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My 1964 Electra Project


trafalger

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On the 65 there is a cap over the antenna on the quarter panel with 2 slots in it. I took a spanner wrench and loosened the nut and everything else comes out form inside the trunk.

Great job on getting it on the road.

I think the antenna is outlined in the Service Manual. GM issued a Chassis Manual and a Service manual.

I can copy the pages for my 65 if you want to see if it's the same.

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Thanks for the reply. Mine is on the right front fender. I took the cap off but something else is holding it in there.

I have the chasis manual, so I need to find a copy of the service manual. Can you order those online somewhere?

Also it looks like there is a bracket shaped like a U holding the antenna on and I cannot figure out how to get that off.

On the 65 there is a cap over the antenna on the quarter panel with 2 slots in it. I took a spanner wrench and loosened the nut and everything else comes out form inside the trunk.

Great job on getting it on the road.

I think the antenna is outlined in the Service Manual. GM issued a Chassis Manual and a Service manual.

I can copy the pages for my 65 if you want to see if it's the same.

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Nice car! From the pics posted it looks like your car was built with a beige interior, although the red door panels look way cool to me. I also like the red dashboard lights but alas, that is a user modification. I'd keep em if you like em. What the heck, we always say make it the way you want it.

The skirts would be stock body panels on all Electra models. If you pull them off you'll see the lip that they sit against are manufactured right into the body. Other models with skirts are aftermarket jobs, your's are original.

As to the road wheels, there are several sizes and styles that all look similar, but may not fit your car. Your car has a 5 on 5 bolt pattern. The road wheels are one piece rims like what is shown in your trunk. It is a 15" in diameter rim. There is another 15" rim developed much later for Buicks. It is a two piece rimand the bolt pattern is 4 3/4 " on 4 3/4 ". These obviously will not fit your car. Almost all the rims have a code stamped on them at the factory. That is the key to what fits your car. While some incorrect rims will still fit your car, it is best to try and get a matched set of rims via this code. That is because the difference in the rims is usually the offset, or how far away from the frame the rim will sit when installed. Different frames require different offsets. Using a rim without sufficient offset will result in your tires rubbing on the frame in turns.

Here's two more things I'll offer for your consideration.

1- Do not over rev that engine. Buicks develop their high power ratings at lower RPMs than other period engines. While reving them high sounds great, you run the risk of damage through a stuck valve. Most Buick factory Tachs show the red line in the 6,000 rpm range I believe. Keep it under that and you'll enjoy the original engine for a long time.

2- Of the multitude of Buicks I have run, when you get to 99- 110K, you will need a timing chain replacement. The chain will stretch and one day you will start the car, it will run till it warms up then stall, and you will not be able to restart it. Back in the day many people changed the engine when it would not run thinking the engine was blown. In my experience, a new timing chain gear set and chain resolved this issue and made for a much better running vehicle.

I know I threw a lot at you here, and apologize if this is overload. I hope you continue to enjoy that great car for a long time!

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Thanks for all the tips!!

I really like working on the car but I really starting to wonder if it would be worth it to try and sell her and get into my "dream" car. I'm about to hit the point of diminishing returns with some big purchases (like paint and an interior redo) My dream car is a 1950s area car. I love the 50s curves especially the Buicks. While I really like the Electra I'm just not in love with it.

Would it be more advantageous to try and do a trade? or sell her outright? What would be a decent price for it?

Just thinking out loud before i get too involved financially in this thing.

Thoughts? I'm looking for some feedback.

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The one piece of advice I have regarding your trade plan is that a 64 is modern compared to a 50's car. My 63 Cat was a pleasure to drive. I love my 55's and I drive all over the country, but you really have to DRIVE them.

On the other hand, I sold my Wildcat and still have the 55's :)

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The one piece of advice I have regarding your trade plan is that a 64 is modern compared to a 50's car. My 63 Cat was a pleasure to drive. I love my 55's and I drive all over the country, but you really have to DRIVE them.

