Next for the Project Car
January 1, 2003
By Scott Lewis
OK. So I didn't have time to write an article for this month. It was a busy holiday season. Since I needed to write it down anyway, here is the list of things I need to do to my 67 Camaro Convertible in time for a full Spring of driving. Keep in mind the car is in good overall running condition, but the items below should be addresses so it will be a great running car.
When I bought the car it came with a new heater core... in the box. I have not installed it. I was hoping to do it at the time I did the transmission. Alas, it took three weekends working on the car to get the transmission finished, and I did not want to spend another full day trying to replace the heater core. I can still drive the car some, but I think it will be sitting for a large portion of the Winter.
When I installed the TH350 transmission I checked the odometer with the mile markers on the highway. It records 17.1 miles traveled for a 15 mile stretch of road. This implies that the speedometer/odometer are off by 14%. My transmission mechanic (in Houston) is supposed to get me some extra gears to get my speedometer on target. I am tired of doing math when driving down the road and not really being sure I am right.
The car has the only two gauges you really need. One to keep you out of trouble, and one to keep you out of trouble with the police. The gas gauge is working to keep me out of trouble, but the speedometer is not doing its job to help keep me out of trouble with the police.
Neutral Safety/Reverse Light Switch
This switch attaches to the "box" the shifter is mounted to. When I first went to start the car after installing the tranny, the car would not turn over. I opened the console and the switch just came out. Apparently it broke off its own bracket. I have seen this listed for $26.95 in a restoration catalog. The local O'Rielly's Auto Parts said they can order me an aftermarket (Stewart Warner) piece for $6. Obviously I am not a purist (I replaced the two speed with a three speed automatic), so I will try the Stewart Warner switch first. What do I have to lose... $6.
Headlight Door Motor
The driver's side headlight did not work when I bought the car. Just the other day (about a week before Christmas) the passenger side headlight door stopped working. I have priced the motors at $95 each. They are electrical instead of vacuum operated, and I expect it to be easy to just swap the motor2. I always assumed vacuum operated headlight doors would be more of a problem, what with vacuum leaks to track down as well as the motors themselves. But is that's the case why did Chevrolet go from electric to vacuum on these cars after my year? In any event, I just assume get them fixed. When the days are longer in the Spring and Summer I rarely need the headlights, but I am driving the car with the top down even in December (with no heater, see above) and it is usually dark on the way to AND from work. I want to get them fixed.
Windshield Wiper Motor
The wipers barely work. In fact I have to fiddle with the switch to get them to move at all. I am pretty sure the wiper motor should just be replaced. This will cost me about $85. Ouch. I will double check the switch and wiring before I spend that much money on the motor, but I am not hopeful. Hey, it's a convertible that should be driven only with the top down, so who really needs windshield wipers anyway.
The second day the car was running after the transmission was installed the rear window split completely open. It was really weird. I used packaging tape so the window at least looks a little like a window for the time being. I would like to fix this before Spring.
I priced a standard replacement window at $59. A glass window costs $169. I have no idea what it takes to install a window in a convertible, so I will have to price this labor out. I might consider replacing the top if I want to go with a glass window. The top is in fair condition, meaning it looks good on the outside. The underside has some tears by the header latches, and there is extra material attached to one of the header bows that is not attached to the headliner. My guess is that the top was replaced, and the current top was not installed properly. Maybe a cheap job.
Again... hey, it's a convertible that is meant to be driven with the top down, so who really needs a back window. Especially here is South Central Texas.
Instead of worrying about the top I could just replace the boot. This is a luxury. The boot that came with the car is in so-so condition. Its clips barely hold it on the car, and I would be afraid to drive with the boot on. Also, the boot has snaps that should allow it to snap to the side panels for the back seat. But there is no receiving snap on the interior. My guess is the panel was replaced with a non convertible side panel. I will have to look into this. If I get a new boot it will be white or parchment to start the car toward a white or parchment interior.
Oil Filter Adapter
This car uses a canister to hold the oil filter. For $12 it is worth it to get the adapter that allows me to use a standard spin on oil filter.
This will be the most fun. Mainly because I will get a performance benefit out of it. The wires are in poor shape. One of the boots doesn't "stick" on its spark plug. The air filter is clogged to the point you can't see light through it, a sure sign it needs to be replaced and it is hurting performance.
A good basic tune-up... spark plugs, wires, points, condenser, cap, rotor, PCV valve, oil air breather & air filter should do the trick very nicely. I am contemplating getting Crane Cams' XR-I Points To Electronic Ignition conversion kit for the stock distributor. This would provide me with a maintenance free ignition. It costs $70, and would almost double the cost of a tune-up. The XR-I has a built in adjustable rev-limiter. That's a nice bonus for a car with no tachometer. I could set it to 5000 or 5500 RPM.
I will add new wire looms at this time. I will probably use Moroso wires. (Remember, I am not a purist). Mosoro's wires are almost the same shade of blue as my car. I still haven't decided if I will get the set that is designed for my car (and probably a dozen others) or get the set you need to cut to length. I would like to install an open element air cleaner, but the same units that fit two barrel carbs will not fit a four barrel. Since I am not going to add a four barrel yet I will wait until then to install the air cleaner. For the time being I will stick with the stock air cleaner/filter, but will probably do the classic trick of installing the lid upside-down to gain a little more airflow.
This is the wildcard. I am seriously doubtful that I can afford to do this this Spring. I have an exhaust leak on the side passenger's side where I dropped the exhaust to R&R the transmission. If I get headers they will be ceramic coated for long lasting durability. Jegs has a set of ceramic coated headers listed for $219. Not bad. But that is not the entire cost here.
I will probably have to replace the entire exhaust. The mufflers and tailpipes have been replaced. They are rust free. However, the pipes that lead from the exhaust manifolds to the mufflers are very rusty, and have multiple welds on them. This tells me the previous owner took the cheapest route possible when he had the mufflers replaced... maybe more than once.
That about covers it. All these things are small items, but they add up quickly. I could easily spend a few hundred dollars on them. I will try to keep costs down. Hey, if I don't get a new computer, maybe I can get the headers. Wishful thinking!
Until next time...