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Hi folks! This is my first thread on GTOForum, and to be honest, it's more one of me looking for some help as I go along working on the project car I picked up. It's my first. I've worked on off-road rigs to some degree, but always wrenching, never fabricating. I wanted a 70 Chevelle for years, and almost had one before the seller (for his uncle) got the car, started ripping around town with a half-fixed electrical issue, then tried to mark it up because "it's an SS clone with a 383 so it's worth more". I don't buy cars from idiots and told him so, and continued on my search. My fancy moved on to the '66 Chevelle, which I appreciated for the wind-wings, the straightforward styling, and the decklid that had more of the sleek look than the haunches of the '68 onward A-body vehicles from GM. I loved the tunnel window too. Chevelles look great in photos. I'd been wanting a muscle car for going on ten years now, had been saving my dollars, and called my pops' body-shop owner. He got on the case and after 6 months or a year, called me with a '66! He gave me somewhat of a description until I finally asked "Wait. Is this a Chevelle?" His response: "Nah man, it's a .66 LeMans! They're cooler than a Chevelle."
I had to look it up. I didn't know what they looked like. I ended up driving to see the car nearly 4 hours with my now ex-girlfriend, drove the car, bought the car, and drove the car home while she drove my 'runner. I was in love. The Speedometer wasn't accurate. There was no Tachometer. The clock didn't work. There was no A/C and the weather was heating up. But I loved it. It sat a little wonky since one of the shocks was no doubt blown. It was cranky on cool mornings to get going. I blew a small fuel hose in my driveway because someone had shortened the hose and reattached it to the fuel pump instead of buying a new hose to replace the rotted one. It would blow radiator fluid out the overfill if you topped it up to the proper levels, but wouldn't overheat. But it was mine.
I had some debris in the float bowl of the carburetor during one drive that then plugged up the carb and stopped the engine and flooded the carb. One call to AAA fixed that (everyone knows that as soon as you call AAA your car trouble goes away and this was no exception). I drove it home and kept running it.
All of the little groans and squeaks of the vehicle were character. Running rough in the morning was the car stretching her muscles and loosening her joints in the morning. Unshakeable from the first time I drove the car was the joy the car brought to other people. Honks, thumbs-ups, waves, fist pumps. Everyone loves these old cars with the stacked headlights. My neighbors dad had the same car when my neighbor was little. The old man stopped by to check it out.
That's the preample to my build. Here are the details of the original car and my plans:
the car was built in November of 1965, and was the 398th car out of Fremont, CA for 1965. It was a Pontiac Lemans, optioned with a 326, and a manual. Then optioned with the 4-speed Muncie. Bucket seats, no console. Dealer-fitted smog pump (in '65!), and has lived in California its entire life, proof being the original plates are still on the car and it is still actively registered, now in my name.
I bought a LeMans because I couldn't bear to mess with a GTO and turn it into a restomod. I like those as restorations and a glimpse into the past.
I looked at rebuilding the 326 and fitting it with fuel injection, but Pontiac engines can be expensive to rebuild, and then I still have a REALLY heavy engine with 326 cu. inches of displacement. I opted for a new engine from GM (Chevrolet Performance).
Here is the plan:
LS376, upgraded camshaft for 495HP, 470ish ft-lbs torque
T56 Magnum transmission with Bowler electronics, fittings, and hoses for master Cylinder
BMR Suspension kit, to include upper and lower tubular control arms front and rear, Viking dual adjustable shocks front and rear, frame bracing, powder coated frame
12-Bolt rebuilt Chevrolet rear end (out of a '66 El Camino), Truetrac guts, tom's straight taper axles 30-spline
Wilwood 6-piston fronts and 4-piston rears with drum parking brake
Rocket Racing wheels, Michelin tires
Chevrolet Front Accessory Drive Kit, pieced together
Classic Auto Air kit with upgraded control panel
Be Cool Radiator setup
American Autowire Classic update kit
Dakota Digital RTX gauge package
Aftermarket seats and 3-point seatbelt accommodations (Morris Classics)


The goal is to make the vehicle look like a beautiful old car, but perform like a much newer car with more modern amenities. A pro-touring restomod. I'll be asking questions as I go!
 

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Wow you have a cool plan and it will be a totally fun car!....really awesome thanks for showing the photos,...and best of luck. The rest o mods are cool, I see lots of corvettes and such but not as many Pontiacs,....and Lemans...too cool for school!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Wow you have a cool plan and it will be a totally fun car!....really awesome thanks for showing the photos,...and best of luck. The rest o mods are cool, I see lots of corvettes and such but not as many Pontiacs,....and Lemans...too cool for school!
Thank you! More photos to come as I get around to uploading them.
 

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Before you powder coat the frame;

Have it blasted and then check every factory weld, top and bottom. Especially on the control arm attachments. This is what I found on my 68, before and after. From what I have read, incomplete welds were common from the factory. Mine just spread open over the last 50 years.
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Discussion Starter #14
Ouchie! I didn't specifically check my frame when I had it blasted, but I certainly didn't see cracks like that before or after powdercoat. And I twisted the frame with a jack to twist deflection. Glad you caught yours!
133913
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The original Pitman arm, Spindles, Holley engine mounts, and Steering Arms were powder-coated as well...

133920
133921
 
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