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Old 5th July 2015, 17:32   #1
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Default 1962 Ambassador - Restoration

This is the story of the restoration of my father's 1962 Ambassador. It was in use until about 2005 when it became difficult for my family to maintain it - older drivers who could drive ambassadors quit, the old mechanic retired and parts became hard to find. I had been planning on a restoration for a while but didn't get around to it due to various home improvement projects I had been working on in the last few years.

When I started in December, I wasn't sure if it was a Mark 2 or Mark 1 - my father changed many things in the car over the years. He passed away more than 20 years ago, so there was no way to ask him either. I remembered that it had MPH meters (now I know they were Smith), the carburettor was replaced (SU to Solex) and so on. However it was a heavily used family car in those days and in order to keep it in running condition, my father replaced parts with whatever was available at that time. The end result by early 90s was a mongrel car as you can see from the pre-restoration photos.

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-ogfront.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-ogchassis.jpg

It was in some discussions in the Ambassadors/Landmasters pictures thread here that I learnt (thanks @karlosdeville, @anjan_c and others) that Mark 2 didn't come to the market until 1963. This meant that our old family car was a Mark 1. By that time I had already started the restoration to a early 60s Mark 2, so I let the restoration continue given that the differences between 1962 Mark 1 and 1963 Mark 2 were minimal - front grill, bumpers, insignias etc. It is now on track to become a 1963/64 Mark 2. Some more pre-restoration photos -

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20141226_121335.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20141226_131553.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150209_134844.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20141226_155951.jpg


What lay ahead of me was several decades of modifications to be undone. Headlights, front grill, parking lights, the entire dashboard - meters, switches, tail lamps, license plate lamp, floor stick shift, entire steering assembly, horns needed restoration to equipment of that era. Luckily the engine is still the original OHV as are many other parts. I decided not to replace the carburettor (Solex to SU) and the air filter for now.

Searching for parts from that era took me to several places. The local scrapyard where the car is getting restored (no Bangalore) had a whole Mark 2 lying around and I salvaged quite a few parts from there including a whole gear box and assembly which was to be used for restoration back to the steering column gear shift. Two other places were particularly helpful - H. M. Motors in Hyderabad and Mubarak Meters near Shivajinagar gujiri in Bangalore. Apart from these, I was able to find a few more parts in Shivajinagar gujiri. My initial parts procurement list looked like this -
  1. Front parking light - 2
  2. Headlight rim - 2
  3. Mark II decal - 2
  4. Starter solenoid - 1
  5. Steering - 2
  6. Gear piston - 1
  7. Dashboard meter - 2
  8. Dashboard clock - 1
  9. Dashboard sheet - 1
  10. Ignition switch - 1
  11. Starter switch+cable - 1
  12. Speedometer cable - 1
  13. Dashboard meter ring - 3
  14. Dashboard switch ring - 4
  15. Dashboard switch plate - 2
  16. Ivory gear knob - 1
  17. Light dimmer switch - 1
  18. Tail lamp full assembly - 2
  19. Tail lamp rim (extra) - 2
  20. Tail lamp glass (extra) - 2 sets
  21. Rear number plate light - 1
  22. Mark 2 front grill - 1
  23. Windshield trims - 1
Some of the parts I procured can be seen in the photos.

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150201_151108.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150208_135738.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150624_183813.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_135000.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_135106.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_135212.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_135536.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_135552.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_140319.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150624_183747.jpg

I am still missing a few parts -
  1. Original switches for P, C, W
  2. Pillar switch for the dome light
  3. Original gear shift piston - the NOC parts keep breaking
  4. Steel trims for the rear windshield
To be continued ....

Last edited by Gearphile : 5th July 2015 at 17:52.
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Old 5th July 2015, 22:49   #2
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Default re: 1962 Ambassador - Restoration

Gearphile, its a well commenced job. You have been able to get hold of some rarely found spares. With the good start, the car is expected to be done up quite well.

The model earlier to the Mark II looks the best according to me ( maybe others differ) and looks a real classic. Since your car falls in the pre Mark II era, you may need to get the front grille too. You can also try on eBay, as these are popular abroad too.

Please also edit the title of your thread , not "Ambassdor" but Ambassador". Wishing you all the best through the process.

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 5th July 2015 at 22:50.
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Old 5th July 2015, 23:11   #3
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Default re: 1962 Ambassador - Restoration

Thanks @anjan_c2007. Couldn't have gone this far without the team-bhp discussion threads of the past.

