I was recently reminded of an occasion when I had a problem with water in the sump of a 203. I feared it was a blown head gasket but it turned out to be a leaky liner seal.
I fixed it with the aid of RISLONE BLOCK SEAL which is available from Repco and I thought it might well be worth telling others that this can save stripping an engine down.
John Grant


Not many people these days get personally involved in overhauling engines, which may make these ‘Ten Commandments’ even more useful for the novice at his first attempt.

1. Thou shalt remove the ring ridge before pulling the piston lest thou render thy pistons unfit to hold oil or compression.

2. Thou shalt remove with hot soapy water every last trace of dirt or abrasive material before assembly, or verily the owner shall later return and beat thee with rods in anger that his new rings so rapidly wore out.

3. Thou shalt make sure that the piston ring gaps are spaced an equal distance apart and arranged so that there is no gap over the piston ring boss and all the drain holes in the pistons are clear lest the job haunt the owner with a pillar of smoke all the days of his life.

4. Thou shalt follow closely the manufacturer’s instructions concerning ring and bearing fits, piston clearances and the like, for this is indeed the only true gospel and the way to real peace of mind.

5. Thou shalt not fit piston pins too loosely or too tightly, lest it causeth the motor to make the sound of many hammers, requiring the job to be done again without the benefit of shekels.
6. Thou shalt not stretch the rings over the piston without a ring installer, nor fling thy pistons into the bores without a ring compressor, or verily will both the rings and thy reputation be damaged.

7. Thou shalt NOT reuse the old head gasket. Cast it from thee as though it were a pestilence – drape it not upon the top of thy locker, but drop it into a container for rubbish.

8. Thou shalt use a torque wrench to tighten thy bearing caps and head bolts all the days of your life for this is the only true path to substantial reward.

9. Thou shalt not start the engine that is so stiff the starter will not turn it. Verily does this mean that thou hast sinned in thy fittings and clearances therefore I say “retrace thy steps in order to discover in what manner thou hast sinned.”

10. Thou shalt use a light oil until the rings are seated in or they may NEVER seat in, then the cylinder head shall be anointed with oil for evermore and the owner shall bring down curses and the wrath of the Department of Consumer Affairs upon thy head.


Modern parents are afraid to let their children roam,
Not even on the daily trek to school and back to home.
In their own youth some rode a bike while most just used their feet.
Good exercise was earned each day just walking on the street.

But now we see a waiting throng outside each school’s front gate.
Parental cars all ready, hoping their kids won’t be late.
For even after school today the children are not free
They go to netball, scouts or squash, swimming or rugby.

Today the traffic is obscene; the roads are choked and slow.
You need to multiply the time to get from go to whoa.
The bus lanes and the bike lanes are attempts to ease the crush
But only staying home will make much diff’rence to the rush.

Crawling round a roundabout, then stop/start down the straight.
Everybody driven by the fear of being late.
Impatient drivers duck and dive but seldom make a gain
That’s worth the stress and agro that’s involved in changing lanes.

The radio informs us of disasters on the way
Advising us of detours to reduce the new delay.
A breakdown or an accident can cause us all to stop
While sirens sound the message “Let me through for I’m a cop”

First Encounters: John Grant and the 203

The first Peugeot I owned was a 1955 French assembled 203C which I bought at 30,000 miles for about £200 after I had been in NZ for a year. I needed it for everyday use and to tow my MGTC on an A-frame to race -meetings as it had become too highly tuned to drive on the road.
It proved very reliable – just kept going and going. It cruised and stopped very well – even when towing – something you could not say about a lot of its contemporaries. I started trialling it in the winters and my navigator, John Dowling, and I saw most of the back roads in the North Island as we entered Trials organised not only by the MG and Auckland Car Clubs but by others in Northland, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu etc.
We ALWAYS finished.
However we were not often in the top ten as there were just the two of us while serious rally competitors had a team of four – driver, navigator, time keeper and map reader. Keeping on course could be a real problem as the instructions were often designed to mislead. As timing was vital, if you went off course and had to backtrack, it was very difficult to make up the time – often impossible within the speedlimits. In addition there were frequently secret checks – on and off the correct route – which would record the passing and time of all entrants. However we had a lot of fun and as petrol was only about 2/- per gallon in those days it was not even too expensive, particularly as we usually stayed in cabins in camping rounds. We never actually slept in the car, even though that model had seats designed to lay back for that purpose.
After I had owned it for a year, I got Campbell Motors to bring a special inlet manifold out from France. The carburettor had twin chokes, one on either side, and that increased the top speed by 10mph – up to 85mph.
The only mechanical failure it suffered was near Te Puke on the way home after a rally. The universal joint blew apart and as that was in the days well before cellphones, we had to knock on a door and ask to use their telephone to ring the AA. A towtruck came out from Te Puke and towed the car to Maurice Washer Motors while we went back to Auckland by train. Campbell Motors sent down a new universal which they fitted and I flew down to the Mount and then took the bus to Te Puke to pick the 203 up. This had been the same weekend as the DC3 crash in the Kaimais and the airline subsequently became very wary of flying in cloud.
Many of the roads we used were not even gravel. Let alone sealed; real mudplugging. I had thoroughly rustproofed the car but inevitably the stone chips accumulated, so I got Ivan Cranch to repaint it and change the colour from its original grey to a pale blue – just as I have had done to my present 1955 203C which I acquired in 1992. [Its chassis number is about 100 cars later and it has had several changes, eg wider springs].
I sold this first 203 in January 1967 as I was going overseas for a year or two. I took it to the Grey Lynn Testing Station to get the required WoF – and a front spring broke at the centre bolt while they were slamming on the brakes. We pulled the car out of the way and I went into Queen St to Campbell Motors, bought a new spring of the correct size, took it back to the testing station, and as I always had my toolkit on board, was able to fix it on the spot – and get the new WoF. The new owner then drove me and my luggage down to the Arcadia to see me off on February 10th 1967.
A day or two later I met Jeanette on board – but that is another story.
About 15 years later, I was In Wiri on business and saw the car. I went into the office and found it still belonged to the guy I had sold it to. I had increased its mileage from 30,000 to 280,000 miles – without doing any work on the engine. He was living at Swanson and driving to work at Wiri every day so it had been round the clock a couple of times more. All he had done to it was one new tyre, and new spark plugs and points in the distributor. I’d like to see a modern car match that!

A.G.M. 2018

TIME – 4pm on August 19th
PLACE – Armstrong Motor Group – 227 Gt South Rd
COMMITTEE – The current committee members have all indicated their willingness to stand again, but Don & Wynne Howarth have made it clear that this will be the last year for them. Don has been on the committee in one role or another since 1990 and Wynne has been secretary since 1995.
John Grant has been on the committee since 1979 and Jeanette has been doing the newsletter/magazine since 1982, so I really really think it is time we had more new blood on the committee.
You don’t need to be nominated. You can actually volunteer.
Contact Brent or any other committee member if you would like to help.

After the election of officers, the Treasurer’s Report will be presented and the fees set for the coming year. No increase is anticipated. One major item to discuss at the AGM is the fate of the website. Contact Wynne if you want any other item/s added to the Agenda.
The trophies will be presented.