Bernadine: 1978 Buick Regal Restoration/Build

78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Apr 13, 2015
26
18
Brookville, IN
Hey everybody, and thanks for checking out my build thread! If you haven't seen my intro thread, check out https://gbodyforum.com/threads/im-n...havent-properly-said-hello.76114/#post-814362 , which will tell a bit of this car's story, as well as give some idea of what the direction is for the car. And while I'm sad it's taken so many damn years to get to the point of actually working on and progressing the car, I couldn't be more excited to finally start wrenching on the ol' girl again. The probability of this being a, "Wow, look at how much stuff this guy got done!" thread is very low, but I hope you'll stick around to follow the progress. In my intro thread I laid out a soft goal of having the car "done" by time I'm 40 (I'll turn 38 in 6 days), but that's probably quite ambitious.

Since posting the aformentioned intro thread in December of last year, a few life changes have happened to me and my family:

- January 2020: My wife and I bought a new (to us) house, and spent 9 months rehabbing it. Fortunately the new house has a FANTASTIC garage.
- March 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic caused my work as a touring musician to essentially cease completely.
- November 2020: We welcomed our 2nd child into the world!

Getting back to the car, here's what's happened over the last couple weeks:

Nov. 1, 2020: Bernadine loaded up and ready for the ride from my Mom's house to mine.
image - 2020-11-16T091920.298.jpg


Nov. 3, 2020: All remaining front end sheet metal removed, front bumper/bumper shocks removed, A/C compressor, dryer, condenser, etc., removed, core support removed, forward light & engine harnesses removed.
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Nov. 12, 2000: rear bumper/bumper shocks removed, gas tank and straps removed, exhaust removed, tail lights & tail light harness removed.
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Nov. 15, 2020: front & rear seats removed, carpet removed.
image - 2020-11-16T091924.684.jpg

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In the next week or so I plan to remove any remaining items tying the body to the frame so I can get the body in the air & assess the rust issues that'll need to be taken care of. As you can see in the pictures above, the floors are essentially perfect, and the trunk floor looks just as good. The problem areas are as follows:

- bottom portion of both rear inner wheelhouses
- small section between inner wheelhouse & rear seat body bracing, both sides
- the part that rests on the #5 frame bushing (behind reat seat sheet metal, under trunk floor "shelf" sheet metal) on passenger side, possibly driver side as well
- small sections behind/around rear wheel openings/lips on both sides
- bottom rear of front driver side inner fender
 
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78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 13, 2015
26
18
Brookville, IN
The story of rust on this car is a strange one. As you can see in the pictures above, rust on the body/sheet metal is very minimal. I chalk this up to, A) being undercoated at the dealer when new, and B) only covering 65,*** miles from 1978 to 2001 or 2002. However, sometime around 1999 when this was still my high school daily driver I had to have the rear frame rails replaced because they were totally rotted (i.e., the driver side rail came completely apart). I know this tends to be a problem area for these cars, but it's still strange to me that the frame rails would be so bad when the body work held up so well.

In addition to the rear frame rail issues, the rear aluminum bumper support didn't weather all too well, showing some cracks and flaking/separation, so it will need to be replaced.
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78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 13, 2015
26
18
Brookville, IN
Nov. 17, 2020: I got all the body mount bolts removed. The passenger side #4 bolt was pretty tough getting out, but overall they were pretty easy, and most importantly NONE of the bolts or cage nuts broke. Also, this car came with ALL body bushings in place, including the #5 bushing, and only the #3 bushings had the flat washer in lieu of a lower bushing.

Left to right: #2, #3, #4, #6, #7 body mount bolts; passenger side top, driver side bottom.
IMG_0745.jpg
 

RegalX78

n00b
Nov 17, 2020
4
3
Oh man, your story and car is oddly similar to mine. I also have a 1978 Buick Regal who I am the second owner. I got it from my grandma who purchased it new in 1978. I also have the original handwritten sales receipt. The craziest thing is her name... Bernadine! Sadly she passed away this past spring. I've owned the car for almost 20 years and recently I have got some new parts to get the car back on the road for next spring. (T-Type wheels, tires, starter, drums, shoes, stock spindles etc.)

I look forward to your build thread and attached a couple of older photos I found of my Regal.
 

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78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 13, 2015
26
18
Brookville, IN
Oh man, your story and car is oddly similar to mine. I also have a 1978 Buick Regal who I am the second owner. I got it from my grandma who purchased it new in 1978. I also have the original handwritten sales receipt. The craziest thing is her name... Bernadine! Sadly she passed away this past spring. I've owned the car for almost 20 years and recently I have got some new parts to get the car back on the road for next spring. (T-Type wheels, tires, starter, drums, shoes, stock spindles etc.)

