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.
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.