Another Sprint? My answer would be “no” as well, but mainly because of the way the car was assembled in the first place, not because poor servicing has let me down —I do it myself.
My car is exactly the same vintage as the one driven by your Photographer. And at that time what a buy it was! At £1,770 it was the best value available in Britain, undercutting a 3-litre Capri, and making a BMW look ridiculously expensive. (At £3,200 it still does—bearing in mind the acceleration, inside standard of finish and its four doors.)
You call yours high mileage; mine now has 40,000 on the clock and with that experience of a car from the same Mimosa batch, I can enlighten you on two problems.
Firstly, all Sprints suffer from (i) a head gasket problem and (ii) a rocker cover gasket problem. The latter merely leaks down the head and onto the exhaust manifold —hence smoke and smell. With that design of cover having inadequate fixing points and the regular growing ‘and shrinking of the thin aluminium casting I think a U-section neoprene seal is the only answer. Six different materials in my previous attempts have failed!
Regarding the head joint, few cars today don’t have a “gasket problem”. It manifests itself by using water. On my engine at least, the head surface doesn’t stay flat and compression gas forces water out of the engine, back to the side tank, past the pressure cap and onto the road via the overflow pipe. The only answer is to change the gasket regularly. You must watch your anti-freeze level, while this constant topping-up is going on — otherwise the water-pump gland will be the next job! (corrosion inhibiter is vital there).
Your Photographer obviously loved his 1600E dearly—to complain about even a non-overdrive Sprint’s motorway performance, at about 85% of the revs at any given speed. I travelled all the way to Ayr in Scotland to find an overdrive one!
Why change from the Dunlop tyres (only a 10% profile XAS would make me do that) especially when they had lasted so well?
The fan-belt is the most obvious and cheap spare part to carry—so I have no sympathy there. Also quick and easy is a static ignition timing check which has to be at about 2,000mile intervals with the nylon followers of today’s distributors. (Wear retards the ignition. When I got my Sprint it was at 10 deg. after TDC!) Retarded ignition of course also makes cold starting bad, and encourages “running on”.
But when it’s on song, what a fabulous 4-seater GT.
Manchester H. M. GARDNER