Grandpa Car

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DRIVEN
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Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:55 pm

Just a short thread on one of my other cars -- My '79 Cutlass. It was purchased new by my grandparents in early 1980. Apparently it sat on the lot for a while. This was their "good" car that got the single spot in the one car garage. It was used primarily for long trips so most of it's miles were freeway driven. When I was a kid this was the car they would drive when they came to visit on holidays. My grandfather had always taken excellent care of his vehicles with a tendency to over-maintain. When he reached his mid-eighties, he drove very little and since my grandma's passing 12 years ago the car had seen very little use. I planted the seed several years ago that i would like to buy it when/if he decides to sell. It was just such a nice car I hated the idea of it being sold and turned into a lowrider or donked out. He lived about 250 miles away so I didn't get to see him as often as I'd like to but a few summers ago, at a family reunion, the subject of Cutlass came up. As (bad) luck would have it, my 1200 burned a valve just a few miles from the event. I followed him the 30 miles to his home and we struck a deal. I ended up paying about twice what I wanted to but he needed the money more than the car and, under the circumstances, I didn't mind. We checked the fluids and fired it up. I then made the uneventful 250 mile trip home.
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This car is ridiculously clean! It had 156K. There has never been a speck of rust. Unfortunately he had it repainted about 3 years before I got it. Not a show quality job but still presentable. Thanks to plastic mats, there isn't a single stain or smudge in the original carpet. The trunk is flawless and the spare has never been mounted. It came with brand new tires, a set of mounted studs, and a new battery. The oil-change record revealed less than 200 miles driven in the previous 3 years.
It has a 305, TH200, 2.29 open gears, and the rare aluminum hood, bumper supports and drums. For a Supreme Brougham, it has very few options.
Over the first year I had it I collected a limited-slip, 3.42s, 200-4R, F41 sway bars and steering box, Monte Carlo firewall braces. My plans for the car were to add some of the things that could have been options, but didn't come on this car. The goal is to keep it somewhat period correct.
When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a hippy.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:59 pm

This was my parts piles.
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I used a factory limited-slip from an '87 Camaro and 3.42 ring and pinion from an '89 S10. I ordered a ring gear spacer and install kit from Speedway.
**NOTE** In the catalog the install kit was listed for 1980-1988. I found that the inner pinion bearing in my '79 was smaller and had to buy one at the parts store. I also replaced the axle seals. During the install/set-up I also found that I was unable to shim my pinion deep enough for a perfect pattern. I went as far as possible but ran into interference between the pinion and the carrier. See the pinion marks below the cross shaft hole? (BTW, the pattern you see isn't the final one -- It was a little better.) I found that there is a howl. I'm going to do some research and tear back into it.
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Also installed the quick ratio box, front and rear sway bars.
Since I haven't been able to locate a "Grand Prix" bar -- I made one. I also made a rear tie bar.
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Another point to note; when at the wrecking yard -- grab everything. See the difference between brackets and bolts from stock (left) sway bar vs. F41 (right) bar?
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:04 pm

...which brings me to this. I went out to the paint shop one day to throw a charger on the Cutlass thinking I might fire it up that afternoon. When I rolled the cover back I found this dent at the top of the driver's fender. It's tough to really see in the picture but it's about the size of a baseball. To say I was pissed is a huge understatement. And, big surprise, no one knows how it got there. Just goes along with the territory here at the compound.
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The thought of having to do body work and try to paint-match had me really nervous. It stayed like that for 2 years.
When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a hippy.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby 510freak » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:07 pm

Wow is that ever a clean cutty :thumbs:
Taterhead » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:35 am wrote:[quote="Taterhead » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:41 pm


Sorry, I was channeling my inner flatcat.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:12 pm

Picked up a set of staggered 14x7 and 14x8 Appliance Wire Mags for the period correct look. They were in pretty decent shape but the PO put some scratches in them in an effort to "polish" them out so I needed to spend some time to get them right. I found a set of center caps at Hubcap World for $5 each too.
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I racked up the Cutlass one night and pulled the rear wheels. I figured I'd just use the car as a polishing fixture. Mount two wheels on the rear, start the car, put it in 2nd gear, and start with 600 grit and work my way up to 2000. Then use some aluminum polish. The more I worked them the less pleased I was with the lip condition. Tough to tell in the picture but the wheel was spinning while I wet sanded.
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I was unsatisfied so I quit and took them into the shop. I chucked them up on our brake lathe and cleaned the lips. This got rid of 98% or the gouges and chips. It also let me reestablish the profile that had been damage in the past. (Sorry, forgot the camera so there's no pics on the lathe). After:
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some of the imperfections I noticed after sanding. Should mostly disappear after the final polish.
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Decided to blast the drums since they'll be somewhat visible now.
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Here we are after 3 hours. Started with 220, then 320, 600, 1500 (all wet), finishing it out with Heavy Metal polish. My back got really sore.
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Took my hand-me-down tires to work and mounted them up. Lug nuts were ordered from Summit.
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On the car!
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:14 pm

510freak wrote:Wow is that ever a clean cutty :thumbs:

Thanks, it really is but I can't take any credit for that.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby 510freak » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:16 pm

DRIVEN wrote:
510freak wrote:Wow is that ever a clean cutty :thumbs:

Thanks, it really is but I can't take any credit for that.



