by R.L. Corn
There is really nothing left to do. I don’t want to take the car out of the basement, until I am ready to drive it. So, I’m just waiting. I have been tightening bolts that I think might cause a rattle at some point. Most of the time now, however, I am just going down to the shop to add another coat of wax to Rita, or to start her up just to hear her purr. Soon, if weather permits, I will bring her out from under the house. We will see how many of the repairs and improvements actually hold up when the car is on the road.
Today is a gloomy Saturday, with prospects of rain for the next four days, but it’s not raining yet. I wake Marcee up and down to the basement we go. I had been spending the last few weeks thinking about how to alter my ramps so that my new exhaust wouldn’t scrape the floor this time. Usually the simplest fixes are the best. By raising the end of the ramps, the angle where the ramp meets the basement floor is reduced and the car comes out just perfectly.
I drive directly from the basement to the road. I still have a few minor adjustments to make, but the car runs beautifully. The first trip in six months is incredible. It’s not without some problems, but I expected that this shake-down would point out areas that needed further work. The oxygen sensor plug falls out a few miles into the drive. I had forgotten to put on sealer and only hand-tightened the plug when I put on the new exhaust. It was an easy fix—and free! NAPA ended up having one that they gave me!
During the brief drive, I notice that the right rear brake is sticking, so I will have to see what is going on with that. But after six months it feels amazing to have Rita back on the road. Every passing mile I’m greeted with waves, thumbs up, and gestures of appreciation from motorists for this topless classic. It feels
Once home, after centering the steering wheel, I take the master cylinder cover off and notice that the shoe is not completely disengaging, overheating the rear brake. A new return spring from Moss and I’ll be back in business.
The fuel and temperature gauges need to be reanimated (I think it is the voltage stabilizer) but the car is drivable and just in time for those upcoming spring rides on the back mountain roads.
If I have learned anything over the last forty years of owning British automobiles, it is that you never reach the finish line of a restoration (especially if you plan on owning a daily driver). There will always be points to gap, zerks to grease, and brightwork to polish. But of course that is the best part of owning a unique automobile. If you are just interested in going from point A to B, you probably should own a Honda (and we do). But if you want to fully enjoy being on the road, making people smile when you pass, and feeling that you are a part of a long legacy of sports cars owners, there is nothing better than driving one of the cars that came off the Abingdon assembly line. MM