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Grendel lives...resurrection of a 1970 Charger 500

Coelacanth

Well-Known Member
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6:14 PM
Joined
May 10, 2024
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Location
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
I bought my Charger when I was 18, back in 1986, it was my first car. Over the decades, the body work was done and painted an emerald green color, and the body work was a slap 'n' dash, I was pretty naive at the time. The 383 Magnum was completely rebuilt, at least this was done by a reputable shop. Numbers-matching engine bored 0.030, Purple Shaft cam, electronic ignition, Edelbrock Performer manifold and 750 carb, still using the original HD exhaust manifolds. Much of my resto work was documented on 1970chargerregistry.com with the same username, Coelacanth. I detailed the engine bay and got it running, but that was probably 15 years ago. I pulled everything out from the interior, where the front floor pans and trunk floor were rusted out. Restored my console and heater box. It was at that point that I lost motivation. I can't weld and staring at those rotted-out floors just killed any initiative to forge ahead. Not knowing a good body man or shop I could trust, that could do a decent job without paying a mint for a rotisserie resto, I was beginning to wonder if Grendel would be laying in deathly slumber forever.

Fast forward to this past Christmas, after an insurance appraiser, who was also a classic car lover, did an appraisal on a 2008 Pontiac Torrent GXP that was totalled, and after looking at rustbucket Chargers missing engines, interiors, or more selling for $15K - $20K on local classifieds, I got to wondering "What is this car worth these days?" Since I pretty much had all the parts (and a lot of spares) accumulated over the years and put aside for the future rebuild, it was considered a pretty much complete car and the appraised value in current shabby condition? I was astonished to get a $33.5K appraisal! The insurance guy "knew a guy" that did amazing bodywork and had a shop out at an acreage and hour or so away, and did his 50's hot rod for a very reasonable cost, I made the call, the body man Mark came over to look at my Charger and we came to a ballpark estimate of $25K to do all the body and paint. That sounded like a no-brainer to me because the car will be worth $60K-plus, easy, when done.

My rear valance was a total mess and missing the corner pieces, so the rear quarters didn't align properly with the corner sections and valance angle once the new AMD valance and corner pieces were installed. So lower rear quarter halves were needed. I believe I got the last one available anywhere from Layson's Restorations for the passenger side, and Mark used it as a template to fabricate a repair piece for the driver side because no matter how hard I searched, I could not find a left side lower rear quarter section, only the super-expensive full quarter. I was concerned about my windshield and rear window because the trim was popping up and those are notorious bad areas for rust to form, but they were actually pretty solid. Mostly just new trim clips were needed. My original front valance had the mounting tabs rusted out, but I had a spare, so Mark could use whatever he needed to make one good valance. Front quarters had rust issues as well but it was repairable without buying new quarters. Front floor pans (good ones that go up to the firewall seam) were done and a full new trunk floor was done. Doors were good, but the hood had a dimple that had to be hammered out, an idiot moment of mine when I left the oil breather on top of the air cleaner, forgetting to reinsert it in the valve cover, and closed the hood. D'oh! Lastly, I had to replace the original front bumper because I hit a shopping cart driving through a parking lot at night with some buddies...another idiot moment: we were driving by some girls and I MIGHT not have had my eyes on the road ahead, a sudden flash of chrome and BANG! I clearly remember and it still makes me chuckle today, hearing one of my friends exclaiming "You punted it...you PUNTED it!" Anyway, the bumper had a slight bend in the bottom and tiny scratch on the top, but I'd already bought another straight one many years ago so that one will go back on the car.

Since most of this resto has already been documented, I'll just begin with how things are progressing with body & paint. It's now just over 4 months later and it's already getting some paint.

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RRQuarter-Before1 (Large).jpg
 
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The cowl had some rust issues at the corners but fortunately again, it wasn't serious. You can see in the above pics where the rear quarter lower sections were angled almost straight down instead of inward to blend in with the valance corners. Mark discovered the end pieces of the torsion bar crossmember were rusting out so I bought a new crossmember, which was welded in along with the floor pans.

