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    1979 Caprice Classic sedan project

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    octopusmotor
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    1979 Caprice Classic sedan project

    Post  octopusmotor on Sun Sep 20, 2015 12:17 am

    hello all --

    Meet my two project cars: a 1979 Caprice Classic sedan and a 1983 Olds Delta 88 Royale sedan.



    For today's purposes, we'll be focusing on the Caprice, which hasn't moved since about 1998. I remember the day my dad brought this home for the first time, all shiny and new, and my plan is to take it back to how it looked then. (Somewhere I still have the original window sticker, too.) This was a project I'd hoped to begin many years ago, but life got in the way, and only now am I able to make it happen.





    The Endura fillers around the bumpers are long disintegrated, but that's to be expected. Underneath the gunk and faded paint the sheet metal is still solid as ever. The car was never wrecked, so what you see here is what came from the factory.



    Original factory 305 with 3-speed automatic. It'll all be taken out and gone over, overhauled as appropriate and reinstalled. Nothing fancy on this project; just taking it back to more-or-less as built unexciting family car. Saving the fun for the 88, which always seemed to want a little more gusto anyway.  Very Happy  



    Now to the one area of this project that gives me pause: corrosion on the A-pillars, compounded by vinyl top and years under a tarp (if only I had known then). As does the erosion at the top of the windshield recess, roughly at the vinyl top seam at the roof peak:



    And then there's this behind the doors, thanks to years of pine needle/forest crud buildup:





    Which makes me think some real fun awaits when I pull everything and examine what's left of the cowl. (I'm assuming a worst-case scenario there; that way, if there's less damage, it's a victory.)

    You can also notice in the picture of the right side door there's water damage to the floor mat. I know the heater core let go in the mid '90s, and no doubt the replacement let go too, so I'm expecting to find typical B-body damage to the floor pans. I didn't see any signs of any damage around the rear window, but I'll also pull the back seat and check things out back there first chance I get. Between the cowl damage and the likely damage to the floor pans, I'll probably be a world-class welder by the time this is all done, but I love this old beast too much not to do it.

    No shots of the interior, but it's not worth seeing anyway, just garden variety vinyl and plastic interior that had begun to look cruddy sometime in the '80s thanks to UV fade and discoloration. The carpet (which was one of those JC Whitney replacements anyway), headliner and part of the upholstery had been replaced while the car was in service, so trashing that stuff and redoing it is no loss. Some of the plastics have disintegrated, but that stuff was falling apart when the car was in service anyway. Enough is in there to clean up and restore, the major stuff is intact, and there's really nothing about the interior restoration that's causing me to lose sleep.

    Today was devoted to documenting and initial survey, and once the weather cools down and my work schedule lets up a bit, I'll go back over, rip the mushy carpet out and survey the floorboards, and do some other things to stabilize matters a little more. I can then work up my plan of attack, and over my winter holidays my dad and I can tow the car around to his shop and I can start teardown, go out in the woods and cuss for a little while, and then come back and start fixing things.

    The damage around and under the windshield and cowl was disappointing, but at the very least I have an idea of what to expect, and I can start making my plans to fix the damage. And, fortunately, I have plenty of ideas and know-how from doing my homework on this forum. I have access to a decent shop, I'm reasonably resourceful, and I'm also a firm believer in Smokey Yunick's philosophy of "it didn't say you couldn't." Besides, the rest of the car is in really good shape, and with what it means to me, it's worth saving. We'll get this done, the Caprice will finally live again, and maybe look even better than it did the first time I saw it in 1979.

    Quick postscript on the Olds: turned out to be in much better shape than I'd imagined, with very few issues and no apparent corrosion, and I may even be able to save the original interior! As let down as I was by the cowl-related damage in the Caprice, I was elated to find the Olds in such great shape. But the 88 is another topic for another time...trust me, though, I'm planning to have a lot of fun with that project.   Wink

    Jodie Peeler
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    Myloth
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    Re: 1979 Caprice Classic sedan project

    Post  Myloth on Wed Sep 23, 2015 1:08 pm

    Looks like some work awaits on that Caprice sounds like fun though.
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    Re: 1979 Caprice Classic sedan project

    Post  GM B-Body Forum on Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:01 pm

    I cringe when i see the rust and rot, because i know thats going to be alot of fun and alot of work!


