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I have started a restoration project on a 1969 GTO Judge with RA III 4 spd. The car is in very good condition aside from some rust on the rear fender wheel arches. It is mostly original and I was surprised at how clean and rustfree the undercarriage was. This was further reaffirmed when we started stripping the interior which we found to be original and rustfree. The engine has very strong compression and was fairly consistent throughout all 8 cylinders - consistent with having travelled 57, 000 miles.

I find myself debating whether or not to undertake a frame off restoration given that the foundation of the car is so strong. My enthusiasm is tempered by the additional cost required from a frame off restoration. Even a simple decision becomes more complicated, for example - leave the highly original interior in its current condition or strip it and have it meddia blasted along with the rest of the car.. I realize that once a decision is made either way, there is no turning back. I would appreciate any insight that any members would have onthis matter. With thanks.
 

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What are your goals? Do you want to compete? Drive? Invest? Show off your shiny goat to your buddies?

Are you happy with the car the way it is now? IF it really is a RA3 with fifty-seven thousand original miles, you'll be best leaving everything that isn't broken alone.
 

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Agree with ibarbuckle. Does not sound like you would need to do a frame off. Put money into the patches for the quarters, some paint and you are back on the road. Matt
 

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Thank you for the swift responses. Would it be conceivable to have multiple goals - to enjoy the car both through pride of ownership as well as an investment. The documentation confirms it's lineage and originality and I find the car very much like a child, I want it to be the best that it can be. Then one day, I may pass it to my son who is currently 12 years old and not interested in anything that is not electronic. My intention was to wean him away from that world and show him the enjoyment of working on a classic. It is most certainly a diamond in the rough and I am struggling with the decision as to how much to polish it. It would seem almost a shame not to restore it to its original condition.
 

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Good job thinking of your son. My father did the same thing, bought an incredibly shitty '69 hardtop when I was fifteen. I still have that car today.

But to address your first question: no, you can't have multiple goals. If you are investing, cut all emotional ties. If you are a hobbyist, don't sweat the money. You're paying for fun family time.
 

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I would repair the 1/4's and leave the car on the frame. You will be shocked how much room a car takes up when it is broken apart, trust me , I know with two cars totally apart! My one small concern would be the timing chain on that engine.....If I recall correctly, they were made of some type of nylon material that wore out about 30,000 miles, or was that the earlier engines.....so I would check to see it has not stretched.....
 

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I agree with the guys, thats a special car and if its in as solid shape as you state i would leave as much original as possible. you can jack the body off the frame slightly to slide new body mounts in. anything else can be done with the body on the frame.

Get it running and driving so you and the son can get a little "seat time". The more you can keep it driving as you work on it the more fun it will be for both of you. Set small tasks at first for the project, things you think the two of you can tackle in a weekend, brakes, steering, suspension (safety first), jacking up and cleaning undercarriage for touchup...etc. Nothing better than hopping in for a ride after toiling over the wrenches. You will be surprised as you see things start to come together.

I restored mine with my daughters help body on frame(pics at link below). The motor was shot so we had to wait to drive 8 months as body work was started. I think if i had took it off the frame it would still be apart, instead i have had 3 years of driving and "finishing" it. And just remember, they are never finished...have fun, be patient and enjoy your Goat.

A frame off resto may disable the car for YEARS and often forever once the owner realizes the time, money and space it will take to do it. A car in pieces value has been destroyed until it is put back together completely. An original car, especially a well optioned one which yours is with low miles is at the top of it's value taking all costs into consideration.
 

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Depends on your skills, budget, and perseverance. My Frame off took me six years while working full time/serving an apprenticeship in machining and attending school.

A full restoration does not necessarily make a car more valuable. Originality is preferred these days it seems so if you can do a frame on restoration while keeping the car relatively intact (not completely disassembled) the chances of you completing it are greater if you have never done a frame off before. Now, if you own a body shop that's different.