On the other hand, I sold my Wildcat and still have the 55's :)

Thanks for the tips.

Realistically how hard is the 64 to keep on the road when compared to a 50s? I'm not talking about the accessories, i mean just pure road worthy? Obviously I want something I can enjoy and drive.

I worry about the size of the car and the gas mileage. I really wish i had a buick guy local that I could just get 10 minutes with that could look at the car and tell me if I'm about to drop a tranny in 3 months, or if it sounds like the headers are about to come out of the engine. I'm not a big engine guy and this thing is by far the oldest car I've ever worked on much less driven.

I'd love to be able to drive her to my parents house which is about 100 miles away, but I guess I'm just scared of it as a whole.

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Here's an article on repairing the OE antenna for your Buick. If you experience a tick in your valve train, run a quart or Marvel Mystery Oil in it for a while, then do an oil change. Search the archives on which oil to use. Modern oils do not have the zinc needed by older flat tappet engines.

Electric antenna repair

Ed

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Here's an article on repairing the OE antenna for your Buick. If you experience a tick in your valve train, run a quart or Marvel Mystery Oil in it for a while, then do an oil change. Search the archives on which oil to use. Modern oils do not have the zinc needed by older flat tappet engines.

Electric antenna repair

From what I see in your pictures, the antenna is on the right front fender. If the antenna on your '64 is like the antenna on my '64 Riviera, there's an access panel in the inner fender. Remove the outer machine screws and the entire antenna assembly will slide out the bottom. The larger single bolt holds the antenna bracket to the inner fender access panel.

Ed

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Thanks for the reply, my antenna problem is not the motor however it is the mast is broken. I need to find a replacement power mast and mine will be good as new. I was however able to find the antenna service door and remove the assembly with no issues.

I picked up a fixed mast antenna at autozone for 5 bucks to test the radio at least. She does work, although its a bit limiting being only am haha

I'm not sure if they made an fm radio for that year but maybe I can stumble onto one eventually.

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JOSEPH, your concern about getting "upside down" in the cost of upgrading your beautiful car is well founded. I advise Whoa! on the temptation for new paint and uphostery. If you don't love your 'Lectra yet, expensive finishes are not going to carry you over the threshold. Enjoy your ride the way it is and revel in the thumbs-ups, all the while keeping an eye out for a voluptuous '50s replacement.

As for the driveability of a '64 Electra versus a '53 Buick Roadmaster, for example - no contest. Sorry, the older car is a stop light slug by comparison. For that you can blame the Dynaflow but it doesn't explain away the wandering steering that follows every dip in the pavement or the plan-well-ahead brakes. 'Fifties seats are sofa comfy and SUV upright, though, and luggage capacity is much better under the '53's big squarish bustle. Driven sedately, both cars with get you about 15 miles per gallon around town. The '64 might hit 20 on the highway, if you don't spend a lot of time in the passing lane.

From what I hear, older Buicks may have more trouble with the ethanol-diluted gas that the US has saddled itself with. You have to go looking for gasohol in Western Canada - but then we are sitting on an ancient lake of the real stuff. Not to rub it in but I heard a news report yesterday that, due to drought conditions, corn fuel is now more expensive than gasoline. Kind of like diesel - it wasn't supposed to go that way.

Once you've got the basic mechanicals sorted, a '64 Electra will provide you effortless driving pleasure. 100 miles to visit the folks? No problem and you'll be using less gas than your lead footed brother-in-law in his Escalade. The feeling of bigness will quickly fade away, particularly when you're parked next to his tarted-up Suburban. I used a '65 Coupe de Ville as my winter beater from 1994 to 2002. It only felt over-sized when trying to negotiate Tim Hortons drive-throughs, which I could avoid unless my three kids were with me, lined up in their child safety perches across that cavernous backseat. Man, I miss that Cadillac.

