Bernadine: 1978 Buick Regal Restoration/Build

5spdCab

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Dec 29, 2019
1,095
113
Tukwila, Wa.
Mar. 11, 2021: Well, it's been quite some time since my last post. And while I'd love to show some massive amount of glorious progress, I don't have a whole lot to show. But over the last 2 months I have been able to make a few more little steps that get me closer to being ready to lift the body and finally start refurbishing the frame. I purchased all new steering componets, all new front & rear suspension parts, and new motor & trans mounts from RockAuto. I also scored a deal on a Saginaw 4 speed trans, so I was able to get the engine/bellhousing/trans mocked up in the car. I got some cuts made in the HVAC box so it clears the passenger side valve cover, and I was also able to lay out exactly where the shifter hump needs to be mounted.

Yesterday I received quite possibly my favorite part ever. It's just a gas gauge, but it's a MANUAL TRANS gas gauge (i.e. no P RND21 at the bottom), and it's NOS! I knew they had existed, but I've never come across one before, and having it makes me super excited about my goal of making this car look, taste, & smell like an orginal manual trans car.

Saginaw 4 speed.
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Engine/Bellhousing/Trans ready to be mocked up.
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Engine/Bellhousing/Trans bolted in (for now)
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HVAC box modifications so far.
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Layout for shifter hump placement.
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NOS manual trans gas gauge.
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If you have not cut the shift hole yet, might I suggest that you cut conservatively small, then bolt the eng/trans in again to be sure of the correct location, then open up larger from there.
My '78 Caballero is a factory stick shift model. The "cut" through the hump looks like it was done with a torch, and then the bulbous part welded over. I see your layout lines are nice and sharp. It will look good and give plenty of working room when finished.
 
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Oct 14, 2008
7,457
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Melville,Saskatchewan
I love this build. Looks like you found the one part that requires modifications when installing a Buick 350 in place of the V6, the A/C box. Oh expect a lot of potential rust under that vinyl top. Nice work so far.
 
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78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 13, 2015
46
33
Brookville, IN
If you have not cut the shift hole yet, might I suggest that you cut conservatively small, then bolt the eng/trans in again to be sure of the correct location, then open up larger from there.
My '78 Caballero is a factory stick shift model. The "cut" through the hump looks like it was done with a torch, and then the bulbous part welded over. I see your layout lines are nice and sharp. It will look good and give plenty of working room when finished.

Funny you mention the shifter hole location, because I went ahead and cut it out this past Saturday. To locate the proper center for the hole, I attached the shifter mount bracket to the trans before installing the engine/trans. I measured where the shifter handle would be when in neutral (i.e. centered) and made a pilot hole in the trans tunnel as my center, then located the shifter hump from there.
 
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78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
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Apr 13, 2015
46
33
Brookville, IN
I love this build. Looks like you found the one part that requires modifications when installing a Buick 350 in place of the V6, the A/C box. Oh expect a lot of potential rust under that vinyl top. Nice work so far.
Yeah, I’ve seen some Buick 350 swaps where a bit of extra clearance was necessary, but for whatever reason mine seems to need a bit more. I’m pretty sure I’ll need to modify the heater core itself in order to reconfigure the HVAC box to clear enough so that I can remove the valve cover with the engine installed.
 
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Texas82GP

Just-a-worm
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Apr 3, 2015
7,043
113
Spring, Texas
Cool project. Subscribed.
 
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78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 13, 2015
46
33
Brookville, IN
Mar. 29, 2021: I made more extremely slow progress over the past couple weeks. Last weekend I got the hole cut in the floor for the 4 speed shifter, as well as got all of the instrument cluster removed from the dash. And 2 days ago I started the "super fun" task of removing the original undercoating from the rear wheel houses. I guess I'm glad the undercoating is there, because if not I'd be cutting, removing, and replacing metal, but removing that stuff certainly sucks. What seemed to work best for me is a scraping blade on my oscillating multi-tool. In 30-45 minutes I was able to get the entire passenger inner wheelhouse scraped off, which really isn't that bad I guess. I've going back and forth on whether I wanted to paint the wheelhouses black or do some sort of textured finish/bed liner material, and I think I've decided to do the latter. My plan is get them cleaned up as well as possible, remove the old seam sealer from between the outer & inner wheelhouses, fix/replace the metal that needs fixed, POR the joint between the inner & outer wheelhouses, put new seam sealer on said joint, and then do the bed liner/texured finish.

Oh, and I also tracked down an NOS clock delete plate.

Factory ITM shifter in place (shifter courtesy of Texas82GP).
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Instrument cluster removed.
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Passenger rear wheelhouse cleaned up.
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NOS Clock Delete Plate/Gauge.
image - 2021-03-29T081445.188.jpg
 
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78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 13, 2015
46
33
Brookville, IN
July 13, 2021: Well, this summer certainly hasn't been playing out the way I imagined it would. I feel like I haven't gotten the opportunity to do a damn thing with the car, but as I write up this post i guess I have still made some progress. Back in April I scored a hood on FB marketplace. I had been searching for one for awhile, but it seemed like the only ones I found were either 1500 miles away, super expensive, or both. The hood I found was only about 40-50 miles from me, and the seller was happy with my $50 offer. Another big time score I made a few weeks after that (thanks to 85ss/85gn here on the board) was a full non-A/C setup. Even though I had already started modifying the stock A/C box to clear the Buick 350, I had always been itching to do the non-A/C conversion so I went for it, and for quite a few reasons. I wanted the weight savings, a less cluttered engine bay, it has more of the "ordered from the factory muscle car" vibe, and I thought the non-A/C box would clear the new engine without modification. Turns out I was wrong about the last part.... I had to do a fair bit of cutting to be able to remove the passenger side valve cover while in the car, but overall this will end up being much more straightforward to patch/rebuild with fiberglass.

Fast forward to this past week: I pulled the (mocked up) engine & trans out, removed the non-A/C heater box, and on Saturday finally removed the body from the frame! I used a combination of engine hoist & straps in the front, floor jack a 4x4 scraps in the rear, and jack stands right in front of the rear wheel openings to keep the thing level side to side as I lifted. The cart I built was made tall enough & wide enough so I can roll the frame in & out from under it as needed.

Non-A/C heater box installed. 1st picture shows clearance issues, next picture shows giant section removed, last 2 pictures show cardboard template in place for fiberglass patch/repair.
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78Regal350

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Thread starter
Apr 13, 2015
46
33
Brookville, IN
Nice work! I love the fact that you’re keeping a Buick 350 in it but a little confused because of your clearance issue to the HVAC box. Back in 78-79’ The Buick 350 was a factory option in a G body correct?
Unfortunately it was not. The Buick 350 was an option for the Regal up to '77, and it was still around in the big cars in '78, but if you wanted a "big" v8 in the '78 Regal it was a Chevy engine.
 
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