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'86 STI Summer Project


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A few years ago I picked up a remarkably rust-free 1986 Series II STI from a doctor in Medicine Hat. It had some minor cosmetic issues (sun-faded paint mostly) and a few small electrical faults, but nothing to prevent me from using it as my DD for quite awhile. This was the first Series II car I ever owned. After a few years I made a gift of it to my mother, and she has owned it ever since. Alternator failure caused it to be taken out of action, and as this was not dealt with in a timely fashion the car was stored outside and sat neglected for two years. I was busy with other things and no one else made the time to deal with it, so it has deteriorated somewhat since it was parked. The worst blow came when it sat through a major hailstorm, and the roof, hood, and trunk lid bear witness to that.

Even at its best this car is not a spectacular example of the breed - there are many better 505s out there, but this is nevertheless too nice a car to neglect. So, when I decided to start actively engaging with Peugeots again, getting this car back up to snuff was my first order of business. Yesterday (April 27th) I changed the alternator, swapped all four wheels for a set of plain steel ones with good tires, and drove it to Medicine Hat. It ran very well en route, averaging 28 US MPG at 100 km/hr, much better than I expected. Unfortunately it has a snag sheet as long as my arm. A few of the highlights:

  • Lights - hmmm, where to start? Left signal only works, incorrect rear running lights on when powered, brake lights cause whatever's currently on back there to have a conniption fit when applied, RH low beam burnt out, and on and on. Yes, I drove it home like that. Yes, I am a bad person. This is the number one issue to be solved, and the first thing I'm going to do is clean up all four ground trees and go over the taillight assemblies. Oh, yeah, found out after nightfall that the instrument lights don't work either.
  • Lower glove box unable to close because the tab that the latch engages is broken off.
  • Shift knob is split. How this happened is a mystery.
  • Minor rust in several places that needs to be addressed now before it goes any further.
  • Cruise control inoperative.
  • Engine-driven cooling fan does not engage. Currently not a good idea to idle this car in traffic for very long.
  • Rubber line feeding clutch master cylinder from brake reservoir is going to fail any day now. Immediate replacement required.
  • Speaking of the clutch, friction point is far too high off floor. Most likely reason is that the clutch is close to the end of its life, although I could not get it to slip under hard acceleration at least. Could be a problem related to the slave cylinder, but needs to be looked at in any case.
  • Heater valve appears stuck full open at all times. This could be a problem for those inside the car when summer comes.
  • Blower motor control currently does nothing.
  • Air conditioning does not work. I'm frankly not even sure if the compressor clutch is engaging.
  • Sunroof does not open. At least it's fully closed. That's not really a priority item for me right now, but it would sure be nice to have, if only to vent the continuous flow of hot air from the climate control system.
  • Minor play in front end - could be tie rods, could be lower ball joints. I'll investigate further once I get this car on jack stands. Wheel bearings should be re-packed anyway.
  • Valve adjustment required. While I'm at it I'll clean and re-gap the spark plugs and run a compression test.
  • Left rear window does not roll down, and the right rear is very slow.
  • Left rear inside door latch missing. Only a problem if you actually want to get out of the car. Say what? Just roll down the window and unlatch it from the outside? Oh wait, you CAN'T.
  • Paint is badly faded and clear coat is almost completely gone. I'll try to bring it back to life with an aggressive polish and wax it well. That is as good as it's going to get for now. I can at least make it presentable.
  • Sunroof wind deflector needs to be reinstalled.
  • The steel wheels really date this car. I had not realized how big a difference those alloys make until I saw this car without. Four new tires and the alloys will go back on.

Yeah, just one or two little things...no sweat. Let the fun begin...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Sina!

I'm a couple days late posting this, but I made some significant progress this week on some of the snag items. Changing the right rear taillight assembly fixed an annoying issue with the right brake light flashing in sequence with the right rear signal light. Front signal is still inoperable, but I will tackle that next. Also, the headlight aiming is way off. Once I get the headlights changed and the front grounding issue sorted out I'll go out some night and align them properly.

