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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Happy new years to all GTO owners around the world. My name is Jon and I am a proud owner of an all original 1971 GTO 400 cid Base. I am the second owner. The car has never been touched. The only part not original is the carburetor. The second owner swamped the original carburetor to a Holley because he hated the HydraJunk, as he said. I have the original rims.

She has rust on the usual places. Worst rust infected is the right quarter panel. I like to keep the car as original as possible to maintain its value. Also I have great respect for the original build and I don't want to destroy the historical value. In this context I need your advice on several questions:

1. I consider to buy a new full right side quarter panel. An original panel cost around 850 $ + shipping and that's a lot of money. I have considered buying a replacement panel from Goodmark or Tamraze's. What is your opinion on the quality compared to stock? Any one with experience here? Should I go for origial or is it "allowed" to buy aftermarket?

2. I like to put vinyl on her again? Any views on that? Is green vinyl possible to obtain? I meen the original type of vinyl or similar?

3. The exhaust is original but it needs to be changed. In your opinion is it OK to put stainless steel Flowmaster's on her? Or is it best to stick to the original? Where can I obtain original exhaust parts?

4. One very important question. She has most options for a 71 GTO, but not disc breaks. She has drums all around. I consider to buy a disc conversion kit. Your opinion here please?

5. I will do a nut and bolt restoration. The motor is running strong, but I will take it apart to be 100 % sure that everything is OK. Some people say that it is idiotic not to change the pistons to "TRW forged pistons". Your opinion please?

6. Is it other changes that you would advice me to do when I am at it?

Best regards from:
Jon A Royset
 

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Looks nice. First thing I would do is get a copy of the cars invoice from PHS document services.

A GTO with drum brakes? I find that very odd. Disc brakes were standard on the GTO package, optional on the Lemans. You are sure you have a GTO (242-first 3 numbers on your vin) and not a T-37, Lemans, or Lemans Sport(233, 235, 237)? You could get the GTO nose on other bodies.

Historical value? In my opinion, the minute you put any replacement patches or panels on the car, it isn't original, even if you install NOS panels. The NOS panels will of course be the exact replacement in contour and fit as opposed to reproduction stuff which is typically close, but not 100%. And, you could get a NOS panel and have an idiot replace it and do a crappy job rendering that perfect NOS piece worth far less -so you have to have a good installer. Do you have to install a complete quarter as opposed to patch panel repair?

If you like the vinyl, keep it. When you replace it, there is a tendency for rust to develop around the rear glass, so a good time to check for this & repair if needed. Most restoration parts catalogs offer vinyl tops in colors to fit.

Exhaust, aftermarket won't hurt it unless you are lookinfg to go 100% concourse restoration -and not drive it much so it does not rot out again. If you can afford stainless, its a good choice. Get duals with the X-crossover pipe. Pipe size is based on your engine HP. Typically 2.5" is good.

Disc brake upgrade is a no brainer even if it did not come from the factory this way. Most of us that have drums do this for safety sake -better and more reliable braking.

TRW pistons are simply a throw back from the "old days", everyone seemed to have them. You don't need forged pistons unless you are going to build up the engine over stock, ie RPM the engine more than 5600 RPM's. Cast pistons are fine and cheaper -if you need them. Now we all will tell you to upgrade your stock cast connecting rods to the aftermarket forged rods that look as factory if you rebuild the engine. They are stronger, more reliable, and insurance. For the price it will cost to rebuild your stock cast rods, a few bucks more will get you better rods. Factory rods are indeed fine if you stick to factory RPMs of your engine and if you want to keep it original. You will need a good machine shop to advise you what you need with regards to worn/replacement parts.

Do your research and make yourself knowledgeable on your car and its year. Get a few books on your year/model. Ames offers chassis manuals and the like. Good to have these. Ask a lot of questions.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Pontiac GTO 1971

Thanks Jim, I appreciate your advice and I will follow it, because I agree with you to a large extent. It is good to hear other peoples input to be more certain when making the decisions.

Jim, believe it or not; in 1971 drum brakes was the standard even on the GTO, but front discs where optional. However most of the 71 GTOs were ordered with the optional front discs breaks I believe. I will upgrade to disc brakes on the front wheels. Do you have any view on which upgrade kit is the best? Anyone please give input!

