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Hey fellas,

I "eventually" want to a complete restomod of my 1969 GTO that includes an engine and trans swap from my '77 400-3 Speed to an LS1. I want pretty much everything to be modernized. However, being a college student I'm a little scarce on funds. So in the meantime is there something that I can do to get the ball moving? Something within the couple hundred dollar range that will help get to where I want my GTO to be?

I was thinking lights? From factory to LED or something? Or exhaust. I dunno even where to begin :banghead:


Thanks guys
 

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Well, you're in trouble. "Budget" somehow doesn't seem to come into play when working on old cars.

Where to start is having a "plan". Imagine where you want your car to be, then fill in what has to be done to get you there. Line up your prices to see what kind of budget you will be looking at.

What kind of condition is the car in? Are you driving it now or is it parked? Good body or rusty? Straight or damaged? Good frame or rusty? Good interior or ripped up? Drum brakes or disc? Power or manual brakes? Rebuilt front end & suspension or slap wore out?

Personally, I like to begin with a suspension rebuild - ball joints, upper & lower control arm bushings, springs, sway bar bushings, idler arm, pitman arm, drag link, tie rod ends, steering shaft rag joint. Then you have brakes - disc brake conversion if you haven't already, a good kit will include all you need -spindles,rotors,calipers,bearings,backing plates,hoses,bearing caps,bolts, etc..

Then you move to the rear end. Going to replace it or keep it? 10-bolt, 12-bolt, or 9"? If you keep the 10-bolt you should rebuild it -new bearings, seals, brake shoes, brake parts kit, drums, e-cable. Upper & lower control arm bushings if you don't add a rear sway bar. Otherwise, with a rear sway bar you need the correct lower control arm that have the holes for attachment and they will come with the bushings. Rear springs, rear shocks, rubber brake line hose. How are all your brake lines?

The LS engine is fuel injection? You will need to add a good high pressure electric fuel pump to your fuel tank and you probably want to make sure this is engineered correctly with some type of fuel return line, vapor line, and filters.

Let's see, I think I'm up to about 3 grand and that will get it rolling and stopping nicely. Ah, now we move on to high dollar stuff............

I like the new headlights that have the LED's around the edges -and would go with the resto-mod look. They make these to fit your car, $145.00 for the kit from Ames. Down load the online Ames Performance Engineering catalog and simply go through it. You will get some ideas & see what your project build is going to cost. Hey, you have a lifetime, so no rush & do it right. PS- DO NOT GET A GIRLFRIEND, GET MARRIED, HAVE KIDS, or BUY A HOUSE! Otherwise you will be asking these same questions 30 years from now when you can afford to build your car -if your wife lets you.
 

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Thank you so much for the answer, man! Honestly that was way more in detail and informative than I could've asked for. Thanks for your help and pointing me in the direction I should go!
 

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Don't make the same mistake I did. I'm a college student as well and had a perfectly driveable 70 GTO in decent condition. I drove it everywhere, every day. I've always wanted to restore a car, so one day I just started tearing everything down. I originally had planned for a simple scuff and shoot, but soon I found issues I couldn't overlook and the next thing I knew I had half a car and a huge pile of parts in my garage. Everyone i knew told me to just enjoy it and drive it, and I didn't listen. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way. That being said, I've learned a lot and had quite a bit of fun working on my car. But there are many days where I wish I could just drive it.

Also, whenever other opportunities come up to go out, go camping, hang out with friends, or whatever, I always end up telling myself, "you should be in the garage or that car will never get done!" You're in college. Enjoy college. Do some small weekend jobs on the car to learn and to have fun with. LED headlights this month, suspension rebuild next month, etc. But keep it mostly driveable.

Another thing, do some more research on old Pontiac engines. Sure, an LS swap is more modern and a very popular way to make big horsepower these days, but there's a reason Pontiac enthusiasts are so anal about their cars being powered by Pontiac motors. When built and tuned correctly, they will make more power and torque than most anything out there, while still being very civil to drive on the street. Plus if you lift the hood at a Pontiac show and people see an LS engine, most of them will give you quite a bit of flack for it. However, at the end of the day, it's YOUR car. Build it how YOU want it. Just make sure you have fun doing it.
 

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What Orion said, in spades. Keep driving it while you make little tweaks on it and improvements. Also, an LS motor makes LESS torque than a dinosaur Pontiac engine. So it's really not the 'upgrade' it's made out to be. I know a lot of people who have done what Orion did, and now they're middle aged men with cars that are still in pieces 25 years later. Don't be one of those guys.
 

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I would agree to do small upgrades that leave the car driveable for the time being. A full LS swap restomod will take an easy 20k and depending on your skill level 1 to infinity years. Mine took 4 years and 20k+ . I will wholeheartedly agreed that you should build your own car how YOU want it because you are the one driving it. LS swaps are popular for many reasons- easy to tune, easy to make tons of hp, readily available parts, no cooling issues, no hot start issues, great gas mileage etc. I have received WAY more compliments than complaints with my restomod. Make a list of what you want to do and next to each item put the price and then knock em off one by one when funds are available, but keep driving it- Cars are much cooler on the street than in a pile in a garage.
 

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What Orion said, in spades. Keep driving it while you make little tweaks on it and improvements. Also, an LS motor makes LESS torque than a dinosaur Pontiac engine. So it's really not the 'upgrade' it's made out to be. I know a lot of people who have done what Orion did, and now they're middle aged men with cars that are still in pieces 25 years later. Don't be one of those guys.
I just want to make it clear Geetee... I will NOT become one of those guys, haha!!! My body is off to the sandblaster tomorrow, then it's a long summer of bodywork and paint. She should be back on the road next spring!!
 
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