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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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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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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 - http://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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Discussion Starter #4
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.


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Discussion Starter #7
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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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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Thank you for sharing your project, your pictures and progress is helping me keep focus on my ‘73, 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 hasn’t been much since I got it in December and it’s winter here in Michigan. You have been lots of help and can’t wait to see more of your progress.
 

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Thank you for sharing your project, your pictures and progress is helping me keep focus on my ‘73, 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 hasn’t been much since I got it in December and it’s winter here in Michigan. You have been lots of help and can’t 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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Lol, how true, pm me some pics of your ‘73, I’m currently waiting to hear back from CTC auto on some items I’m in need of.
 

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First, Thanks for the pic of your literature, I have some of those and need to hunt up some more.

Second, Thanks for the photo size you're using, it comes up nicely, well focused, and large enough to see detail clearly. Appreciate that!
 

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First, Thanks for the pic of your literature, I have some of those and need to hunt up some more.

Second, Thanks for the photo size you're using, it comes up nicely, well focused, and large enough to see detail clearly. Appreciate that!
Good to hear the pics are working. The original files are too large to upload....the site complains when I try to attach so U have been saving the selected photos to another spot on my computer and then resize them one at a time so they are under the limit. Wasn't sure they were clear enough so I am glad to hear is works okay on your end.

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The original files are too large to upload....
There's a way around that if you have a web site where you store your photos.. Instead of attaching them as files to your post, embed a link to where the full size images are. Like this: (Note: replace the < > characters in my examples with square brackets like this [ and this ])

<IMG>http:---link to your photo---</IMG>

Bear
 

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There's a way around that if you have a web site where you store your photos.. Instead of attaching them as files to your post, embed a link to where the full size images are. Like this: (Note: replace the < > characters in my examples with square brackets like this [ and this ])

<IMG>http:---link to your photo---</IMG>

Bear
Thanks for the tip but I don't have a hosting site for my pics. I like the idea of uploading them here so they remain as part of the thread. I have come across many posts on various forums where the photo is no longer available and it pretty much renders that particular thread useless from that point on. I think I even saw that some people on the PY forum had to pay what they called a ransom to their photo hosting service to get access to their pics again. Although....it would be nice not to have to resize but I think I have a system down now... :)
 

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Day 3-Clear body and cut floors

Day 2 I messed with the convertible frame and checked to make sure it extended and folded well. There were a couple of flat bars that were bent up so I got them all straightened out and looking good. I referenced the 1968 Fisher Body Manual.....which I only have electronically so it wasn't shown in the group of books that I posted earlier. At any rate, the photos are super boring so I'll skip posting anything further about that day.

My son came over on Day 3 to help, which I really enjoy.....except he is always raring to go and I have to slow him down a bit. This is our 3rd frame off restoration together so I feel lucky to get father/son time doing stuff like this. I decided to let him remove the floor while I proceed to remove everything from the body that was bolted or screwed on. I prefer to replace floors with the body on the frame....just seems easier to me than trying to do it on a rotisserie. We use a plasma cutter to rough cut away the large sections and then we go back and carefully peel away the remaining sheet metal from the braces or anything that we want to keep intact. I crawled under the car with an 1/8" drill and made several holes where I wanted the cuts to be made. I then 'connected the dots' from above so my son wouldn't cut through the braces or anything else that we wanted to keep.

The trunk floor looked good from below but there were signs of "rust acne" on the RH side so I was anxious to see if I end up with swiss cheese when it comes back from the media blaster. Both quarter windows were busted so I used some glass that came from a donor car to mock up how all the parts work together. I figured this photo would help me when it comes time later to install the new windows.
 

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Father/son how great, man, I’m so jealous, your able to work and we are still dealing with cold temps, snow and right now we are almost 60 degrees out and it’s been raining for almost 24 hours off and on and we have flooding in fields and ditches, and my project has been idled, benched and called off due to rain, lol ( trying to be funny )
 

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Doing same thing with my son now. We have a Southern California car that we are working on. It a 68 convertible/ A/C car and same color combo as yours , it's not a ram air and it's and auto with the his/hers . Looking forward to following your thread I just posted a few picture of my trunk ( we are learning as we go) but in no way doing a full restoration like you. Best luck and if you need any pictures mine is mostly original . Doug
 

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Father/son how great, man, I’m so jealous, your able to work and we are still dealing with cold temps, snow and right now we are almost 60 degrees out and it’s been raining for almost 24 hours off and on and we have flooding in fields and ditches, and my project has been idled, benched and called off due to rain, lol ( trying to be funny )
Been super lucky with the weather lately....its been rainy and cold but only during the weekdays. The weekends have been in the mid to high 70's for the high temps so that is nice. I want to paint the car in the 75-85 temp range since I use a turbine sprayer and it heats up the air a little bit. If I wait too long and miss the weather window then I will have to use a traditional compressed air system....which works but has more risk since I have to filter, scrub and de-humidify the air supply. Turbine systems only need to worry about filtering the air.....oil and water are not an issue with those things.

I will try and get some pics of the 73 LeMans when I can.
 

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Doing same thing with my son now. We have a Southern California car that we are working on. It a 68 convertible/ A/C car and same color combo as yours , it's not a ram air and it's and auto with the his/hers . Looking forward to following your thread I just posted a few picture of my trunk ( we are learning as we go) but in no way doing a full restoration like you. Best luck and if you need any pictures mine is mostly original . Doug
Thanks for the offer....might need some help actually. Does your car have the speaker in the RH side of the rear seat back support? If so and its accessible, can you snap some pics showing how it's mounted and what the fasteners look like?

Also could use some measurements to locate the stainless trim on the interior door and qtr panels. From the pics I have seen....looks like the qtr panel trim is fairly level but the door trim rises as it approaches the dash. I presume this is to clear the vent window crank handle but I am not sure.

Not sure what stage your project is in but if you are planning to do some body work then I recommend you rest a straight edge against the qtr panels so you can see the compound curve that exists there. It's easy to bury that with filler and not realize it. Something I learned while I was replacing a quarter panel. Luckily I was able get access to some virgin cars and took some measurements so I could get the contours correct. Sorta dodged a bullet there...:surprise:
 
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