Restoring my 1968 Convertible-Voodoo II - Pontiac GTO Forum
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post #1 of 243 (permalink) Old 02-18-2018, 11:50 PM Thread Starter
 
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Restoring my 1968 Convertible-Voodoo II

Decided to share some photos of the restoration process of my 1968 GTO in case anyone is interested.
I name most all my vehicles...this one is called Voodoo II. This is a car that I bought in Tucson over 30 years ago. I responded to an add that said "Convertible GTO...needs engine work and new top". When I saw the car it needed a bit more than that but I bought it anyway. I rebuilt the engine, trans, replaced all the wearable parts in the suspension, brakes etc and got it so it would run and drive. Then gave it to my brother so he could work on the interior have a new top installed and enjoy the car. Unfortunately he never was able to work on the car and kept it in storage for the next 15 years. He then hired a restoration shop to finish the car but that didn't go too well. The car was at the restoration shop for 9 years before it closed down and then the car went missing. Eventually I was able to locate the shop owner, recover the car and buy it back. The car was in pieces....completely taken apart, even the body was separated from the frame. Lots of parts were missing and all the previous work would have to be done over.

The car deserved to be restored since it is a Ram Air II 4 speed car. Verdoro Green, black interior, black top, rally gauges, rally II wheels, disk brakes, power steering, 8 Track.
The Ram Air II was released in the spring of 68 as an upgraded version of the popular Ram Air 347 option code first offered in 1967. The RA II had new round port cylinder heads very similar to the RA IV that followed in 69 and 70. The manual trans RA II engines had the famous "041" camshaft which was carried over to the RA IV engines the following years. By all accounts, these were fairly brutal performance models considering they came with the mandatory 4:33 HD STT axle, M21 close ratio 4 speed transmission, round port cylinder heads, aggressive camshaft, etc. At this point in time there are 5 convertible RA II GTOs known to remain in existence (manual and automatics). Hopefully some more will turn up later...

So, I went out in search of a shop that specializes in classic Pontiac restoration only to discover there are several swindlers out there that just wanted to rip me off. I decided to spend some time to research exactly what would be needed to restore the car to a fairly high level. Knowledge is power and the more I learned, the more confident I became that I could tackle the project myself. I have completed frame off restorations before so I wasn't totally clueless but I also knew this car has some extra historical significance so I want to do the best job possible. Luckily there are some very knowledgeable and helpful people on this forum that I can rely on to help me if/when I get stuck so that is comforting. I then spent the next 20 months searching and collecting the missing parts.....most notably the engine. The original RA II engine was not with the car when I bought it back in 1987 so finding a suitable replacement was going to be a challenge.

So, enough talk. Time for some pics. Here is the pile of parts that I came home with. Not pretty. The floor boards had been replaced but the workmanship was poor and the replacement pans were not primed so they had flash rust across the entire surface. Not sure what brand floors the guy used but they didn't fit the car very well so I knew they were going to have to come out. The rest of the body looked decent although the LH qtr panel looked like someone had gone after it with a dent puller.....might need to replace that panel but wouldn't know for sure until after the car was media blasted. Once the car is media blasted, the sins have no place to hide.

If you guys are interested....I can continue posting progress updates.
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post #2 of 243 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 10:53 AM
 
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Looks like quite the project I'll keep eye on your progress if you don't mind keeping the thread updated. This will be my first restoration and I'm wanting to tackle as much myself as possible. I do have great friends to lean on too but this fourm has been great at getting my head right for the journey ahead. Good luck on your's can wait to see it evolve.
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post #3 of 243 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 11:20 AM
 
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Thanks for the story behind your '68 and for the pics. Would greatly appreciate you doing a resto thread with pics and all (like Dan Woodland - https://www.gtoforum.com/f83/dans-69-restore-tale-53945/ ) . My father used to say if you want it done right you have to do it yourself. He grew up with Model T and Model A Fords so it was easy for him compared to GTO's, but it still seems to be true today. Best of luck with your restoration.

Long live '68 GTO's!!
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post #4 of 243 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
 
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Glad to see there is some interest in the project. I wasn't sure anyone wanted another restoration thread since there are some good ones out there already.

The project is well under way but there is still a lot of work to do. I work on the car during the weekends so progress is quite slow. Even so, I was looking back through the photo folders and was amazed how much better the car looks now compared to when I started.

I should mention that a complete restoration like this is not cheap. The cost of parts and materials alone (without any labor) is just about the same as the price of a finished car in many cases and especially so when you need as many parts as I did. If this car was a base engine model then it probably wouldn't make financial sense to restore it so it would then become an emotional decision.

Maybe it would be a good time to talk about resource literature. Once I decided to move ahead with the project, I dug out some old books and manuals that I have owned since the 80s and looked them over a bit. I also searched the net for additional info that would be helpful for this project. The photo below is the assortment of printed material that I have collected (so far).

The two bottom rows are the most useful. The 1971 illustrated parts catalog is full of exploded view illustrations and part numbers for various applications. The books cover previous model years going back quite far. Very good coverage for GTO models up through 71 so it's a great resource. The binder on the lower right is the 1968 Service Manual that I have owned for decades....glad I kept that around all this time

The second row from the bottom are more essentials in my opinion. Good info in all those books on that line. The 1969 Assembly Manual contains many sheets from the 1968 model years but most all have been revised for 69....even so, it's useful to have for reference at times.

