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I need to think about something other than all the engine problems I had with my '64 GTO, so I thought I would introduce my '64 Tempest. In 1989 I raced my GTO for the last time with slicks on it. That was a Saturday night, and on Monday morning first gear and the cluster broke in the M22. The car was pretty nice, so I'm telling myself "what's wrong with this picture". With my wife's blessing, I started looking for a project car to make into a racecar. At the time I was running a 428 in the streetcar, but I had the old street race 400 set aside, and I still had the '65 tri-power I took off of my wagon. So I go looking for any model of a '64 or '65 Tempest. First they were hard to find, and then when I looked at some of them the sellers thought they were made out of gold. A good friend of mine was a sign painter and he painted lot of racecars. The point being that he had a lot of contacts. He told me about a car about 15 miles from me that he thought would be a good candidate. I looked at it and it seemed OK, but I thought it had a lot of surface issues. He said they would not be a problem. I was trying to keep my expense below $1500, which was starting to look like a pipe dream. I got this one for $1200, and at the same time I bought some extra parts. No engine, no transmission, and no interior. Plus it had '70 GTO disc brakes on the front, but they weren't working. The master cylinder had not been replaced. So I purchased it in 1991. These pictures are just of the project as purchased, and I'll post separately on the journey.

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At this point I need some help. Do I continue this in chronological order, with all of the problems? Or do I jump straight to the finished product?
 

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I would like to see the adventure you went thru :)

I have had some of my own adventures with my GTO. #1 Oil pump pick up dropped out of the oil pump at the drag races near the finish line. I was 90 miles from home. #2 on a causal drive taking my wife grocery shopping to town (25 miles) , something broke loose in the drive train. Nursed it home, pulled the engine and found the crank had busted near the rear main. Some rings broke and chewed up the cylinders, block trashed since it was 60 over.
 

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My first problem is where to put the car. I have a small house on a real small lot - less than 7,000 sq ft. Plus the yard at the side of my house slopes. My wife was OK with the car being on the side, but it had to be a concrete pad and hard to see by passers by. Remember. I bought the car in 1991. It was at my friend's house for a year before I was ready to park it alongside my house. The first thing I do is get a concrete pad at the side of the house, and a chain link gate at the front of the pad with those slats in it so you can't see through it easily. My plan with the car was to finish gutting the interior, look into the rear end situation, take the front apart and test fit for headers. I also felt I needed to grind out the surface rust in the trunk. I was doing this with a large grinder with no shade, with the car on concrete next to a white stucco wall. The air temperature was 113. It was Labor Day of 1992. I made a bad move inside the trunk trying to move the grinder without good leverage. I pulled something in my back. The pain was so bad that I had to roll out of the trunk like a high jumper. It did permanent damage to my back, but it recovered well enough to continue on. I was 52 at the time, and I wanted the car to be done before I was 60. It seemed reasonable at the time. As for my personal situation, I worked long hours in a very demanding job - I was salaried, so they were very happy with me working long hours. So I have always been short time or money, or both. I did have one piece of luck that I thought was good. A local guy had a '64 GTO with a BBC in it. He felt he needed a stronger rear end, so he was selling his. It was a Chevelle 12-bolt with a C-clip eliminator kit, a spool and 4.56 gears. That seemed to be perfect for my car. I don't remember what I paid for it, but it seemed very reasonable. Plus it was assembled by a "professional" shop in LA - not to be mentioned. So I installed it with the anti-hop bars on the top, using the lowest hole of the 3. I started with the factory upper control arms (boxed), and the rectangular Hotchkiss bars for the lower control arms. Plus the support bar that goes from the front upper control arm attachment point to the front lower.

To be continued, I need to go feed the cats - and maybe me.
 

