Sean's 78 Camaro Z28

Should we leave the wheels grey or paint them body color?

  • Leave grey

  • Paint blue to match the body car, the way the car was when new


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Texas82GP

Texas82GP

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Some of you guys are probably sick of hearing me go on about this car but for those of you that are interested, I wanted to do a build thread on it. A major reason I wanted to do this is that we've reached the major milestone in the project that the paint job on the car is being completed.

Some history: The first time I saw this car it was sitting at the house of one of my dad's employees. It was sitting under a carport and didn't have a front clip or a trunk lid. It was a theft recovery and had been purchased off of a small car lot. This was probably early on in 1984. I'm not absolutely certain, but the way I remember it, we saw a front clip at the swapmeet at the Autorama. The Autorama is the weekend of Thanksgiving here in Houston. The way I remember it, we saw the front clip, found a payphone at the venue and called dad's employee to tell him what we had found. The front clip was purchased and installed on the car. Sometime in 1985 my brother bought the car. It was his first. He was a sophomore in High School. He and dad got it running. It was a beater but it had a lot of potential. Here are some pics from back in the day....
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That's Dad's house in those pics. the same place where most of the pics of the Galaxie have been taken. That's dad's 82 'Vette in the garage. Sean and dad had ambition to paint the Camaro. They were going to paint it black. They pulled it apart and painted much of the jambs and got the car in primer....

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Sean drove the car in brown primer for some time. Dad was busy with his business and there was always the trouble with having the time and the money at the same time to get the job done. Sean put a set of Cragar Super Sports on it with Eagle GT's. Had a pretty killer Kenwood system in it with the autoreverse cassette, 6x9's in the rear deck, and 5-1/4's in the front doors. Sadly it got stolen, sitting right where it is pictured above. They stole the wheels and tires, they stole the stereo. They busted up the column They destroyed the dash. He got it back, but it was roughed up. It was a bad blow for my brother. He was moving out of the house. He was getting married. He was beginning his career. He didn't have the money or the skill to do what he wanted to with the car and dad didn't have the time either so he sold it to our uncle as it was.
 
Texas82GP

Texas82GP

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While my uncle owned it, he paid dad to do some work on the car. Dad replaced all the busted up dash out of a junk car. He put the original wheels back on the car with some new General raised white letter tires. He got the A/C working, though it leaked down. It mostly sat. My uncle wanted the car fixed up but had no skill on his own and is a fairly frugal guy so not much happened. The car sat in his garage the first several years but then went out to the trailers in Cypress. It sat under a carport for years and suffered. When the rust damage on the lower passenger quarter started looking pretty bad, he had his employees build a two car detached garage to put it in along with Grandma's 72 Charger. Fast forward to August of 2006 and my brother bought the car back from our uncle. He had sold it to him in 1989. We went to Cypress with a U-Haul car trailer hitched up to Sean's 02 Sierra. We put the car on a battery charger and got it started up but it didn't run well. We couldn't keep it running and ended up winching it up on the trailer with a come along. I was a lot more prosperous back then, weight wise, and the combination of the August heat, my fat belly, my coveralls and the comealong liked to killed me but we got it home. Here are some pics of the day it came home. This is at my brother's old house.....
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Happy Camper....
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Here's a look at the rust behind the passenger rear wheel. This and the obvious collision damage on the driver's side above were the worst problems in my mind....

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Here's a look inside. It's not much prettier, though the interior seemed to be the best part at the time.....
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And finally, a look at the decrepit 350 under the hood. Decrepit is really the best way to describe it. The exhaust riser valve was hung up. The tune up was ancient. It had a bad freeze plug and was chugging brown sludge out of the side of the block. Not pretty but the mechanical stuff is the easy part right?
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Texas82GP

Texas82GP

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Where to start? We decided we wanted to do a rolling restoration and not totally disassemble the car. Since it is relatively easy and familiar, we decided to start with the engine compartment. We planned to paint and reseal the 350 and go back together, possibly with a mild cam and heads. We planned to just put the TH350 back in. We pulled the powerteam, got it cleaned up. We pulled all the freeze plugs and flushed all of the rust out of the jackets. I dug at them with a coat hanger. You wouldn't believe how much rust came out of the jackets. Here we are cleaning it up...
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Shortly afterward, Sean and his wife decided to move. They had outgrown their first house. The project went on hold for the house search. We also had dug into the 350 and done a bearing inspection and didn't like what we saw. They bought our house in April of 07. I moved in in June. In late 2007, a little more than a year after the picture above, we got back on it. We decided to restart by replacing the rear end in the car. When Sean was driving it in the 80's it suffered a wheel bearing failure. When he and Dad dug in, the lock pin bolt snapped off. It was Sean's only car so they elected to go pull a rear end out of another car. Unfortunately, they didn't realize until it was all back together that they were taking a 3.42 out of the car and putting in a 2.41 which made it a gutless turd. The 3.42 rear was a Z28 specific piece. After a bit of search, we found a rear out of an 81 Z28 with an open 3.42. We had a shop rebuild it and install an Eaton posi. We also bought all of the brake stuff from a 79 WS6 equipped Firebird. They had rear disk. Here is a pic of the rear cleaned up, built and ready to install....
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While the rear was out we cleaned up the bottom side of the car up to about the rear floor pans and undercoated it. We tried to ignore the rust damage on the passenger side trunk drop off and hoped that it would go away on its own...
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Note the wrinkled up wheelhouse on the driver's side above. More on that later....
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The rear went in later that month....
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Happy campers....
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Texas82GP