I took the dash apart and replaced the headlight/turnsignal switch, whose plastic stalk had fragmented and fallen off. The ignition switch had an issue - part of the key had broken off inside, and the key could not be removed for fear of shifting the fragment still inside and making it impossible to reinsert the key. I just replaced the entire unit with another - problem solved, and a possible theft averted. While I had all this apart I repaired a couple of broken tabs that the steering column cover attaches to. I guess we'll see how Permatex super glue holds up - it's what I had on hand for the task.

Although I like the look of the four-spoke steering wheels, the one in this car had a pretty ratty leather cover, and I happen to like the look of the two-spoke wheels from the S models as well so I just swapped the entire wheel. Fitted a leather steering wheel cover for effect (this new wheel is a bit sun-damaged) and while I was at it I removed the cracked shift knob and replaced it with an aftermarket unit. This last is temporary - I want a slightly different shift knob for this car, but this will do for now. This change necessitated shortening the shift lever, removing the knurled section at the top. The new shift knob is still within easy reach but doesn't block the stereo controls as much as the stock unit. Overall I'm happy with the results.

Finally I repositioned all four door seals, which had shrunken over time and pulled away from the door frames. This made a HUGE reduction in wind noise as you might expect.

Overall, a pretty good start. Stay tuned....

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I think I would just taken the leather off the original and used it instead. Underneath is a nice new surface.

On the heater valve, I recently swapped out mine. It has four screws. I didn't take it apart, but it might be salvageable with some servicing. The valve is mounted on the rubber support bracket. it closes with the power on to it. If it does not close all the way, you get heat. There are two ten mm nuts holding it, and the rubber is easily broken. Soaking with penetrating oil the day before may help.

Bill

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Bill:

I thought of that, but I want to re-cover that steering wheel at some point and I thought it might help to leave the old leather in place as a template for the upholsterer to work from. Certainly the four-spoke wheel is sportier, but I like the way that the two-spoke wheel does not obscure the dash as much, and the shape of the center section is vaguely reminiscent of the control yoke from a Beechcraft, which appeals to me:

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Much thanks for the advice about the heater valve. This one actually seems to be recovering with use. The vacuum controls sound like they are working and selecting various heating configurations seems to produce the desired effect now. I may not have to touch these systems at all - here's hoping. Nevertheless, when I remove the lower glove box to fix it I'll have a look back there and verify the operation of the valve. The blower fan control did not appear to be working at all when I drove the car home, but now it works in two positions - Full, and Off. Better than nothing, but that item still needs to be fixed.

I'm thinking about replacing the coin holder and the ashtray below it with a blanking plate and fitting two instruments to the dash - most likely a vacuum gauge and oil pressure gauge. I'm still thinking about how I'd accomplish this. It would mean doing some cutting, but I have lots of these dashboards so I'm not at all reluctant to experiment as long as the results look professional.

Hugh

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  • 4 months later...

So, time for an update. I finally got around to doing some of the many things needed to restore my STI to its former glory. A couple days ago I changed the oil, which was a little overdue but not too much so. I thought it was time to address a few other issues and give it a good cleaning, so I set to work. Yesterday and the day before I found time to do some vacuuming and protect the dash and other vinyl and plastic surfaces with 303 Aerospace Protectant. I used Leather New on the shift boot, and a mild soap/water mix to give the cloth seats a bit of a cleaning. They are in good shape and didn't need much. Today I finished off that task and set to work addressing a couple of little snags: the broken latch on the bottom glove compartment and the missing wind deflector on the roof.

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After much consideration, I opted for a half-measure with the glove box. I have spares and eventually the latch will be replaced, but it's going to be much more work than I anticipated as the broken piece is part of a plastic ring that appears to be riveted to the surrounding structure. For the time being, I chose to drill a small hole in the latch mechanism in a discreet spot and screw the entire thing shut. I can already hear the gasps of horror, but I was sick of looking at an always-open glove box, and this temporary fix did no permanent damage and is more or less invisible unless you really go looking for it. Eventually I'll fix this properly, but in the meantime the interior looks a LOT better.

