1970 Stage 1 Frame-Off Restoration Project - "Kokomo"

Discussion in 'Members Rides' started by BUQUICK, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    Our good friend Dan V (“Postsedan” here on the board) suggested that I start a thread to chronicle the restoration my dad’s ’70 Stage 1 hardtop. I’m long winded so you might just want to skip to the photos :) But here goes…

    I bought the car from “Topcat” in Sept 2004 for $1,700. The car had sat for years and was not running. It was an original big block car based on the 44637 VIN, but there was nothing left to indicate it was an original Stage 1, except for original appearing Stage 1 emblems on the fenders. All of the original drivetrain was long gone :(

    Documentation was not available from the Sloan Museum to verify if it was a Stage 1 or not (car was built in Dec ’69), but it was available from Wayne Roberts. However, he told me it would be several weeks, or more, before he could pull the information for me. So I had to just gamble and buy the car assuming it was a GS455, with the possibility that it might be a real Stage 1. My dad helped me haul this thing home from Kokomo, IN to TN. That’s how the car got it’s nickname “Kokomo.” I have no idea why I bought it, but just couldn’t resist the urge. It sat, outside, for several years beside my dad’s shed while we worked on other projects and pondered what to do with this thing.

    So here is what it looked like when we got it. Looks pretty good huh? Well these photos don’t tell the whole story.

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    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
  2. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    The seller was very honest with me before I bought it and warned that it was rusty, especially the roof. Well, he wasn't kidding. It certainly had issues.

    As you can imagine, this wasn't the only rust either.

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    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  3. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    My dad has restored several 70 Stage 1s in the past, but they were for other people and he always wanted one of his own. In the Summer of '08, after staring at this thing in his back yard for a few years with the roof wrapped in plastic as shown, Dad offered to trade me his unrestored 71 El Camino SS 454, 4-speed, (plus all the NOS parts he has gathered for it, and there were A LOT of NOS goodies!) for the Buick because he wanted to save the car and build himself a nice driver.

    Here is how it sat in the back yard for a few years, and some photos of the day he drove it up to the shop to get started on a full restoration.

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  4. Willby70

    Willby70 Well-Known Member

    Been to your site, man you guys do nice work. More pics please:kodak: .
     
  5. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    Since this car was so rusty, and also missing the original engine, trans, and rearend, (replaced with a 350 engine, 350 trans, and a Chevy 10-bolt), my dad figured he would not worry about being exactly original. He thought this would be a great car to build into a nice driver, equipped however he wants. The car will retain a mostly original appearance, but just not exactly how this car was built when new.

    Heres how it was equipped when sold new by Matthews Buick in Marion, Indiana in late '69:
    Burnished Saddle paint, brown vinyl top, brown bench seat interior
    Stage 1, Automatic (column shift), 3.64 posi
    PS, Power Drum Brakes, no A/C
    AM radio, rear speaker, custom seat belts, tinted glass, remote outside mirror
    Tilt steering column, Rim-Blower steering wheel, Rallye gauges with clock
    Super Sport wheels (the 14" painted road wheels) with Oversize white-walls H78-14
    Custom upper peak moldings, protective side moldings

    Heres what will be changed to:
    455 with Stage 2 heads and dual plane intake (all painted red), stock air cleaner and valve covers. Only obvious modification to a non-Buick person would be the headers.
    9 rearend from Currie with 3.50 gears
    Disc brakes up front
    Color change to Aqua Mist, with no vinyl top
    Interior will remain a bench, but will be pearl white
    Wheels: body colored 15x7s with standard hubcaps
    Aftermarket radio, and a factory tach will replace the clock
     
  6. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    The car is pretty far along as of today, but I'm going to keep the pictures in order and post a few as time allows until I've caught up to the current state. This will probably take me a few evenings, at least.

    We've got hundreds of detailed photos but I'll try to just hit the highlights. Right now the body is currently painted (Aqua Mist), buffed and back on the rolling frame. It took a long time to get the body ready for paint. All other panels are also painted and buffed but not on the car yet.

    My dad is a very thorough person, and keeps track of EVERY penny he spends and every hour of labor. I'll keep you posted on that stuff too if you are interested in knowing how long it takes and how much it costs to build a nice driver. Of course the labor is free since he does everything himself. Also, he's pretty quick at knocking this stuff out since he's been doing restorations for a few decades.

    He's more excited about this car than any of the cars he's done in the past, because this is actually his car and it's something he's wanted for a long time. What's cool is that he's not trying to build a show car, he wants something to drive and enjoy. He's almost 62 years old so I'm thrilled he finally getting it.

    Dad will be retiring from his regular 40hr/week job at the end of May 2011, therefore things will likely start moving on this car (and the '69 SS 396 Chevelle Sedan he's restoring for a friend) when those hours are free to work on cars at home.

    More to come...
     
  7. jay bird

    jay bird Well-Known Member

    It dosn't get any better then Aqua Mist.Can't wait to see pics.
     
  8. Postsedan

    Postsedan 13427 L78

    Gary,

    You and your Dad are Great People, and I am very honored to call you both good friends. I think the word of your Dad, I have often said, when I grow up....I want to be just like George Steele!