Sure you can.
its still as clean as it was :thumbs:
Not all chopped/hacked like most them ended up
Taterhead » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:35 am wrote:[quote="Taterhead » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:41 pm


Sorry, I was channeling my inner flatcat.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:21 pm

Then nothing happened for over a year. I had fired it up and driven it around the block on a few occasions but that's about it. There was a show coming up in early June (2012) in the town (250 miles away) where it spent most of it's life that I' was planning to attend. I had pretty grandiose plans and I wasn't sure it was all gonna happen. First, I needed to take it through DEQ testing before I could get new tags. They expired in 12/'09...such a slacker. So, I needed to weld in a cat and see if it passes before I did anything else. I looked into collector insurance too since I drive it so rarely anyway.
The 200 4R STILL hadn't been installed. I had been thinking for a while that it might be time to pull the engine, reseal it and give it a "Krylon rebuild". I always liked the look of the late L82 with it's black valve covers and aluminum intake on the corporate blue long block. That means I should probably clean and detail everything else under the hood. Where do I stop? I went to the Portland Swapmeet and picked up a few items. Some ended up on the 305, some probably wont. Here we go...
LT1/L82 valve covers. They look kind of crusty in the photo but are actually in really nice shape. They would polish out great if that's the direction I was headed. Called my buddy about gloss black powder coating:
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I couldn't find a reasonable deal on a 70's Corvette or Camaro dual snorkel air cleaner so I did an impulse buy on this Spectre unit. Probably won't actually use it but for $40 (new in box) I couldn't not buy it.
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A pair of Crossfire intakes for $60:
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I've been collecting 2GCs when the price is right. My buddy came into town for the swapmeet and brought me two that he had found in his stash.
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Where am I going with this combination?




























I wonder if a diagonal tri-power would work? :? I've seen guys make new top plates and create a crossram with two 4bbls, so why not? Everyone knows that the Crossfire was pretty lame. I'm thinking I might remove and weld up the EGR passages and port the runners out to a reasonable size and see what happens. I'll consider this a lonnnggg-term project and play with it on the side. It probably won't ever get put into use but might still look cool hanging on the wall.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:26 pm

It was time to go to work. Welded in a new cat so I could pass DEQ since the old one was hallowed out. Failed Friday afternoon, readjusted carb, passed Saturday morning and blew zeros! Wanted to make sure I could get legal before I ripped it apart.
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Monday morning 8am:
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Monday morning 11am:
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The retired TH200:
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Tore into the 200-4R to see what was necessary. I'd planned on a converter upgrade (2200rpm), and a shift kit. I found that the stator support was really worn, which is a common problem. No big surprise:
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Ran into town to pick up parts. Grabbed a stator support and shift kit. Neither warehouse had the convertor in stock even though they both claimed to so I had to wait a few days.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:32 pm

Tuesday 8:30am. Stripped to longblock.
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Wasted original timing chain. Almost touching the timing cover.
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Fresh double roller.
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New freeze plugs. Got rid of the block heater too.
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Check this out. ZERO sludge thanks to my grandpa's faithful Delo 400 oil changes.
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Bearings look pretty good for 160,000 miles too. New rear main seal.
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My fake L82 all buttoned up!
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Got the shift kit installed as well as the new stator support. Then clean up the engine compartment.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:36 pm

That felt like the longest, most unproductive week of my life. I kept trying to make progress but it was just one interruption after another. After it was all said and done, engine ran great and looks okay. The transmission seemed to be wounded. The line pressures are all over the place. Some gears high and some low. Reverse seems pretty good. Won't build more than 220psi no matter what. Gauge check is important.
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Got in contact with Superior and they believed the pump is weak. Since I had other jobs to do, it spent the night outside for the first time in probably 10 years.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:49 pm