Before:

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...and after:

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Another change I made was to further cut down the stock shift lever and fit an aftermarket leather shift knob I found on eBay. This piece was inexpensive but seems very well made, and looks at home in the 505 cockpit. I'm happy with the result, and this one is staying put. It's just tall enough to fall easily to hand when you reach for it, but lower than stock and looks a lot better in my opinion. Feels nice in the hand too.

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Here's a shot of the overall cockpit now...

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As the daylight was fading I had time to reinstall the wind deflector over the sunroof. I have mixed feelings about these things, but since I can't open the sunroof at all right now I can't remove the mounting tabs for the wind deflector and those look like hell sticking up by themselves. They were a bit mangled but I managed to straighten them and refit the deflector in its original position. I'm happy with the results.

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That's about it for today. Next I'll tackle some carpet trim that's separating from the door panel and a section of the headliner that's come loose at the edge of the sunroof opening.

Hugh

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You nailed the glovebox shut? Oh man.

It is super easy to fix. Take a piece of hanging strap with holes in it (the kind plumber use). Drill a hole in the metal bar, sheet metal screw, and locate it where the catch is, which replaces the plastic. You can bend it enough to adjust.

I am reminded of a joke:

Duck walks into a bar...

Duck: Got any grapes?

Bartender: Nope, we don't have any grapes.

Day Two:

Duck walks into same bar...

Duck: Got any grapes?

Bartender: Nope, we don't have any grapes.

Day Three:

Duck walks into same bar...

Duck: Hey, got any grapes?

Bartender: No, we don't have any grapes and if you come again tomorrow and ask if we have grapes then I will find a nail and hammer your bill shut.

Duck: OK, fine. I'll see ya.

Day Four:

Duck walks into same bar...

Duck: Got any nails?

Bartender: No.

Duck: OK, got any grapes?

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Bill, I've heard that joke before, but I still enjoy it. To clarify: I didn't actually nail the glove compartment shut; I drilled a small hole in the plastic housing for the latch assembly and into the metal bar above it (when closed) and used a sheet metal screw of the appropriate length to hold it shut. You could say that the gove compartment is screwed now...

But it's a temporary measure in any case. I'm planning a metal catch like you described, but using a small piece of angle aluminum cut and bent to the correct shape. When I do that I'll either plastic repair the existing latch or replace it. I do have spares. Bottom line is that I knew this "fix" might be controversial, but the sight and sound of an open glovebox rattling every time I went over a bump was driving me nuts and I was willing to give up the functionality of the compartment for the time being in order not to have to look at it any longer.

I have to pick my battles with this car. Everything will get fixed eventually, but for now I've got a few things on the list that are higher priority - like getting the cooling fan operational for one. In a few more weeks this car goes into storage for the winter and I'll pick up where I left off in the spring. Hopefully I can get a few more things fixed and/or installed before that, then it's on to the '85 Turbo project over the winter while I drive the Saturn.

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I fully concur with the need to sometimes cut corners just to get some immediate peace of mind!

Sometimes you really don't have time to fix it right, so the fixes for now have to suffice. Since it's easily reversed for a proper fix it's all good.

Car looks great Hugh, and I think it's awesome that you were able to DD a Peugeot finally after so long without - thats a hell of a success for this summer.

Only bad thing going back to the Saturn is that all the roads you drive on will suddenly get much rougher. :)

Rabin

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  • 6 years later...

It's been awhile since there was any news on this car, so I figured it might be time for an update.  After being dormant for the last few years for no good reason other than a lack of time and motivation on my part, I recently resurrected this car and it's back on the road.  I've decided to have some fun with it, and do a few interesting modifications that will make it somewhat unique.

