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    What to look for on a 1976 Delta 88 Coupe (455cid)?

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    jeepfreak81
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    What to look for on a 1976 Delta 88 Coupe (455cid)?

    Post  jeepfreak81 on Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:35 pm

    I'm going to look at what I remember to be a pretty mint 1976 Delta 88 with the 455. The car has been in that family since new, and I recall the original owner babying it. To my knowledge it has been garaged, and only driven maybe 1500-2000 miles since his death 10 or so years ago. It has been driven yearly, but the grandson that owns it can't afford to fuel or store it any longer.

    What should I look for on this car? I won't have any money into it, but I am likely going to trade my motorcycle for it. Currently it is known that it has a battery drain, and he thinks something is going on with the thermostat, he thought maybe it doesn't even have one in it.

    I will see it for the first time in many years tomorrow, so I want to make sure I look at the problem areas.

    Thank you,

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    Myloth
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    Re: What to look for on a 1976 Delta 88 Coupe (455cid)?

    Post  Myloth on Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:54 pm

    First thing I do is look underneath for frame rot check every nook and cranny and get your hands on it and press for soft spots.

    Listen to the motor if you hear any odd noise from the bottom you might need a rebuild. Valvetrain noise is not a huge deal could

    have sticky lifter etc. But rod knock or something akin to it is terminal also look at all your lines brake and fuel will they have to be

    replaced? Check brakes themselves do the rears groan or the front make any noiseor have heavy wear? Check your hoses (tears

    rips weak spots) and check the coolant, oil and transmission fluid is the tranny fluid red? Is the oil brown? Is the coolant green?

    Looks for drips,  leaks or any kind of fluid leakage from engine to axle. Open the trunk and look inside the quarter for rot and check

    the trunk pan for rot. Look carefully around the body for signs of paint lift or rust. Those are the basics I check on a vehicle I plan

    on driving any time soon. If it's a project car well that's different then the rust is the big thing but either way doesn't hurt to be careful.

    jeepfreak81
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    Re: What to look for on a 1976 Delta 88 Coupe (455cid)?

    Post  jeepfreak81 on Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:39 pm

    Myloth wrote:First thing I do is look underneath for frame rot check every nook and cranny and get your hands on it and press for soft spots.

    Listen to the motor if you hear any odd noise from the bottom you might need a rebuild. Valvetrain noise is not a huge deal could

    have sticky lifter etc. But rod knock or something akin to it is terminal also look at all your lines brake and fuel will they have to be

    replaced? Check brakes themselves do the rears groan or the front make any noiseor have heavy wear? Check your hoses (tears

    rips weak spots) and check the coolant, oil and transmission fluid is the tranny fluid red? Is the oil brown? Is the coolant green?

    Looks for drips,  leaks or any kind of fluid leakage from engine to axle. Open the trunk and look inside the quarter for rot and check

    the trunk pan for rot. Look carefully around the body for signs of paint lift or rust. Those are the basics I check on a vehicle I plan

    on driving any time soon. If it's a project car well that's different then the rust is the big thing but either way doesn't hurt to be careful.

    Thanks, I know to check most of that. I just wasn't sure if there was a particular area more prone to rot, or anything specific to the Olds 455 that I should be looking at.
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    Re: What to look for on a 1976 Delta 88 Coupe (455cid)?

    Post  Myloth on Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:29 pm

    The rod knock or any odd lower engine noise as I mentioned as they have oiling issues and bearings are known to fail

    if the engine was not very maintained well. The design of the Olds 455 is good but too much oil winds up on top

    and not enough down below causing premature bearing failure. One reason I mentioned to check the oil and take a good

    look at at it. I have had several cars that threw rods and they all didn't sound quite right before it happened. The

    way I can describe it is an odd noise or light tapping near the pan. All you would be hearing at the time before the rod

    let go is a bearing that is scored and making it hard for the rod's motion to be true.Other than the oiling issue Olds 455s

    are great motors one cure for the oil issue is change the oil pan to a larger one(Not the oil pump to High volume!).

    Other than this it's a car same old problems and perks as any other. Good Luck!
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    solo79
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    Re: What to look for on a 1976 Delta 88 Coupe (455cid)?

    Post  solo79 on Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:48 pm

    Welcome to the Forum!! Pretty much what Myloth said is a good overall check. You have to remember though, if the car has only been driven 1,500-2000 miles over a 10 year period, it's going to need some things. Rubber seals and gaskets don't like to be dry very long. Even a little bit of gas left over in a carb can varnish and gum things up inside those tiny ports. Pull the engine oil dipstick and look at the oil. I once bought a car where I pulled the dipstick out, smelled gas and could literally light the tip of the dipstick on fire. You don't even attempt start an engine like that. I would clean the carb, replace the air filter, check all hoses/belts, change the oil, coolant, plugs, wires, cap/rotor, and drain the gas tank, replace fuel filter, put new gas in before I even attempted to start it. Crawl up under the car and carefully inspect where the rubber hoses connect to the gas tank as these are proned to rotting. Bend them with your fingers and if they feel stiff or crack, replace it all. Same goes for vacuum hoses and fuel lines at the front if any of them are stiff, they need to be replaced.

    That's what I do with a car that hasn't been run much in a lot of years, but the owner claims it starts and runs. When you drain the oil, look for signs of metal shavings or "clots" in the oil as well. You can tell a lot from an engine just by draining the oil.


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    Re: What to look for on a 1976 Delta 88 Coupe (455cid)?