So, here we are 10 days later. Finally got a chance to work on the Cutlass again. As I stated earlier, the guys at Superior indicated that my pump was weak. After trying a couple things I decided to just eliminate the possibility that I did something wrong and wanted to start from scratch. As luck would have it, that weekend was 1/2 off sale at PnP so I went out and yanked another transmission. It turned out to be a KC code out of an '86 Parisian and will be referred to as transmission #2 from here on. My research uncovered that it has one of the more desirable valvebodys. Brought it home, cleaned it up, replaced a couple seals, new filter and installed it. Completely stock and unaltered with it's matching TC. Lucky me! No second gear and slipping in 1 & 3. Pressure test revealed that it could not produce more than 120 psi. URG!!! Pulled it back out and spent a day trying to come up with a solution. The solution I came up with is to put a rebuilt pump in trans #1 and swap in my KC valvebody from trans #2. This would give me a rebuilt TC, pump, known good internals, and an unmodified valvebody. The pile of leftovers below.
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Got it all swapped over and installed. Now it shifts into all gears with no slipping. But, it shifts hard and late. There is no passing gear kick-down function. It also has a very noticeable downshift when decelerating. A gauge check revealed that there was 275-300 psi almost all the time. It actually split the hose on my gauge in the middle of my testing. Cable adjustments made no noticeable difference. I gave up and decided it's going to a transmission shop for a professional diagnosis. So it didn't make it to the Pendleton car show. I ended up driving my dad's '64 El Camino instead. He drove the '68.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:53 pm

So when I finally got it back from the tranny shop, $125 bucks lighter, all they found was that my pressures are high (reason I brought it in), it shifts late and hard (again, reason I brought it in), my cable was not adjusted properly (I told him when I dropped it off), my lockup isn't working (duh, there's no wiring at all), and my cable geometry wasn't right (he couldn't explain how it was wrong though). I have stock Qjet, cable and brackets. It's right on. Anyway, he proceeded to explain to me that I'd be farther ahead to just buy a rebuilt transmission than try to fix the one I have. But he was happy to sell me an ATSG manual at full mark-up so I could fix it myself since I'm "clearly mechanical enough to tear into one of those since you've already replaced the pump and valvebody. You should be able to figure it out" :roll: Basically, I paid for a diagnosis but only got a verification of my complaints. At least I got it back a week late and filthy from sitting outside. I hate being a customer.

So I finally got around to tearing it out and breaking down the pump and valvebody. The pressure relief valve was seized in my reman pump. Looks like it had some moisture in it while it sat on the shelf. Cleaned everything up and found no problems with the valvebody at all. There was one 3/4" tear in one of the separator plate gaskets. Put it all together and stuffed it back in the car. It's about 50% better. Still shifts too hard and late under light throttle. If I do a WOT run while manually shifting 1-2-3-4 it's perfect. It still acted like the pressure is too high all the time but I never hooked up a gauge to verify. I was pretty burnt out on it so I took a break for a few days.

After my break I spent some time at the yard yesterday pulling another 200-4r. Transmission #2 had a 30 day warranty and I was on day 28. So here's #3. It came out of an '86 Cutlass and looks really greasy but it's actually a coat of black paint. Probably safe to assume it was rebuilt in the past but at this point it really didn't matter. I pulled the pan and it had the usual residue and neglected orange-ish fluid.
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Got transmission #3 installed. Left it completely stock and unmodified with it's matching used torque converter. All I did was drain as much fluid as possible and put in a new filter. I didn't even change the adjustment on the TV cable (it was dead-on). Fired it up and topped off the fluid then ran it through the gears on the hoist. Once I had positive engagement and positive shifts I dropped it on the ground and went for a drive. This thing shifted so nice! Put a few miles on it and brought it home to give it a bath. Next step wass to exchange the reman pump for another unit. After seeing the stuck valve, I'm suspecting that further moisture contamination is causing the slide to hang up. Then I'll throw #1 back in and try it one more time.

On a side note; Once I cleaned the rebuild paint off the tag on #3, I found that it was also a KC. The ink stamp on the valve body confirmed this. There was a lot of debris in the pan though. Put a few more problem free miles of in-town driving and was pleasantly surprised. Still shifted really nice. Pulled the defective rebuilt pump from trans #1 and took it back to the transmission parts supplier. Their "pump guy" is off for the week so I will get a call once he has a good unit for me.

So after 2 weeks went by and I still hadn't gotten a call from the transmission supply place, I dropped in on my way back from the machine shop. They had no idea what I was talking about :roll: . After getting the right guy at the counter I found out that nothing had been done AND they sent my core money to a random shop :roll: :roll: . They STILL didn't have a good pump on the shelf so now I get to make yet ANOTHER (my 4th) 2 hour round trip tomorrow when it's ready :roll: :roll: :roll: . I'm starting to think transmission guys kinda suck.
Last edited by DRIVEN on Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby 510freak » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:55 pm

Geesh, that bites, Take it to a "pro" and they cannot tell you anything other than what you have already told them :shock:

:x
Taterhead » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:35 am wrote:[quote="Taterhead » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:41 pm


Sorry, I was channeling my inner flatcat.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:09 pm

Super professional, right?

