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Any - Which Classic?

I am a fan of classic vehicles but have decided to down size my collection so that I can have one car to actually enjoy at weekends. The Triumph motorcycle will remain (long term project taking up little space) but the cars will go. The question is what car to get? I thought I open it to the forum for ideas. Important criteria are:-

i) Needs to be automatic

ii) Maximum width – 5’ 6” as the lock-up I will be left with is quite narrow

iii) Roomy as I am 6’ 2”, 15 stone and have a long back

Estimated budget - £5 – 10k depending on what I get for my collection (only one not SORN’d)

Comments

unthrottled    on 24 April 2013

Crikey-tough criteria.

Austin Maxi?

[I'll get my coat]

Ethan Edwards    on 24 April 2013

Austin Princess2 ... 2 ltre HL Automatic. Surprisingly good once you accept the hydragas body roll. In Oyster metallic with a brown vinyl roof and a brown draylon interior...they're great. Or mine was anyway.

unthrottled    on 24 April 2013

Triumph Dolomite was offered with a slushbox as an option. How many buyers availed themselves of it is a different matter.

72 dudes    on 24 April 2013

If it was my money, I'd be looking at Rover P5 and P6.

In particular, a P5B coupe 3500 or a P6 3500. Both used the lazy unstressed V8 engine. Your budget should get a very good P5 or an immaculate P6.

For non classic fans, the P6 was the "Rover 2000" shape car 1963 to 1977.

The P5 was the bigger, more imposing "government minister Rover" of the 60's/70's.

Alternatively, a Triumph 2500 auto.

RaineMan    on 24 April 2013

Years ago my school friend’s father got a Maxi. He was an Austin man through and through having started with an old Seven after the war and working his way up through an A30, A35 and Cambridge. It was problematical (too long ago to remember details). He became a VW Golf man after that. I think a Princess is a touch to big and a Google suggests suspension components are very rare. The Rover P5(B) won't fit and I am not overly keen on the P6. The Dolomite,2000 and 2500 are definite options.

Edited by RaineMan on 24/04/2013 at 17:31

72 dudes    on 24 April 2013

I had a Maxi in the 80's and would not recommend them at all!

However, a Wolseley 18/85 or Six would be interesting.

The Rootes cars of the era were better built than the average Ford or Vauxhall, so maybe look for a Minx/Vogue/Gazelle/Rapier/Sceptre, and a reasonable % were automatic.

barney100    on 24 April 2013

Mate of mine is 6 feet 2 and he fitted very comfortably in a Fiat 500. My Panda had less room.

Avant    on 24 April 2013

Does it need to be a saloon? You want to 'enjoy it at weekends' which sounds as if it knocks out anything msde by Rootes. The Dolomite is a good option as you say - but why not think about a BMW Z3? I'm about to flog mine (it'a a manual, so no good to you) but I've had five years of fun with it. Go for a 2.2 or 3.0 and you get the lovely sound of a straight-six.

You may say it's not a classic - but in time it might become one. When I got mine I seriously thought about a Vitesse convertible - but I am no mechanic and I think I'd need to have been to keep a Vitesse going.

Cyd    on 24 April 2013

In the 80s when I was at Uni, one of the other members of the motor club rallied a vitesse! With some success too.

I was a huge fan of the Dolly Sprint, though I've never owned one (someone else in the uni mc had one). Very rapid in it's day, and no slouch even today I'd suspect.

coopshere    on 24 April 2013

Triumph Stag. If possible with the Rover V8 conversion which is more reliable than the original engine. Have seen some good ones on sale recently and they are good looking too(in my opinion).

RT    on 24 April 2013

Triumph Stag. If possible with the Rover V8 conversion which is more reliable than the original engine. Have seen some good ones on sale recently and they are good looking too(in my opinion).

Out of the frying pan into the fire - the Rover V8 doesn't have a good reliability reputation either.

With any classic you have to decide up front whether you want to spend your time driving it or fettling it - it wiil affect your choices!

unthrottled    on 24 April 2013

Out of the frying pan into the fire - the Rover V8 doesn't have a good reliability reputation either.

Really? I thought that by virtue of not being designed by Rover/Triumph/British Leyland, the basic design was pretty decent. Of course, given the so-so manufacturing quality in 1970'sa britain, they wear out fairly quickly, but you won't be stuck on the side of the road with an overheated engine!

RT    on 24 April 2013

thought that by virtue of not being designed by Rover/Triumph/British Leyland, the basic design was pretty decent. Of course, given the so-so manufacturing quality in 1970'sa britain, they wear out fairly quickly, but you won't be stuck on the side of the road with an overheated engine!

It was declared "surplus to requirements" after a very short time in production by Buick/Oldsmobile - Rover bought an old, reliable lazy engine that had a rev limit of 4,500rpm but wrecked it's reliability by trying to extract power from it by increasing it's rev limit. At 155bhp it was reliable but above that, no way.

I recall that a lot of Rover V8s blew their core plugs when overheating.

The only Rover V8 I'd ever contemplate is a Rover P5B because that engine was closest to it's Buick/Oldsmobile state of tune.

Edited by RT on 24/04/2013 at 22:20

daveyjp    on 24 April 2013

Shame about the width restriction because you could be in an XJ12 and still have change from the lowest amount you wish to spend.

