So after entirely too long, I'm finally getting back to adding more info to this thread.
Last year was a fairly busy and important one for progress on the car, and with spring once again upon us, I need to get the work already done on the car up to date so that I can start posting this year's plans and progress and hopefully keep the timelines of everything straight.
So here goes...
After picking up the car, I had plans of keeping this one on a "beer budget", no big expenditures, barter and trade for parts and services, etc. At first this went fairly well... more on this later!
I traded an unused T56 transmission crossmember to my friend Dana in exchange for a set of rare 1980 correct Olds 442 wheels, complete with center caps. The tires that were on them however were complete junk, dry rotted and wore out. Another friend had a set of 14" tires in decent shape, they were Walmart specials and certainly nothing wonderful, but at least they were road worthy and safe to drive on. A case of beer netted me these, while yet another case got them installed and balanced at a mechanic's shop with a guy I used to work with. Here's the cheapy tires installed on the 442 wheels, and on the car. Note the crushed in quarter and moulding... A casualty of some previous owner's encounter with who-knows-what.
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While this was ongoing, I tackled all the little things that one finds with a "new to them" car. First off, a good cleaning. The car was the previous owner's daily as far as I could tell and it showed. The interior and exterior both were filthy. I cleaned out the junk and garbage from the trunk and interior, and gave both a good going over with the shop vac. Next, I tackled one of my personal pet peeves, tracking down and replacing all of the burnt out and not working lights. Both high beam lights were burnt out. One of these was cracked, probably leading to burning out. Both low beams worked, but one was so horribly cracked that it came out in pieces once I got the trim ring off. Next, the marker lights in the fenders and bumpers were made operational again, and all the factory grounds for them were removed and the connection points cleaned up and reinstalled.
On an interesting note, this car is equipped with fender mounted turn signal indicators, these in themselves are kinda cool. Each indicator is split up into 3 sections, each section with its own color. White, blue, and amber. When the signal lights are activated, the amber section flashes, indicating the signal light is on. This also stays lit up when either the marker or headlights are turned on.
When you turn on the headlights, the white section lights up. When the high beams are activated, the blue section is illuminated. This is all done with fibre optics, and it all still works believe it or not! This was pretty cutting edge stuff for 1980 if you think about it...
As part of the fender-indicator package, there is also a small plastic housing mounted in the inside of the car, centered above the rear window. This small interior colored housing has 2 small red lenses in it, and uses more fibre optics from the tail lights to light up the lenses when signaling or braking. These two tiny lights are clearly visible in the rear view mirror day or night (but mostly at night), and are not noticeable to anyone else. Wild! I had no idea this was even an option on a Cutlass, it's the first and only time I've seen this.
Next, it was time to make some upgrades. I had (and still have) various bits and pieces in storage and leftover or unused for various reasons. This included a "like new" set of KYB front shocks, a set of Competition Engineering 3 way adjustable rear shocks, and a set of single adjustable UMI rear lower control arms. These parts all found their way onto the car one evening to replace the old and worn out stuff.
A post here on the forum from Mr. Evil noting that he had removed a set of lowering springs to replace them with some factory height ones caught my attention one day. I decided to PM him just to see what he was doing with the old ones, and he said that I could have them for the price of shipping. Score! (Thanks Rick, you're STILL the man!!) The rear lowering springs went in, but I made a deal with a local G body owner on a set of brand new unused 2" drop spindles, rather than attempting to fight with removing and reinstalling the front springs. The spindle and spring swap was performed on a Saturday afternoon, and went together just as easy as you please.
The car was starting to look quite a bit more presentable by now (and certainly a lot more safe), but the exterior still needed a lot of attention. The paint, the vinyl roof, the bumpers, and all the trim was all covered in sticky tree sap. You know the stuff, that yellow crap that sticks to everything, and if left untouched will actually stain surfaces. A little trick I learned in the GM dealership detail bay years ago, is to use isopropyl alcohol (more commonly known as gas line antifreeze) to remove the sap. This stuff dries it out and easily removes it, yet doesn't hurt the paint. A bottle of this and several rags later, I finally had all the sap removed. I tackled a couple of little interior nuisances, replaced the dim and burnt out dash lights with newer, brighter, more modern LED ones. Got the radio and cigarette lighter working again, as well as the high speed on the blower motor. 88Hurst Olds supplied me with the missing ashtray for the center console, along with the missing cigarette lighter in the dash.
Here's 2 pics showing just how bad the vinyl roof was... It's in poor shape, and will get removed eventually, but for now I tried to clean it up as best as possible.
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Here's a couple pics from a cruise I took one night, it was starting to look a LOT more presentable.
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Stay tuned guys, LOTS more to come!