Texas82GP

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What next? Front suspension and the front portion of the bottom of the car, of course! Tear down of the front clip. Crusty....
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Subframe removal...

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My brother sand blasted the subframe in the driveway...
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At the same time we were cleaning up the firewall and priming/painting it. We didn't even have the spray gun back then so it was a rattle can job on the firewall and the subframe...
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After much blasting and painting the subframe went back in along with the front suspension and new stainless steel brake and fuel lines....

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Texas82GP

Texas82GP

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In September of 09 we got the car back on all fours for the first time in more than a year. It was a big day...

Happy campers....
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This next pic is the same day with Dad's Galaxie and my daily in the driveway. All 3 have changed a lot since then....

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Texas82GP

Texas82GP

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What next? Well, we decided to pull the interior and the front and rear glass. We planned to paint the interior and the window openings and then put the interior back in the car. Here's the interior coming out....

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Prosperous. LOL.

Crusty, but solid...

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Removal of the rear window and cleaning up of the rear window channel led to the discovery of rust damage and bad body work...
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And bondo. Lots of bondo. A bad day....
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Collision damaged Franken-patch.....
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This discovery led to a fairly severe malaise. If my brother hadn't spent all of the money on the suspension I think he would have scrapped the project. This is when I went to community college to learn how to weld. I knew we couldn't do this project or my dad's car without a welder in the family. After several months, we started blasting the body shell to bare metal. We started out with sand in the driveway and ended up walling off the third bay of the garage and blasting with plastic media. Much of the car went into a storage because we were overwhelmed with all of the parts that had been taken off of the car. Here is a taste of the journey on blasting the shell. In the background is the Lumina Z34 you guys have heard me cuss. The car that used up all of my patience for working on Front Wheel Drive cars....
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Here it is right before epoxy priming. It had been a long few months...
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And here is some epoxy primer. It was really a milestone....

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Around this time we found NOS quarter panels and a tail panel. These were badly needed to save the car. They had sat around in a body shop in Massachusetts for years. They had a little shelf wear but were in great shape. They were shipped to us in a big crate that the seller was kind enough to build....

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Texas82GP

Texas82GP

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Here is a look at what was inside the box....
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What now? Panel replacement. Never done it before, but time to learn. We started on the driver's side. We started by stripping and priming a driver door we pulled out of a pick-your-part. The passenger door wasn't as nice as we hoped unfortunately...
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We got the door stripped, the hinges rebuilt and the door hung on the car to serve as a reference for replacing the rocker.

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Here's a good look at the old collision damage that was fixed with an inch of filler on the rear end of the driver's rocker...
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We started out removing the rocker by drilling the spot welds with a 3/8" drill bit. Not sophisticated at all but you have to learn somehow. After the rocker we learned the way of the spot weld cutter. Here it is off of the car. It was kinda scary but you just have to get out there and do it.

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Prepped for welding. This will look familiar to the guys following the Galaxie thread...
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Clamped up....
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Welded in...

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Remember the wrinkled up wheelhouse I mentioned earlier? In fitting the rocker we realized that the wheelhouse was banged up bad from the old collision damage. They had just whipped it with a hammer and not much else. The front lower portion was bent up and rusty. it wouldn't fit the new rocker well at all. Time to fix the wheelhouse. We decided to keep as much original metal as practical and just make a repair...

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Texas82GP

Texas82GP

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Here is a look at the patch going in. It turned out really well, especially considering we'd never done something like it before. Here's a look at the completed patch. We've remove the rest of the quarter and have cleaned everything up and epoxy primed...
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Here's the first fit up of the driver's quarter. It's amazing how NOS stuff fits....
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And here it is all welded up and ready to go in the bay for primer...

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This gets us to the middle of December of 2010. We were three years into the project since moving to the new house. A little more than four years since Sean bought it back from our uncle. This is a good place to leave off on the thread. I've been at it a few hours. Thanks for looking and I hope you guys have enjoyed it. More to come...
 
motorheadmike

motorheadmike

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#9
Very cool!
 
pagrunt

pagrunt

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I would go for the crusty you guys found than my crusty. Awesome work.
 
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