1973 Jensen Healey Restoration - Part 2
By Greg Fletcher
Costs For The Last Month: $1,754
Say, this restoration stuff is a lot of work... and expensive! Yikes, no wonder we don't see a large number of restored Jensen Healeys. I had these great Venolia pistons all ready to go with my new engine and Richard Reyman at West Coast Cylinder informed me they were, in fact, not for a 2.2, but a 2 liter. Those seemed too good to be true, since I picked them up for next to nothing, so I can't complain. Instead I had to pony-up and purchase a set of 2.2 JE pistons. Pistons, wrist pins and a set of rings was $652.65 (this was in 2003). An unexpected purchase, so slightly painful.
The big push this month- getting the body shell to the paint shop. No easy feat I might add! I first needed to find a shop to do the work, a minor ordeal. As I live in Orange County, California I've since found out that all the cities anywhere near where I live are populated (polluted?) with a plethora of body shops that only work on auto collision when dealing with insurance companies. This is clearly a Cash Cow for these so-called business. I stopped by five shops near my office only to be met with incredulous stares "well, er, we can't paint Your Car, we only do collision" or "No, we don't do restoration work". ahemm, it just needs paint, I'm not asking you to restore it, or "I suppose we could paint Your Car, but you'd be looking at $7,500 minimum". This particular shop looked more like a front for a drug business than a paint shop, the losers behind the counter really creeped me out. No one appeared to be working, even in the back, they all looked like they were just waiting for their next delivery, I surmised.
The whole situation seemed rather depressing. Clubber Gary Clendenning had a paint shop he'd used for his two JH's, but this guy was in Riverside and that was at least 120 mile tow from where the car was located at my friend's house in LA. Fortunately, Richard Reyman saved me untold hours of searching by recommending a great paint shop he's used a few times over the years that's just around the corner from him in Reseda, Grangers Classic Auto Body. A nine mile trip on the back of a flat bed tow truck ($88, that's another story) and it's out of my friends, Duane's, driveway and is now somebody elses problem. Jim Granger has been in the business for decades and appears to know his stuff. He took me around his shop and told me about the various projects, especially interesting was a BMW 3.0 csi that had a serious rust coat under some otherwise good looking paint. The poor bastard that owned this 3.0 was renting a car for the last four months as a one week simple respray turned into a major paint & body restoration project.
Jim was interested in my Jensen Healey and he could see it had much potential. He walked around the car. His hand touched the body as a blind person might examine it. Hmm, not bad. Is this a keeper? he asked. I was taken off guard on that one. What should I say? Yes, I'm an idiot, charge me the highest figure you can think of? I could see I had no where to hide. "Yes, I'll probably own this thing forever". "Same color?" "yes." "Original factory paint or do you want clear coat? Clear coat adds an extra gloss and depth to the paint." "Make it look as good as possible" I said. "OK, then we'll fix what needs fixing. $1,800 - $2,000, maybe another $500 for extra prep. I'll call you when we strip off the old paint and let you know what's underneath... if it's going to cost you more. I'll send you digital photos as the job progresses. You're probably looking at three to six weeks." That all sounded pretty good to me and I left $1,000 as a deposit. As I mentioned, the body is unusually straight (and I could scrap off the factory paint with my finger nail in places- that's how original this car is) so I'm confident that nothing too ugly is lurking under the paint.