I knew I wouldn't be able to ignore the other things I would inevitably find, so I decided it was time for a resto-mod...an opportunity to change what I didn't like and use newer technology to improve and upgrade where reasonable. In researching the rebuild, I kept three things in mind. First, I drive the car often and mostly under mostly normal conditions. Second, I will occasionally autocross and often drive in a touring fashion on the weekend. Third, I will manage costs by using stock parts when they suit my application and rebuilding as opposed to purchasing new when feasible. Based on this, I'm not building a numbers correct museum piece, trying to win prizes at a car show, or run 10 second quarter miles. There's certainly room in the hobby for these pursuits, but you won't find them here. With that said, I certainly plan to preserve the stock feel and look of the car. Modifications to the interior will be minimal and very intentional, and modifications to the exterior body lines will be the same. The emphasis of this resto-mod will be torque generation and handling. Since I'm budget constrained, I have carefully considered where to spend the big bucks for my application and have made some decisions in that area:
1. Engine upgrade - I plan to install a 400 small block, rebuilt and modified to maximize torque generation in the 1000 - 5500 rpm range. I chose the 400 because my goal is to be north of 400 ft-lbs of torque and 400 horsepower, but maintain decent street manners. This is not a difficult goal given the aftermarket performance parts available today.
2. Transmission upgrade - It's likely the Borg-Warner Super T-10 will not be able to take the punishment the 400 throws at it. I'm considering an aftermarket five speed capable of handling 500 ft-lbs of torque. There is also an aftermarket 6-speed, but those kits range up to $4,000. I'm still exploring options in this area.
While other upgrades such as composite leaf spring, performance shocks, and heavy duty components will find their way into the build, the two items above by far make up the lion's share of the budget.
In addition to the modifications mentioned, I'm also installing factory air conditioning, pulse wipers, and a self-retracting antenna. I'll cover these upgrades and my reasons for going with the stock options in their respective build pages.
It started, as most things do, from a small beginning. I had just replaced a worn U-joint on the passenger side half axle and was inspecting the underside of the car. I noticed the rear body mount reinforcement on that side looked badly rusted. I poked at it with my finger and a large amount of red dust and some metal flakes fell to the ground. Further investigation revealed that both rear body mount reinforcements were shot and that the fiberglass had stress cracks in that area, presumably from the loss of support provided by the reinforcement.
Clearly this was a problem. Through research, I learned the body has to be removed from the frame to properly repair the fiberglass and replace the mounts.
About the restomod