Friday, November 9, 2007

The 73 Project - part VI

In the spray booth (snapped through my noo Nokia E65) :

4 coats of color and 4 coats of clear went on.

Orange peel effects and cracked paint no more!

Decided to run metallic grey highlights on the insides of the exterior's rear roof and about 3 inches along the outside of the rear window over the rear deck vent grilles.

Concept metallic grey stripes running along each side of the hood mounds and tapering off towards the nose. Front deck vent grilles getting the same treatment.

In livin color! The body's condition and finish never looked better than it does now.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The 73 Reborn - part V

At one point in his life, Henri Matisse - pscyhedelic lawyer immortalized through his million dollar works of art - quipped that impressions are made by the strongest choice of color effects, and the content from which they are surfaced over is really irrelevant. But with the Corvette (the C3s anyway), content seems stronger than color. The bold and flaring wheel arches provides fluidity over dimension, while the low central posture accentuates muscle toward the nose and tail. Bearing in mind that the original design evolved from a concept born from Zora Arkus Duntov's C2 mako shark to Larry Shinoda's manta ray, the C3's shape is iconically one of a kind. No other muscle car - the Mustang, Challenger, Camaro, Barracuda - comes close (though some may find cause to object :)). Not even the earlier or later versions of the Corvette.

With this challenge, the decision on color was of course not easy. The 73 came originally in yellow, and I had earlier wanted to maintain consistency with its factory code. I toyed with the idea of slapping on mustard yellow (ala Lamborghini), then metallic black (ala Knight Rider (but note - just need to highlight that I'm NO Hasslehoff fan), then Ferrari red to embellish the traditional sports car spirit that Prince echoed through his hit, Little Red Corvette. The experience of choosing your car's color is akin to choosing the right name for your first born. Excitement, anxiety, and anticipation. I consider myself decisive and sometimes impulsive but having changed my mind so many times at one point or another on this matter, I now sometimes question my understanding of who I really am. But then again, I suppose that's excusable. It is after all, my first real muscle car!

Poring over pictures of other C3s on the net and getting opinions from family and friends helped steer my choice. Dropped black as much as I loved it, as form would have been enveloped by color, and lines would have been lost. Dropped yellow, as its too much of an acquired taste. And dropped red, as its just too bloody cliched. So decided on something that would accentuate the lines, make it stand out from other cars on the everyday roads, yet maintain some form of subtelty.

Photoshopped images (from a Vette forummer) that helped with the elimination process:

Blue - represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness. Nice but..

Pink - represents romance and nostalgia. Naaah...

Green - emotional healing and protection? Pttthh..

Yellow - intellect, freshness, and joy. Only 1 out of 3 - I'm weathered and angry.

Red - represents joy, sexuality, passion, sensitivity, and love. Sure it also yells 'mid life crisis'!

Orange - represents desire, sexual passion, pleasure, domination, aggression, and thirst for action. Hmmm... perhaps just a tad bit darker, and a slight shade of red in it...


So ORANGE it was.

At the body shop, I got samples of different orange shades and settled for 2:- (1) Saturn Metallic Orange, and (2) GM Sunset Orange.

Flipped through hundreds of different color shades.

$100 if you can tell the difference. Left is GM Sunset, somewhat of a browner shade, right is Saturn Metallic, slightly redder hues.

OK - so I suck at taking pictures..

Saturn Metallic Orange under the sun.

Off to the paint booth..

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The 73 Reborn - part IV

Thirty four years is a long time. A damn long time. Such a long time that the effects of time had found itself showing on the 73's exterior. On some parts, the paint was so thin that you could see the underskin, on some other, there were signs of overspray, probably at least 4-5 haphazard coats of yellow to cover up dents and nicks. The body surface needless to say, was equally in need of rescue as orange peel and warp effects manifested from nose to tail. Doors were misaligned, due to the age-induced hinge shifting (quite a common problem with the older Corvettes), and and the bonnet dropped lower than it should have due to heat warpage and the missing bonnet stops.

