Introducing my Sprint S400-CCX. One of the 600 or so imported to Australia for one single model year, available in any colour as long as it was Mimosa Yellow. I've seen an estimate that perhaps 200 survive in one form or another, a contributing factor possibly being that rust is not really an issue in this climate.
Sold new in Geelong, Victoria on 7 Novemebr 1975, Build # VA15546DLO (that 'O' was to cause me official problems when I aquired it!). According to the BL "Passport to Service" the car was serviced regularly at the original dealer garage until the end of 1983. I bought the car in Tasmania in December 2019, where it appeared to have migrated in the late 1990s. The vehicle came with a large folder of receipts, invoices and notes, plus about 100 issues of "Dolly Mixture" put together by the person who took it to Tasmania. He was by then the third owner (I am the fifth). Owner Three spent a large amount of money repairing it and preparing it for hill climbing. At some point in the 90s it has been in an accident and had a passenger side chassis straightening and mudguard/bonnet respray. Mr. Three modified the car with a race cam (of unspecified grade), 2x45mm Webers, electronic ignition, Koni suspension pack, stainless single pipe exhaust, fat little 60 profile tyres, strategically placed fire extinguishers, electric water pump and fan with an electronic monitoring control unit and annoying keyfob operated lockout. Apart form that the car is orginal through out and the exterior is great (apart from some minor stone chips and a small bonnet dent (more on that later) and the interior trim is in excellent condition except for two cracks in the dash pad caused by many summers of heating and of course the curse of the scruffy peeling yellowed woodwork laquer. An after market oil guage was somewhat crudely screwed under the dash along with a small LED that flashes from time to time when on the move but I have no idea why it is there or what it is supposedly reporting .
I bought the car unseen on Gumtree, being itching to remove a large quantity of money form my bank. I probably paid over the odds for it, but the only other one for sale was a ground up restoration and the price for that was in the mid to high silly range.
So I flew over to Tasmania from South Australia, the journey from Hell. But..then I saw it. Polished shiny, looking immaculate in the sellers front yard and I knew it was right. Then we started it ( a procedure akin to flight checking a small aircraft waiting for various systems to report back and show a green "Go" LED. Oh man, it was rattly!! The rattle was, I was sure, the timing chain. Sucking in a deep breath and saying a mantra "but damn it looks great!" to myself and having reached the point of no return and no other choice, , I set off on the long drive to the north of the state and the ferry terminal to Melbourne. Waiting in line at the ferry though, I was surrounded by the Bentley Club doing a 100th (?) anniversary run and spent a few hours dribbling on some priceless 1920s Bentleys. The even longer 400km drive from Melbourne to my home town was scary. The car bucked and kicked and rattled and bounced on the most travelled tourist road in the State of Victoria and also quite possibly the worst road in the state as well.
Back home, I found one of the very very few mechanics in this town that even knows what an older car engine looks like and ordered a timing kit from Rimmers (8 days form order to delivery. That is just awesome!) and after a couple of months of fitting my car in between others that actually make the workshop money, I got it back. The mechanic was not impressed, called the engine agricultural and more suited to a tractor and added it was a noisy begger by design anyway, but at least the timing chain/gears and guide were done. Compression is stable varying between 150 and 158 across all four pots. The cam makes it lumpy as hell though.
Next job was replacing the fat little 60 profiles with original spec Yokohamas. The ride immediatly improved but still was not great. Advised the steering rack had endplay as well as worn tie rod ends, ball joints and the wheel bearings needed replacing. I gave Rimmers some money and they sent me stuff, including the rack and a full front end polybush set. Duly fitted except..some of the Polybushes didn't fit. Oh. Turns out, an Australian company can supply the kits and they specify two kinds..one marked "With Koni" I should have checked a domestic supplier first. Lesson learned. In fitting the rack, the garage people had to jack the engine. A pity they did not pop the bonnet first as there is now a small but noticeable dent where the thermostat housing pushed itself into it. Unhappy.
Registering the car in South Australia involved an inspection as the car had come from another jurisdiction. The testing station yobbo was not happy with the car. First, wrong steering wheel (I had the correct Sprint wheel on order so he let that pass relcuctantly). Then came the might VIN hunt. I pointed out the commission plate and he said that was irrelevant if the same number was not stamped on the body. Which, it isn't. I actually do not know how they got away with not stamping it on the firewall, since it is a legal requirement and has been since Noah. Nevertheless, it did not exist. Not only that, all my paperwork for the car listed the Comm. Number as VA15546DLO, but the plate only had VA15546DL. The man said it was a mismatch and I would have to renew the vehicle identification legally by removing any reference to DLO. Extra cost there. Money paid, they gave me a new legal Registration plate and papers amended to delete the forbidden "O" and I was good to go.
So, on the agenda for the next month is replacing the wretched to use "button clutch" arrangement for a standard unit and overhauling the working bits, as son as I can identify which master/slave unit combo in attached. BL seemed to use parts from whatever supplier was not on strike on the day of the build. The brakes need fluching. The car had sat in a shed for 5 years with no service, so I suspect the mushiness of the pedal is due to sad fluid. I have not yet identified the front discs but they are not standard, I think.
The diff whines like my co-workers ( nothing I can do about that. No one locally does diffs) and the rear end thumps and crashes annoyingly despite a mechanical report that says the shocks and bushes are just fine). The exhaust bangs on the underside constantly and no amount of fiddling at the local exhaust place seems to cure that. The Sprint was simply not designed to have a single pipe system...
After that, it's cosmetic stuff. Interior trim is in excellent condition. The woodwork is sun faded and damaged and the dashpad cracked, which I suspect will be the expensive bit. Having a dashpad vacuum formed as per original is a scarily expensive operation, I have been told.
A Note on the common cracked interior rear view mirror mounting base. I shaped a 1.5mm aluminium plate to match the bottom of the mount, filled the inner space with epoxy, clamping the crack tight until the epoxy set then glued the aluminium plate to the base. Drilled out the mounting holes, filled and sanded the join between the original base and the shimmed aluminium and painted satin black and screwed it back to the roof. No problem and unnoticable.
A long long post, I know, take heart., One more Dollie survives. If you made it this far, thanks.