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80 series chassis rust guidance needed


Active Member
Sep 13, 2022
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Hi all, going to look at an 80 series over the next couple of days. Some initial, poor quality, photos show plenty of rust on the chassis so that will be my focus to determine the extent. I’m not overly concerned about surface rust as will wire wheel/grind, treat and paint/coat as needed but not looking to take on anything needing welding on the chassis (body panel repair/welding I am not fussed about). I need some guidance on where are the key go to areas to look at and poke on the chassis that I should be concerned with. I believe more towards the rear near spare wheel but looking for advice on specific known areas to really inspect closely. I come from an RR classic and had to weld up a new rear cross member and body mounts.

Any advice greatly appreciated and I’ll report back what I find (with probably more questions!)
Think Chris brings it up in part 2.
Yeah I remember that and rereading it is helpful. Some great photos in there for reference. Only problem is how good that looked! It feels like I will never buy one if that’s the standard I’m looking for. Is that how people’s chassis look (pre refurb)? I want to set my expectations realistic
30 years old this year, this was before I had a go with a wire brush and some rust converter (not sure how effective that ended up being
That’s really useful. Thank you. Certainly not still black all over as per the guide but that looks great to me. I’ll be happy if it looks anything like that. Where were the worst areas that you had to spend the most time on with the wire wheel?
To be honest I didn't put a whole lot of effort in, I had a week off in December and thought I'd have a quick go at it before there was more salt about.
Thik the worst bits were where stuff is joined on top of the axle housing as that's where mud n crap sit.

There's stillmrust there but there's a bit more black..... Maybe.... Better than before....
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That's what I planned to do, I thought I'd try n get rid of the rust first so when the lanoguard goes on it's not letting the rust shine through.... Only I've not got round to that bit yet... Oops.
What do you make of this then? Salvageable or not worth it? The chassis frame was ok. Mostly black with some rust on the underside especially at the back. It was the axles that I am concerned about. Under the flakes it’s all solid metal given how thick the steel is that is used. The vertical bits off the back axle that connect to something (sorry I have no idea what you call each bit) were the worst. The ARB brackets look to have almost gone. Is it worth stripping and refurbing or are they going to be too far gone and I would need to look for replacements. I am not sure I fancy trying to undo any of the bolts as I imagine they will all need cutting off. Overall the underside of the body (except rear sills and front inner arches as expected) and chassis were ok but it’s the axles I am worried about. One to avoid? Any guidance or thoughts greatly appreciated.


Well that looks like the state of your average newer cruiser. Makes me feel mines not bad. Wait for someone else to pipe up as I am not an expert at anything..except maybe chicken wings, but that's irrelavent
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I can't see anything that would worry me .

Its untouched so a lot of what appears to be flaking rust is actually paint lifted and a wire brush will bring it back to a smooth surface without digging to deep or leaving anything too thin .

Its a dirty job but somebody has to do it soon if the cruiser is to be saved .

Depends on price and how keen you are to get dirty .
Thanks for the feedback so far guys. That’s positive Shayne. You are right it was mostly just the original paint flaking off in most areas it’s just that rear axle that is scaring me. I’ve done one underbody resto on a car before on my back with wire and abrasive wheels. Interested to know others views as I’m not sure on whether to buy it yet or keep looking for something cleaner
Its always a gamble but i'd trust the honest presentation of that one over another that had been "treated" to a thick black coating of god knows what that could hide anything underneath .

No such thing as a good cheap 80 nowadays , "showroom condition" means you can drive it while you restore it and "in need of some TLC" means you can drive it while you restore it . The real difference is about ten grand !
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Think I'd be tempted to wire brush it for half an hour before you buy just to see how it goes, then at least you know what you're getting into! At least the back axle is easily accessible without ramps or jacking it up, so maybe take advantage of that!
Most looks treatable, but some of that would concern me, a result of years of neglect.
Do an mot check to see what has been mentioned corrosion wise over the years.
Do what Karl says if you can to give a rough idea on the worst bits.
Be prepared to put in a LOT of filthy prep work, not just a quick once over with a wire brush, some of us have put in extensive hours under our cruisers.
With the bad rust/rot in general, a skin comes off, then another/flakes come off then lumps, and if your really unlucky, weak metal/holes.
My 120 cills were in better condition than some of that, and as the flakes came off, holes appeared, although I am talking much thinner metal, but same principle.
Unfortunately on older vehicles like that, it's generally par for the course, as Nick says, some newer can be worse than that.
Good luck.
MOT is clean as a whistle. A couple of worn suspension bushes but nothing else at all. How good an indication is that? I suspect MOTs may have been done though an acquaintance/work but don’t know really. I wouldn’t be comfortable asking and don’t think they’d let me turn up and start wire brushing it. It’s a good idea though and if they are serious about the sale it makes sense I guess.

It sounds more like it’s a case of it needs a lot of work rather than it being scrap. I guess worst case it need some new bits welding on the chassis and axle.

Any other views on where this sits in the scale of rust/rot for 80’s. I’ve only seen a couple. Perhaps I should go see some more first
Good that you have an open mind on mot, work involved, and possibility of welding, that way you are aware and wont be too disappointed IF it turns out more work.
Seeing more of examples is always good for comparisons/to see what is 'normal'
Thanks. Keen to see some other members before and after in the same areas if possible. Any pics on links to threads would be greatly appreciated. At the moment all I’m going off on here is that Green one from Chris’ guide and fbnss’ which both look fantastic to my eyes.
I’m in the midlands but the cruiser is 3 hours away unfortunately