The 1969 Austin Healey I picked up back in June was a purchase of opportunity. A car that interested me for a price that left room for me to fix it up without going broke. The deal included a whole stash of extra parts, including a carpet kit. Removing the tatty carpet and installing fresh can really dress up a car, and since it requires no cash outlay on my part I dove in.
Removing the old is easy, due to the age and general terrible shape of the carpet. Pulling the seat is as simple as removing eight half-inch nuts from under the car. Once those are out of the way, it’s as simple as grabbing a corner and giving it a good pull. Once out of the way, the true state of affairs is visible—and honestly, it’s not good.
I knew this car was crusty when I bought it. What surprised me is that a previous caretaker of this little Brit decided to try and preventatively brace the floors against rust, and unfortunately that good thought was poorly executed. The thick sheet metal that was placed on top of the floor pans was put on without preparation to prevent corrosion from taking hold, and that was nowhere more obvious than the drivers footwell. From the looks of things, moisture got between the two pieces of metal, and the paint on the factory floorpan meant the majority of the corrosion ate up the metal that he/she installed on top. I pulled out chunk after chunk of rusty steel, which only exposed more and more of the factory floor that was in surprisingly good shape.
Sadly, the final verdict is that the shell of this Healey would require a lot of fabrication and welding wire to bring it back to the shape it should be. For now I am going to clean up everything the best I can, remove the rust cancer where it makes sense, paint everything to seal up the bare metal that’s popping through, and put the new carpet in. This car is a driver and is too far gone to really be a good restoration candidate. One day it will probably become a parts car to save a better car, but for now I’m going to drive and enjoy it—as soon as the warm weather returns.