The left side quarter panel is easy to patch because it is only rusty behind the wheel in a small area. On the right side the wheel arch is infected as well as the area behind wheel and therefore rust welding is more difficult and time consuming. I believe a replacement will be easier and cheaper and maybe a better result too? I will perhaps go for the aftermarket quarter panel because of the price. But it is a painful decision…I do not do it with a light hart.

I am going to stick to the factory specs on the engine. It is more than enough power for me. I like to go as fast as possible up to (and a little bit above) the speed limit sometimes, but I am not drag racing her or anything. Just like to cruise most of the time. However I would like to make the engine as reliable as possible when I rebuild it. Anyone therefore please give more input what I should and should not do (upgrade) in relation to rebuilding the engine.
 

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OK, on the brakes. I pulled a book I had which stated the discs were on the GTO's as standard and optional on others. I don't think too many GTO's would have been built with drums.

Do a search on disc brake conversions and you will get a ton of info from factory to aftermarket. I'd go with a factory type replacement. You can get all this new as a conversion kit.

The quarter fix sounds good. Might need an inner wheel well replacement to complete the repair and get rid of all the rust.

The engine, I would simply bring it to a reputable machine shop you are comfortable with and let him rebuild it to stock specs. Should be straight forward.
 

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Speaking here as someone who actually replaced a full quarter on my own '69, I can tell you that it's a TON of hard work and also that the reproduction panels at best aren't going to fit as well as an original panel. So, in order of preference my recommendation would be:
1) Repair the panels you have, if possible - even if that means using the best quaility aftermarket patch panels you can find.
2) Replace the panel with a good factory original panel (even if it needs some small repair itself but is in better shape than yours)
3) Replace with an aftermarket reproduction panel.

As far as your other questions, a lot depends on what your plans are for the car. If you're going to keep it yourself "forever" and enjoy it, then do what pleases you and don't worry about the effect on value retention because that doesn't matter.
If your concern is preserving value, then 100% original is usually the best choice.
If you're "somewhere in the middle" of those two, then if it were me I'd go ahead and change the things that are durability, safety, and driveability/performance/longevity related. For example, engine internals don't "show" and one of the smartest things you can do to a Pontiac engine is to replace the RODS (not pistons) with a set of good quality forged rods. Go ahead and change the exhaust to whatever you like because it's something that's easy to put back original if you ever need/want to. In fact that's not a bad formula to follow on the whole car --- change it up to suit yourself but keep all the original parts and make sure that you at least preserve the ability to put it back to 100% stock "someday" if you ever want or need to. That's what I did with my '69. Even though right now it's pretty distant from "original" (461 stroker, aftermarket a/c, 9" Moser rear, Wilwood disc brakes, and "a bunch of other stuff") I do still have all the original parts, right down to the original crank, rods, rear axke, factory a/c, and factory disc brakes. If I ever want to go back to stock, I can.

So, don't fret TOO much over the opinions of others. In the end you're the one spending the money, putting in the work, and making the decisions. The only opinion that counts is yours.

(Nice car, by the way!)

Bear
 

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Discussion Starter #6
BearGFR, thanks a lot for your input. I studied your 69 GTO project and I can see that you know what you are taking about in relation to rust welding :) I have now decided to buy two patch panels from Opgi: https://www.opgi.com/gto/G240137/ Given your advice I believe its the best choice. I used to work in a ship yard and I have lots of welding experience. I used to weld cable gates, but it is around 20 years ago, so I need to pick that art up again.

The 1971 GTO is my dream car and I will not sell her. I would like to pass her down the line, if you know what I mean. I know it is not very rationale, because it shouldn't hurt to do invisible improvements, but I have the feeling that it is wrong to do more then the nessesary changes on her. I will put front wheel disc breaks. You agree with PontiacJim in relation to changing the Rods, so I will do that too because it makes a whole lot of sense. I will also put Flowmaster stainless exhaust even though I don't need that. I don't take her out of the garage when it's raining, or even a slight chance for rain :)

BearGFR, I have to say it: You did a hell of a good job with the 69 GTO. You could have chosen an easier project in regards to rust, but you pulled it through anyway! Take care!
 