Your ginourmous Buick with its rocket-glow instrument panel makes me smile, which is what old cars are really good at.

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:rolleyes:Joseph, I just drove my '50 to Concord and back for the BCA Nationals. Just get in and go!! Worst case ,she breaks down and has to be towed home for what, a hundred bucks?? Me thinks you worry too much. :D

Mike is correct, the '64 is a lot more friendly to drive, as far as handling. We old farts that grew up in the '50s, '60s, had no choice. And as each improvement came along we embraced it. As for fuel mileage, ANY old car is worse than today. But will you get as much attention in a new car??

Also, there were after market FM converters available back then. I just scored one for my 6V.

Ben

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Thanks for the tips.

Realistically how hard is the 64 to keep on the road when compared to a 50s? I'm not talking about the accessories, i mean just pure road worthy? Obviously I want something I can enjoy and drive.

I worry about the size of the car and the gas mileage. I really wish i had a buick guy local that I could just get 10 minutes with that could look at the car and tell me if I'm about to drop a tranny in 3 months, or if it sounds like the headers are about to come out of the engine. I'm not a big engine guy and this thing is by far the oldest car I've ever worked on much less driven.

I'd love to be able to drive her to my parents house which is about 100 miles away, but I guess I'm just scared of it as a whole.

The 64 should be relatively easy to keep on the road. No one can accurately guess when something like a transmission will blow. Heck, I have seen transmissions blow on new cars as well as engines. Old, new, cheap or very expensive, they all break down. As far as driving the car 100 miles it will probably just be stretching it's legs at mile 99. I drive my 54 Buick everywhere. It is very dependable. Me thinks you need more drive time in the car around town. Eventually it will click that the car starts, drives and performs just fine. Putting it on the highway should not be a problem then. To be sure though, safety first. Brakes, front end steering parts and tires are in good shape.

Oh, my 54 gets 15mpg on the hightway averaging 65mph. Considering she is 2 tons of fun I'm pleased with that kind of mpg.

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Thanks guys for the words of encouragement. I know I worry ALOT about everything.

You are not alone with worry. A lot of folks worry about breakdowns and issues that cost money to repair. It's natural. My brother did the same concerning purchasing a old car. Worry of something major blowing up. Not until he realized I drive my 54 without issue all weekend, have a blast and really only worry about when I can go drive it again did he finally make a purchase! He now owns a 1960 Imperial.

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Joseph,

A little about your car as I have an identical model in my garage and have owned it for almost 40 years. You have a TurboHydromatic 400 transmission and as a matter of fact, the first year for the Turbo 400. This transmission combined with a nailhead is a bulletproof combination. Let's put it this way, mine survived a 16 year old car crazy male and had over 100,000 miles on it at the time. I don't think there is anything you can think of that I didn't try back "in the day". Neutral drops? No problem. Slam into Low at speed? Never an issue. Oh, since this was the first year of the 3 speed turbo 400, Buick didn't think to put a 3 speed indicator in the shift quadrant, just L and D. Little know fact: If you shift into L above 25 mph, the transmission will go into 2nd gear, below 20 it will drop into first gear. If you shift into L above 25 and just leave the gearshift in L, as you slow down and reach 20 mph, the transmission will drop into 1st gear all on it's own. Don't ask me how I know, but I do. In other words, I wouldn't be the least bit worried about the driveline.

The '64 model Buick's were modern automobiles as others have said. Your '64 will drive, brake, accelerate, and handle much like today's automobiles. A fifties era auto will not. Not that it is such a bad thing, but you will need to re-think your driving technique when you get behind the wheel of that 55 Roadmaster...

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Thank you very much for the post

I got her title tag and registration today. So look out!!!!