    Post  jeepfreak81 on Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:39 pm

    solo79 wrote:Welcome to the Forum!!  Pretty much what Myloth said is a good overall check.  You have to remember though, if the car has only been driven 1,500-2000 miles over a 10 year period, it's going to need some things.  Rubber seals and gaskets don't like to be dry very long.  Even a little bit of gas left over in a carb can varnish and gum things up inside those tiny ports.  Pull the engine oil dipstick and look at the oil.  I once bought a car where I pulled the dipstick out, smelled gas and could literally light the tip of the dipstick on fire.  You don't even attempt start an engine like that.  I would clean the carb, replace the air filter, check all hoses/belts, change the oil, coolant, plugs, wires, cap/rotor, and drain the gas tank, replace fuel filter, put new gas in before I even attempted to start it.  Crawl up under the car and carefully inspect where the rubber hoses connect to the gas tank as these are proned to rotting.  Bend them with your fingers and if they feel stiff or crack, replace it all.  Same goes for vacuum hoses and fuel lines at the front if any of them are stiff, they need to be replaced.

    That's what I do with a car that hasn't been run much in a lot of years, but the owner claims it starts and runs.  When you drain the oil, look for signs of metal shavings or "clots" in the oil as well.  You can tell a lot from an engine just by draining the oil.  

    Thanks!  I'm no stranger to old cars, but I was worried about model specific stuff.  I do know that this car was garaged for 90% or its life.  In the glove box was every repair record right down to he original window sticker.  

    It was in rougher shape then the last time I saw it, the grandson said it has been through a couple family members before him, and one left it sit outside.  We did get it running, and it ran great once the crap gas started to get burned through the system.  

    The interior was darn near perfect even the carpets were clean, but the lower parts of the door, and behind the wheels was rough now.  Trunk pan was good, coolant was real dirty, oil and trans oil looked good.  Overall not bad for a Michigan car... I did see signs of some issues near the wheel wells but they appeared minor compared to the others.

    It has a brand new exhaust and 2 tires, the drivers manifold had an exhaust leak.  

    There is an issue with the rear brakes, the reservoir was dry in the master cylinder, but the front reservoir was full and the brakes worked.  It had a fuel leak at the pump - but that was only a foot long piece of hose.  














    I will probably drag it home, more practical than my Harley... The 455 broke the tires loose on skunk gas barely trying with a 2.73 rear gear.  


    My fear is the expense of having patch panels made to fit, I'm doubtful anyone makes them for this car. Same with the rockers are there are signs they are bad under the stainless steel.
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    Re: What to look for on a 1976 Delta 88 Coupe (455cid)?

    Post  Myloth on Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:11 pm

    Looks pretty good but it all depends how much you want to put into it. My philosophy is if I put 5k into a car and drive it for even 4

    years I made out like a bandit. All I hear from friends and neighbors is how much their monthly payments are. And if it's just for

    fun how much is a new Harley these days 18-19k? Althought the body work is the tough aspect unless you did it yourself it costs

    ands costs sigh. If it's just patch panels that's not bad it's the hidden rot creeping up the quarters that will get you. I had 75'

    Chrysler after I had it a week the driver's leaf srping blew through the trunk! But I like that car it's nice!
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    Re: What to look for on a 1976 Delta 88 Coupe (455cid)?

    Post  solo79 on Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:27 pm

    Oh my, it's a 2-door. Now, that is cool. I'm a little 2-door biased if you can't tell. Do you have any idea how rare that car is today? That is worth restoring in my opinion. I literally have not seen one of those in at least 15 years. I would look at Impalas and Caprices of those years as the body panels are very similar and more plentiful. You may be able to make something work there. Yea, it does look pretty bad around the bottom, but I'd take my time, save some money and restore that one! I was knocked out when I saw the pictures! Nice score!


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    Re: What to look for on a 1976 Delta 88 Coupe (455cid)?

    Post  jeepfreak81 on Thu Sep 25, 2014 6:47 pm

    Myloth wrote:Looks pretty good but it all depends how much you want to put into it. My philosophy is if I put 5k into a car and drive it for even 4

    years I made out like a bandit. All I hear from friends and neighbors is how much their monthly payments are. And if it's just for

    fun how much is a new Harley these days 18-19k? Althought the body work is the tough aspect unless you did it yourself it costs

    ands costs sigh. If it's just patch panels that's not bad it's the hidden rot creeping up the quarters that will get you. I had 75'

    Chrysler after I had it a week the driver's leaf srping blew through the trunk! But I like that car it's nice!

    It's a 1200 Sporty, so it's a $4500 - 5k Bike, There is a very minor spot in the wheel well That I could see, and I am sure it is a bit worse. I'd have time as I am sure I would keep it a long time.

    It wouldn't be a DD, it would be just another old car stashed in my barn for Michigan summer use. Unfortunately I am addicted to dragging cars home now that I have a barn. They are all driven though.

    solo79 wrote:Oh my, it's a 2-door.  Now, that is cool. I'm a little 2-door biased if you can't tell.  Do you have any idea how rare that car is today?  That is worth restoring in my opinion.  I literally have not seen one of those in at least 15 years.  I would look at Impalas and Caprices of those years as the body panels are very similar and more plentiful.  You may be able to make something work there.  Yea, it does look pretty bad around the bottom, but I'd take my time, save some money and restore that one!  I was knocked out when I saw the pictures!  Nice score!

    I'm partial to 2 doors, and I used to have a B-Body Caprice 4 door that I always wanted to drop a big block in, but had to sell it before I ever got a garage. This is a 2 door that has a big block already - so I got a little giddy too.

    I only found 3 of these cars really when googling, and one was in a junkyard (but more solid than this one), this was the only big block 2 door I found a few 4 doors with the big blocks though. I did not spend a ton of time on it though.

    I have not brought it home yet, after I got it running and took the guy for a drive he may reconsider. It's a distant cousin that has it, so no biggie one way or the other to me.

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