The 1969 Austin Healey Sprite I picked up back in June was an opportune purchase. It was a car that interested me at a price that left room for me to making running repairs and improvements without going broke. The deal included a whole stash of spare parts, including a carpet kit. Removing the tatty carpet and installing fresh trim can really dress up a class car, and since it requires no cash outlay on my part I got stuck in.
Removing the old carpet is easy, due to the age and general terrible condition of the material. The first job is to take out the seats, which is as simple as removing eight half-inch (13mm) nuts from under the car. Once those are out of the way, the seats lifted clear with a good pull. Only then did the true state of affairs become visible – and it’s not good news.
I knew this car was crusty when I bought it. What surprised me is that a previous caretaker of this little British roadster decided to try and preventatively brace the floors against rust, and unfortunately that good thought was poorly executed. The thick sheet metal that was placed on top of the floor pans was put on without preparation to prevent corrosion from taking hold, and that was nowhere more obvious than the driver’s footwell. From the looks of things, moisture got between the two pieces of metal, and the paint on the factory floorpan meant the majority of the corrosion ate up the metal that they installed on top. I pulled out chunk after chunk of rusty steel, which only exposed more and more of the factory floor that was in surprisingly good shape.
Sadly, the final verdict is that the shell of this Austin-Healey Sprite would require a lot of fabrication and welding wire to bring it back to the shape it should be. For now I am going to clean up everything the best I can, remove the dreaded rust where it makes sense, paint everything to seal up any bare metal, and put the new carpet in. This car is a driver and is too far gone to really be a good restoration candidate. One day it will probably become a parts car to save a better car, but for now I’m going to drive and enjoy it – as soon as the warm weather returns.
Via Hagerty US