My First Car - A 1970 Camaro Story

Discussion in 'Project Progress' started by flybye70ss, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. flybye70ss

    flybye70ss Veteran Member

    883
    2
    Dec 6, 2002
    Allen, TX
    I had a previous progress thread, but i haphazardly threw some pics up and called it a day. I wanted to do something a little more comprehensive since I believe that these build threads on forums will assist in tracking a car's history one day.

    I purchased my first car out of the paper in the spring of 2000 for $3000 when I was 18. I did not have all of the money at the time, so the sellers let me pay payments of $500 a month. Once paid for, i towed the car home. At this time, I had no car knowledge besides occasionally helping my dad with spark plugs or basic maintenance things. I had always been a tinkerer, so making a car run shouldn't be too hard, right?

    This is what it looked like:

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    I had a warmed over 355, TH350 and 3.42 gears. Front end had a dent in the driver bumper and was primer gray. I drove this car everyday in Texas during my high school years with no a/c. It was really hot since the heater blew all the time as well.

    During high school, I bought a Haynes manual and just started unbolting and fixing. I swapped the cam, intake, got a 2400 stall. I put a Harwood 2.5" cowl on the car, put poly bushings on the front, with all new linkage. I rewired the car with a Painless kit. Life came and went. I was going to college and the car was never to the standard of what I really wanted, and I now had a daily driver with a/c. I began the tear down in 2004.

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    The supercharger was me dreaming how awesome that would be, haha. My first powerplant dream included a LS and twins.

    I gutted the car, and made a roll cage for it. I had it welded up, but I cut and notched all the tubing so the interior could still fit.

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    I also stripped the paint and found a painter that would paint my car.

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    We now have to fast forward because it took 5 years for this car to get out of paint jail. I had just purchased a home, so I at least had a place to put the car. It is now 2009. I have a painted car shell, and none of the parts that I want. My job sucked and I just could not afford the car. It sat. And sat. And sat.

    Until one day in 2015, the time finally came for me to put my car together the way I always wanted. I had 11 years to dream and plan. I wanted a clean looking trans am racer street car. I wanted big tires, low stance, lots of power, decent paint (but not so nice that I would feel bad doing burnouts), and a complete interior.

    Initially, I was not going to do the under carriage, or even paint the sub frame or engine bay. My reasoning was I did not want a "show car" and I wanted a driver. By the time I realized i really really really should have cleaned and done that was right about the time 30 year old grit was falling in my eye while putting the motor mounts in. It was too late and the plans were already in motion.

    First up, I needed to install the rear package tray before the glass because of the roll cage. I put dynamat through the whole car, top to bottom. I installed the carpet and rear seats.

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    The car previously had velvet on the door sills, sail panels, seat backs, and lower door panels. I liked it so much, i just re did it. The results turned out pretty good.

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    With partial interior done, i focused on the exterior. The only parts i re-used were the tail lights.
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    I wanted a black spoiler to tie the black rear together with the black rims that I had planned on using.

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    Glass Installed:
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    Phantom gauges:
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    Now, this is where build starting to really pick up speed. I had a buddy who was parting out his 1970 Camaro. He had a 434 that dynoed 510 hp, 540 lbft. Fully built bottom end, roller motor.

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    Honestly, it was (and is) quite a bit more power than I wanted, but the price was right.


    March pulley set from my high school years lives on:

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    My old 2400 B&M stall would not work very well, so I called ATI and they set me up with a converter. I could not be happier. It seems to be a 3100-3300 stall.
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    I put in the Hotchkis rear suspension, a disc brake conversion kit, and a new fuel tank. I also replaced the leaky pinion bearing in the 8.5".

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    Wheel time. Big shout out to Keith at CustomWorks, he set me up with exactly what I wanted!

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    Next step is a big one:

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    I am now really starting to get excited. All of the nights in the garage, all of the problem solving and planning is coming to fruition. This car has a motor in it again, oh man oh man this is really happening.

    I put the transmission in by myself, and yes, it sucked:

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    Plumbing the engine bay:

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    Put the interior in. Fixed the always on heater, bluetooth stereo. 2 12s in the back. I put a USB charger in the console. New dash. I am getting new seats, but I got too excited to drive so the old ones are in.

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    Ready to start:

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    Hearing this car start for the first time in such a long time is a feeling that is hard to describe. Complete elation perhaps? I set the timing, make sure it stops. It has a pretty gnarly transmission leak which I am in the process of fixing.



