'83 Cutlass Cruiser Build Thread

Been debating adding the vinyl woodgrain trim around the car once it's painted. Should I do it?

  • Yes, that wagon needs woodgrain

    Votes: 12 35.3%
  • No, leave that wagon smooth and simple.

    Votes: 22 64.7%

  • Total voters
    34
  • Poll closed .

Blake442

Geezer
Apr 24, 2007
6,831
113
Minneapolis
It all started in February of '08 when I saw the tail end of this wagon in the background of a picture surfing ebay.
I decided to email the seller and he sent me a picture and said it's an '83 with 81K miles, a bad 3.8, no rust at all, $500.
After weighing the cost of shipping the car to MN or going to get it, I decided that I just couldn't swing it, and moved on...

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Fast-forward to May and He sent me a message.
He said that he would be going to visit his parents in Wisconsin for the summer, and was wondering if I wanted the car.
Well I couldn't pass up the convienience, and a few weeks later he dropped the car right in the parking lot behind the shop I worked at.
Here's how it looked after it arrived in MN in late June.

31736620007_large.jpg


He said the previous owner had started to disassemble the engine in an effort to repair it, but lost interest and junked the car in the spring of '01.
I told him I didn't need the drivetrain so he pulled the original engine and trans.
 
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Blake442

Geezer
Thread starter
Apr 24, 2007
6,831
113
Minneapolis
The first thing I had to do was to replace the heater box assembly.
Rats had chewed holes in it and packed the vents full of nutshells, chewed up paper, and crap.
I found a complete non a/c heater set up on ebay that came from a '78 Cutlass.
Here the car is with the new box in place.

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And here it is with the new ducts installed, all old wiring removed, and the dash about to go back in.

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Now the dash is back together.

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I have a rallye gauge cluster out of my '87 that I parted out that I should've put in before I reassembled everything, but I guess it'll have to wait until spring.
 
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Blake442

Geezer
Thread starter
Apr 24, 2007
6,831
113
Minneapolis
Here we have the motor and transmission in, and almost done.
The motor and trans came out of a well worn '81 El Camino that I bought for $500 in October of '04.
It was my winter beater until April, when the starter failed. I parted it out and the motor and trans went in the corner of the garage.
The headers I had laying around... they were on my 442 when it had a 350 in it for a couple years.
I bought a used but never installed G-force crossmember on ebay so I can run true duals.
The fan shroud was purchased on ebay for the 442, but was incorrect, so I just had it laying around.
The radiator was a new H.D. unit that couldn't keep up with the 455, so an aluminum one was ordered for the 442, and this one was put on the shelf, and now in the wagon.

31736620003_large.jpg


All I did to the motor before I put it in was clean all the grunge off and replace one of the valve cover gaskets.
I got an original fuel pump to carb line from the Monte SS at work, and installed that to replace the junk that was on there, but it required me to change to the bigger high output fuel pump. Now I have to run a return...

31736620013_large.jpg


I got all the wiring sorted out under the hood, and got everything hooked up.
I had to jerry rig the fuel line to the pump, since the fuel line comes out the driver side on V6 cars.
I bent up a piece of hard line to run across to the pump, but it's just temporary to get it moving.
I plan on redoing it in the spring the right way and running new lines up the passenger side of the car.
The power steering return on the back of the pump was also pointed in the wrong direction.
A quick shot with the torch and a socket over the end repositioned it to the right spot.
The car runs now, but I need to get my old dual exhaust from my Malibu wagon hooked up to my headers.
 
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Blake442

Geezer
Thread starter
Apr 24, 2007
6,831
113
Minneapolis
The body of the car is extremely clean.
The paint is baked, but it's worth it to have such nice sheet metal to work with.
There is a small spot of scale about the size of a nickel on the driver side C pillar. That's it.
If you wiped off the spider webs underneath, you could eat off of it.
I also decided to take off the roof rack. I've never been a fan of them, and I'll be welding up all the holes when I repaint the car.

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When I went out to the bone yard in October, I scored a perfect set of rear bumper fillers!
They're even the same color, although not quite as faded...
I also got a set of radiator opening braces and a set of the big fender to core support braces.

