1978 Camaro Restoration

Discussion in 'Project Progress' started by CDesperado, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. CDesperado

    CDesperado Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    3,287
    1
    Oct 1, 2004
    Dallas Texas
    Ok... so I finally have enough progress on my car that I feel obliged to post the obligatory Progress Thread. (Warning: Not 56k Friendly)

    A little back story on the car.
    I purchased a 1978 Camaro when I was 15 (1987) and had more fun in this car than any boy should ever have. There are too many funny stories to share, but my favorite is that I received two speeding tickets the first day I had my driver's license. I was on a first name basis with most of the police in my small town. Good times, good times.

    Six years later, in 1993, early in the morning of the day before Thanksgiving, I was driving from Austin to Dallas around 3 am. The temperature was nearly in the single digits and a friend of mine was following behind me. I wasn't speeding really... going maybe 75 mph or so, when I saw a white flash and a very loud explosion. I swear to you, the front end of the car lifted off the ground.

    A massive plume of smoke made it impossible to see... needless to say, the explosion got my attention. LOL

    This is the problem that started it all....
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    My beloved Camaro went into indoor storage and eventually into my garage in 2000, where it has been the last 12 years. I first disassembled the car in 2004. Somehow those pictures have been lost, which sucks.

    Here are a few of the only remaining pics that I have left from the weekend where I initially began tearing down the car in 2004. (I have some others, but will post these later.)

    Here I am, venting my frustration/ goofing around...
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    A view from the street
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    Here is my buddy Jonathon, being the dork that only he can be.
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    Cleaning off 20 years of dust/debris.
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    I initially thought the restoration parts were readily available. I was wrong.
    After tearing the car apart, I spent many years wasting a lot of time and money collecting NOS parts. We won't discuss that part very much. LOL.

    In 2009, I started the ball rolling again, then the economy almost fell apart, so I stopped. Fast forward to November 2011 and here is what we started with:


    And here we are on "Moving Day" in early January 2012 when I packed her to go to the shop to get body work and paint.
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  2. CDesperado

    CDesperado Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    3,287
    1
    Oct 1, 2004
    Dallas Texas
    Since using the original engine obviously isn't an option, a concourse restoration isn't really possible. This will, however, be a very thorough restoration and she will have a modified Z28 appearance, with 78-79 style vents and a functioning hood scoop from a 1980 Z28.

    The general build plan is:
    * 350 engine
    * Moderate performance cam
    * 700R4 with 3.73 gears at the back end
    * EFI
    * 4-wheel disc brakes
    * Aiming for 350 horsepower (roughly)

    I have collected lots of little goodies over the years and there will be some customizations done in the cabin and audio that I hope may be of use to someone who finds themselves in the same position I am in now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  3. CDesperado

    CDesperado Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    3,287
    1
    Oct 1, 2004
    Dallas Texas
    Here are some pics from the Media Blasting. (January 2012)

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    Here we are on the LH side, looking in. Note the damage to the strike post area in the door jamb. I will post better pics of that later. This is probably the "worst" area on the car, aside from some minor dings and dents I have collected over the years. (Mostly on the RH side)
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    LH Side, looking at the firewall.
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    Moving to the RH side, where I had the most floorboard issues. (Front RH floorboard and toeboard were pretty roached out.
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    Viewing the RH floorboard from under the car.
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  4. CDesperado

    CDesperado Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    3,287
    1
    Oct 1, 2004
    Dallas Texas
    Then, my baby got sealed and primered.

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    I may as well speak to this now. So sometime around 1990, I pulled the door closed and it stuck. We later discovered a small tear in the metal, running vertically, from the striker post to the door jamb vent area.

    Right around this time, I saved up enough money to paint the car black, and I hired a guy to fix this problem for me. He failed (on an epic level), and I ended up with this - a small steel plate that we sandwiched between the post and the door jamb.
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    I removed the plate, but can't find the picture I took of it before the car was media blasted.

    Basically I was left with this (post-blast, pre-primer):
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    This whole area will need to be cut out so the entire door jamb can be fixed. When it is all said and done, you will not be able to tell any work was ever done to this area.
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    That's all for now!
     
  5. 73Camaro383

    73Camaro383 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    2,295
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    Oct 29, 2010
    texas
    Nice start, Looking good.
     
  6. CDesperado

    CDesperado Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    3,287
    1
    Oct 1, 2004
    Dallas Texas
    Here are some shots of the some of the other body damage that the car had before I brought it to the shop in January 2012.

    Sorry for the poor quality of some of these shots... I didnt realize how much the shadow of the tree was visible (and distracting) until after I took the pics, and by then the door was already off.
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    I used some chalk to circle some of the damaged areas. The worst of them is the massive dent near the rear wheel well, which I have a better picture of below.
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    This large dent above the wheel well happened when I was moving the car out of an indoor storage facility to go to another place.
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    All of these little nicks/ dents happened moving the car out of the first indoor storage facility. We misjudged the distance between the car and the wall... and my car paid the price. (To be fair, it was REALLY tight. I think we had 2-3 inches of clearance on either side of the car).
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    I got lucky in that dents never impacted the body line where the door and body line up.
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    Here is a quick run of shots of the body damage that occurred over the years. The larger dent (top right of wheel well) happened when the car was still drivable. I think someone hit me in a parking lot or something.
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    The horizontal crease came courtesy of a very stout branch of a bush lining a driveway. I dont remember what caused the forward facing dent on the wheel well lip, immediately above that horizontal crease.
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  7. ctchap70

    ctchap70 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Welcome to the site. Eastern neighbor here in Louisiana. Cool story. Charlton
     
  8. CDesperado

    CDesperado Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    3,287
    1
    Oct 1, 2004
    Dallas Texas
    And now, the body work that will resolve the issues from the pics above.

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    One thing that you can't really see here is that the body lip (The thin vertical piece of metal below the ground down metal) was horribly bent/malformed... it now looks perfect. I specifically asked them to fix this even though I know no one will ever see it really. You will see a better example when I show the LH side.
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  9. CDesperado

    CDesperado Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    3,287
    1
    Oct 1, 2004
    Dallas Texas
    Moving on to the LH side, here are a few quick shots of the body work we are doing here.

    First, we are fixing the significant dent that was caused when I had to use a prybar to free the door up when it became lodged on the striker. (We ultimately found a better way, using wood shims and me doing the "horizontal stomp" from the inside of the car to kick the car door open.
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    This is a shot looking straight into the LH side of the car. (ie, The striker would be roughly in the upper third of this picture, near the body line.)
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    I had one small area of rot, which is visible in this picture.
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    Here is a shot, after the body work to fix this.
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    And my last "rot" issue... a small spot about the size of a quarter that has now been fixed.
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    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  10. CDesperado

    CDesperado Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    3,287
    1
    Oct 1, 2004
    Dallas Texas
    The worst bit of rot was the RH toe board area and floorpan. This was primarily caused when a heater pump failed (back when the car was still driveable) and water entered the cabin. The water was likely there for two weeks or more before I noticed it. The hole wasnt there when the car went into storage.

    As you can see, the whole pan looks pretty rough, but it was far worse than it looks. There were at least 50-100 small pin holes all over the pan, plus a dozen or more marble-sized holes spread throughout.
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    A view from under the car, shortly after the car was blasted and primed. The new floor pan hasnt been installed yet.
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    Blasted, sealed, primed... and a repop floor pan welded in. The toeboard has also been replaced, but I dont have a pic of that yet.
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