Reviving a Racer
One of owner Andrew and Tom Cluett’s personal projects this year so far has been reviving the former – and at one time infamous – ‘Red Pig’ Austin Healey race car otherwise known by the numberplate ‘OTK 76’.
Lost for 30 years and rumoured at first to be a works privateer car this Healey first piqued our interest when brought to us by a customer wishing to restore the car.
A lot of things changed in that time including us rally-preparing the owner a second Healey and the car soon changed into our hands.
Fascinated by the history and patina of OTK 76 (now APU 122A) plus what certainly are some original works team parts, we decided to revive and preserve the car. From the chipped paint, battered race scars, massively flared out aluminium wings and smashed in inner arches there is just something deeply menacing about this car, especially with the Dunlop L-section race tyres crammed under there.
Later, a little more investigation revealed this Healey regularly raced against the likes of 56 FAC, Denis Welch and other works Healeys, for a long time residing in Germany. A magazine article of the car towards the end of its life shows the car just as battered as it is now but absolutely trashing various other ‘fast’ Austin Healeys from the local club.
After putting the car on the ramp and pleasingly seeing it fortunately wasn’t bent, we decided to try and get the car running.
After a thorough check dropping the sump and going through things the car started. Naturally it smoked a lot but this turned out to be connected to the brake servo. And then of course – as suspected – the brakes didn’t do much. The car had been fitted with a type of rear calipers we hadn’t seen before so rebuilding and get pads required some investigation. They’re now incredible.
In the meantime we fully rebuilt the carburettors, gave the car a service and started tuning the car on the rolling road making use of the enormous drag brake used to stop the 50” twin rollers the car sits on instead. The car made 180 HP to the wheels before the clutch started to slip. So, pleased the car was now running so well we put the car into the workshop for a quick clutch change as we went off to see a Healey abroad. We came back to bits of the gearbox on the floor and learnt it had decided to detonate.
So now, as of February 4th the car is awaiting a full rebuild to the Sebring gearset inside a Damask Red (Healey works team Red) painted gearbox. To contain our excitement we’ve bought some rather lovely new race seats and red seatbelts (not quite Damask Red but very fetching).