When appraising a car for restoration, a systematic approach is always called for.

In the vehicle's mechanical systems, while the engine and gearbox may well be the focus of attention,  taking proper care  of the vehicle's fuel system is no less critical.  

Most classic cars of the Fifties and Sixties came with an elementary fuel delivery system. Specific models produced from the mid-Fifties onwards came fitted with an optional fuel injection system- something a car restorer should look out for.

The place to look at should always be the fuel tank to ensure no leaks and no fuel left in the tank.

If left for any time, petrol will eventually evaporate, leaving behind a varnish-like material, which can be removed only after a struggle.

Problems will begin to emerge if water has seeped into the tank, causing it to rust, meaning that treatment will be required to bring it back to perfect condition before it can be used.

Step one is to clean the tank both inside and out, with considerable pains needed to drain the tank immediately afterwards.  If any original paint remains on the tank's exterior, it should be gently removed using a mixture of paint thinners and white spirit.

Paint should never be scraped off, especially when the surface is dry, as this is also liable to remove a great deal of the tin from the outside of the tank at the same time.

If the tank has been dented, it should be repaired, while any cracks or pinholes in the tank that will allow fuel to leak should also be sealed.

The best way to check for leaks is to insert air under pressure while the tank is under water. If the leaks are not too bad, it might be possible to solder a patch on the affected area or to fabricate an entirely new segment.

If the fuel tank is beyond saving, picking up a replacement will be the only option.

The obvious first choice is to check out the local scrap yards or online, although the chances of finding one in good condition are slim.  

For many years auto restorers were left with two simple options for replacing parts on their vehicle. The options were either OEM ( produced by the car manufacturer or from templates provided by them ).

OEM parts are guaranteed to fit the specifications of any original model exactly.  The downside is they are much more expensive than aftermarket parts.

Manufactured by independent companies, aftermarket parts are produced in massive quantities that meet the general specifications of a broad range of models.

To the naked eye, aftermarket parts are almost identical to the original.

However, they are no guarantees that they will be a perfect fit as they were not manufactured according to the manufacturer's original specifications.

The latest development in the world of petrol tanks is the introduction of polyethene. Readily available for most Fifties and Sixties UK and European cars, polyethene petrol tanks are lighter, tougher,  easier to work with, more flexible than metal, totally rustproof and surprisingly inexpensive- enough pluses to make them the first choice for anyone restoring a vehicle fuel system.

With the tank taken care of, the following item to come under scrutiny is the filler cap which could come with its synthetic rubber washer intact. Unless the fuel system is based on a pressurised tank, an adequate vent hole should be fitted suitably baffled to stop water from getting in or petrol splashing out.

The tank's mounting brackets should be strong enough to support its full weight - often a very considerable weight. In the case of a rear-mounted tank, the petrol tank should not be subject to any stress with no pressure points because, in the event of an accident, this is where the tank could spring a major leak.  

Next on the fuel system restoration process list will be the lines that lead the fuel to the fuel pump and the engine.  Most classic cars have fuel pipes made from rubber, although a few early models were fitted with metal pipes.

Replacing a fuel hose requires little in the way of technical skills, more an eye for details and more importantly, an acute awareness that working with fuel and the fumes that it gives off is something that has to be treated with considerable care and attention.

Life would be easier for the person replacing the fuel lines if the car could be up on a ramp. If that option does not exist, a little crawling about may well be in order, meaning that a floor jack and jack stands are required.

In addition, to minimise the risk of being overcome by fumes, the area where the work will be carried should be well-ventilated with a fire extinguisher on hand just in case.

The tools required to do the job are straightforward, mainly a  sharp knife with a retractable blade,  a screwdriver, a set of pliers, and vice grips for good measure.

>Once underneath, the car's fuel lines and its fuel filter should be found,  most likely in the engine bay under the bonnet, although it can be in the rear of the vehicle near the fuel tank. A typical fuel filter is hard and cylindrical, identifiable by the fuel hoses that run from it.

The fuel pump is a vital link in the fuel system, supplying the power that pushes the fuel from the tank to the carburettor.  

While the fuel pump can be in theory located anywhere, it is usually placed on the engine or adjacent to the fuel tank.  Most early fuel pumps were mechanical, although nowadays, power-driven fuel pumps on the market do an excellent job.

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A complete guide to acquiring, restoring and maintaining UK or European Classic Cars of the Fifties and Sixties- as well as a recollection of the iconic cars of the era and the visionaries that produced them.