Gunners Garage

Little Shop of (SU) Carburetors

Many British cars have SU carburetors (or at least started out with them). “SU” stands for “Skinner’s Union.” In the grand old days the first SUs had leather parts in them that came from skinners.

I just got off the phone with Joe Curto (www.joecurto.com) and he is truly “Mr. SU carburetor.” Whether you have a common MG or Triumph or a rare V-12 Lagonda (yes that is a British car named after the stream that runs through Springfield, Ohio), it’s likely that Joe can tell you just what you need to get the gas and air to mix properly.

As I mentioned before in this space, we’re restoring a 1957 MG Magnette. Most people never heard of a Magnette and have no idea they even had a carburetor, much less two of them. But Joe knows! He was able to rattle off the stock needle code, the bore size, the replacement needle code and the shaft diameter. Joe knew exactly what parts we needed to make the carbs work like new again.

If you ever visit Joe’s shop in New York you’ll see British car memorabilia, airplane memorabilia and SU carb parts stacked to the ceiling. Joe will be pacing back and forth, wearing a headset and taking an order from someplace in the world about every two minutes. Joe will sell you the SU parts you need to rebuild your own carb or carbs or you can send everything to him and he’ll do the rebuild for you. Most people send him parts that look like a blackened kettle and get back cute little shiny things that look like they came out of a jeweler’s case.

If your car has SU carbs, chances are it has parts in it that Joe sourced or made. And they all came out of the “little shop of carburetors.”

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