Read this - http://www.gtoforum.com/f83/presenting-my-new-1968-gto-convertible-39263/

:00/o:
 

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I bought my '67 cosmetically restored in Oct. but mechanically it was pretty toasted.
Sagging springs and suspension was the first thing I did along with a larger front sway bar, boxed trailing arms and rear sway bar.
Upgraded the front drum brakes with disc brakes.
Next was the dash, A/C plenum was replaced and rebuilt with a new heater core and control rebuilt.
Speaker replaced with dual cone and radio replaced with a Retro Sound unit, dual cone in the rear as well.
I drove it around town and pulled the engine in January then pulled the rear end out, it was checked out cleaned and I just finished installing it after cleaning and paint.
Trans. was gone through, driveshaft cleaned and painted and U joints replaced.
I then pulled the steering column rebuilt it with new bearings and rag joint.
Restored the steering wheel.
Engine compartment is done cleaned and painted and new engine looms installed.
Tranny support sand blasted and painted new rubber mounts.
Everything is done, new radiator is in the box all other parts cleaned and/or replaced just waiting on my engine to come back from CVMS to put it all back together.
New gas tank and lines replaced basically everything from bumper to bumper.

I don't think I would do a frame off on that car, do it in sections so you can drive it while you do the work.
If you do go for it make sure you have the space, time and most of all the money to keep the project moving.
I did a frame off resto back in '06 on the wife's 1980 GMC Jimmy and that is the reason I bought this GTO with the bodywork and interior already done.
I have seen a couple cars taken apart that never got put back together, it is a massive undertaking and very expensive so don't bite off more than you can chew.
My buddy is putting a '56 Ford PU back together that he bought for a song because the previous owner really didn't know what he was getting into, ran out of money and lost interest in it.
 

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I would repair the 1/4's and leave the car on the frame. You will be shocked how much room a car takes up when it is broken apart, trust me , I know with two cars totally apart! My one small concern would be the timing chain on that engine.....If I recall correctly, they were made of some type of nylon material that wore out about 30,000 miles, or was that the earlier engines.....so I would check to see it has not stretched.....
My '67 had the nylon timing gear at one time, the pieces were found in the oil pickup when I tore the engine down.
 

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X2 on the factory timing chain & gears if they have not already been replaced. The nylon on the gears chips and breaks off as they age and the chain gets sloppy. At almost 60,000 miles and the years behind it, it would be a safe bet to replace it just so you don't get stuck out on the road.

A new double roller chain/gears is the way to go. If you can turn a wrench, not too difficult to do yourself.

You can actually "test" the chain by removing your distributor cap so you can see your rotor. Disconnect your battery cable to be safe. Make a mark on your engine balancer using your timing pointer for reference, then rotate your balancer just enough to make your dist. rotor move. Now go the opposite way and see how far you have to move the balancer back to get the dist. rotor to move again. You don't want very much movement back and forth at the balancer in relationship to the rotor movement.

Here is a more detailed explanation:Quick Test for Engine Timing Chain Wear - General Repairs and Technical Tips - 4WD Mechanix Magazine 'Tech and Travel' Forums
 

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Show us some pics. Let's see what your working with. My daughter was 13 when I bought my 66. Pretty solid car but needed little things. She works on it with me and then drives with me in it afterwards. The best of both worlds. She is 14 now and and can not wait for the car to come out again.
 

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Everything these gents said, in spades. Don't do a frame off unless it's a rust bucket. They are only original once. You can repair it and detail it to a higher level as you drive and enjoy it. I wouldn't even consider a frame off on a 57,000 mile, solid car. More value in a car that's as original as possible....and that means unrestored. Repair the damage and worn out areas, and drive it!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Many thanks to all who have kindly shared their thoughts on this question. Currently, the car is in dire need of a paint job as and some very superficial bodywork. The interior requires new front seat covers and a driver's seat cushion. It would also benefit from a new headliner and is in desperate need of new carpet. The previous long standing owner had preferred the look of Cragars which has prompted me to search for a set of Rally II's. It is primarily cosmetic with some mechanical areas that need to be addressed on the car.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman who had acquired a judge almost 40 + years ago from the original owner. The car has undergone a frame off restoration approx. 20 years ago but not to a concours level. He did not want to own a trailer queen but instead chose to enjoy it and still races it occasionally. Even 20 years after the restoration - and some spirited driving, the car still remains stunning. The meeting crystallized in my mind that a frame off restoration can also be a sympathetic one at the same time - refurbishing as many of the parts as possible and remaining true to the car's originality. In this way, if the car is passed on to my son, he will have a car that will be able to enjoy and be proud of.
 
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