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Interview

1959 Austin-Healey 100-6

Part 2

Story and photos by Jerry F. Boone

Litsjo says he’s always had a fondness for British cars, and the 100-6 was the perfect project for a car-deprived enthusiast. It was to the point it needed only a few more hours to have it on the road.

Well, that’s what he thought.

“When I got it, it didn’t run, he says. “It had a new wiring harness but it didn’t match the factory diagram so the shop was having a hard time figuring it out.

“I began tracing wires and finally sorted out the problems.”

He got it to the point he could concentrate on the ignition system, but first, he unhooked the wire going to the electric fuel pump “so it wasn’t trying to pump fuel from an empty tank.”

Litsjo went back to work under the hood, but looked up just in time to see smoke wafting from the rear of the car. The fuel pump wire had fallen against the frame, shorted out, and fried most of the newly-installed harness.

He says there is a lesson there, about putting tape on the ends of loose, hot wires.

Litsjo says the car came with boxes of spares, including a second, new wiring harness.

He was a lot more careful the second time around.

New harness installed, it was time to put fuel in the tank and fire up the engine.

“But all the fuel I put in the tank ran out the rust holes,” he says.

New harness. New tank. Renewed enthusiasm.

Again, he began working on the ignition system, but Litsjo -who knows his way around cars -still couldn’t get the big six-cylinder to fire up.

He did the usual tests, and determined the timing chain had been installed with the cam about 40 degrees off.

Fixing the problem means pulling out most of the parts in front of the engine, to lift the motor and get at the cam gear.

Problem solved. Once again he hit the ignition switch and the engine fired to life, filling the bell housing with oil, to the point it began creating a lake on the floor of his small shop.

He began to get really worried about what other problems he’s find in the engine.

The head was a mess and there were hammer marks on the bearing caps.

“The whole thing had to be torn down and rebuilt right,” he says.

Three of the bores were so badly rusted they had to be sleeved. The rods and pistons had to be replaced.

Litsjo says the shop, upon seeing the condition of the engine, agreed to pay the entire cost to make it good.

“When I bought the car, I figured it might take me four months to get everything sorted out, and my wife and I would have a really very nice roadster to tour Europe in,” he says. “Instead it took me two years, working in a shop just barely big enough for the car, to get it on the road.

He and his wife were able to enjoy the car for a few months before his company returned him -and the car -- to Seattle.

“We put a lot of miles on it in a very short time,” he says.

The highlight of the road trips was a tour with the Austin-Healey Club of Belgium, which was allowed to park their cars on display in Brussels’s iconic Gran Plas.

“That just doesn’t happen,” he says. “And it probably won’t happen again.”

In spite of all the problems, Litsjo says he never considered giving up and moving on to something else.

“As a result of the work, I think I appreciate the car more just because of all the effort that went into it,” he says, “and I know just about every part in it now.”

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1956-1959 Austin Healey 100/6 11” X 17” Color Wiring Diagram

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