I agree with the pre-Mark 2 comment. Eventually, I would like to change the front grill and the bumpers to make the car as close to the 1962 Ambassador as possible. I have already procured a front grill for that. But the finding the bumpers have been rather difficult and I don't want the car to lie in the garage for another year given that I had already started the restoration work. Until I am ready with the parts, it will remain a Mark 2. Here is the other grill -

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150705_230040.jpg

Quote:
Originally Posted by anjan_c2007 View Post
Please also edit the title of your thread , not "Ambassdor" but Ambassador". Wishing you all the best through the process.
My bad. That is a horrible typo. I can't find an edit button for the title of the thread. Any suggestions on how to fix that ? Perhaps moderators can help here. My apologies.
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Old 6th July 2015, 08:10   #4
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Default Re: 1962 Ambassador - Restoration

@Gearphile, was the original gear lever steering mounted or directly on the GB (floor) ?
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Old 6th July 2015, 18:32   #5
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Originally Posted by condor View Post
@Gearphile, was the original gear lever steering mounted or directly on the GB (floor) ?
The original gear lever in the car was steering mounted, that is where I learnt gear shifting in the late 80s. Sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, my father got the modifications done to the floor shift as he was suffering from frozen shoulder at that time.

@karlosdeville pointed out in the Ambassador/Landmaster pictures thread that stick shift was a standard option according to this brochure :

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/attach...llery-1976.jpg

It needed changing the front part of the casing of the gearbox. You can see the top view in one of the photographs above.
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Old 6th July 2015, 19:38   #6
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Default Re: 1962 Ambassador - Restoration

Nice to hear about the Ambassador preparing to return to good health. All the very best for your restoration project.

A couple of questions from my part.

1.Does the current steering rod needs to be changed for installing the old type steering ?

2. What modifications needs to be done to the gearbox to revert back to the hand gear shift.

Our Ambassador also was of the hand gear shift with the steering column tilted to the right. The previous owner, for some reason, modified it to floor shift and also installed the steering of Nova.

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-image1378.jpg

The picture is from the recent health restoration after hibernation for two years.

regards adrian

Last edited by adrian : 6th July 2015 at 19:42.
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Old 6th July 2015, 20:56   #7
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You have done a humongous job in sourcing those rare parts. Is the engine in running condition? Was the gearbox changed? I have a doubt because one can change the gear lever from the steering coloumn one to the floor one without changing the gearbox. Wishing you all the best for your project and would be awaiting for the updates on the project with the photographs.
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Old 6th July 2015, 21:20   #8
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Default Re: 1962 Ambassador - Restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by adrian View Post

1.Does the current steering rod needs to be changed for installing the old type steering ?

2. What modifications needs to be done to the gearbox to revert back to the hand gear shift.
I did procure a steering rod from scrap, but it was not needed for the old model steering. Our pre-restoration steering was from a Mark 4 and its steering rod worked fine with the old steering. I don't know if Nova is any different.

For reverting to had gear shift, assuming your ambassador is mark 4 or older (I don't know much about later ambassadors and I couldn't see the gearbox casing near the stick shift in your picture), you need to get the original gearbox frontside casing and the hand shift assembly - the lever, gear piston, the rod and rest of the assembly. I am not sure the casing is available aftermarket anymore. In my case, I salvaged an entire gearbox and hand gear assembly from a scrapyard and the mechanic used whatever was needed from there. The gearbox itself was not changed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vdm View Post
Is the engine in running condition? Was the gearbox changed? I have a doubt because one can change the gear lever from the steering coloumn one to the floor one without changing the gearbox. Wishing you all the best for your project and would be awaiting for the updates on the project with the photographs.
Yes, the engine is in running condition - although how that is, is a miracle. I will post about that in the second part of the story. Thanks for the wishes.

See my answer above - you can do it by changing the front casing of the gearbox. This was a standard option at least for a period of time.

Last edited by Gearphile : 6th July 2015 at 21:42. Reason: Answering another question
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Old 8th July 2015, 00:23   #9
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Default Re: 1962 Ambassador - Restoration

Since several people have been asking about the floor shift option, I found this close-up picture that shows how it attaches to the gearbox from the top.
Attached Thumbnails
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20141226_121317.jpg  

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Old 12th July 2015, 01:29   #10
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Restoration : Part 2

OK, I forgot to number the first part just like HM didn't number the first ambassador as "Mark 1". Regardless, this is what happened next :

While I was scouring the country for parts, I also set about finding the right people to do the work as well. My father's old mechanic, Mr. F, had retired. But he is in good health and he volunteered to be the consultant. There aren't that many ambassador mechanics around, but he asked one of his old apprentices, who himself is now in his 40s, to do the work. My father's body shop person, Mr. S, had retired, but agreed to come out of retirement and supervise the work himself. So, I had a team.

The car had been lying in the garage for 10 years and had not been started since 2007 or so. So when we inspected it, we found the following (apart from restoration back to original parts):
  1. If the engine had jammed, we would need to rebuild and bring it to a good condition.
  2. No battery, distributor and the electrical systems looked OK
  3. Wheels were jammed and there was no brake fluid at all
  4. The body was in relatively good condition with rust / rot in a few places
  5. Upholstery was mostly ripped, some rats had done damage
  6. Needed a full set of tires - the old ones were worn
Mr. F reminded me that we had done engine overhaul in 2003 or 2004 - probably put new rings at that time. He felt that we may not need a rebuild. He cranked the engine with the handle a couple of time and declared that it was not jammed. He and his former student decided connect a battery, byepass the fuel tank and proceeded to start the car. Here is the result -





Yes! After 7 years of hibernation, the car started without us having to do anything with the engine.