    My initial driving impression is the completely excessive power mixed with absolutely terrible brakes. Granted, the tires in the 3rd picture are the same tires in the last, so they are dry and shot. I will say that at 50 mph, if I give it about half throttle, it will just roast these tires.

    My new Nittos came in yesterday, and I cannot wait to put them on. he motor pulls 15hg of vacuum, so I went ahead and ordered a new master and proportioning block since I went to rear disc brakes. I went up to a 1 1/8" piston bore that I am now second guessing.

    I am also having a terrible time adjusting the side windows. The Nu-relics will be here tomorrow and I am hoping that will help fix that issue. I already scratched the passenger side tint, so it has to be redone after I get everything adjusted correctly.

    Installed these 4pt harnesses:

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    My final plans include Wilwoods in the front, Cerullro XR seats, a Pypes exhaust, and then drive the absolute crap out of this car.

    It has been a journey, and this site has been such a great help. I now have been through almost every nut and bolt on this car, and so much information was gained from this great community.

    Finally, I could not have done this without my step-dad, and I would like to thank him for all the helping hands. He only got a call when the job sucked so hard I could not do it myself.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
    70 Proof likes this.
  2. 70 Proof

    70 Proof Veteran Member

    293
    15
    Sep 28, 2014
    Southern Utah
    Congratulations on your patience and persistence in seeing your project through.
    You certainly have a right to be proud of what you've accomplished.
     
  3. RS1979

    RS1979 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    2,436
    208
    Jun 18, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    Great job. The light at the end of the tunnel is a beautiful sight isn't it?
     
  4. tom3

    tom3 Veteran Member

    10,628
    41
    Aug 1, 1999
    ohio
    Car is looking good, and nice story too. Snow in Texas? I didn't know that.
     
  5. RMTZ28

    RMTZ28 Member

    40
    2
    Mar 29, 2015
    Alb. nm
    Nice job. But i got to ask. What brand are the black wheels? I have original rallys on my Z but maybe on my Gto.
     
  6. flybye70ss

    flybye70ss Veteran Member

    883
    2
    Dec 6, 2002
    Allen, TX
    Got the wheels on and took some pics:
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    The wheels are:

    US Mag Ramblers
    From:
    http://www.customworksperformance.net/wheels.html

    Even though its driving I still have so much to do. Finish installing the new power windows, finish the doors. I am chasing an issue whenever i go over a big bump, the hood latch will pop. I have it adjusted and it looks to be centering in the hole. Not much information about the latch itself besides center it so I don't know.

    On the plus side, the new power booster, master cylinder, and prop block have done wonders for my brakes. The car has never stopped better.
     
  7. 7/3-SplitRS

    7/3-SplitRS Veteran Member

    133
    8
    Mar 26, 2014
    Pecatonica IL
    It's a lot nicer working on a car when you can drive it daily! Congrats.
     
  8. flybye70ss

    flybye70ss Veteran Member

    883
    2
    Dec 6, 2002
    Allen, TX
    This update is going to be more of my thoughts and review of almost 2 months back on the road, with the next steps in the build rather than progress. Honestly, I have been enjoying the relatively mild Texas summer and taking this car out almost every weekend, I have not been motivated at all to work on it. I would rather drive! Starts on the first crank every time, and even with no choke it idles nicely once warm. The car rides pretty solid, i am getting minor tire rub with the 245s on the front, and I am planning to either downsize to 235s on the next tire change or hack the inner wheel well out where it is rubbing. No shimmy at highway speeds, but the steering sucks and i need to change it. Too sluggish for me. It has some no name cross flow muffler but it sounds nasty under throttle. It is pretty freaking fast.... By far the fastest it has ever been while in my possession, and it is the fastest car I own. The ATI stall is perfect and the car flashes at 3400-3500 and then it just goes. I have not hit it from a dead stop yet, but 1st from a roll just boils the tires.

    Project wise, the windows are still out, and the door panels are still off. I really need to quit slacking and at least hook up the window set and get all of that buttoned down. I just hate adjusting the windows. I also bought a governor kit for the transmission, it needs to be adjusted, too.

    Here are some pics from my walk today.

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    Here's to the first thousand miles :)
     
  9. LtRsZ

    LtRsZ Veteran Member

    904
    0
    Apr 12, 2010
    Tacoma, WA
    Looks great! Did you resolve the hood latch issue? Have you checked for abnormal wear or weak release latch spring?
     
  10. RS1979

    RS1979 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

    2,436
    208
    Jun 18, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    Good for you!! It is a lot more fun to drive it and do a little at a time. It'll eventually get done. Have fun until it is.
     

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