As Told by Duane Hewitt

I was going to a consignment shop to look at an MGA, but my wife and I saw this Austin Healey replica from Classic Roadsters that we both liked, so we purchased it instead, even though it needed a lot of work.

That’s when things went sour. We had a builder from Livonia, Michigan pick up the car for several upgrades. I would call once a week to check on progress and everything the shop was telling me sounded right. But the builder would never send me updated pictures of the work.

Finally after going through surgery and getting out of the hospital, I went to the address where we were sending the checks to, and asked to see the builder. The owner of the building stated that he was trying to locate us as he had locked the builder out of the building. Some of our parts had been taken off our car and put onto another one.

The owner of the building gave us the name of another company that could get our car back to roadworthy condition. We contacted this firm and had the car put back together, and then had more work done at Essex Customz, here in Grand Rapids. We ended up paying a little more, but at least we have the car back. Whew, what a road to go down!

We started by replacing the front end with a tubular Mustang II IFS, and added disc brakes both front and rear. We also put on some Dayton wire wheels for a more period look.

To give it a more authentic treatment, a few years later we installed real Austin Healey trunk hinges and latch. But not everything is original style, as we improvised with some aftermarket parts and older OE stuff too. We added a Lokar shifter, 1950 Pontiac lower taillights and upper Lucas taillights. And then had the car painted Opaline Metallic Green.

Next we turned our attention to the very tired, oil-using 400 SBC. Butch's Complete Car Care removed and replaced it with a Jasper remanufactured 350 SBC that pumps out 300 horses, backed by a TH400 trans.

This past summer we won three trophies and and two plaques. Looking ahead, this winter we are hoping to upgrade the interior and rag top. This car sure has been a lot of fun and will be even more so with the newer engine and a March power steering assembly.

BTW the mag has been great!