PassSideFloor_PartialCrossmember1.jpg


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Trunk floor done; Mark had to fabricate new trunk floor extensions. Interior done. Grendel isn't going to be some rotisserie chicken, my budget isn't limitless so there will be a few corners cut, as long as it's not visible and not structural. For example, I'm not having the floors painted body color, just sprayed some bed liner to seal everything in before carpet goes in. I have a new gas tank and fuel & return lines ready to install when it's finished being painted.

InteriorFloorPansDone.jpg


LeftFrontQuarterAndHood.jpg


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TrunkFloorDone1.jpg
 
A few teaser pics of the body color. My Charger was originally that puke green color with matching green vinyl top that was ever so popular back in the day. It's a color I always hated. I love green though, it's one of my favorite colors (along with blue). So Grendel absolutely had to be green...but different from all the OEM Charger colors, I wasn't really fond of any of the green options--though Sassy Grass Green is probably my favorite. I wanted Grendel to be a green so dark that it looks gloss black at night, but has a beautiful shimmer in the sun. After Googling for hours to find other cars painted green until I found a color I had to have, I discovered Jet Green Metallic, a Porsche Cayenne color. Here's the hood & trunk painted. It's a very deep, classy green.

IMG_0092.jpg


IMG_0093.jpg
 
I bought my Charger when I was 18, back in 1986, it was my first car. Over the decades, the body work was done and painted an emerald green color, and the body work was a slap 'n' dash, I was pretty naive at the time. The 383 Magnum was completely rebuilt, at least this was done by a reputable shop. Numbers-matching engine bored 0.030, Purple Shaft cam, electronic ignition, Edelbrock Performer manifold and 750 carb, still using the original HD exhaust manifolds. Much of my resto work was documented on 1970chargerregistry.com with the same username, Coelacanth. I detailed the engine bay and got it running, but that was probably 15 years ago. I pulled everything out from the interior, where the front floor pans and trunk floor were rusted out. Restored my console and heater box. It was at that point that I lost motivation. I can't weld and staring at those rotted-out floors just killed any initiative to forge ahead. Not knowing a good body man or shop I could trust, that could do a decent job without paying a mint for a rotisserie resto, I was beginning to wonder if Grendel would be laying in deathly slumber forever.

Fast forward to this past Christmas, after an insurance appraiser, who was also a classic car lover, did an appraisal on a 2008 Pontiac Torrent GXP that was totalled, and after looking at rustbucket Chargers missing engines, interiors, or more selling for $15K - $20K on local classifieds, I got to wondering "What is this car worth these days?" Since I pretty much had all the parts (and a lot of spares) accumulated over the years and put aside for the future rebuild, it was considered a pretty much complete car and the appraised value in current shabby condition? I was astonished to get a $33.5K appraisal! The insurance guy "knew a guy" that did amazing bodywork and had a shop out at an acreage and hour or so away, and did his 50's hot rod for a very reasonable cost, I made the call, the body man Mark came over to look at my Charger and we came to a ballpark estimate of $25K to do all the body and paint. That sounded like a no-brainer to me because the car will be worth $60K-plus, easy, when done.

My rear valance was a total mess and missing the corner pieces, so the rear quarters didn't align properly with the corner sections and valance angle once the new AMD valance and corner pieces were installed. So lower rear quarter halves were needed. I believe I got the last one available anywhere from Layson's Restorations for the passenger side, and Mark used it as a template to fabricate a repair piece for the driver side because no matter how hard I searched, I could not find a left side lower rear quarter section, only the super-expensive full quarter. I was concerned about my windshield and rear window because the trim was popping up and those are notorious bad areas for rust to form, but they were actually pretty solid. Mostly just new trim clips were needed. My original front valance had the mounting tabs rusted out, but I had a spare, so Mark could use whatever he needed to make one good valance. Front quarters had rust issues as well but it was repairable without buying new quarters. Front floor pans (good ones that go up to the firewall seam) were done and a full new trunk floor was done. Doors were good, but the hood had a dimple that had to be hammered out, an idiot moment of mine when I left the oil breather on top of the air cleaner, forgetting to reinsert it in the valve cover, and closed the hood. D'oh! Lastly, I had to replace the original front bumper because I hit a shopping cart driving through a parking lot at night with some buddies...another idiot moment: we were driving by some girls and I MIGHT not have had my eyes on the road ahead, a sudden flash of chrome and BANG! I clearly remember and it still makes me chuckle today, hearing one of my friends exclaiming "You punted it...you PUNTED it!" Anyway, the bumper had a slight bend in the bottom and tiny scratch on the top, but I'd already bought another straight one many years ago so that one will go back on the car.