The reason that it came off the road in the first place was originally because it needed some front-end work (tie rod ends) and then I stole the radiator for another car with the idea that this would be a temporary thing.  Well, it subsequently sat partially disassembled for over two years with no radiator and a few other things missing.  In fact, it may have been three years; my memory is a bit fuzzy.  In any case, the breakup of my marriage, a new job, and a lot of changes and turmoil in my life meant that the car sat on the back burner and received no attention at all from myself until about three weeks ago.

And then, the transmission in the car I was driving daily (a nondescript Toyota Matrix) decided to pack it in suddenly and the car was simply not viable to fix.  With its very high mileage and the difficulty of finding another 5-speed transmission for it (they were very rare even when the car was new) I decided that this was the perfect time to get the STI back on the road.  With four days left before I went back to work, I picked up a few supplies and got down to it.

I pulled the radiator from one of my parts cars, assuming it was fine because it was still half-full of coolant when I looked at it.  So after cleaning it up and even painting it, I installed this and...it leaked.  Apparently there was a good reason that it was only half-full.  Damn.  A few phone calls determined that it was going to take too long to get the radiator repaired, so I went to plan B - namely my last remaining XN6-powered parts car.  A mad rush to pull that radiator and fit it, and I was finally back in business.

I had pulled the spark plugs, re-gapped and reinstalled them, along with spraying some penetrating oil in the cylinders for good measure.  But I knew the engine was free so it was just a question of whether it would start. And sure enough, some fresh fuel and...it fired right up.  Just like it had never been out of service.  I was pretty happy, as you can imagine.

On top of this, I changed the hoses and belts (using used parts I had around) and swapped the wheels for some with better tires.  I installed new rearview mirrors and cleaned up the interior.  I got the lights working.  Altogether, I used most of those four days to get everything done and I was in a perpetual state of near-panic the entire time because I was not sure I would make it.  In the end, I finished putting the car together - mostly - around 2 am on the morning I had to return to work.  I gave it a quick test drive, felt that it was going to hold together, and grabbed a few hours of sleep.  Then I drove it to work and it's been sitting at the hangar for the last three weeks while I'm in Greenland working.  If it wasn't for the last minute, I'd never get anything done.

In any case, two more weeks and I return to see if it survived the hailstorms that supposedly hit Calgary last week.  I imagine it will be fine, or at least serviceable.

I have some fun and interesting ideas for this car, using mostly parts that I have laying around.  I'll have more to say about this in a couple of weeks, and some more pictures to share, once I get home.

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Looks like good progress Hugh!

Curious - was this the car you were driving when I followed you to the hangar in Medicine Hat?  Funny story that one, I was driving my newly acquired '89 505 Turbo 5sp home from Oregon, and as I was entering Medicine Hat at like 6:30AM, and I came up behind another 505!  It turned off and I continued, but then I thought - what are the chances?!  Wheeled around and gave chase...  Found Hugh just arriving to the hangar and we've been friends ever since!

Rabin 

 

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Cool story, Hugh!

I will be pursuing a resurrection of my own shortly, with the 505 Turbo that keebs built.  I bought it last summer in Maryland and it's been in  my brother's driveway in CT since.  The border is supposed to be opening to the US likely this month, so I'm planning to head down after Labour Day when the kids are back in school to get it roadworthy and bring it back to Canada.  I'll start to post some updates to keebs' build thread when it's back in the snowy North...  

I look forward your future plans, so don't keep us in suspense for too long!

 

Jonathan

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1 hour ago, Bean said:

Looks like good progress Hugh!

Curious - was this the car you were driving when I followed you to the hangar in Medicine Hat?  Funny story that one, I was driving my newly acquired '89 505 Turbo 5sp home from Oregon, and as I was entering Medicine Hat at like 6:30AM, and I came up behind another 505!  It turned off and I continued, but then I thought - what are the chances?!  Wheeled around and gave chase...  Found Hugh just arriving to the hangar and we've been friends ever since!