I ran transmission #3 for about a month before I finally got around to swapping transmission #1 back in. The current configuration is new converter, reman pump, KC valvebody. It's about 80% better now. Still has a pretty firm/late shift but MUCH better than before. Looks like the defective reman pump was to blame for most of it. I'm not completely confident in the current cable either. Acts like it's stretched or something. I might pick up a new one just to see if there's much difference. Sad transmission #3 out on the floor...yet again.
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Super custom manual lockup switch:
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Soon to be replaced by this switch along with an indicator light:
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To test it out I ran over the hill to the Wednesday night Beaches/PIR show.
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My car ran great as usual. And, as usual, didn't get much attention at the show. I did catch a few guys trying not to get caught taking a closer look. Almost like they didn't want their buddies to see them checking it out. Great, my car's like a cute fat chick :lol: .
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:28 pm

I drove it a few more times last summer/fall then put it away for the winter. This spring I drove it a few times when the weather was nice and the transmission seems to be getting better -- or maybe I'm just getting used to it. I sold transmission #3 so I'm committed to #1 now. The buyer is going to rebuild it and put it in a '68 GTO. He was very happy to get it. For the amount of rapid responses to my ad, I'm thinking I should have asked more for it. Next time. I developed a pretty good passenger side valve cover leak. When I went around hard LH turns it would get on the cat and make crazy smoke screens. I tore it apart and replaced the vc gasket. I also did some general cleanup and took some measurements for future exhaust work. My tailpipe is getting holes in it. Might as well upgrade the whole system. I'm thinking duals through a Dynomax Ultra Flo X muffler ( http://www.summitracing.com/parts/wlk-17552/overview/ ) in the stock location with 2 tailpipes.
My tires were also looking pretty old. I considered some BFGs or other raised white letter tires but here's where I'm conflicted -- I really don't like RWLs. But since I'm trying to follow a somewhat period correct theme, they seem appropriate.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:33 pm

Ordered the tires up at work along with some new center caps (online). Got tired of waiting for the caps to show up so I finally just mounted the tires. I waited for a month for the caps to show and they never did. Apparently the company went under but they never disabled their site. It showed my order as processed and shipped but nothing actually happened. I ended up getting a different set off ebay.
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I also ordered up a Grant (#830) wheel and an Olds horn button. It seems too small so just ordered up a larger diameter version (#832) of the same wheel. Was planning to have it leather wrapped in a medium blue that would compliment the darker blue on the hood and roof. Haven't decided yet. I really need to get my rally pac gauges installed too.
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I also painted the recessed portions of my trunk and front fender emblems.
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:37 pm

New larger wheel installed. It's only 1" larger but makes quite a bit of difference to me. I also did a tie rod end adjustment to center the wheel and adjusted the play out of the steering box.
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My center caps finally came in. Well, more accurately they'd be called spinners or knock-offs.
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They were listed as NOS and when I opened the box they were packed in newspaper dated 1985. Been on the shelf awhile, I guess.
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These weren't exactly the same as the set I had initially tried to order. I had to grind the outside of all four just a bit to get them to fit the center register of the wheels.
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Then, on the front two, I needed to relieve just a bit to clear the hub of the rotors.
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Since these towers were slightly shorter (shallower) than the original set I wanted, I had a clearance problem with the front dust caps. I ended up just removing them and ran a bead of RTV around the threads of the knockoffs to keep the grease off the wheels and the dirt and water out of the bearings. I think they make the wheels look wider/deeper. Feedback, both positive and negative, is welcome. Here's the finished product...
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:39 pm

Kinda crappy picture but I got my aux transmission cooler installed.
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If you go back a few posts you'll see a mention of a mystery dent on the driver's fender. Not sure how it got there but it was about the size of a baseball and went through two subtle body lines on the crown of the fender. I tried for 3 months to get an appointment with the paintless dent removal guy. Finally got together with him yesterday. Such an impressive skill. Took him about 20-25 minutes to make it disappear. Check out the before and after:
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Re: Grandpa Car

Postby DRIVEN » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:44 pm

I actually made the Pendleton show this year. Left at 4am and was home before 8pm. No breakdowns and I got 20mpg. We were parked in the exact same spot as last year. My dad's '68, my '79, and my buddy Jerod's '38.
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