Since most of this resto has already been documented, I'll just begin with how things are progressing with body & paint. It's now just over 4 months later and it's already getting some paint.

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Loving it!!!!
 
I thought I would share some progress pics of my grille mod. Like many of us, my grille had several broken/missing fins and a big missing chunk from the driver's side. You can buy a whole new grille but by the time it ships and converts to Canadian dollars, it's gonna cost you close to 2 grand. I had a long look at what I had to work with and decided to go a different direction from everyone else. Grendel will have a bit of a different grimace!

The idea was to cut out the 4 main rectangular sections marked in red, removing all the fragile thin plastic fins, and leaving the thicker, stronger silver-colored perimeters, and the stronger center fin. On the backside, I notched the insides of some of the fins that protruding into the thicker silver sections, making a "channel" of sorts, where I would be able to epoxy in some of my own grille material. You can see the notched "epoxy channel" outlined in green.

I used pieces of the cut-out fin plastic to form 7 or 8 of those D-shaped mini-fins to repair about a half dozen that were broken and missing, epoxying them in place after Dremeling in little notches in the backside of the silver perimeter sections so they would cement in more securely.

Grille_Before.jpg



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Here's the idea. I carefully cut out some nice aluminum hex mesh to fit within the epoxy channels. Once I'm done painting the entire grille and headlight covers SEM Trim Gloss Black, I'll epoxy in the hex mesh. Almost none of the work area will be visible from the outside. Also, the aluminum mesh is significantly stronger and more durable than those thin ABS plastic fins, so this might actually strengthen the grille assembly. I made a repair brace for the missing horizontal section, JB Welded it in, then used epoxy putty and a lot of filing and sanding to form the shape to match the horizontal sections. With how I am envisioning this, painting the entire assembly including the OEM silver-painted areas gloss black, she'll have a darker and more menacing grin. :eek:

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Dig it. I also like fabricating. "Menacing grin" sounds good. Also your username is known to me from reading encyclopedias as a boy. Was fascinated by the story.
 
Update from the paint booth: Finally seeing green again! I wanted Grendel to be true to her EF8 roots, but also wanted to do something nobody has seen before. Can't wait for clear!

BodyPainted3.jpg


BodyPainted2.jpg
 
I got the grille mod finished this weekend. First, I got the repaired, cut-up grille and loop degreased and painted it SEM Trim Gloss Black. Grendel is gonna be more gothic with the eyeliner and mascara, not a Queen Pristine princess. After a few coats of paint, I sanded and prepped the inside epoxy channels, and made final test fit trimming of the aluminum hex mesh to make sure everything fit perfectly. I took care to make sure the hex sections on the right and left halves of the grille lined up at the center and were as symmetrical as possible. It would've looked weird if the sections weren't trimmed to match. :rolleyes: With some J-B Weld Cold Steel epoxy mixed in a big syringe, I carefully lined a bead along the channels. I chose this epoxy because it sets in 4 - 6 hours and gave me plenty of time to make sure things were fitting right before setting. I could never have done this with 5-minute epoxy. I pressed in the hex mesh sections and weighted them down to make sure they seated into the epoxy, then gave that 24 hours to bond. The next day, I applied a second bead over top of the hex mesh to further cement it in. The day after that, I touched up the grey epoxy areas and a few areas that needed it with more Trim Gloss Black.

I also sanded off the silver areas on the headlight covers and painted them to match the grille. I think it will look pretty sinister compared to the OEM grille look, especially with what I have planned for the exterior paint. It sounds like the car will be finished and released from paint jail this coming week! :praying:

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