Rabin 

 

That's a good question.  It's funny because I remember that day clear as a bell, and yet I can't recall whether it was this one or the silver '84 S that I was driving prior.  Looking back on this post, I started this thread in 2014, and I'd had the STI for several years before that.  I joined this forum in 2009, which would have been just after we met because I didn't know about this group before that day.  So I'd say there's a pretty good chance that this is the car I was driving that day.  At some point I'll find the bill of sale for it and that should answer the question.

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1 hour ago, yhzman said:

Cool story, Hugh!

I will be pursuing a resurrection of my own shortly, with the 505 Turbo that keebs built.  I bought it last summer in Maryland and it's been in  my brother's driveway in CT since.  The border is supposed to be opening to the US likely this month, so I'm planning to head down after Labour Day when the kids are back in school to get it roadworthy and bring it back to Canada.  I'll start to post some updates to keebs' build thread when it's back in the snowy North...  

I look forward your future plans, so don't keep us in suspense for too long!

 

Jonathan

That sounds like an exciting project!  I'm looking forward to your own progress reports as well!

This project has been in the back of my mind for awhile now, and I'm excited to get something done on it.  I have a few other threads going here, but the STI is one of the more interesting ones because it's mainly getting bits and pieces that I already have around.  Thus it's a really low-budget project and it's mainly just a question of time and effort.  I'll whittle away at it as often as possible, and check in regularly.  This group is great for helping to keep one's enthusiasm up.

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Rabin, I think you're probably right.  I've only owned one other dark blue 505, and that's the '87 STX which I didn't own when we met.  So this is probably the very same car.  Which also means that it's been in my care (albeit officially my mother's car for a significant part of that time) since 2009 or earlier.  That's kind of remarkable, actually.

I read through the original snag list above, and it's interesting to see which of those items I successfully addressed and which I still have to deal with after all these years.  The glove box, for example, is still screwed shut.  Since the car is going to get a completely new dashboard soon, this is something I will fix at the same time.  Also, since the sunroof has never worked since I got the car, I would like to do something about that at some point.

The thing to do is just pick away at it bit by bit, and over time it will get better.

A few random pictures from the past...the Renault Fuego steering wheel bolts right up and looks great, so with a Peugeot logo in place of the Renault diamond, this wheel may very well find a home in the STI at some point.

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I spent a bit of time re-reading my earlier posts in this thread.  What's interesting is how flawed my memory can be about some things.  Also, I'm puzzled as to why I allowed a perfectly good car to sit for two years because of a failed alternator.  At that time in my life I was extremely busy with work and family, but it seems like such an inconsequential thing, an easy and cheap fix.

That was not a good reason to allow a car to sit and deteriorate for two years.  Neither was borrowing the radiator for another STI and putting off replacing it.  And yet, it's a testament to the basic durability of these cars that twice now I've brought it back to serviceability after multiple years of neglect.  Now in its 35th year, it doesn't feel like a tired or worn out car.  It feels like it has a lot left to give.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, a few changes to the STI as of today. Chief among these was the fitting of an electric cooling fan, which was cheerfully donated by one of my parts cars - in this case, a Renault Sportwagon 2.2. The Renault fans move plenty of air, and they use a wire frame with no shroud, which makes the installation easy and clean-looking. I’ve used them before, and always been happy with the results.

While I had the front end apart, I fitted a 505 Turbo air dam and I tucked the front bumper. While not quite as tidy as the Euro bumpers or the 1989 NA ones, I still think it looks pretty damn good now. A set of low-profile driving lights will be fitted shortly and I’ll find some way to make the top bar on the air dam sit parallel to the lower edge of the bumper. This piece always seems to sag, and it bothers me.

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The front marker lights were removed, along with the side moulding that carries them. I bought low-profile LED units to replace them, which will look much cleaner. But I ran out of time to fit them today, so I put black Gorilla tape over the holes for the moment. In a few days I’ll finish the job properly.

