Vehicle Restorations

1961 - Vanguard Six

Vanguard 6 Wagon - Part 2 - Robert Bensley

Story by: Robert Bensley

I completed rust repairs of the body just before Christmas then moved on to the fuel tank, suspension and steering. The suspension and steering were straightforward requiring only cleaning, adjustment, replacement of the idler unit, rubber bushes and new shock absorbers. I’ve found Monroe’s website very helpful as no manufacturer lists shocks for Vanguards. However Monroe has an online parts selector where you can enter the top and bottom mounting type, extended and compressed length and it will show the closest matches. TR6 sway bar bushes fit the Vanguard 6 sway bar.

Tyre choice for Vanguards is now limited. The only affordable car tyre I found in 185/80 x 15 is the Federal SS657. Light truck tyres are available in the size but look out of place on cars. Antique Tyres have some of well known European brands in the size but they are quite expensive. I have not used the Federals before so time will tell how they go.

The fuel tank was an interesting case being heavily contaminated with some type of dried, finely powdered residue. I removed a bucket of this material by repeated washing with kerosene which was filtered and reused. A picture of the contents accompanies this report. The same material blocked the first 600mm of the fuel pipe and took days of soaking in carburettor cleaner and prodding with a piece of wire to remove. I have never before encountered this quantity of material in a fuel tank, even on cars older than this one. Some fuel residue is normal but not a bucket full. An inspection camera showed the inside of the tank to be rust free as much as I could see within a baffled tank.

What makes it more puzzling is the diary kept by the previous owner records that the car stopped running in 1974 with fuel blockage and the fuel tank was to be replaced. If the tank was then replaced or at least cleaned, how did it get so contaminated again by 1976 when the records suggest the car was permanently laid up? I can only guess the reason - perhaps some type of fuel additive which did not mix well into the petrol or maybe some type of coating was applied to the inside of the tank which later broke down. Certainly no fuel could reach the engine in the state it was in.

I took the opportunity to restore the dashboard and padded dash top while the steering wheel was removed as the dashboard cannot be removed with the steering wheel in place. Vanguard 6 dash tops are vinyl covered foam glued to the metal dash fame, a similar method used on TR4 to 6. Unlike TRs, replacements are not available for Vanguards so a job for a trimmer. My trimmer wanted to reuse the foam to retain the original shape and gave me the job of separating the foam from the old cracked vinyl and gluing the foam back to the fame. I expected separating the vinyl would be difficult but it turned out to be not too bad taking about a day with a small knife. Fortunately a lot of the vinyl had been sun baked into a brittle biscuit-like layer which flaked off the foam. The rounded face was more time consuming requiring the glue to be cut bit by bit.

I’ll move on to the engine and gearbox over the winter months with the aim of having the wagon mechanically complete by next summer. These are from a later car – there was no engine in the wagon when I acquired it.

I’ve recently noticed my wagon has a DL sedan suffix on the commission number - W273DL. Wagons should have suffix of SC. The Commission plate is the correct one for the car as the number 273 matches the number stamped on the inner mudguard. It would seem someone in AMI made a mistake when stamping the commission number. Mistakes in the production of notes and coins make the examples more valuable so I live in hope this will apply to my wagon!

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  • 1961 Vanguard Six
    1961 Vanguard 6 Wagon - Part 2
  • 1961 Vanguard Six
    1961 Vanguard 6 Wagon - Part 2