I look forward to your build thread and attached a couple of older photos I found of my Regal.
Wow! The similarities are pretty crazy, but the name thing is just wild. Your Regal looks great, by the way, and I'm sorry about the loss of your grandma.
 

78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 13, 2015
26
18
Brookville, IN
Nov. 19, 2020: I decided to go ahead and remove the rear quarter windows today. Each one was a bit of a pain, but overall not too bad. And best of all, I didn't wind up breaking either window. My Regal came equipped with belt reveal moldings (option B85), which in addition to the trim on top of the doors includes larger (lower) trim on the 1/4 windows as well. And after getting the windows and trim out I discovered that these lower trim pieces apparently like to hold moisture. Both sides are a bit crunchy, but neither is rusted through, so I think I'll be okay to just clean them up to bare metal & make sure to coat them well before paint (especially since the car won't see bad weather anymore).

Since I was staring at the quarter window/C pillar area so much already, I started to once again think about what I wanted to do about the landau roof. Ultimately I want to have the vinyl roof since the car was born that way, and because it adds to the "wolf in sheep's clothing" vibe, but I've long been on the fence on whether or not I should peel the original vinyl and replace it. Being white vinyl, I was never able to get it to look TOTALLY clean, but the actual condition of the vinyl is still sooo good that I've never had the guts to yank it off the car. So today after taking off the 'Regal' emblems, I decided to try a Mr. Clean magic eraser, and my decision was made: the original vinyl is absolutely staying! The pictures below really don't do justice to how well it cleaned up, but you can barely notice a difference in color where the Regal emblems were.

Driver side quarter window crunchiness.
image - 2020-11-19T174403.403.jpg


Passenger quarter window crunchiness. There's still a lot of butyl tape stuck to the window opening, which does make it look worse than it is.
image - 2020-11-19T174404.833.jpg


Driver side vinyl top before magic eraser.
image - 2020-11-19T174359.173.jpg


And after.
image - 2020-11-19T174401.123.jpg


Passenger side vinyl top before magic eraser. Note the dark horizontal scuff mark towards the top that angles down closer to the 1/4 window opening. This was from a bush, or branch or something, and I've NEVER been able to wash it away.
image - 2020-11-19T174406.458.jpg


Now it's gone!
image - 2020-11-19T174408.738.jpg
 

69hurstolds

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2006
4,463
113
Just a suggestion-

Stop!

Don't do any more cleaning on that vinyl top just yet. While the vinyl does look ok in pictures, what's the crunchiness level below the surface? Is it tight, soft and smooth like your best friend's sister, or is there ANY...and I mean ANY, sign of a pimple, sunken spot, bubble, or crunch to the metal anywhere underneath? Is the headliner out for a good inspection for penetrating rust pinholes anywhere?

It's a landau top. The car appears it will need a paint job anyway. Why not replace the top, and at least you will know for sure what's lurking underneath. And the car will be 100% refinished on the outside at least. Peace of mind thing. This is why I will never buy another landau roof car ever again. And unless garaged or carported all its life, probably never buy another car with any sort of movable or removable roof either.

Not sure of your direction with this build, but would certainly be worth considering before you lay down a paint job if needed.
 

78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 13, 2015
26
18
Brookville, IN
Just a suggestion-

Stop!

Don't do any more cleaning on that vinyl top just yet. While the vinyl does look ok in pictures, what's the crunchiness level below the surface? Is it tight, soft and smooth like your best friend's sister, or is there ANY...and I mean ANY, sign of a pimple, sunken spot, bubble, or crunch to the metal anywhere underneath? Is the headliner out for a good inspection for penetrating rust pinholes anywhere?

It's a landau top. The car appears it will need a paint job anyway. Why not replace the top, and at least you will know for sure what's lurking underneath. And the car will be 100% refinished on the outside at least. Peace of mind thing. This is why I will never buy another landau roof car ever again. And unless garaged or carported all its life, probably never buy another car with any sort of movable or removable roof either.

Not sure of your direction with this build, but would certainly be worth considering before you lay down a paint job if needed.

Honestly, this is something I've thought of often. But there's not a single crack, nick, ding, bubble, abrassion, soft spot, loose spot, etc., anywhere in the vinyl. The underside of the roof panel has some sort of thin (1/16" maybe?) factory-installed fiber board/insulation glued in place, so I can't actually see the sheet metal there either But it, too, is glued on tightly & shows no bubbled/loose spots or rust stains.
 

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