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Jon, welcome - nice looking car. I think "all original" is over rated for someone like you that plans to keep the car and drive it. Some things like the alternator, starter, wiper motor, etc, will need to be replaced if they have not been already - how would you know? I even think it would be unusual for a 71 anything to have original exhaust. If you ARE concerned about value, you will want to go find the correct carburetor as it means more than whether or not your alternator, as an example, is original. Like Jim said, going to power disc brakes is a no-brainer in my opinion for someone that plans to drive. Now, if you really want to increase the value, don't stop with the green vinyl... paint the thing Verdoro green! :) (OK, just kidding - I said that to get Nightshade's attention). Best wishes, Matt
 

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Matthew, thanks! I know it is all original because the old owner left me a note book with all the things he did with the car since new. He basically only changed fluids. The car has only 69000 miles on it. The old owner and I got a really good connection. He worked at Fisher body in Ohio all his life. He sadly passed away some months ago. He was sick with cancer and that's why he sold the car I believe. He told me that the only thing not original on the car is the carburetor and the radiator (says exact dates for replacement and cost in the notebook). The radiator was swapped with a factory original. The exhaust is the rusty old original for sure :)

Well, I look forward to starting the restoration now, I'll keep you posted.

If somebody that read this thread has good advice regarding any of my questions above I appresiate your input!

Take care!
 

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Jompen,

I would investigate PYPES 2.5 inch mandrel bent x pipe exhaust systems. I am no longer a fan of flowmasters, as they area me too muffler and have too much back pressure. I had them on my 84 monte for years....

I would try to keep as much original sheet metal as possible, but a good used one would be the way to go if you can find one.

I agree with Bear....change the rods!!!! In fact, I would go get a roller cam and a stroker kit and none will be the wiser.

Paint....See what the correct code is white is ok, but laurentian Green is really nice...but not quite as SUPERIOR to nightshade green.....

Back at you matt,

Anthony
 

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Anthony, thanks. I read about the PYPES and their test results are impressive. I have some consideration and decision making to do here I see. PYPES has better price than an equivalent Flowmaster too.

I like green colored GTOs a lot (see attatchment). Green is my favorite color for the car no doubt. I have Jade green interior, so Laurentian Green or Nightshade is a real good possibility. I have struggled with the color issue since I bought her and I have now taken the decision that I paint her the original white color and put the original green vinyl back on her. I struggled a bit to find the correct green vinyl, but I believe I finally have found a retailer now.

One thing I will do however is to remove the "parking bump protective rubber line" you can see in the first enclosed pictures. The car is cleaner without it. It was an option on the car, but I think I will let it go though. What do you think?

I am also tempted to put a spoiler on her, but I think I will let it be with the temptation. :cheers
 

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Jompen, Hello, will try and answer your questions one by one. Occasionally have read posts on this forum and it is your questions that prompted me to register and respond.

1) On replacing the rear 1/4, there is no "devalueing" of the car, if the 1/4 panel r/r is done professionally with a high quality well formed replacement. that said, am not a fan of cheap hip 1/4's that have been around for 25 years. I've been even known to remove NOS quarters that have been cut down and the bottom 2/3 hastily installed and painted. On the RR 1/4, I would not hesitate to have it professionally replaced with either a repro full 1/4 (Dynacorn) or a select used full 1/4. RH NOS 1/4's were the first to be discontinued by GM and are considerably more expensive than the LH's. As such, most national vendors will not even sell a RH, without combining it, as a pair. As the dies degraded on these, the latter NOS 1/4's can exhibit a few draw marks behind the lwr wheel opening area. That also has to be addressed. In the early 00's, I was still sourcing parts for my Lucerne blue/blue '71 Judge. Both rear 1/4's and outer wheel houses need to be replaced, but I was not ready to pay through the nose for an NOS RH. Instead, I chose to go with an extremely clean used 1/4 off a '70 GTO that I'd parted in the late 90's and went with an NOS LH and a pair of extremely clean used outer wheelhouses. It takes considerable work to break down and then address the spot weld points, but considering the desired final results, that's the route I went.

2) On the vinyl top issue, personally I would leave it off during the body and paint phase. There are very few '70-72 Pontiac Abodys that scream "man, I look sharp" with a factory vinyl top. Been to too many national shows, helped many friends and customers go through the same Totally different deal on a '66 or 67 GTO or '66 or '67 Chevelle, the vinyl top look is well accepted. Be aware on a factory vinyl top car, the leaded seam between the roof and 1/4 panel is roughly finished and it's not uncommon to run across rust pocks in the sail panels and in the roof on many longtime vinyl top cars. Spmetimes the vinyl tops will peel off and the roof will be fine and there will only be rust in the rear corners of the back window and pinholes along the catwalk. Many times the lwr rear window channel will be rusted through on a '70-72 A body and will require rebuilding of the channel & replacement of the outer catwalk.