Whether its a classic is debateble, but £3-4k for a mint one is pin money.

unthrottled    on 24 April 2013

but wrecked it's reliability by trying to extract power from it by increasing it's rev limit.

Ah, hence why they started boring and stroking until there wasn't any metal left in the block. Ford and GM got their pushrod motors to rev and survive (302, 327 etc.), why couldn't BL sort it out??

Ed V    on 25 April 2013

Beemer 2002 from the 70s.

craig-pd130    on 25 April 2013

@RT - my understanding is that in the 70s, the Stag V8 and the Rover V8 suffered mostly from ignorant owners (and mechanics) not using the right anti-freeze with the appropriate corrosion inhibitors for aluminium alloy, which would fur up the coolant passages in no time leading to overheating, blown gaskets etc

Rover did quite a lot of development and re-engineering on the 215 V8, changing the block casting process etc from the way that Buick / Olds originally did it. One of the reasons Buick/Olds stopped making the motor was because their block casting process allowed the shrunk-in liners to move, meaning a scrappage rate on the production line of over 80%. Rover sorted this and did other bits & bobs too.

Edited by craig-pd130 on 25/04/2013 at 15:56

RT    on 25 April 2013

The reason GM dropped the engine was that thin-wall iron castings became available, giving about the same weight as the alloy unit but at a fraction of it's price. It was designed as a low-revving, low power but high torque engine, like all US V8s but had stresses put on it in different rpm ranges by Rover.

My understanding was that the Stag engine block was badly cast with sand remaining in the cooling passages causing over-heating

unthrottled    on 25 April 2013

The 300 Buick is a lot heavier than the 215. I thought GM dropped because, in the muscle car wars of the sixties, 215 inches just didn't cut the mustard. 350 was considered standard, and all the OEMs offered 400+ inch motors. For customers who didn't require all that power, a cheap inline 6 was a more cost effective choice.

But come the oil embargo of '73, GM needed a 'small' engine and tried to buy the tooling back from Rover. Rover refused and GM developed an iron V6 instead.

craig-pd130    on 25 April 2013

I thought GM dropped because, in the muscle car wars of the sixties, 215 inches just didn't cut the mustard.

I would agree - very few people cared about smaller, lighter cars at that time; also the engine was very expensive to produce because of the (relatively) new casting processes used, which caused a high scrap rate on the production line.

The smallest V8s from the big three in the mid-60s were GM's 283, Chrysler's 273 and Ford's 260 / 289.

I've got an interesting article at home from Fast Lane magazine (remember that?) which goes into the whole history of the 215 (joint development with Alcoa, manufacturing problems, how Rover acquired the design and developed it, etc etc) together with tests of various small-volume sports cars powered by it (Morgan Plus 8, TVR V8S, Marcos, Ginetta).

I'll try and get it scanned.

TeeCee    on 25 April 2013

There's nothing wrong with the Stag engine, as long as the rad's been uprated and a duplex timing chain conversion fitted.

Most have. All the others blew up, courtesy of either catastrophic overheating warping the heads or a snapped timing chain taking the rest of the engine with it.

The Ford V6 conversion is a better one for the Stag. The Rover V8 is too heavy and stuffs the handling.

Edited by TeeCee on 25/04/2013 at 16:24

craig-pd130    on 25 April 2013

Do you want something small and sporty, or bigger and wafty?

For smaller & sporty, I would say a MGB GT V8, but I believe the vast majority were manual trans, I'm not even certain they offered an auto option with the V8. You might just get an R107 Merc SL at the 10K mark if you're lucky.

I can't imagine you'd get a Bristol 407 - 411 for under 10K, unfortunately.

unthrottled    on 25 April 2013

I'm not sure that the OP's criteria is realistic. Automatic transmission was never popular with smaller cars, and the width limit excludes cars that were commonly fitted with autos. I think Avant's suggestion of a Z3 with an auto is the most realistic option.

TeeCee    on 25 April 2013

The standard, "B" series engined MGB GT can be had with a original equipment slushbox. Rare, but they do exist.

Bolt on a Moss supercharger conversion for serious "oof"......as much as an original V8 in "cooking" tune.

Cyd    on 25 April 2013

There's not much wrong with the Rover V8 engine. It is however critical to change its oil every 3000 miles and use the correct antifreeze and make sure the cooling system is clean and in good order. They sludge up something cronic in the rocker covers and vee unless throughly warmed up every use (a huge source of warranty for LR).

My SD1s V8 was handbuilt by yours truly. It was standard bore and stroke, fast road cam, lightly ported and polished. It was fitted with a boxer manifold and 4x 1 3/4 SU HS6s. With a sports exhaust (nothing too wild) it produced about 225hp and MASSIVE torque. As anyone who's read my posts befor ewill know, I'm an ex rally driver - I do not hang around and drive my cars hard (the SD1 was used to tow a car trailer). I got 70k out of that engine before selling it on as a daily driver to a very enthusiastic buyer. It was a very sideways machine and took some right stick. And never missed a beat. Looked after, they were virtually bomb proof - but I would contend that every engine should be properly looked after if you want to get the best from it for many years.

My old SD1 was still on the road at least 5 years after I sold it and I'd have another Rover V8 powered car in a moment if I could.

Oh, PS, the SD1 version CAN run on unleaded - mine did.

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