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Inside, I fitted a Renault Fuego steering wheel and a new shift knob. The latter nicely matches the stalks for the manual side mirrors, which is a nice touch. I like details like that. I painted the centre portion of the wheel and its hub, and I oiled the leather wrap as well as the shift boot. I’ll use leather paint on the wheel later and restore its black colour properly.

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On the back end, I used black rocker guard to paint the plastic piece that mounts the licence plate and fills the gap between the taillights. And speaking of taillights, after a monumental struggle I managed to get all the lights to work...mostly. I believe there is a special place in Hell for the guy who designed those taillights.  I’ll devise a longer-term fix in the near future, but for now at least I won’t get pulled over for THAT item.

Overall, a very good day! More to come soon.

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4 hours ago, Mike T said:

NOS switch on the console? ;)  Nice job

Hahaha, that’s what I should do with it, but it has the much more mundane task of providing manual control for the fan I just installed. My philosophy with regards to this particular car project is “remove weight and complexity.” In other words, manual everything. The power door locks and power mirrors have already been removed, and the power window mechanisms will be next.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lots of little details accomplished this week, and although I now have to go back to work for basically the rest of August, I’m happy with what I managed to get done while I was home.  In no particular order, here’s what I did:

- found and installed a good set of basic sun visors from one of my parts cars.

- installed new front LED side marker lights (Princess Auto items).

- replaced cracked and non-functional RR side marker with good unit from a parts car.

- installed the correct rear seats for this car, to match the fronts.  I still haven’t located the tub with the headrests in it, but that’s on the list.

- changed the oil and filter, and greased the propeller shaft.  Second such service since I reactivated this car, and I’ll be changing the fluids in the hydraulic system, transmission, and differential soon.

- replaced all four exterior door handles with black aftermarket units from Argentina. Lubricated latch mechanisms while there.

- removed power trunk lock. (This caused some fun for me, as I then stupidly closed the trunk and couldn’t open it. The power lock mechanism works by inserting a plastic arm between the plunger and the latch. If it’s not there, there is no way the plunger will ever actuate the latch. I finally managed to trip the latch by removing the RH licence plate light. I then changed the plunger and its keyset to one from an earlier car without the power trunk lock. Problem solved, after a bit of consternation on my part.)

- temporarily refitted the door cards, just to make the car presentable for now.  When I’m home next, I will be switching the window regulators to manual crank units, in keeping with my philosophy of simple, light systems with this project.  I don’t know if I mentioned it in an earlier post, but the power door locks have already been removed.

-cleaned and repainted the rocker panels with rubberized rocker guard. At the same time, I found and addressed a few areas of minor surface rust that I didn’t deal with in years past. Happily for me, southern Alberta is so dry that a car parked for years in a field will not rust any more than it already had before being parked. So at least I’m not dealing with a nightmare in the wheel wells and elsewhere right now.

- tweaked the position of the shift knob so that it sits 1/2” higher. I like the look better, and it’s an easier reach to fifth gear now.

- installed a simple fixed antenna to replace the unserviceable power antenna.

Other than that, I spent a fair bit of time planning next steps. Driving and/or fog lights are on the agenda, as well as some additional instruments. A new dashboard is in the future too. I’ve been looking into projector headlight housings that will fit into the spots currently occupied by the 7”X6” sealed beam headlights. I have a trailer hitch that is earmarked for this car, and it will also get 505 Turbo suspension, steering, and brakes at some point. I have a pretty clear vision for this car now, and it’s merely a question of time, effort, and a little money.

By the way, I’ve decided that I will not be painting this car. I’ll do what I can to shine up the existing paint, but it’s going to wear its 35-year patina proudly. That said, I will paint things like the window frames and wiper arms, and all those elements will be flat black. I like the look.

More to come in September! For now I’m off to the high Arctic to fly around and count whales for three weeks.

 

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