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Restoring Austin Healey 100/6 - Greg Barnsley

Posted: Friday, 11 October 2019 @ 15:46
 

Austin Healey 100/6 before and after its restoration.

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

Back to New! Restoring an Austin Healey 100/6

Restoring an Austin Healey from a rusty hulk to a vibrant gem of showroom quality was task eagerly undertaken by owner, Greg Barnsley in Australia!

Whether you're in the middle of restoring your Healey or looking to start a restoration project yourself, this story from Down Under will give you some inspiration!

Greg ordered a number of parts from us and later got in touch through our Facebook Page to show us his finished Healey. It was a real treat to see the before and after photos so we asked Greg about his restoration project.

Greg Barnsley working on his Austin Healey 100/6 engine.

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

A.H. Spares: How long did the restoration take?

Greg Barnsley: It was just over 3 years to restore. I'd been friends with the owner for years, he'd bought the Healey 30 years ago and had started to stockpile parts. Also had the motor rebuilt ready for when the time came.

Fast-forward 25 years and I asked him a few years back to give me first offer if he ever decided to sell. I'd already restored an Aussie GT Falcon so I figured it would be a piece of cake. Boy was I wrong! British cars are like building a ship in a bottle; you need fingers like ET to get into places.

Aussie GT Falcon

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

A.H: What made you choose this particular car to restore?

G.B: So I get a call and Bob (the owner) says,

"If you want it you can have it for 20K" [Australian Dollars].

I didn't know much about Healeys, in fact nothing other than I had a slot car of one as a kid. So I picked it up the car and parts and started restoring the 9 plastic crates of parts.

If you're going to have a '50s era sports car, you want to have that ''wow'' factor.

A.H: Tell us a bit about yourself; are you a full time restorer or is it a passion you undertake in your free time?

G.B: I own a little antique shop about an hour from Sydney. I no longer run the shop and thought the restoration would be a nice hobby. I joined the NSW Austin Healey Club and made a few friends; these guys were a great source of info and parts. It's like a swap meet every time we get together. They're big into originality but if you're gonna have a '50s era sports car, you want to have that ''wow'' factor. Primrose just wasn't going to do it, it had to be red.

Hand-made Austin Healey seat covers available from A H Spares Ltd

Unrestored Austin Healey 100/6.

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

A.H: What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

G.B: On the first day, I was carrying a bucket of nuts, bolts and washers to the shed to start de-rusting them when the handle broke and the bucket exploded on the ground sending them everywhere! Two hours later and using a magnet, I got them back from whence they landed in the grass.

The radiator alone was custom-made at great cost (lot hotter here in Australia) and the dynamo upgraded to a modern alternator. Frankly, I'm amazed I did it for 60K.

A.H: The final result is a gorgeous two-tone red and white with white trim and upholstery; was this always the final look you were going for? What made you choose this colour scheme?

G.B: Of course, two-tone cars always look more elegant and so does a white interior. It was trimmed in white leather, red carpet and a wood rimmed steering wheel. Chrome wires and a disc brake conversion that I hauled back from Vegas in my carry-on.

Restored Austin Healey 100/6.

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

A.H: Can you describe some of the work that was done to your Healey?

G.B: The body work and paint was done by a local guy; it was TIG welded where it needed to be and the chassis sandblasted.

A.H. Spares was able to supply any parts I needed and they arrived [all the way to Australia] within 3 to 4 days of ordering. Great guys and nothing was a problem.

The gauges were sent off to be made new and small details fitted like the alloy flip petrol cap. The chrome plating had come back looking like new and the chrome wire wheels fitted with new tyres.

Complete Austin Healey chassis

Before & after: Restored Austin Healey 100/6 guages.

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

It's funny, I worked on it every day, either finding parts or restoring something then one day it was done! Then came the fine-tuning, which is still ongoing.

Restored Austin Healey 100/6 engine.

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

New bumpers, overriders, exhaust, dynamat insulation, heat wrap. God, it seemed to go on forever! The radiator alone was custom-made at great cost (lot hotter here in Australia) and the dynamo upgraded to a modern alternator (another $950). Frankly I'm amazed I did it for $60K.

Restored Austin Healey 100/6.

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

A.H: I spotted the "Best Car In Show" trophy in your photos, can you tell us about that?

G.B: Now that was amazing. We had literally just finished assembling the car, it was running okay but the longest trip it had done was a 3-mile jaunt up the road and back. It was running a little hot but not overheating.

Restored Austin Healey 100/6.

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

There was some car show on at Berry (an hour away) so I said ''What the Hell, let's go to it''. I didn't realise it was such a huge event with around 600 cars. Known as the National Motoring Heritage Day, it was a country wide event.

If I hadn't actually heard them call our names I wouldn't have believed it.

I was more concerned about us getting there and back than actually winning anything. Anyway we made it down the mountain without any problems other than being rugged up like Eskimos (the roof wasn't on and it didn't fit in the boot).

National Motoring Heritage Day 2019 | Berry, New South Wales

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

We drove into the middle of a sea of classics and pulled alongside a magnificent MK 2 Jag. The owner popped up, he was down cleaning the chrome wires with a toothbrush.

The cars were just unbelievable, mostly British but a mix of everything. It took us the best part of 2 hours just to see them all.

National Motoring Heritage Day 2019 | Berry, New South Wales

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley

We had lunch and I was discussing whether we'd make it back home without a hitch when they announced the winner of the Best Car in Show.

If I hadn't actually heard them call our names I wouldn't have believed it. We went to the podium, picked up our trophy and plaque, jumped in the car and made it back without a problem.

National Motoring Heritage Day 2019 | Best Car In Show 2019

Photo Credit: Greg Barnsley
 

We would like to thank Greg for sharing his experience and gallery of photos that we will share on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Do you have a restoration you would like to share with us? We are always interested to hear about you, your Healey and the work you've done, and share your story with other Healey owners.

 
 

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