    I am very Happy for your Dad to finally be working on his very own project, you can tell how very excited he is about his very own 1970 Buick Stage1.

    This car will be a Marvel to appreciate and enjoy for your Dad and the rest of us! I am looking forward to seeing your Dad drive off on his maiden voyage in the very Special Stage1 :TU:

    Dan
     
  9. Postsedan

    Postsedan 13427 L78

    Gary,

    Clear out your pm box :Comp:

    Dan
     
  10. staged70

    staged70 RIP

    I am guessing a replacement roof? I almost bought that car before you and lucky for me and you the right people got this one. Without free labor (talented) this would have killed my account and probably have ended up parted out. I am looking forward to the pics
     
  11. flynbuick

    flynbuick Super Moderator Staff Member

    Imagine that, a moon roof on a GS in the 70 model year?
     
  12. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    With the severely rusted roof and trunk pan, the car was not structurally strong enough to safely put onto the rotisserie. So the plan of attack was to rebuild the rotted body first, but just enough to make it strong, then put it on the rotisserie to do the finishing work (grinding welds and filling seams). After the body is painted, then the work will begin on the chassis.

    So the first thing was to find a replacement roof. Fortunately our good friend Glen Biggers (Mr Big on this board) had a good roof on a '70 Skylark parts car that he was willing to sell. This roof was in good condition since it never had a vinyl top. There were several rust holes around the windows, but they were simple to repair. Glen allowed my dad to cut plenty of extra material so that he cut trim it to fit his car when he got it home.
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    The light green green Skylark has sacrificed many, many parts to help the restorations of other Buicks. I know this same parts car has provided parts to at last 4 different '70 Stage 1s, and also a section of quarter panel to the '70 Sedan that Dan V "PostSedan" is currently restoring (the restoration of his Sedan is also being chronicled in a thread on V8Buick.com).
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  13. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    My dad had never replaced an entire roof before, but figured that with some careful measuring, and some bars added to ensure the window openings and roof height are correct, it shouldn't be any more difficult that replacing other metal panels. One of the biggest challenges he faced is that he works alone. Well the roof is too heavy and bulky for one man to safely handle by himself. So he decided the easiest way for him to do this was to pull the car inside, cut the old roof off and hoist it up out of the way.
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  14. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    With the old roof off, he drove the car out from under it.
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    This allowed him to then safely lower the old roof to the floor and get it out of the way. Then the "new" roof was lifted up so the car could be driven back into inside.
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    Then he lowered the replacement roof down, did some final trimming to ensure a precise fit. You can see the vertical bars in the door openings that were welded to the rockers before the old roof was removed. He used these as one of his reference points to make sure the new roof was the same height as the original. He also had some bars that he laid into the front and rear window openings to make sure they were the right size.
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  15. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    It ain't pretty, but the roof is now replaced. The areas in gray primer are the areas that were sandblasted to prepare for the swap. If you look closely, you can see some rust holes in the new roof along the top of the front and rear windows that will be repaired later. At this stage the primary concern was just getting it in place and making the body shell strong again.

    The quarter panels were just cut out of the way because they are going to be replaced later with a set of NOS panels. These old panels may not look bad in the photos, but they had been rusted and patched in the past. There was also plenty of Bondo in them. With the severe rust in the roof, there was no way the quarter panels and trunk could be rust free.
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  16. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    So with the roof replaced, the next step was to attack the trunk. Why the trunk before the quarters? Well the trunk was so rusted that the trunk pan braces that attach to the frame were not supporting anything. Therefore, if the quarters were removed first, there would be nothing left to support the tailpanel of the car. So the trunk will be repaced first, then the quarters (along with the outer wheel house on both sides).

    So the body was lifted off the frame so the areas where the body bushing sit on the frame could be cleaned (sandblasted). Then install new bushings, and remount the body. Installing the new bushings now ensures that the door gaps will remain constant when the car is goes through final assembly. Think about it, it doesn't make sense to use the old bushings while doing a major rebuild like this because they are all different heights (rotted and smashed). Using new bushings puts every corner back at the same height from the frame.

    Since the body was being lifted off the frame, it was decided that now would be a good time to disassemble the rest of the car, including the engine and trans.

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  17. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    Now the trunk replacement can begin.

    Here is what the trunk looked like when we got the car. At first glance it didn't seem too bad since there was still some metal present in a few areas. But upon closer inspection, it was all too far gone to salvage. Everything needed to be replaced. The trunk pan braces were also no longer offering support since the area where the body bushing attaches was rusted away.
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    This much was cut away in an attempt to get to "good" metal.
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  18. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    The next step was to sandblast the surrounding areas to see exactly was remained. As you can see, there were many areas that needed metal work.

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  19. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    The three separate sections of trunk floor were purchased, along with the braces. Next time the big one piece floor pan, will be used which will save some time.
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    Here the pieces are laid in place to see what needs to be trimmed, etc.
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    At this point the braces are already installed and the outer sections are being trimmed and welded into place.
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    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011
  20. BUQUICK

    BUQUICK I'm your huckleberry.

    Here are the roughed-in welded panels. Still lots of work to do, but they're in place.
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