The paint covers the outer shell of the car. It is the first thing people see and it is the thing that instantly designates the condition of the car from a distance. While the paint is what people see, it isn't what makes the car. What makes the car is the condition of the metal below. People can put on fancy clothes, belong to a fancy country club, and live in a fancy neighborhood - but be empty and rotten on the inside. While the outside wrapper is what people see, God sees our hearts. He knows the condition inside, and that is what matters most.
This project started in 2008 in Lakeland, FL. I was transferred to Central, IL in March of 2009 and with great sadness, hope, and promise left it behind with the families in the group to continue the challenge. They responded in a mighty way and through a great deal of time and effort finally had a rust free rolling chassis with a fresh coat of paint. I knew that I hadn't seen the last of this machine - as it has great work to be done between now and Nov 2012. In May 2011 through a miraculous chain of events...the car traveled 1,100 miles to my shop in Illinois to finish it up. I've since met more dedicated and energized people that have poured into this project.
The guys packed it to the gills with parts, pieces, and anything that even looked like it belonged to the bird.
After sorting the parts...we turned our attention to the inner fenders and other items that needed some jet black PPG base/clear - then inserted the inner fenders back in place. Anybody that has ever tried to align a first gen front sheet metal can appreciate the hours of fun this was!
After a couple of large boxes arrived from National Parts Depot - we could finally get down to putting in the permanent fuel system, door handles...and some other small details. Also used the time to install the window regulators door/side windows. This is the small stuff that takes untold hours. These small projects are best tackled a little at a time and steady. It is amazing what can be accomplished just a few minutes here and there each day. You'd go insane if you tried to put all of this together at one time. It reminds me of how difficult many people find it to read their Bibles. In fact, I would venture to say that the majority of Americans have never read even one full chapter on their own. It seems overwhelming and time consuming. You'd be surprised what picking it up for 10 or 15 minutes a day would do. It will change your life, and what once seemed impossible and overwhelming suddenly becomes a path to freedom and understanding. If you've read along this far - that is my challenge to you starting now. Pick it up...read it - see if it doesn't rock your world.
A big thanks to the fellows at Maaco in Lakeland, FL. They put the shine on this old bucket of bolts. They painted the inside of the panels off the car, then buttoned it up for a big shot of the slick stuff. Two tone paint to be topped off with the red R graphic down each side and over the trunk. There is arguably never a greater moment than the first time you see a project car rolling out of the paint booth.
2 Corinthians 5:17 New Living Translation (©2007) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17 is one of the most powerful verses in the Bible. Think about that for a moment. The old is gone. Isn't that the best news you've heard in...well, all your life? I can't think of a better verse to capture the heartbeat of this car, and the message it translates to anybody willing to hear it. This verse wouldn't mean much if we started out with a perfect 1968 Bird that had been kept in climate controlled storage for the last four+ decades. Nah...that isn't what this is about. Hospitals are made for sick people...garages and tools are made for broken down cars that need a new start...and Churches are a place for all of us that are far from perfect. A way to begin again new from the inside out. Are you plugged in any where? No better time to start than now.
Have I mentioned that this engine is an animal? The folks at Vintage Motion know what they are doing. This Pontiac 400 with full roller hydraulic cam and reworked 6X heads thumps a beautiful tune with every revolution of the crank. This engine is bold, powerful, and well balanced to meet the needs of this car. With ample power to push it down the road, but enough manners to idle and cruise easy on a lazy afternoon drive.
The dashboard of the car houses the gauges. Gauges might be taken for granted, but they serve as the eyes and ears of everything about the car to keep things within the appropriate boundaries. The gauges serve as a warning for problems developing under the hood, and they give us an accurate indication of how fast and how hard we are pushing the machine. A quality set of gauges can make the difference between detecting pressure, temperature, volts, and fluid levels that are all headed in the wrong direction. Paying attention to the needles on the gauges gives the driver the appropriate warning to address problems before it is too late. Ignoring your gauges...well, just doesn't make any sense. In fact, a recent survey found that many Americans are driving modern cars with air bag, ABS, check engine, and other warning indicators glowing and yet they ignore these warning signs. Some even cover them over with tape or business cards or photos so they don't have to be reminded of the problem lurking below. The local repair guy doesn't mind because the longer you ignore them the higher the repair bill goes. Life is like this. Everybody has a conscious. It serves as our internal gauge. God placed it there for a reason. The apostle Paul said that man has no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. Romans 1:20 When we ignore it, or cover it over with excuses it leads us into further despair and the collateral damage only grows. Don't ignore your warning signs...
To keep an eye on the goods for Project R, we have the latest concept from Dakota Digital. The VHX gauge set combines the best of digital technology with the elegant needle design. This gauge set slips into the stock housing and connects to the brain box via Ethernet cable. The system not only monitors the normal features, but it includes a clock, logging data, and can measure 1/4 mile time and other performance of the car. Anybody behind the wheel of this machine will have no excuse for not knowing what is going on under the hood and what boundaries they are traveling in. These gauges are spot on accurate, bright, and one of the most impressive modifications that I've ever installed on a car.
All work and no play isn't good for anybody. Once we had all the fluids contained and juice flowing to the right spots it was time to fire it up and take it on the street for a little tire shredding.
If this image below looks bizarre - you would be right. Trying to get an aftermarket hood to fit with OEM fenders, aftermarket core support and an OEM bumper that came from another bird....well - you do what you have to do. Thanks to my buddy Tony - the front bumper now fits as good as it is going to fit.
Thanks to an awful lot of hard work, contributors, and our friends at Vintage Air...we now have full climate control. This isn't just any a/c system - this is state of the art fully electronic computer controlled icy cold in a box - and heat when you want it. When you first open the boxes - the project looks a little daunting. Thanks to the super easy to follow instructions and high quality construction of this kit, we were able to slam it in the car over the weekend.
To convert a Pontiac, you have to hunt down an OEM a/c pulley. I picked this up from a fellow named Roy that deals in old Pontiacs. You need a 480509 to do the trick. It tucks behind the other pulleys putting the a/c belt the deepest in towards the block.
Before painting, I de-burred the a/c compressor mounting brackets and test fit them to the engine. These are simple high quality brackets that make mounting the a/c a snap.
The drier and condenser fit like a glove. The unit comes with pre-formed hard lines that give a factory look and feel.
We had a little help from John and his sons Max and Rex. John donated a high quality single fan assembly to keep the cool breeze flowing. the twin fan system we had wasn't going to be adequate with the addition of a/c. Thanks John!
This is the a/c evap module with lines installed and ready to be mounted under the cowl. This little jewel produces frosty cold air and heat to keep the cabin of the bird as comfortable as your living room.
This little disc slips into the cowl with a genius bracket system to seal off the original blower motor hole. The VA system allows the factory vents to be modified to accept the new style blower ducts.
The inginuity can be seen through out this product. The VA sure fit system allows the stock OEM heater control head to be converted over to the new 100% electronic system. By combining the oringal 1968 parts with the 2011 parts you get something better than either on their own.
The upper center of the dash has to be cut out to make room for the new center a/c vent assembly.
Simply AWESOME! You'd never know from inside there was something different unless you looked close at the Vintage Air label in the middle. I powered up the system and did the initial learn process of the limit switches.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!