I had a few folk view the 73 prior to starting off the bodywork. Everyone seemed to have a different view on how to handle the process (some even suggested refabricating the entire body!) - but all had one thing in common - they seemed intimidated and perceived a shitloadda work having to be invested into the process, and of course equated it with fairly high quotes. There was just too much uncertainty and doubt which didn't help to inspire any of my confidence. But then, through a friend's recommendation (who's into classic rebuilds himself) I decided to take a gamble with this one particular bloke in Subang, who seemed really comfortable handling the job, and seemed to instinctively know what he needed to do to get the job done. Mind you, the restoration of the 73 isn't just about metal work - its decades old American fibreglass!

Mr Body Man wasn't cheap, but looking back, he sure was worth every single penny. Here's a brief pictorial log of what was done:

The original paint stripped via the traditional makeshift blade method, and indentations and scratches smoothed out with filler. Together with the rest of the body, steel brackets were also subsequently sanded down with grit paper, and wet sanded.

Entire engine and steering column was of course masked. Interior - dash, seats, gear and brake consoles, door frames, windows, t-tops, carpets - all removed. Side rocker mouldings removed and sent for polish. Door locks were also filled and shaven off, and chrome door handles taken out.

Weather stripping, rubbers. clips, chrome inserts, and the front and rear glass panels were all stripped.

Vacuum headlight assemblies carefully dismantled and tops sanded down separately.

Bumpers, badges, rear lights & covers all carefully removed and stowed away. The entire fuel tank was dropped and the filler cap unscrewed and inventorized.

Rear aerial removed and assembly hole filled and shaved.

The bonnet was re-adjusted at the hinges with washers and thankfully sat quite evenly. Stops would need to be in place after paint to prop it up by approximately 1 cm.

Doors were also carefully adjusted and aligned by adjusting the hinges.

After about 20 man days of body prepping, the 73 was ready to take on some color!

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The 73 Reborn - part III

The 73's interior was pretty shod, considering it sat in a barn for over a decade. Fittings have remained stock from the day it rolled off the plant in St Louis Missouri, and will hence need to be replaced - this includes bolts, screws, washers, door assemblies, the entire dashboard, gauges, wiring, seats, carpets.. the works!

Weathered weather stripping needs replacement.

Wiper area requiring a compartment cover.

A new 20 gallon gas tank needs to replace this rusted out unit.

Gas sending unit equally rusted out, and needs to be changed.

Door panels tattering around the edges and require replacement.

Underside of flimsy gear console was plastered. To replace!

Gauges were fortunately, still in good condition.

Center plastic console bits removed for reconditioning.

Door latches and chrome sills removed for reconditioning.

Removable T-roofs, dash panels, gear and handbrake consoles, safety belts stripped.

Original spare tyre.

The front windshield has been removed and in its place a rebuilt unit done in KL. Other salvageable parts have been stowed away for refurbing, chroming or painting, and once put together should look better than it did new. Over 100 parts and items will be ordered through Eckler's or Corvette America in the next few weeks.

What's on the list right now includes body mount kits and reinforcement, brake pedal switches, rear bumper bolt kit, carpets, inner door handles, anti-rattle glass door cushions, door assmebly parts (gastkets, springs, sill plates, screws etc ), door felts, chrome mirrors, exhaust tips, fender louvres, a new front bumper (and the retainer kit), badges and emblems, gas cap, filler neck, guard, gas tank and sending unit, tank shield, headlight actuators, vacuum storage cannister, hood alignment bumper cushions, hood grille nuts, rubber bumpers... (pant!) ignition top shield, inner fender seals, park brake cable pulley and console slide seal, radiator support and shroud seal kit, rear astro vent and screws, compartment fasteners, crossmember bushings, spring liner kit and mount cushions, rear strut rod, trailing arm bushings, rear vent plenum drain hose, seat belts, side marker light, spare tyre carrier and kit, power steering hose kit, steering column firewall seal, steering damper, idler arm, relay rod ball stud sel, and tie-rods, sunvisors, upper and lower suspension ball joints, sway bar brackets, tachometer drive gear... (pant! pant!) taillight lens gasket, t-top fastener kit, weatherstripping, tunnel foam insulation, vacuum hose set, lower valance panel, windshield clip set, wiper compartment cover, and switch nobs... for now, which should be about 90% of what I will need.