Any fun stuff you can share about a 64 would be awesome

Tomorrow I'm heading to car quest to see if they can match her paint so I can touch up a few bad spot until I can afford to have her repainted. I wish I knew someone local that had a paint booth I'd love to learn how to do that

Joseph,

A little about your car as I have an identical model in my garage and have owned it for almost 40 years. You have a TurboHydromatic 400 transmission and as a matter of fact, the first year for the Turbo 400. This transmission combined with a nailhead is a bulletproof combination. Let's put it this way, mine survived a 16 year old car crazy male and had over 100,000 miles on it at the time. I don't think there is anything you can think of that I didn't try back "in the day". Neutral drops? No problem. Slam into Low at speed? Never an issue. Oh, since this was the first year of the 3 speed turbo 400, Buick didn't think to put a 3 speed indicator in the shift quadrant, just L and D. Little know fact: If you shift into L above 25 mph, the transmission will go into 2nd gear, below 20 it will drop into first gear. If you shift into L above 25 and just leave the gearshift in L, as you slow down and reach 20 mph, the transmission will drop into 1st gear all on it's own. Don't ask me how I know, but I do. In other words, I wouldn't be the least bit worried about the driveline.

The '64 model Buick's were modern automobiles as others have said. Your '64 will drive, brake, accelerate, and handle much like today's automobiles. A fifties era auto will not. Not that it is such a bad thing, but you will need to re-think your driving technique when you get behind the wheel of that 55 Roadmaster...

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Quick question, I noticed a water leak in the passenger side so I think my heater core is shot. I'm not really worried with that as I'm a guy that will have the air on in the winter. That being said I also noticed that my water control valve under the hood is pretty much frozen solid in place. And the control cable for it is well rusted and broken.

My question is, in the meantime I have just bypassed the valve all together with no water running to the heater core. Is that going to f' anything up?

Where can you buy those control cables? My gut tells me that the valve is pretty simple if i can get it apart to fix, anyone got any tips? And should I worry about that heater core, does a leak always mean the core is shot or could it be something else? I was reading the manual and it looks like to get that core out is going to be a MAJOR undertaking.

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Holy cow what a day.

We got up at 7:30 and cleaned out the trunk all the way to the metal (the PO had left a bunch of crap back there and it was all NASTY) The carpet had literally disintegrated. Anyways got all that done, headed to car quest, got them to match the paint on her and picked up some sandpaper to hit some of the touch up spots.

Picked up a bunch of wax and a buffer (on sale for 15 bucks) and various other cleaners.

I was able to shine and refinish the runner plates that I found in the trunk from the PO that got all the carpet secured down, shampooed all the interior carpet (prolly pulled up 40 years of ick)

We washed and waxed the car 3 times in all, sanded and touch up painted the few bad spots we had, and I was able to buff out some scuff marks from the PO.

It's 8:03pm and we're stilll working on her, but all in all I've very pleased with today. We got to drive her over 45 miles with no issues whatsoever. Her paint looks 100x better and I even got to shine up the chrome. The carpet is clean and the trunk is empty, the musty smell is totally gone now and I swear to god the car runs better. I think she knows we're trying to get her back in fighting shape.

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Carpet washing!

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The runners are in

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All done for the day (if you look at my earlier pictures you will notice she had a boo boo next to the I, if you notice that is now all gone!)

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To add to what was said about the TH400 transmission that you have in your '64; it is a one year only transmisson. In '65, Buick incorporated a variable pitch torque converter into it as well as different valve bodies, etc. - no interchanges. If you're wanting the transmission to up shift through all three speeds when you want (manually,) it's easy. Hold the shift lever in L (1st gear) until you want to shift to 2nd gear, put the lever into D and let the transmission shift into 2nd. As soon as it shifts in to 2nd, pull the lever back to L; the trans will stay in 2nd gear until you move the lever to D to engage the 3rd gear.

