Monday, 2 July 2012

Fast Forward 15 years...

 Having changed countries three times and three houses later I find myself in Melbourne Australia with 2 kids and a cat. The Austin 7 I had bought when my eldest was one year old had given no end of problems and was languishing after breaking a crankshaft for the second time. Another motor had been fitted a couple of years before, but problems abounded. For some time the idea of buying another Mk3 had been growing stronger. A Zodiac would be ideal, but are uber rare here! I would really like to do one like the beauty I saw for sale at a show in NZ ; dark blue tinted windows, Cragar wheels and a 302 windsor to match. In the previous years I had only seen ONE mk3 Zodiac for sale!
 So to plan "B". Buy a tidy mk3 Zephyr and turn it into an English GT. Something like the Cortina mk1 and 2 GT, E and GTE; split front bumper, fog lights, GT badges, bucket seats, gauge cluster and tacho, floor change gearbox, wood grained door caps and of course a warmed over motor with twin throat carb and extractors. Lowered suspension, and trailing arms to the rear axle would round out the GT image.

"Rosie" The 1928 Austin 7 chummy.

 Vic Roads made the final decision for me - seat belts were made mandatory for all cars with children, who can only travel in the rear seat. What a crock! A timber framed car has no strength to mount a seat belt and an Austin 7 has no height in the body work to get the top mounting point to a safe height above the shoulder - even for a child! Pure lunacy!

 So the search ramped up. Of course nothing came up for sale for the longest time. Eventually however a Mk3 Zephyr came along on Ebay. The asking price was $2,000. A lot for what looked pretty rough in the pictures. The auction finished without a bid. I arranged to see the car - it was worse than the photos, but with nothing else about I paid $1,200 for it. After sourcing a complete carb it ran but the water pump was stuffed, spilling everywhere and the clutch was seized along with the brakes.

Wearing the grille from my old 4 cyl.
1962 Mk3 Zephyr wreck

I imported a rebuilt floor change overdrive gearbox from NZ. It was originally from the UK and had probably been fitted to a Reliant Scimitar. Next I found a pair of Falcon XL fairmont bucket seats - identical to mk3 executive seats! 99 cents sounds OK, but they are very rough. Lucky I have some sewing machine experience. I joined the ZZOCM. About that time I realised the ever growing list of faults with the black Z was just too much work. I started searching again. This time I advertised in the wanted section of Just Cars magazine.
 This is what turned up
 Original 62,000 miles
Mk 3 Ford Zephyr as found.

 I got lucky this time and after selling the black heap and the Austin 7 the blue Zephyr was delivered. Wearing South Australian registration RAL 409 it is nicknamed "Ralph". The previous owner is doing a mk3 V8 conversion, so having decided to concentrate funds on one project, I was able to buy this for $5,500. Included were all the bits from the other car that he no longer needed. So I have a spare running motor, gearbox, diff, 9 X 13 inch wheels, brake booster and sundry other items.

After a polish and with Hustler alloy wheels fitted

Follow the progress as "Ralph" is readied for a Roadworthy Certificate and registered for the road. Don't expect to see any mods on this car, though. The condition is far too good to go altering the originality of the car in any way. It will be preserved as best I can for generations to come.

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