  • fiatlux1969fiatlux1969 Member Posts: 52
    "Fiat engines are more cheaply built I mean, and don't have the bottom end strength. On the top end, they seem about the same as Alfa, prone to head gasket leaks, etc."

    I can agree that the 124 engine is more cheaply built than the Alfa, since it has an iron block and not aluminum with liners, but that is also the reason that it is robust and not particularly prone to head gasket problems, especially after the introduction of the astadur gaskets. I have never heard anything but praise for the strength of the bottom ends of these engines. I refer you to Guy Croft's impressive book on tuning FIAT twin cams. To clarify an earlier comment, the 1438 engine is the only one with which it is profitable to rev above 8500 rpm as dead stock (albeit with headers, jetting changes, no air filter), which I have done when necessary while autocrossing. The larger engines need more breathing in order to make usable power at those levels, and I would observe an 8000 rpm red line with the 2 liter and a stock bottom end. The one thing that will, without fail, take out the side of the block is to get the auxiliary shaft out of phase after changing the timing belt. The fuel-pump cam will encounter the big end of the con rod with impressive noise and smoke. This is true only of the the 2 liter, but one may hacksaw the cam off the shaft, plug it, and use an electric fuel pump. No more worries!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yeah well you have the skill to accept the consequences of 8,000 rpm. Most folks don't--LOL!

    And yes I think you're right, with improved gaskets and proper assembly head gaskets don't have to be a big issue on the Fiats. But they are prone to overheat, and that leads to problems because most owners don't shut the car down. Being an iron block, they can get away with more than with an Alfa, which will BEND when hot...but only to a point and then their luck runs out. They think they are driving Chevy small blocks, which can overheat, catch fire, and even melt and they're fine.

    I've seen Alfa bottom ends push well over 200,000. I kinda doubt a Fiat has that level of regular longevity car after car.

    Alfa heads are pretty dead after 100K however, with mushrooming valves, etc.

    My only real bi*ch with Fiat 124s is that rubber-band driveline. They are so hard to drive smoothly.
  • fiatlux1969fiatlux1969 Member Posts: 52
    "I've seen Alfa bottom ends push well over 200,000. I kinda doubt a Fiat has that level of regular longevity car after car."

    You have a valid point for a couple of reasons. I've seen the FIAT twin cam live for that kind of mileage, but it is rare, not because of intrinsic weakness but because the cars were less likely to be maintained as well as were the Alfas. Then there was the propensity toward rusting away, a problem I do not deny. The engine may well have been capable of passing 200k, but would have to have done so without the assistance of the rest of the car.
  • fiatlux1969fiatlux1969 Member Posts: 52
    "My only real bi*ch with Fiat 124s is that rubber-band driveline. They are so hard to drive smoothly."

    Quite true, but that problem was mitigated after the change to a throttle cable rather than the lever-actuated linkage, which magnified the drive-line windup. After all, the Alfa also has a donut in its drive line!

    I occurs to me, on the subject of reliability, that, when I have seen these motors grenade, it is, with very rare exceptions, due to a timing belt slipping or breaking, a frailty to which the Alfa is not heir, but also a fate that can be easily avoided.

    Please forgive my unstinting defense, but I am obviously a marque enthusiast and seem to be incapable of giving an inch. This is a character defect that I am working on! I admit that the Alfa engine is much prettier than the FIAT's, with that awful belt cover.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh that's okay. I was enjoying your defense...very imaginative and generally well presented.

    Of course, MOST defects or peculiarities or annoyances of ANY car can be corrected or at least diminished. The best we can do is to record historically how most of them turn out, not so much how a few of them fall into "the right hands".

    Yes, the Alfa engine is prettier, there is no doubt. Can't say they don't rust as well as a Fiat. Both cars are prodigious contributors to the world's supply of ferrous oxide.
  • fiatlux1969fiatlux1969 Member Posts: 52
    "Can't say they don't rust as well as a Fiat. Both cars are prodigious contributors to the world's supply of ferrous oxide."

