Restoration Log
1938 Hillman Minx “Magnificent”
DeLuxe Saloon

Story by Ern Broughton

Current registration no. MINX-38     Previous registration no. SA UXE-602
Original registration no. SA 168-524
Engine no. M1031709     Chassis no. 1029708
Body no. 2827     Head Part no. P22317W (1936-1938)
Later sold to a couple in the Hillman Car Club, on 4 October 1997.
Odometer reading 74,109 miles.

  Engine oil ....... Penrite HPR 50
  Gearbox ........ Castrol Gear Oil
  Differential ..... Penrite 85W/140

General information:–
The car was fabricated in Sydney by John McGrath Ltd., probably in late 1938.  The body number is M2827.  Latest date noticed on any part of the car is July 1938 on the back of one of the shock absorbers.  Allowing time for this to be shipped from England and put on the car could give a build date in late 1938.  Also, the carburettor is the Solex 30 A.I.P. type fitted from Chassis No.1005431 onwards for late ‘38 and early ‘39 models.  The distributor has centrifugal and suction advance, also fitted from late 1938.
Note that engine and chassis numbers did not necessarily match pre-war; at least on Australian assembled cars.

Purchased the car in a dismantled state from Rory Pullman on Friday the 13th of May 1994.  He says that he has spent $3,000 plus the $1,100 purchase price on the car.

The previous owner was David Beaven.  David drove the car in the 1984 Bay-to-Birdwood Run.  He sold the car to Rory Pullman on 25 March 1985 after expending a total of $2,600 on it.  Rory says that he trailered the car home after buying it and decided to strip and restore it; had some plating done and had the body resprayed in 1988.  There it stayed until I came along some six years later and bought it to restore.

I rang David Beaven on 13 May 1994.  He told me that he had the engine professionally rebuilt (new liners, pistons and bearings), had the radiator rebuilt, the gearbox also (new bearings fitted) and fitted 5 new tyres.  He sent me the badge he received for participating in the Bay-to-Birdwood.

David Watson (HCCSA Parts Officer) helped me bring the motor and gearbox home, using the hoist attached to his traytop utility; the rest of the bits I brought home in boxes in the trailer.

On 12 June 1994 I came across an ex-SA Police T65 BSA motorcycle and bought it to restore.  The temptation to start restoring it before I get the Hillman done is strong.
13 June 1994 and I am weak!  Started restoring the BSA!
On Friday January 6 1995, Roy, a photographer from the Messenger Press, came and took some shots of the car for an article to be printed in the "Messenger" leading to a Hillman Car Club display at the Brickworks Market at Thebarton.  The exhibition is scheduled for January 15, and the partly restored car will join about a dozen other Hillmans there.
The forecast for the day of the display was for thunderstorms, so I decided not to take the car in case it got filled with water.  As you would guess, it was a beautiful day with no rain at all!!