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    octopusmotor
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    Re: 1979 Caprice Classic sedan project

    Post  octopusmotor on Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:57 pm

    Yeah, I have to admit I was a little taken aback, about to the point of wanting to cry a little, when I first found that cowl/A-pillar rot. It drove home just how much work I have ahead. But that's why I'm doing my homework now, getting a plan of attack together, and treating the project as "everything I don't have to fix is a bonus." This is an instance where being something of a pessimist pays off, as I don't want to end up like so many others who thought "easy fixer-upper" but ended up getting themselves in trouble.

    To that end, this board has been invaluable as I've scoured it and many others to put my strategy together for this project. I have good tools available, I have good help, and I inherited a good bit of know-how from my dad. Given that this afternoon's project is designing and building a camera mount for one of our new studio cameras at work (so we won't have to spend $5000 or so on a new tripod system when our current camera pedestals are just fine!), I enjoy the challenge of a good problem and the pleasure that comes from solving it.

    There may not be many updates for a little bit because my schedule's getting awfully intense, but when I have something of interest to report (which, I hope, will begin to include repairs) I'll share more. Thanks, y'all.

    Jodie Peeler
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    Sweet Seventy9
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    Re: 1979 Caprice Classic sedan project

    Post  Sweet Seventy9 on Wed Sep 23, 2015 5:36 pm

    I can say for sure you're not alone. A-pillar(s) in need of replacement due to rust is fairly common. In fact entire roof replacement is fairly common too. At least once a year I get contacted for a roof.

    I'm a huge fan of vinyl tops but they do have their down-sides. It won't stop me from having one though!


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    solo79
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    Re: 1979 Caprice Classic sedan project

    Post  solo79 on Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:20 pm

    Nice couple of cars you have there. I love seeing these still out there!! Just the other day, I saw a 79 4-door almost exactly like yours going down the road and I couldn't believe it because I never see them anymore. It was rough, but I spotted that front grill and did a triple take. I tried to catch up, but lost him in a sea of 5 o'clock traffic.

    I'm with you on the door jam a-pillar rust, mine has this as well although not quite as bad as yours. From looking at the pics, I'd say your passenger one can possibly be repaired, but the driver's side will most likely need to be replaced as it's all the way into the door hinge mount. I also had several million pine needles in every crevice you could think of. When I picked this car up from the previous owner it was resting under several pine trees. It took me a good month to get them all out and off the car. Once thing I always tell people to check is that rear package tray. If the rear window has been leaking, the rear fiberboard cover with insulation under it will hold moisture and rust that out badly. Mine is severely damaged from this.

    By the way, welcome to the Forum, we're glad to have you!


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    octopusmotor
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    Re: 1979 Caprice Classic sedan project

    Post  octopusmotor on Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:38 pm

    Thank you all very much for the sympathies and reassurance (and the welcome!). I've been encouraged by knowing I'm not the first to face these kinds of problems (and that some of you are facing similar issues to mine), and also that cars in much worse shape have been brought back to life. Challenging as my project is, I could be much worse off than I am right now.

    I've pretty much figured the driver's side is history, and I won't be surprised if the passenger's side is toast as well once I start tearing things down. The vinyl top's probably concealing some fun, and of course I'm expecting the usual floorpan nightmare once the carpet's pulled out. And the pine needles. I can't even keep them out of my daily driver's nooks and crannies, so I expect tearing down the Caprice will yield enough of them (and other junk) to knit a whole new forest.

    Funny...it seems like only yesterday that Caprice was sitting in the family carport, pristine as new, solid as a bank vault. Where did the time go?

    Jodie Peeler

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