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Next installment. The sequence of activities might not be exact, but the details are. I purchased a used T-400 with the car . I gave that to a local transmission shop to have it rebuilt with a manual valve body and a trans-brake. I bought a B&M Pro-Ratchet shifter for it, which I love. but I needed a place to put it. I took off the front fenders and installed a mock up block and heads to fit the headers. The first ones were Headers By "Ed". They're tight but they fit. However, there's a couple of bolts that are just terrible to access. The upside of these headers is that they are truly equal length, and they are clocked. I'll explain that if anyone doesn't know what that means. So now I can paint the headers and store them away. I took the dash out to try and figure out a way to change the gauge arrangement on it. I didn't want a bunch of gauges all over the place. However, I can work on this wile I'm getting fab work done on the car. I know the Meziere's, so they made me a deal on a 12 point roll cage from Chassis Engineering. I learn about a local fab guy doing work out of his house/garage, so I get in touch with him. It turns out he is really knowledgeable and intelligent. He fixed some things with the roll cage kit and installed the while thing. It's now either a 16 or 18 point, counting the J-bars up front. He patched the metal behind the back window that always rusts, he made a pedestal to serve as a console, and did the inside sheet metal. There's so many pictures that I will make a separate post of the roll cage and some other stuff.


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I skipped a step. I actually had the fab work done and the car painted before I did the final header work. But let me finish the roll cage and dash first. The fab work I just watched, there was nothing I could do. I took the dash out and tried to figure out how I was going to install 6 gauges with 4 pods. I started cutting it up to make room, but how was I going to keep the panel in with the gauges on it? It turns out the way the gauges install secures them to the panel, and the original panel screws keep the assembly in. My gauges left to right are water temp, fuel pressure, oil pressure, trans oil temperature, battery voltage and fuel level. I ended up replacing the fuel gauge with a vacuum gauge when I installed a vacuum pump. I cut out a piece of aluminum the size of the dash insert, measured and drilled six holes, and did a poor man's engine turn. I'm please with how it came out. I also added a brake pressure gauge under the dash. I only have to look at that while I'm staging. I have detailed pictures of the whole process, but they are physical pictures. I haven't scanned very many of them.

In planning ahead for paint, I had no idea what kind of a paint scheme. I just knew the main color had to be a particular shade of blue. My sign painter friend (Roy) and I drove around looking at cars. I think the color I picked was on a '91 Bonneville. Another key question at this point was what kind of hood scoop to put on it. I was used to seeing the mail box type, but I wasn't sure that's what I wanted. So Roy did 4 sketches for me to show different paint schemes and hood scoops. I did not go for the mail box. In selecting the hood scoop VFN had what suited me best. I wanted a long one to go close to the windshield, so I had to buy their large one. The problem with it was that it was very tall. So I worked with VFN to get them to cut the scoop down (somewhere between 2-4 inches) and attach it to the hood before they shipped it.

I'll have to attach the paint ideas in the next post.

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I forgot all about this post, so I believe I'll pick it up again. I was discussing how to come up with paint ideas. Roy and I selected the '91 Bonneville blue, and now we discussed paint schemes. Roy was a professional sign painter and quite the artist. I made copies of the side view of the car in the chassis manual, blew them up, and gave Roy several copies. He sketched some ideas, 4 of which are attached here.

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I liked the last of these sketches the best. It was like a puzzle breaking up. When I picked that one I think Roy was not too excited about having to paint all of the pieces. He talked me into number one. Plus, having seen these sketches, I decided I did not want the mail box type scoop. But I did want the scoop to go closer to the windshield. The only one long enough to do this was a very tall scoop. So I was able to get VFN to cut it down and install it on the hood before shipment. I don't think they do that anymore. Shipment was kind of expensive due to the complexities of the packaging. One thing I di try to talk Roy into was putting "Old Man Taylor" on the side, because that's how everyone knew me. His response "Nope, it's going to be a nostalgia paint job!" He painted a lot of racecars in Chicago in the 60's and early 70's, so he knew what he was talking about.