The third row shows some additional books that really aren't necessary to have. The Collectors Originality Guide has some great color photos but otherwise didn't have anything that wasn't already found in the books previously mentioned. The How To Restore Your Pontiac GTO was even less helpful. Someone that needs that book probably should not attempt a frame off restoration project. The How To Rebuild Pontiac V8s didn't have any info that I didn't already know but I can see how it would be a good book for someone who is unfamiliar with Poncho engines. The Cliff Ruggles Q-jet book is well written and very useful if you want to learn more about QuadraJet carburetors. The Doug Roe Q-jet book and the Racer's Handbook are books that I bought in the 80s and contains a lot of theory and principals.....useful for modifying a carb or engine for competition. Neither are necessary for a restoration project.

The top line are old catalogs and booklets that I found in my files. Both from companies that are no longer in business. Purely PMD was a Pontiac restoration shop where I grew up and would frequent in my youth. They built some pretty nice cars and I was fortunate to work with those guys part time one summer around their shop. During my time there, I learned a few things that still help me to this day so that was a very good experience and likely the inspiration that caused me to build and race Pontiac's a few years later. Nothing on that top row is necessary....just included it in the photo since I had the stuff all laid out.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
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post #5 of 243 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 03:34 PM
 
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Very cool! That color combo will look beautiful! Welcome to the "GTO restoration club", specializing in busted knuckles, loud swearing, and empty wallets!

Look forward to more pics!
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post #6 of 243 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 09:47 PM
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Yes! Keep em coming, especially the engine build.

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post #7 of 243 (permalink) Old 02-19-2018, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
 
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Yes! Keep em coming, especially the engine build.

Bear
I will be checking clearances in a few weeks to make sure the machine shop did the work properly. I always align hone as well so I have an undersized timing set and also hope it fits. I did search and find something on Cloyes website that shows how to measure the center distance. Maybe this link will work. I know you don't need it but might be helpful for the next build.

http://www.cloyes.com/Images/CloyesHP2017.pdf
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post #8 of 243 (permalink) Old 02-20-2018, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
 
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Day 1-Inspect for rust

The day finally came where I was ready to start working on the car so I dragged it out in the open and pulled out the engine and transmission. Out came the 1967 WZ code Firebird engine that we built all those years ago. It has 670 heads that have been heavily worked by a fellow named Dunk Brown. If I remember correctly, he worked at the GM proving grounds in Mesa Az and was the go to guy for Pontiac cylinder head port work. Set up to run an HC-03 cam which I think is a little more wild than a "041" stick. Figured it would run pretty well with those 4:33 gears out back....too bad we never got it out to the strip to find out. Not sure what I will do with that engine.....maybe something will present itself someday...

So, back to the GTO...
I wanted to get some good photos before I started taking things off the car so I could reference later. Good thing I did because I can't tell you how often I go back and look at the early pics. I also inspected the common areas for rust. I used a wire wheel on an angle grinder to remove the paint and expose bare metal to see what I was dealing with. To my surprise, the rockers, wheel wells and trunk drops were in excellent condition. I did find some body filler on the back corner of the LH quarter panel....super thick....caked on. So, I was pretty concerned about what I would find underneath once it was media blasted. I also took note of undercoating, seam sealer and over spray so I could attempt to duplicate later on. Note the heavy seam sealer at the body joints behind the rear pumper that was then painted over with body color. Also noticed the rear plug at the quarter panel to tail pan returns must have been installed after paint since there was no overspray on the plastic plug. The LH inner quarter panel to tail pan section was heavily dented.....additional signs that something serious happened to that side of the car in it's past life.

Also note the awful work on the floor pan install and how the contour doesn't nest up to the floor braces very well at all. I guess the guy never heard of a wire feed welder....talk about old school...he brazed the floors in. I didn't even know people did that any more! I had to plasma cut out some sections of the floors just to get the body to set back on the frame correctly. However.....the floor braces were super solid as were the inner rockers. I was happy about this since it meant I would be able to keep the original braces in place and only had to replace the floor pan itself. I decided I was going to order a new one piece floor from Restoration Performance Center in Tempe AZ which is pretty close to where I work. My plan was to replace the floor and then send the body out for media blasting and epoxy powder coat. Then I would see what else needed to be replaced/repaired once all the parts were blasted.
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post #9 of 243 (permalink) Old 02-20-2018, 03:03 AM
 
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Thank you for sharing your project, your pictures and progress is helping me keep focus on my Ď73, I have started my own photo album on what the condition was when I picked it up and what I have done to this point with hasnít been much since I got it in December and itís winter here in Michigan. You have been lots of help and canít wait to see more of your progress.
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post #10 of 243 (permalink) Old 02-20-2018, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for sharing your project, your pictures and progress is helping me keep focus on my Ď73, I have started my own photo album on what the condition was when I picked it up and what I have done to this point with hasnít been much since I got it in December and itís winter here in Michigan. You have been lots of help and canít wait to see more of your progress.
That is the idea. Sharing what we learn so more classics can remain or get back on the road. I keep telling myself this is my last project car....but we have a 1973 LeMans Sport Coupe in the family that is crying out to be restored. These things are like puppies....when you see one, you just have to bring it home and give it some love.
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