    On that subject, I am helping a friend reassemble a '69 124 Coupe after a repaint. The tin worm has been chased with some expensive vermifuge, and we would like to apply some preventive substance while we still have access to the inner panels. Wax-Oyl and Ziebart do not have franchises in this area. Any suggestions regarding a possible home-fried prophylaxis?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I don't think you ever really defeat a rusted body quite frankly, as they rust from the inside out. So coating the outside really isn't the point unless you're going to expose the body to road salt, ocean air, etc. Otherwise I'd say prime it really well and forget it until the next time it rusts through. Could be a long time. I presume it's been chemically treated already, like with Osfro or some such?
  • andys120andys120 Member Posts: 23,349
    Can't say they don't rust as well as a Fiat. Both cars are prodigious contributors to the world's supply of ferrous oxide.

    Car Buff Legend has it that Fiat made the Soviets a deal to swap cheap Russian steel in exchange for the License to build copies of the 124 Sedan and help in designing the plant to build them (called the Togliatti Works on honor of an Italian Communist leader).

    What's Alfa's excuse?? :P

    Seriously, the truth is that most cars of the 60s & 70s rusted badly, excepting Benzes and Porsches built after they started Glavinizing their bodies (early '70s).

    I agree with Shifty that it's very hard to defeat the tin worm once it starts. One piece of advice I would give your friend with his 124 Coupe (terrific car BTW) is to
    garage it.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    How come Fiats and Alfas have that phenomenon of "mushrooming" their valves and heads over 100k miles, whereas on, say, a Volvo B20 or Toyota 22R, you can ignore any maintenance and the engine will just keep on going? Just something I had to throw out- a friend of mine who owns a '92 Alfa Spider told me he recently had to have a valve job done, and his car only has 45k on it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Don't really know if it's metallurgical in origin or a design issue.

    All engines have their weaknesses. A Volvo B20 engine will wear out its stock camshaft in 60,000 miles. We used to have barrels of camshafts in my friend's Volvo shop. The B20s run and run, but most people have no idea of their optimum performance. Most old Volvos are running at 60%--70% of their potential due to bad camshafts, worn timing gears and sloppy distributors (have you ever met a B20 engine that didn't ping?--only a recently rebuilt one).

    The Toyota 22R engine is a very high quality engine internally.

    Sometimes engines are just "right" from the beginning, but you can count those on your one hand.
  • fiatlux1969fiatlux1969 Member Posts: 52
    Does the word "mushrooming" refer to a deformation of the head of the valve? If so, perhaps it has something to do with the relatively large diameter of the valves in FIAT and Alfa engines (42mm in the case of the 124 intake), although I have not observed this in any of the high-mileage FIAT twin cams I have torn down; just normal wear, which causes the clearance to tighten. Of course, I'm not speaking of damage caused by lean mixtures and other conditions.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yeah I think the clearances tighten and then hammer the valve, something like that.
  • fiatlux1969fiatlux1969 Member Posts: 52
    "I don't think you ever really defeat a rusted body quite frankly, as they rust from the inside out."

    Actually, I was thinking of coating the inside of the body panels (while the car is apart and they are more or less exposed) with a chemical/mechanical barrier such as Wax-Oyl. We are lucky in that the Coupe has always been garaged, and what rust there was was extremely localized, being only in the lower sides of the trunk and the front of the outer rocker panels. These areas were completely removed and replaced with new sheet metal. The other panels don't even show surface rust on the inside. I'm not sure why (aside from no salt on the roads) there isn't a greater rusting problem in the NW, since our climate is so much like Blighty's where rust is endemic. In any case, we would prefer not to do future rust repairs if they can be avoided, especially in the rockers, since the holes for the stainless molding are now open and provide a way to get something in there. The body work and paint was done several years ago, and I don't know what measures were taken by the restoration shop to inhibit corrosion. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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