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Now the car goes to paint. I had very little money, but Roy was able to set me up with someone who could do a decent inexpensive paint job. They first painted it solid white. Then Roy masked it and they painted it blue. At that point Roy went in to do the lettering. This way it would be under the clear. B/T/W, if you haven't figured it out yet, Roy and I were very close. I met him in the 80's when he was building a '65 GTO, and his son was building a '67 GTO. Our wives were also friends. My wife passed in 2004, and his had to go into a memory care facility in 2009. She passed in 2015. I had his power of attorney through his various health problems. He had congestive heart failure, went into the hospital for an angioplasty hoping it would help him breath with his one lung, and it caused strokes. He went from the hospital to post acute rehab in February. The Covid lock down was March 15, and Roy died March 25. I still have his ashes in my computer room as we can't have any services yet.

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If you know my car, you might note something different about the graphics. I'll show you later. Next for the hood. One thing I learned about painters - especially Roy - tell them what you want and leave them alone. This is taking awhile as I have to go through my scrapbook and scan the pictures. The engine will come after the paint. I was afraid if I started working on the engine I would get the car out before it was actually ready.

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The lettering was going to be gold leaf, but he ran out of the gold leaf material, so he just painted the letters. More to come, this is time consuming
 

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A little catch up here. The car was painted with the hood and the fenders off of the car. They were just put in place (close) for the painting. I also had to include a shot that had my wife in it. We went up that weekend to check on the status. In a week she will have been gone for 17 years.

You'll recall that Roy said he would not put Old Man Taylor on the side of the car. "It's going to be a nostalgia paint job!" So he made license plates for me for Christmas. These are hand painted aluminum. The year of expiration is 1964, and the month is my birthday - October.

So we brought the pieces home. I left the fenders with Roy because he wanted to make some changes. I put the hood in storage and towed the car home. Now it was time to think about an engine.

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My plan for an engine was to use an old 400 street race engine that I took out of the GTO when I installed the 428 into it. I had traded a Holley 780 and aluminum intake for a complete '65 tri-power. I knew it wouldn't be the hottest setup, but it would get me going the quickest and the cheapest. So I proceeded to tear down the 400 to freshen it up. In inspecting it closely I saw that the block was cracked from the oil hole in the 4th main up to the cam bearing. It wasn't all the way through, but it was bad. So much for best laid plans! Years before I had purchased a very used '68 RA I. I had sold all but the block. I had hoped to get good money out of it as they only built a little over 800 of the XS blocks. I never found a buyer. So here I am looking at my dilemma when I notice the XS block in the corner. I think I have a good use for it. The only down side was that it was already bored ).030" (or 0.060", I don't remember for sure). In any case it ended up being bored 0.060". Well, I can't use my old #16 heads on this (to be) nicer engine, so I saved up the money for E-heads and a solid roller camshaft. I was concerned about getting oil into the cast surfaces of the heads, so in my ignorance I had them polished. At least they looked pretty for awhile.

Somewhere in the process I had a friend selling an unused 12 bolt rear end with 4.56 gears out of another '64 GTO. This will be important later. It also had 35 spline axles. One of the pictures shows the stock Chevelle 12-bolt axle next to the new 35 splined one. Don't be fooled by the length difference. The bolts were longer in the new axles.

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I hope I'm not going into too much detail. Believe it or not I'm still leaving a lot of details out. If it is not overkill then I will still tell it the way I remember it.

So, while I'm working on the short block I decide to go ahead and verify the header fit. A friend of mine had a used set of round port headers by "Headers by Ed". They are "tuned" and truly equal length with 1 7/8" tubes. This was way before Doug's headers. First I inspected the ports closely not only for alignment, but to assure the exhaust ports in the heads weren't larger at any point than the headers. All was good, except one bolt was almost impossible to get to. I used an Allen head cap screw, and it was still a pain.

I took a lot more pictures of the header clearances on the car, but you get the idea.

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