On the exterior color issue, it's your car and your choice, but I would strongly suggest, as the color combo is far from the top 10 in common acceptance for a '71, that even as you are restoring the car as a long term keeper, if you are interested in changing the color to a 71 Pontiac factory color such as Laurentian green or even Tropical lime, you are not going to hurt the value, 1%. Again, have been there. I'm not a flipper builder, dont do the Local yokel car shows, either, just a long time owner/ hardcore restorer, that pays attention to values. Have owned over a dozen '71 and 72 GTO's, with 5 of them being factory round port cars. One of my more project oriented Pontiacs is a '72 Sundance orange 455 HO auto project car out of W Texas. Its a very solid car with ivory buckets, console, and black dash interior. The original white vinyl top was removed in the mid 80's and is why it has a very solid roof, no rust. Though a white vinyl top agrees with the interior, I seriously doubt a vinyl top goes back on.

3) On exhaust systems, have gone two different ways on ex manifold equipped Pontiac Abodys. The first, had aluminized head pipes and tailpipes made locally that were bent by a longtime exhaust shop owner who uses a flawlessly performing card machine. Every bend is exact just like an NOS pipe or one from Gardener. Have also use commercially avail aluminized mandrel bent short sections to drop from the RA manifolds, then they were TIG welded into a 2.5" aluminized head pipe which again was bent on a card machine. These headpipes were built similarly to how the '73-74 SD Firebird head pipes were made. (mandrel bent drop section, then wire welded into the headpipe). Either way the headpipes go back into full length case 2.5" inlet/outlet Dynomax mufflers, then exit into 2.5" tailpipes. Of the commercially avail mail order systems, am much more aquainted with the PYPEs systems on customer's cars and would use one of their systems over one of Delfield (Ram Air Exhausts) or Kryta's (Inline Tube) systems. Be aware, if you do try and take the car to a very high level of restoration and plan on entering it in the Concours judged portion of the show at GTOAA Nats, you will get dinked a few points for an X pipe.

4) Have gone three different routes on the brakes for original drum brake built GM's. Disc brakes were not standard equipment on a GTO or LeMans till the '73 models, they were an option from '67-72. Last, would note, the new chinese mfg disc brake conversions are not the end all be all for every 64-72 A body.

Will ck back in later this evening and shine some more light on brakes. Have installed nearly two disc brake changeovers and sold many many more conversions.

Roger
 

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Since you plan to keep it you should make it "Jon's GTO". Remove the vinyl moulding? YES!! Ugly is a charitable opinion on that. Spoiler? What would you have bought in 71? Changes done in good taste that respect the car and it's heritage DO NOT decrease the value. Disc brakes? Do you have to ask? I too wonder how drums made it on the car when disc was standard (according to several books). As usual, and what many concours judging rules don't consider, is that ANYTHING was possible. Not Pontiac related, someone in the bigger Mopar judging sandbox found an unmolested 69 Road Runner with 3K miles on it. The body bolts on one side were all "target" markings, the other were almost all "anchor" markings. They tried to make that a judging standard. I can't imagine the ignorance that was applied to the attempt. As if Chrysler Corp would stop production because the right side of the the assembly line ran out of "anchor" (or target) bolts? They grabbed a keg of whatever and pumped those cars out like a Polish sausage machine!

That was meant to assist in keeping YOUR CAR in perspective. My honest opinion says that if the engine passes a compression and leak down test, had good oil pressure, doesn't run hot, LEAVE IT ALONE. One of the most reliable cars ever offered back then were PONTIACS. Will you be racing it? Do you plan to tach it up to redline every time you go out? Have you already? (LIAR!!! :D) Once in a while, you'll never hurt it. Every time? Maybe do an upgrade, but it's gone 69K miles already, right? If any of this helps, kool. Oh yeah, aftermarket sheet metal? I wouldn't urinate on it if it were on fire. Garbage. Too thin (.030 vs .045), poor metalurgy that likes to break past the welds, and even if that replacement panel had the "Goodmark" stamp on it, trust me, it's Asian junk. Experience? I could bore you to tears, but my clients do enjoy a lot of significant awards over the last 40yrs. Nice car man, treat yourself with the project and good luck.
 
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