15/02/1995 Attaching mudguards to the body, plus a few other little jobs.
30/10/1995 Having completed the restoration of the ex-Police BSA T65 motorcycle I am finally making some progress again on the restoration.  I am at this stage completely rewiring the car, changing to a 12 volt negative earthed system and adding a thermostatically controlled radiator fan.
01/11/1995 Concerned about the tiny stop/tail light fitted to the car, I have been for twelve months been visiting swap meets hoping to get a matching one to place on the other side of the rear number plate.  Luckily today I picked up the really hard-to-get Lucas tail light, (one of two only that they had), for $70.00 from CarCraft Services at Mount Barker.
02/11/1995 Went back to Mount Barker and bought the other tail light for a spare.  I can always sell it if I need the cash.
06/12/1995 Gone about as far as I can at this stage on the rewiring.  Adjusted the brake cables today before lowering the car off the jack stands.  Now working on the engine.
18/12/1995 Painted interior and boot with black rust/soundproofing bitumastic epoxy paint (two coats).  Sticky, sticky, and slow drying.
21/12/1995 Installed engine to chassis.  What a struggle!!
30/12/1995 Gearbox reassembled and filled with oil.  Sump filled with Penrite Shelsey 30 oil to act as a flushing oil.  Radiator and hoses installed and filled with plain water only at this stage.
12/01/1996 Exhaust system fitted today, and distributor reassembled.
15/01/1996 Started engine (for the first time since 1984!) and ran it for about an hour.  It sounds pretty good, but the vacuum advance unit does not work.
16/01/1996 David Watson supplied two interior sun visors from his private stocks.  Picked up an old but new vacuum advance unit from Newport Motors for $45.
01/02/1996 Tried to catch up with Tony van Manen, car trimmer.  Not home so I rang him at home after tea.
02/02/1996 Took the seats to Tony.  The car can be trimmed before March 21 if I am ready, or in mid-May as he will in late March and for all of April be overseas in the UK and Holland.
03/02/1996 Tony and his wife called in home to see the car, and to get some idea of the amount of material required.
04/02/1996 Placed bonnet in position to check alignment of front mudguard/radiator surround assembly.  Not all that flash! Wide gaps at bottom rear of bonnet sides and front overlaps! Possibly I have put a too thick rubber pad under the radiator.
09/02/1996 Picked up the finished front seats from Tony.  The back seats are also done but I will leave them at Tony's.  He has done a very good job.  I paid him $1000, and will pay the rest when he gets home from overseas and finishes the car.
11/02/1996 Bonnet all aligned OK.
20/02/1996 Bonnet rubber and lacing fitted.
26/02/1996 Working out how to replace the shock absorbers.  Will have to use modern ones as replacements for the old double-acting ones are not available, and they are not able to be dissembled for repair.  Gave David Watson a pattern to make me some shock absorber brackets.
– 21/03/1996
Re-assembling grille and test fitting same.  Not happy with the result!  And HOT weather is limiting my time in the shed.
– 11/04/1996
Second attempt at making the grille acceptable.  It now looks OK.
17/04/1996 Fitted and wired head and side lights.
19/04/1996 Fitted and wired tail lights.
23/04/1996 Fitted tailshaft, drained and cleaned differential.  Several small pieces of diecast metal lying in bottom of differential housing, appear to be from one of the bearing lockring’s castellations but are not from a critical area.
02/05/1996 Fitted rear tubular shock absorbers.  Started afixing sound deadener to inside of bulkhead.
10/05/1996 Made two serviceable trafficators; they work really well.
12/05/1996 Completed and tested wiring, but cannot fit dash until interior timbers are replaced.  Lights, trafficators etc. all work OK.
18/05/1996 Renewed sliding roof drains.  NOT an easy job.
21/05/1996 Replacing timber trimmers for interior trim.
14/06/1996 After 8 days away on a house boating holiday the interior timber trimmers are finished, the dash is in place and the instrument panel is installed and connected up.  The fuel gauge seems to work, the previously 6 volt generator now charges the 12 volt battery (although I won’t know at what rate until there is an ammeter connected) and the once 6 volt starter motor and the windscreen wiper motor now operate at 12 volts.  Repaired the horn (wire burnt off inside the horn case), which also now operates at 12 volts.
15/06/1996 Cleaned out the interior.  Installed the front seats, and drove the car up and down the drive a few times.
17/06/1996 Fitted new rubber to the front windscreen and installed same.
19/06/1996 Fitted new rubber to the rear window, and Margaret and Peter Tavener installed it.
20/06/1996 Fitted new rubbers to rear quarter windows and installed them.
24/06/1996 Working on side windows, new channelling, rubber etc.
01/07/1996 Side quarter windows being rebuilt by hand cutting the rubber seals.
24/07/1996 All windows done, cappings repaired and installed and now trying to fit the sliding roof.  New slider felts to be made and fitted.
29/07/1996 Sun roof installed but I am not impressed.  I cannot see how to seal it satisfactorily; at this stage I think it will need to be sealed permanently.
26/08/1996 Took Brum to Tony’s to have trimming completed.  Registered the car today.  Reg. No MINX-38.
30/08/1996 Rang John Seaton tonight re the car, and how it compares with his restored ‘38 Minx.  He gave me a few tips, including setting the toe-in to 1/4 inch instead of 1/8 inch when using cross ply tyres.
02/09/1996 Tony rang, he is running a bit behind time.
12/09/1996 Collected Brum from Tony van Manen.  The inside is all done, but I have to fit the armrests and sunvisors.  Elva would have prefered a darker color for the carpets.
13/09/1996 Fitting the door handles and winders; not really an easy job because Tony used 2mm Masonite as backing for the door trims and it is not very flexible when trying to force the trim back to allow the handle holder-onners to go into place.
14/09/1996 Showed Bev and Peter how well the trafficators work, but I left the ignition on and flattened the battery.
15/09/1996 Charging the battery today.  Re-gluing the sliding roof trim pads; the ‘glue gun’ jollop that Tony used is not worth a pinch of the proverbial! I have used contact cement.  Just as well the pads fell off before I sealed the roof shut ‘forever’.