Project costs just seem to be growing every day. The pain.. all worth enduring I guess.

To be continued...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The 73 Reborn - part II

After clearing US customs at LA, the 73 was on the water for roughly 3 weeks, in which time, local import related papers (permits, appointment of freight and handling agents, storage, clearance, etc) were prepared to avoid having the 73 sit in local port storage for longer than it needed to.

As it arrived on new year's eve, there was unfortunately a good 2 weeks of unproductive down time at the local port and customs, by which time, the Approved Permit (AP) for vehicle import (which has a 6 month time frame) had expired. This entailed having to go through the entire rigmarole of getting the AP extended by the Ministry of International Trade & Industry (MITI), while the 73 continued to sit in (or out of) storage vulnerable to all kinds of forces de nuisance.

While at the port, the 73 understandably attracted a lot of unwelcome attention. Evidences of this include missing emblems, damaged wheel caps, and a pried open roof. As the fuel lines were disconnected, the 73 was immobile and our heroes at port exercised their keen professional judgement by deciding to move the 73 around by forklift (!!) that resulted in a bent and dented in left exhaust and nicked transmission.

After 2 months since its arrival (!!) the 73 was eventually hauled out on a flatbed tow truck to the shop.

Sitting in the open & unprotected for 2 months. Pried open roof is visible.

Local customs had trouble locating the VIN, despite having 4 seasoned officers inspecting the vehicle from all angles. Found on the left A-pillar and visible from the front windshield.

Rolling it down on brakes and into the shop.

Damaged exhaust - which no party is taking responsibility for. Dicks.

Misaligned exhaust coupling.

To be continued..

Friday, October 26, 2007

The 73 Reborn - part I

Back to the project.

Its been about 10 months out and there is definitely progress. The ‘73’ (calling it ‘the Corvette’ is just too impersonal) came in with the engine and drive-train already worked on (not up to mark but definitely on the to-do list once the car is fired up). Over the past 3 quarters, there’s been a lot of planning and sourcing, and body work has since started and completed, with the 73 going through the motions of being sanded down, filled, primed, and painted. Just enough reason to neglect postings to this here blog.

In the absence of details, here’s a pictorial log. At least on the work done while it was in Texas..

The bay when I got it. A sleeper showing its age.

The numbers matching 350 chained out. Sent for cleaning, porting, balancing, block painting, and to be later mated with new pistons, conrods, cams, recut crank, and heads. I'll spare you the details.

Engine bay - frames still in good nick, but showing slight signs of surface rust, linkages enveloped with layers of grease.

Back from the shop. Block painted yellow with Weiand heads.

600 cfm Edelbrock performance carb sitting on the Weiand.

Recond small block stock valve cover, yellow striped to match the block, new jet hot coated Sanderson headers.

14" 360deg performance chrome Edelbrock air filter, and chrome power brake booster.

Cooling system hooked up - original radiator pressure tested, flushed, fins straightened, and repainted with new 350 chrome thermostat housing. Brake, ignition and air-conditioning systems all set up.
(Mental note to self : replace radiator rubber hose with braided hose & to have chrome plate rivetted on fan shroud (single fan)).

Fired up with a new HEI distributor and AC Delco starter. Plug wires haphazardly fitted.

Stock calipers heat painted with new organic brake pads.

Calipers slotted over recut rotors.

New B&M traveller torque converter.

To be continued...