We often get asked about delays with repairing classic cars, but there’s no getting around it. Classic cars rarely fail to spring a surprise. Even with what should be a fairly routine jobs, our beloved old cars love to thwart any well laid plan. A good recent example involved a wonderfully preserved Morris 1800s Mk2. It arrived with a very good overview from its owner detailing what he wanted sorting out. Top of the list was a ‘squeaking noise in the front’ and that the steering had been feeling tighter than should be.
On the ramp, we started looking at the front suspension and steering and the culprit area was soon narrowed down to the off-side lower suspension joint. On a 1970s BMC car this should be really simple….right? This is where we normally source such a everyday item from one of a number of quality suppliers. We were certainly not expecting this to cause delays or much of a problem. However, it turns out that this particular ball-point isn’t available at any of our usual outlets. “That part’s out of production and we haven’t had stock for a few years” was a typical response.
Just a reminder that we are talking about here. BMC produced almost 400,000 ‘Landcrab’ variants and although a bit rarer than its Austin sister, the Morris production was well over 100,000 units. This included both the Morris 1800 and 2200. According to one online source the part in question (QSJ222) was only used on the Morris 1800/2200 and the Jensen Interceptor FF! That doesn’t sound right, but it does illustrate the problem. If you have any lying around then put them on eBay, we noticed that some pretty ropey-looking new-old stock items went for almost £100!
Club provides a happy ending
But there’s a good news ending to this mini-saga. Also one that illustrates the benefits of being a member of a proactive club with a decent spares team. We had to ask the owner to make enquires and the club managed to sort these supposedly rare balls joints. They arrived with us after just a couple of days. The upshot is that all the other jobs we thought might be a challenge were easy enough to rectify, whilst a simple ball joint caused us nearly a week of delay. Being based on the Isle of Wight, there are no local stockists for most classic parts. We try very hard to plan for the spares we need and get them ordered asap, but unexpected delays are often the norm. Even better news is that the squeaking had gone and the steering was back to normal.
(As a post script, we all loved this Morris 1800S, which benefited from a number of simple upgrades but was otherwise very original. It’s a car which perhaps only a select few look back on as one of the greats, but what a fantastic daily driver. No wonder prices for the Austin, Morris and Wolseley version are all heading up.)