Where the Fun begins...

05 September 2011

Where the Fun begins...


Howdy!  So, if you've surfed into this page, I just wanted to give you a quick intro of who I am and what I'm trying to do. My original blog, Tales of the Lost Skies, showcases my filmmaking and illustration endeavors. I decided to create this blog to document my progress to a) keep all my work on the restoration archived and separate from Lost Skies and b) to help out anyone that is also starting out and to give them a reference in anything I figure out along the way.

THE PLAN
I do have plans for a feature film two years from now. Even though I'm nailing down the script, I know the main characters are mechanics and the villain has a muscle car. To prepare for this, I've bought a 1972 Pontiac Luxury LeMans I found online with plans to restore.  The guy I bought it from had hurt his back and has been on disability for the past six months, and money was tight.  I felt bad because he really didn't want to part from it and was gritting his teeth when he signed the title over to me.  I assured him it was going to a great home.

First, a bit about me: I am from a family of mechanics who love to restore old cars. My dad was a diesel mechanic and would always be tinkering out in the garage and taught me to do all my own servicing on my old 1980 Camaro (which I ended up having to sell ten years ago- too hard to transport kids in). My sister's husband restored a '66 Ford Bronco and a '66 Mustang Fastback (Ford guy, but I won't hold it against him). My wife's sister's late husband had restored a number of cars and their sons (my nephews) have gone on to mod out a whole bunch of imports... cool and impressive, but not my scene.  My wife's brother has done quite a bit, really getting into the mini-truck scene fifteen years ago, and he's volunteered to help me with this one. Various cousins and extended family have all customized cars... the list goes on and on.

I, myself, have limited skills in this, but I am fully invested in doing this film and with that, I'm fully invested in learning everything there is to know about car restoration, and it's been extremely rewarding and fun. If nothing else, I'll have developed an important skill and a new lifetime hobby.  SO If you're an old pro at all of this, I'm probably not really going to offer anything new to you... but I'm ALWAYS open to suggestions!  If my facts are wrong- let me know! 

I've been cleaning out the garage and prep it for the massive amount of work that's coming up. I'll give a tour when there's something worth looking at!!!

THE LEMANS
What I've learned about the LeMans is that it was the sister to the GTO- the only real difference was the Endura bottle nose the GTO's sported, along with the air scoop and bigger engines.  LeMans could have the option of running a 400 or 455 or the 350 HO.  The Endura nose option could be found on some LeMans- a "Poor man's GTO" or a GTO without the callouts... and many restorers now a days are creating their own GTO clones out of LeMans... to be honest, I like the LeMan's front end better than the Endura option.

My car is the "Luxury" edition.  It was called the Luxury edition because it has A/C (which was an expensive option 40 years ago), an automatic transmission, better shocks, rear wheel skirts (I have them but popped them off, not crazy about the look they give) and a 'plush' interior.  The grille is different than other body stylings of the LeMans- it has two crossbars instead of one that the LeMans Sport Coupe or the GT-37 had- not to mention the mesh is not as deep set and kind of reminds me of an Oldsmobile.

The September 2011 issue of Muscle Car Review features a '71 Pontiac LeMans GT-37 which is really nice, and of course Gene Hackman drives a 4 door '71 LeMans through New York during the infamous chase scene in The French Connection.  I've also been inspired about other LeMans that have been restored, like this guy's:




Dustyn's Pontiac Lemans from Sam Ramsey on Vimeo.

Here's the car and the condition it's in. Yeah... a little rough but the body is straight and the Pontiac 350 V8 engine growls with power, even with the Rochester 2bbl carburetor on it.  My brother-in-law told me I should swap it out with a 4bbl Edelbrock, but I'd need a lower CFM (probably a 500) since the block size is so small.  It has an automatic transmission, which works well, but I've been playing with the idea of swapping it out with a Muncie M22 4-speed manual transmission... wondering if it'd be worth it knowing there's a lot of work and components that would have to be traded out.  Anyway, here it is:

So, the bad: The interior is thrashed, the dash is cracked. The door panels are in decent shape- though it needs new arm rests. The seats are structurally sound but it absolutely needs to be reupholstered.  All the door and trunk locks are missing.  The ignition lock is missing and needs a screwdriver to unlock it to start it. There's very little body rust but enough to add a bit of work. The front end has the most dents, apparently it stopped a bus whose parking brakes failed and rolled back into it.  The passenger door has a big dent in it. The rear passenger side brake light is melted out because of a bad exhaust system (since corrected). The gas tank mouth is mangled from the lock cap being pried off... and it's missing the air cleaner.  I'm sure there will be more issues, but all in all, not a bad find for under a g-note.

CLASSIFIEDS CRAWLIN'
The tires that came with the car are old, but in decent shape... but hardly anything you'd want to see on an old muscle car.  I found these amazing rally wheels and really nice Avenger GT tires in the classifieds for a total of $175!!  Rally rims go for no less than $80 each on ebay, so these were quite the find.  I can't wait to put them on.


They were on an old '67 Chevelle- which you can kind of see in the background of the second picture.  The Rally rims should fit since the bolt pattern on most of these old cars are 5x120.7mm (5x4.75"), and the tires are beefy at P225/70R14's- bigger than the P205/75R14s on it right now.

Well, more to come!

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