For quite some time, it has been evident that my 1970 Camaro project had irrevocably gone down a road I no longer wanted it to travel. It had become a project only for my own personal enjoyment, and a limited amount of enjoyment at that. So, the decision was made to cut my losses and start fresh. And with a better plan. The plan was set with this in mind:
1. It is to be a big car with four doors. The meant four people would easily fit in it. As it turns out, large two door cars would work as well.
2. My wife and others are to be intimately involved in this project, so the car had to pass inspection from the wife.
3. It had to be at or near $1,000 initial purchase cost.
4. The 6.0L Chevy motor that I already have will have to be fitted. With a pair of turbos and factory EFI. Thoughts of brand loyalty didn't keep me from looking for interesting cars, despite the feelings of others: http://www.bangshift.com/forum/showt.../41303-Purists
So, I cranked through craigslist after craigslist ad. Started a few threads here and there, including the one that talked about awesome 4 door cars. http://www.bangshift.com/forum/showt...highlight=door
I was loving the 4 door mid-'60s Lincoln Continentals. I even went to go see one. The asking price of $2,000 was too much, and it was a ratty, rusty mess. I passed. http://www.bangshift.com/forum/showt...buy-this-truck
So, I finally settled on a '66 Ford Thunderbird that looked pretty decent for $999. The owner claimed it would even fire up if we tried hard enough. From the pictures I was sent, it was obvious that it has sat for a long time and anything not glass or metal was trash. But, for that price, it was a steal. With a bonus paycheck from work in my pocket, my future ex-brother in-law and I headed south into one of the many armpits of Washington State to retrieve the bird.
Once there, we opened up everything we could...the key didn't want to turn a single lock, but with a little WD-40 everything opened up. I first noticed that despite the trunk liner's destruction making the trunk look like a cesspool, the metal was actually in really good shape. The only major damage being to the left front fender need the door and the passenger quarter panel. The vinyl top hides a tremendous amount of rust, as they always do. Oh, and the carpet and just about every piece of the interior is trash. BUT, the trim is all very nice. That's the most important part!
Turns out that the ignition switch decided to commit hari-kari in the last few months since it was last used. And it did so in spectacular fashion. The plastic simply crumbled around the three pole switch and the entire thing fell off of the key switch. I felt no resistance when turning the key and that was because there wasn't anything to turn against! Lucky for us it's a Ford and insanely simple to fire up from the engine compartment.
Step 1. Add a battery.
Step 2A and 2B. Give the coil 12 volts and jump the starter relay.
Step 3. Prime the engine with gas from a beer bottle.
Step 4. Drive that mother onto the trailer!
Turns out the transmission seems to work, so does the power steering. Engine runs...ok...water-pump makes terrible noises. Alternator is kaput. Brakes are scary. They are on/off. Either all the way to the floor or nothing. And once they get to the floor, they like to stay there.
Stopped for lunch at the LeMay Museum. Car got noticed by more than a few people. We're just glad it hadn't killed us or anyone else. Yet.
Getting close to home.
Empty trailer, torrential down-pour, car in the drive-way.
She sure looks nice in the wet.
So, the short-term plan. Get the engine out of the Camaro and get the Camaro off to a new home. Clean up the T-Bird...possible fix a few of the minor mechanical issues and drive it this summer. Then tear it down for the long-term project.
The grand vision: This car will be in the class of the Grand Touring Car. Lots of comfort, power and reasonable road-handling skills. It will not be a drag racer. It will not be an auto-crosser. It will have a basic restoration done to the exterior and interior with a few modern updates to the guages and sound system. Power will be from the Chevy 6.0L and a pair of turbos making about 15lbs of boost. 600-700 horsepower at the wheels. Transmission will be a built up 4L80E 4 speed auto. Suspension will simply be rebuilt stiffer and the ride height will be only slightly lowered. Wheels and tires are undecided, but are likely going to be in the 18" by very wide range. And that's just about all I have to say about that.
Stay tuned for regular updates as I plan to play with this thing a lot.