The Phoenix Rises

We started the restoration of Linda Allen’s 1970 TR6 in 2011. She bought this car new in Meridian, Mississippi, off the showroom floor for $3,625 in June of 1970. After 40+ years of driving, it was time to restore the old girl (meaning the car) to showroom condition.

We finished the project in June of 2014 and drove to Chelan, Washington, for the car debut in Cruizin Chelan Car Show, a great weekend with friends and perfect weather for a car show. We left on the morning of June 8 to drive back to Everett. 150 miles to home over Stevens Pass and the final break-in of the engine. Or so we thought.

Just over Stevens Pass, 50 miles from home, Linda’s TR6 suffered an engine fire. The cause? A carburetor started leaking fuel on the exhaust header. With the help of Washington state patrol, the onboard fire extinguishers that we carry, and the Skokomish fire department, the fire was out in a couple of minutes, although it seemed like hours. Unfortunately, the damage was done. We towed the car to my home in Everett and I started the restoration again.

fire damage

The front of the car (firewall forward) was completely burned. Nothing was salvageable except the engine, left front fender, and front rims. The bonnet and right front fender were warped from the fire, and everything in the engine compart was burned. I removed the interior and Linda cleaned the seats, door panels, and rear panels. The dash was removed and cleaned also. After all the salvageable parts were removed, cleaned, and stored away, I started the teardown of the car.

burnt engine bay

The engine was removed and rebuilt, and the front of the car was sandblasted to bare metal and primed. The front suspension was rebuilt, along with the brake system. New tires were installed and it was ready for the paint shop. The painting was done at Britsports of Seattle. Owner Mark Jones has been restoring British cars for 25+ years. The paint came out perfect, French Blue. Now the reassembly could begin.

The engine was rebuilt and the transmission was changed to a five speed. The car was wired with an Advance Auto Wire harness with LED lights and halogen headlights. All the instruments were rebuilt again and a roll bar was added with a LED brake light. All the aluminum in the engine bay was polished, and a Wizard aluminum radiator was installed. The car then returned to Britsports for a final fit of doors and bonnet and a cut and buff of the paint. The final polish of the paint was outstanding. The interior was installed and new carpets were made and installed by Steve Shepp of Classic Interiors.

The engine was started and cam break-in was completed. The final tuning was done at Carb Connection in Kirtland, Washington, and put on a dyno. After five pulls and some adjusting of timing and carbs (3 SU), the rear wheel horsepower was 95 on a motor with 35 miles on it.

The car was driven on May 8, 2015, eleven months after the fire. Linda has entered the car in several car shows this year, and has won Best Engine compartment (All British Car Show at XXX Root Beer Stand) and first place in Early TR6s at Vandusen All British Field Meet in Canada. But the greatest feeling is seeing her driving her car again. 45 years of TR6 ownership is something to be commended. I love the smile on her face as she drives her TR6.

Linda told me she would never restore another car. I would if I could see that smile!

restored engine
—Sam Bass

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