Inspired by fellow Lincoln Auto Club members entering the Leukaemia Foundation’s Muscle Car Run, Cliff Carpenter had a desire to share in the experience. Following is his progress towards that quest.
The advertisement sounded good. 1976 HJ Statesman, 308 V8 Auto, good condition,etc, etc. So in April 2015, Cliff accepted the advice of his agent, assigned with the task of inspecting it at the Adelaide Auctioneer’s premises. So “Go for it!” he did.
After attending a few Club outings, the decision was made to “spruce” it up a bit body-wise, tend to the sagging suspension, attend to a a couple of motor related issues, clean up the interior, and “Da! Da!”, all would be well.
That was the intention anyway! It all started when it was noticed that the door sills, particularly on one side, had almost rusted out. “Might as well do both sides” was the remark. Then it started. As anyone who has attempted to do a quick resto job would know, one thing led to another. “Might as well do the bloody lot!” was the decision.
With the experience of racing Torana’s and keeping them on the track, Cliff was on a mission. And so the Statesman saga began. Get a rotisserie, take it all apart, strip it back to bare metal, and start again!
First the body work. New sills and some panels. Then the suspension, front and back. Brakes, exhaust, fuel tank, electrics (everywhere), upholstery, boot and bonnet latches, door handles, sound deadening, carpet etc. etc. Thankfully some spares aren’t so rare! Then the motor. Don’t mention the motor! Same head and block but a full reconditioning followed. Transmission also, followed by diff, wheels and tyres. On and on it goes.
As a rolling chassis it entered the panel shop stripped bare for all to see. But not for long.
It was clear by the quality preparation, and the smile on the owner’s face, that it was was going to come up OK.
The original Gold colour came to life with the clear coat giving the paint the appearance of being three inches deep! Be careful bolting and clipping the fittings and trim back together Cliffy!
As it stands today, all the electrics are done thanks to Club Sponsor Scott Harding. The motor has been re-installed along with the transmission. The diff’s in, tailshaft connected, now just waiting on some engine tweaking, and of course the initial test drive.
Working on the vehicle for Cliff has been life-time mechanic Hue Risolia. Hue will also be Co-Driver for Cliff as “Team Bel Air” in this year’s Aussie Muscle Car Run from November 4th to the 11th. The course this year takes the entrants down to the South East, through Western Victoria to Phillip Island, then up through Central Victoria and the Riverland, concluding in Renmark.
A wedding car? A muscle car? A luxury cab? Whatever you think it may look like, it will definitely be a great street example of a 1976 HJ Statesman. Well done Cliff. We look forward to seeing it on the road around town.