Next up the brakes. The pads were jammed, none of the wheel cylinders worked, the master cylinder piston was rusted and jammed - pretty much nothing was working. So we had to scour for good parts and rebuild the brakes.

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20141226_124226.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20141226_131553.jpg

With brakes done, we sent the car off to the body shop to be done up under supervision of Mr. S. He started by scraping everything off the car, repairing the rusting parts and the modifications needed for the Mark 2 grill. [I explained above why I am restoring to Mark 2 even though it is a 1962 model].

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150328_105730.jpg

I asked Mr. S to restore the dashboard for the original 1962 era meters. He grumpily told me - "well I know, I was the one who cut out the original dashboard".

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150209_134830.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150328_105832.jpg

The rest of the body work then got completed and given the upcoming rainy season, they quickly primered the car. I wasn't around at that time, but I presume it was standard red oxide primer.

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-img20150529wa0001.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-img20150529wa0003.jpg

Some more views of various parts of the restored body -

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150626_153308.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_133606.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_133618.jpg

Then came the body work with putty and surfacer.

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150624_095212.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_133653.jpg

The painter is using this Duco putty for the job :

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_133356.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-20150625_133447.jpg

Next up, is the the final paint job. This we have not done yet. We have also not worked out the underbody coat (I want to do Wurth SaBesta as recommended by @karlosdeville in another thread). For the final paint color, we decided to use smoke grey. According to some sources, it was one of the original colors in 1961-62. Our painter also has several decades of ambassador experience and he suggested that non-metallic Autocolor would be the best choice (as opposed to old Duco or metallic colors). The first coat using color mixed by him looked like this -

1962 Ambassador - Restoration-img20150702wa0011.jpg
1962 Ambassador - Restoration-img20150702wa0012.jpg

I would welcome suggestions on the right shade for the smoke grey color. It is hard to look at old Duco paint charts and match colors. Perhaps more eyes will help us get this right. I am in no hurry and we will probably restart the work in a couple of weeks.

One other note on the interiors. We dropped off the seats at my father's old "hood shop". It is now a fancy accessories workshop run by the son of my father's guy, but he has a lot of experience with ambassadors as well. He will do some minor repairs to the frame, spring and the wire mesh and then rebuild the seats and the rest of the upholstery. I want to use the same seat and door board design as in the examples by @karlosdeville and @amit_v8 in this thread -

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/post-w...storation.html (Ambassador 61' restoration)

However, I am not able to find the thin upholstery materials of the era. Also, I have no idea what were the original interior colors for a smoke grey ambassador. Any suggestions here would be greatly appreciated. I have tentatively chosen a thicker buff leather type material in beige for now (will be more durable) but the seats will be of the exactly same design shown in the photos in the thread I mentioned above.

Last edited by Gearphile : 12th July 2015 at 01:31. Reason: Remove redundant photo
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Old 13th July 2015, 22:13   #11
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One other question : can I still source whitewall tires somewhere ?:I am not talking about the inserts, looking for the actual whitewall tires. I can get the normal ambassador tires easily, but no one seems to have whitewalls. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 14th July 2015, 15:33   #12
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Originally Posted by Gearphile View Post
One other question : can I still source whitewall tires somewhere ?:I am not talking about the inserts, looking for the actual whitewall tires. I can get the normal ambassador tires easily, but no one seems to have whitewalls. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.
Wow great going there mate. the paint looks awesome. No you do not get white wall tyres, you need to import them. How ever there are guys in the vintage and classic car scenarion who say that on a special order of some 25-30 sets you can still get these whitewalls manufactured by MRF.
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Old 17th July 2015, 22:08   #13
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Hi Gearphile,

Awesome work you are doing on the amby. Great to restore one's dad car to it's original glory.

Took me back to my own restoration of my Mark II car.

Keep the pictures coming and all the best


Cheers,
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Old 18th July 2015, 21:50   #14
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Wow great going there mate. the paint looks awesome. No you do not get white wall tyres, you need to import them. How ever there are guys in the vintage and classic car scenarion who say that on a special order of some 25-30 sets you can still get these whitewalls manufactured by MRF.
Thanks, @manishalive. We are still working with the paint job to see if we can get the original smoke grey right.

I have a couple of leads that I am following up including checking with MRF. There may also be the fallback option of using whitewall inserts from the source GTO pointed out in another thread (Autorunner, I think).
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Old 25th July 2015, 16:49   #15
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Nice work there Gearphile.Great to see another car come back to life and not get scrapped. I have a 64 amby with me. Reading this thread has inspired me to get the car back on the road. Regd the whitewalls,you should be able to get in Mumbai. I did hear that a supplier has 15" in stock. Will try and find out more details.
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