Cables for those cars are not reproduced. If you can get the cable off, let it soak in some penetrating oil, that should free it. One thing to be very, very cautious about is trying to move the cable or temp. control valve using the levers under the dash. The corrosion is stronger than the die cast. The lever will break with hardly any pressure! One of the Tech Advisors for the Riviera Owners Assn. has found a way to use the vacuum going to the air door to operate a later model vacuum controlled temp control valve. Place it somewhere in line in the heater hose, run a Tee from the door control vacuum line and you're good. He says that Buick over engineered it to begin with and the vacuum is much simpler to deal with.

What does the face of your "thumb knob" look like for the ones you're missing. There were a couple of different styles - smooth, ribbed, "rough"?

One thing that hasn't come up yet is a discussion on wheels. Through '64, the bigger Buicks had a 3-3/8" diameter hub on the rear axle and the front hub assembly. Only wheels for 64 and earlier will fit. In '65 (first year for Rally wheels on all big cars) Buick went to a smaller diameter hub. You also need to look for wheels that have the raised bump between the bolt holes so the rivets on the front drum assmebly will have a place to sit.

Pretty soon your car will be like new again. Keep it up.

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I think I'm detecting a budding love affair!! :) Every little bit you do adds up to really nice ride in the end. She is looking good and proving herself every time you leave the driveway. She has found a second life in your hands. Keep it up!

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Quick question, I noticed a water leak in the passenger side so I think my heater core is shot. I'm not really worried with that as I'm a guy that will have the air on in the winter. That being said I also noticed that my water control valve under the hood is pretty much frozen solid in place. And the control cable for it is well rusted and broken.

My question is, in the meantime I have just bypassed the valve all together with no water running to the heater core. Is that going to f' anything up?

Where can you buy those control cables? My gut tells me that the valve is pretty simple if i can get it apart to fix, anyone got any tips? And should I worry about that heater core, does a leak always mean the core is shot or could it be something else? I was reading the manual and it looks like to get that core out is going to be a MAJOR undertaking.

Bypassing the core is fine. Heater cores can and usually are a major undertaking. I can not comment on the cable and availability. However, I believe one can be made. If there is wetness on the passenger side floor it is usually from the core.

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The ones I'm looking for are smooth...here is a pic

post-87476-143139146406_thumb.jpg

To add to what was said about the TH400 transmission that you have in your '64; it is a one year only transmisson. In '65, Buick incorporated a variable pitch torque converter into it as well as different valve bodies, etc. - no interchanges. If you're wanting the transmission to up shift through all three speeds when you want (manually,) it's easy. Hold the shift lever in L (1st gear) until you want to shift to 2nd gear, put the lever into D and let the transmission shift into 2nd. As soon as it shifts in to 2nd, pull the lever back to L; the trans will stay in 2nd gear until you move the lever to D to engage the 3rd gear.

Cables for those cars are not reproduced. If you can get the cable off, let it soak in some penetrating oil, that should free it. One thing to be very, very cautious about is trying to move the cable or temp. control valve using the levers under the dash. The corrosion is stronger than the die cast. The lever will break with hardly any pressure! One of the Tech Advisors for the Riviera Owners Assn. has found a way to use the vacuum going to the air door to operate a later model vacuum controlled temp control valve. Place it somewhere in line in the heater hose, run a Tee from the door control vacuum line and you're good. He says that Buick over engineered it to begin with and the vacuum is much simpler to deal with.

What does the face of your "thumb knob" look like for the ones you're missing. There were a couple of different styles - smooth, ribbed, "rough"?

One thing that hasn't come up yet is a discussion on wheels. Through '64, the bigger Buicks had a 3-3/8" diameter hub on the rear axle and the front hub assembly. Only wheels for 64 and earlier will fit. In '65 (first year for Rally wheels on all big cars) Buick went to a smaller diameter hub. You also need to look for wheels that have the raised bump between the bolt holes so the rivets on the front drum assmebly will have a place to sit.