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And here is where the car will sit until spring...

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Blake442

Geezer
Thread starter
Apr 24, 2007
6,831
113
Minneapolis
Here's what I've had to buy so far, the guys at CarQuest love me... But not as much as when I was building the 442...
One new frame mount (had a good one from the 442)
Block mounts (from forum member)
Heater hoses and lower rad. hose.
4 ft. of 3/8 hard line
4 ft. of 3/8 rubber hose
Fuel pump
Starter
Plugs and wires
Oil and filter, ATF, PSF, and coolant
Trans mount
G-force crossmember (ebay)
Non A/C set up (ebay)
A few light bulbs
Header gaskets
Lots of hose clamps
Battery cable from battery to starter

And here's what I had laying around:
One motor mount (one was bad)
Upper rad. hose (bought for the 'bu but never used)
Headers (on the 442 when it had the 350)
Motor & trans (from '81 Elky)
H.D. Radiator with only 600 miles on it(from the 442)
Radiator top plate (from '87 Cutlass I parted out)
Fan shroud (bought without picture, finally found a use for it)
Pump to carb fuel line (from monte ss)
Battery (from malibu wagon)
Exhaust pipes and flowmasters (pipes and mufflers were on the wagon, before that, the mufflers were on the 442 when I bought it)
Cd player and front speakers (out of malibu wagon)
Perfect headliner (still in the malibu wagon)
Rallye gauge cluster, not installed yet (from parted out '87)
F41 front springs, not installed yet (from monte SS)

All I really have left to buy is new belts, new shocks, and new fuel lines up the right side of the car. The hood is kinda messed up, and I'd like to get an aluminum one to replace it. I'll also have to go through the brakes, and whether I use the SSII's or my slotted mags, I'll need four tires either way.

I'm open to all suggestions and comments...
So what do you think?
 

axisg

Comic Book Super Hero
Jul 17, 2007
2,649
113
YYZ
wow, looks like a clean, clean, great little runner. Never been a fan of the wagons or 4 doors ( I hate that the back windows do not roll down ! ).

If it were mine I would clean up and paint the steel wheels you have and put some white letter tires on it. Maybe a coat of satin black or satin white paint and you are good to go with an old school look.

Good luck !!
 

3XBrownCutty

Royal Smart Person
Mar 20, 2008
1,820
38
NW PA
Nice project!! Wish I had a car like that for winter.

If I were you, I'd try to score some used bigger wheels or something. Then a cheap satin black or flat black paint job. Then cut the springs a little :twisted:
 

Blake442

Geezer
Thread starter
Apr 24, 2007
6,831
113
Minneapolis
Thanks guys!

I also have a factory 4 speed set up that will probably find it's way into the car, I just need to decide on a trans. But that won't be for a while.

No cheapy or satin paint jobs for me. I do bodywork/restoration for a living, so I'll be doing it up nice. This is the color I think I'm going with.

3895230037_large.jpg


I haven't decided for sure whether or not I'm going to woodgrain the sides.

I'm more partial to the stock ride height. I have a set of F41 V8 springs for the front, and it already has some replacement cargo springs in the rear.

As for the wheels, If I do use the SSII's, I'll paint them to match the green I selected for the body. 14's are fine with me, as they're much cheaper to buy tires for, and 15x7's are too hard to find. I think I'll end up polishing my slots and throwing new tires on them. They're 15x7 and 15x8.5. Here they are on my Malibu wagon...
The Malibu was perfect for winter, however it started to get too worn out for comfort... The Cutlass is just too clean to drive out in the salt.

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Keep the comments and suggestions coming!
 

Blake442

Geezer
Thread starter
Apr 24, 2007
6,831
113
Minneapolis
So I added a poll question...

Do you think I should woodgrain the sides and back of the car once it's painted? Or should I just paint it and leave it alone?

I'm still undecided about this, but I'm leaning towards doing it. What do you guys think?
 

Peter

Royal Smart Person
Jun 27, 2007
1,176
48
MA
i'd say paint the car and leave it alone, i think the woodgrain would probably be taking it too far...
 
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