17/09/1996 Fitted door cappings and refitted the sliding roof.
19/09/1996 Making supports for the front shockers today, along with adjusting the brakes and changing the engine oil to Penrite HPR 50.
20/09/1996 Fitted coolant recovery bottle.  Flushed cooling system several times and treated it with Tectaloy Anti Freeze Anti Boil Anti Corrosion.  Put in 2.5 litres.
23/09/1996 Permanently wired the radiator cooling fan.
24/09/1996 Drilled vent hole in a differential casing bolt, fitted armrests, sprayed underseal under rear mudguards, attached HCC stickers plus a few other jobs.
25/09/1996 First run in the car today, down to Outer Harbour.  Runs well, but Oh! those brakes! They grab like fury, throwing the car violently to one side and scaring the living daylights out of Elva and me.  Probably the antics were not helped by the absence of front shockers! They won’t be in place until after the Bay to Birdwood.  Will do more brake adjusting tomorrow when I am not so stressed out!!
26/09/1996 Chamfered the ends of the brake linings and carefully adjusted the brakes; action much better but still nowhere near perfect.
27/09/1996 More driving practice, and sealed the roof with Selley’s Roof and Gutter Sealant.
28/09/1996 Bought a cheap set of carpets to put in the car as tomorrow’s Bay to Birdwood is going to be a wet one according to the forecasts.
29/09/1996 Bay to Birdwood day! Up at 5:00am and off to Glenelg, where we lined Brum up with all the other cars and then went and bought our breakfast.  Weather is not too bad early but starts to rain lightly just before the starting time of 9:00am, and by the time we move off at 9:40 it is raining steadily.  As we move towards Tea Tree Gully the rain is getting heavier, and by the time we reach Birdwood at 12:00 it is coming down in buckets.  We are directed to park in a soggy paddock the other side of a concrete ford over the Torrens River.  The river is already running a banker and we wonder what it will be like when we are allowed to head for home.  We can’t leave until 2:00pm by which time the last vehicle should have arrived at Birdwood.  We have lunch standing under a verandah at the Mill entrance, then start for home.  The raging river is almost to the top of the ford, the paddock is a mud heap and we are glad to be leaving.  The car went well, seeing that it was fully loaded with Elva, myself, Scott, Miranda and Miranda’s friend Carolyn, but I will have to work on the brakes.
09/10/1996 New front shockers in place; ride is firm.
17/10/1996 Had the car wheel aligned, total toe-in now one quarter of an inch instead of one eighth.  Handling is improved.
29/12/1996 Replaced the 6 volt generator which I had working at 12 volts and which was satisfactory on faster running, with a 12 volt one and a matching regulator from a Mark IV, and so will get more output at lower engine revs and therefore more battery charging in stop/go conditions.
17/01/1997 Replaced the vacuum advanced distributor with a mechanically advanced one from a Mark IV in the expectation that the car will run cooler.  Previously the engine reverted to fully retarded, thus running a lot hotter, at idle and whenever the throttle was closed or wide open, such as on the overrun, slowing down, going downhill, going uphill or under hard acceleration, at stop signs etc. etc.  With the new distributor the setting is 7 degrees advanced as a minimum, so the engine should generate less heat.  A short test run gave promising results, with better acceleration and smoother running.
29/01/1997 Raised the exhaust box and tailpipe to give better ground clearance.  Adjusted the length of the drag arm (shortened by one whole turn), to centralise the steering whilst driving.  Eased off the front NS brake adjuster three notches.  A short test run indicated improvement all round.
24/02/1997 Managed to unscrew the radiator release valve cap, and found the release valve had been ‘modified’ with a hacksaw cut so that the spring loaded ball could not seal, and the assembly had been fitted upside down! Fitted it correct way up; it will be interesting to see what happens to the radiator coolant level from now on.  Also replaced the battery with a new Marshall one ($74).  Two cells were gone in the old one.
04/04/1997 En route to Tasmania for a Rootes Group Car Club of Victoria tour of the Apple Isle the radiator expired at Keith.  The local RAA garage backflushed it but to no avail; we continued on with the Taveners and hired a car in Tas. to complete the trip while Brum was returned home by the RAA under the RAA Plus scheme.
22/04/1997 Brum arrived home.  I took off the radiator and took it to be repaired, and removed the head for a bit of attention and a new head gasket after compression tests revealed 130 psi in #1 cylinder, 88 psi in #2 & #3 and 118 psi in #4.  Heaps of dollar coin sized rust flakes were blocking a lot of the water passages in the head and the block.  I removed the water jacket side plate to give the block a good clean out.
28/04/1997 Got the radiator back today.  Ten percent of the tubes were blocked and there was a leak in the bottom tank A new core was not required as the existing one is in very good condition.  I fitted a later head with slightly higher compression.
02/05/1997 Ran the engine, seems OK.
04/05/1997 “Card Run” today, engine and radiator OK but brakes awful; I will have to do some work on them soon.
08/05/1997 Refitted the radiator coolant recovery tank, soldered up the hacksaw cut in the release valve and added a leather seating washer under the valve.  Had another go at adjusting the brakes.
18/05/1997 The Kernewek Lowender Run today.  The car went well, the radiator was good (but it was a cold day), and the brakes were not a lot better.
18/06/1997 Replaced the original brake drums with four from a later Minx that had hydraulic brakes.  These are much heavier and have a thicker steel section.  I feel that the original ones were either distorting when the brakes were applied or were permanently out of round.  They are too thin, in my opinion, to be machined and used again.  On test, the new drums were a remarkable improvement.
30/06/1997 Took the brake drums to be machined; braking smooth but brakes need to be better balanced.
02/07/1997 Lubricated front and rear springs and steering.
06/07/1997 Balanced brakes and tested OK; braking now as it should be, or more correctly, as it was when the car was new.

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