Pretty soon your car will be like new again. Keep it up.

post-87476-143139146399_thumb.jpg

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Bypassing the core is fine. Heater cores can and usually are a major undertaking. I can not comment on the cable and availability. However, I believe one can be made. If there is wetness on the passenger side floor it is usually from the core.

I figured as much...and honestly i'm not going to drive it in the winter. I'm totally not gonna worry about it.

Winters here in NC are like 45 degrees.

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I figured as much...and honestly i'm not going to drive it in the winter. I'm totally not gonna worry about it.

Winters here in NC are like 45 degrees.

The core can wait but eventually I think you will tackle it. It's just the nature of us car guys. She is a true urban assault vehicle! Reminds me of my 73 Buick Estate Wagon I had in college. Urban assault vehicle/nine passenger Porsche. She had over 100k on the 455 and still kicked major butt. Very dependable as well. Yours will be also.

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Question for ya'll, especially people that have owned a 64 or have seen one at shows.

As you can see the interior is red, and I think we've all come to the conclusion that it is not factory. If I wanted to refresh some of the parts where in the WORLD can I find red door panels and a dash for this thing?

Did the PO somehow paint the originals (doubtful as it doesn't look that way) and how did he find a red dash. I even have red kick panels and if you crawl under the dash the access doors are red as well. I suspect that the original owner bought an aftermarket kit or had something done at the dealer in the 60s, it's not a cheap spray paint job.

I don't want to change the red ( i love that part of it ) the drivers door panel needs some love as it's def seen the most use over the years, but I'm VERY scared to clean it or do anything to it because if it gets screwed up I have no fallback plan.

Thoughts?

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Take a look at spray paint designed for vinyl. I have not used it before and maybe someone can chime in who has. Paint such as this Item Detail "Formulated to match, restore or change color on most vinyl surfaces, flexible and rigid plastics, carpet and velour. COLOR COAT is fade resistant, flexible and is a permanent coating. COLOR COAT is not a dye."

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Hi Joseph,

Got your "hi neighbor" message this morning. Glad to see you and your dad are moving along with your Electra. Looks like a great find. Hope to see you driving around town very soon! I should have my '41 back on the road this fall.

beep beep,

Anderson

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Take a look at the Fisher Body Trim tag on the firewall. It's above or close to the brake booster. Here's an example of what on looks like. It will tell you the color of the original trim and paint. Codes for red trim on an Electra in '64 are 667 and 677; I don't know what each means unless one is vinyl and one is cloth.

There are other codes on it as well that will tell you some, not all, of the optioins your came equipped with.

[TABLE=align: center]

<TBODY>[TR]

[TD=colspan: 2]<CENTER>BUICK DIV. GENERAL MOTORS

FLINT, MICH.</CENTER>[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]STYLE 64-4819

TRIM 677

ACC. BFGIU[/TD]

[TD]FB 3321

A PAINT[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD=colspan: 2]<CENTER>THIS CAR FINISHED WITH

Magic-Mirror ACRYLIC LAQUER

BODY BY FISHER</CENTER>[/TD]

[/TR]

</TBODY>[/TABLE]

In this particular example the car is

STYLE 64-4819 = 1964 Electra four door sedan

FB = production sequence number

Trim = 677 (red)

Paint = A (Regal Black)

Acc = Accessories

Red was a pretty popular color back in "the day" we had a '57 Century White with Red interior, later we had a '63 Wildcat White with Red interior. Both 4 door hardtops.

I'm betting the original color is red.

No kits or repos that I know of. A good upholstery shop can probably make yours look good again.

Here's a link to SMS auto fabrics; they can provide you with vinyl, cloth, and leather. Different vinyls for door panels, headliners, etc. They also state that they have patterns for door panel boards and can make them for you. There's a link into which you can put in your make and year and see all the products, by OE code, that they have.

Largest Selection of Cloth, Vinyl & Leather Automobile Upholstery - SMS Auto Fabrics

Keep it red; too much trouble to change it over.

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