1958 Caballero

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Beautiful work, Sir!


Heads up........Those big ole 58 tail lamp housings use only the two long studs as the ground to the body.

Ensure that those threaded ends are bare metal contact or you’ll experience the “Floating ground ghosts”

with the tail/brake lights. I actually added a short hidden wire from the studs to the body to make sure

electrolysis didn’t creep in.


ask me how I know!



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1 hour ago, Roadmaster75 said:

Beautiful work, Sir!


Heads up........Those big ole 58 tail lamp housings use only the two long studs as the ground to the body.

Ensure that those threaded ends are bare metal contact or you’ll experience the “Floating ground ghosts”

with the tail/brake lights. I actually added a short hidden wire from the studs to the body to make sure

electrolysis didn’t creep in.


ask me how I know!




I will agree with you there Roadmaster75.


My Special was giving me issues with the right rear stop / tail light and realised eventually the top bolt was allowing the housing to move which meant the ground wasn't all that good. Sitting for 13 years obviously meant there was likely some corrosion too so removed the housing, cleaned the studs and reinstalled it which made the difference. 

I didn't do like you and put in an extra ground wire but will figure if it happens again, know what to do.


I know Joe has posted grounding things under the dash from reading this great thread of his but with all the detailed work he has been accomplishing your advise might be timely (if he has not already done this).


Can't wait to see the "Long Roof" at her first show!

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9 hours ago, Roadmaster75 said:

Beautiful work, Sir!


Heads up........Those big ole 58 tail lamp housings use only the two long studs as the ground to the body.

Ensure that those threaded ends are bare metal contact or you’ll experience the “Floating ground ghosts”

with the tail/brake lights. I actually added a short hidden wire from the studs to the body to make sure

electrolysis didn’t creep in.


ask me how I know!



I agree!

I add dedicated grounds to tail lights and other circuits on all my project cars. Been doing it for many years.

My initiation into the joys of intermittent grounds was with a 1957 Corvette, back in the early '80s.


On this car, I installed new sockets in the housings and I used the 3-wire style, with a dedicated ground wire.

The grounds are being added to all the rear lights and are attached to the inner structure of the body, under the load floor.


Thanks for the tip!


Edited by 95Cardinal
added comment (see edit history)

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Lots going on recently...

Liftgate glass is IN!
I was reluctant to tackle this myself, so I got help from the glass installer who installed the windshield.
I was lucky enough to get a tinted liftgate glass panel from another Caballero owner (57BuickJim). His parts car had tinted glass and he agreed to swap it for my clear glass.


Painted the wheel well trim to match the interior.


Installing rear compartment load floor panels.




This is the front edge of the rear load floor. There is a vinyl closeout panel that covers the floor pan from the middle of this part to the rear of the floor pan, under the rear seats.


This part was created by using the crispy, original remnants that were in the car when it was disassembled. It got us close to what was required, but the patterns needed refinement.

I used muslin material to develop and confirm the revised patterns.




Time to cut & sew!
I cut the vinyl pieces and used 2-sided tape to hold the hems down while sewing the hems.





A hardboard reinforcement was sewn to the upper edge of the original panel. I incorporated a panel edge molding (sold for 1/4" wall panels) to provide a more defined, straight edge.


The upper reinforcement is screwed to the waterfall, below the load floor. Then the vinyl is folded down and lays onto the waterfall and floor pan. The cutouts for the seat bottom stop brackets are made and this part is done.


This is when I realized that I needed inboard stops for the split folding seat. This car originally had a full width second seat, requiring only 2 bottom stops. The split folding seat needs 4 stops.

Two pieces of 1/8" flat stock and some bending and drilling yielded these little gems


Installed & painted, ready for seat installation:


First test fit of the carpet...


The "B" pillar cover panels must be completed before I make the final cuts and install the carpet.

Muslin test parts sewn to confirm patterns are correct.


These were interesting panels to construct. There are hardboard panels behind each of the 3 curved surfaces. It all gets sewn together "inside out", then inverted into the "vinyl side out" orientation for installation into the body.



Masked the pillar flanges and sprayed adhesive on the part and the flange edges, then applied the part to the pillar. The edges are pulled taut to the pinch weld flanges at the front and back pof the B pillar, then the painted steel retainer moldings are pressed over the flanges, trapping the vinyl in place.





These turned out great!



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Your efforts with detail to this point are surpassed by the talent you exhibit with this interior work!

She clearly is going to be an award winner!

Beautiful, Just Beautiful!

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With the pillar trim done, carpeting and folding seat mechanisms come next. Most restored Estate Wagons & Caballeros have the rear seat stanchions bolted on top of the carpet, but all the photos of original, unrestored wagons I've seen clearly show a simple slot in the carpet, with the stanchion protruding up through the carpet. Like this:



The folding seat frames can be adjusted in just about every direction, so it took quite a bit of measuring and trial fits to get the seats to appear level and even in the car.






Initial cut around seat stanchion.


I spent hours making vinyl "sleeves" to trim out the openings around the seat stanchions.


In the end, I decided that the sleeves didn't help and they weren't part of the original design, so I removed the sleeves and will make the slots look as good as possible.


No matter how I positioned the rear section of the carpet, I couldn't get a consistent position of the carpet openings in the rear door openings.

57BuickJim lent me his new carpet to compare to mine. The length of the rear door opening on his carpet was more than 1" shorter than mine. 

To determine why the two sides fit differently, I folded my carpet over at the center line and found that the left and right pillar cut-outs did not match.44861311765_b37429509c_b.jpg


Trimming the passenger side pillar opening allowed the door openings to line up properly on both sides of the passenger pillar and door openings.


I wasn't comfortable trying to sew this on my machine, so I hand-stitched the binding back on to the re-cut edge.


The floor carpet is a typical 2-piece design. The rear section of carpet goes from the middle of the front door opening to the rear edge of the floor pan, under the rear seat. The front section of the carpet goes from the firewall/toe panel to the middle of the front door opening.

This is the pre-cut jute underlayment for the front carpet. Minor trimming was required at the bottom of the A pillar, at the center relief cut and below the steering column. Holes had to be cut for the dimmer switch and the accelerator rod.


Front carpet positioned. 


Next comes the rear (underseat) heater installation.

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This car will be better than new...incredible!  I think I'd be afraid to drive it when done!

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On 11/21/2018 at 2:00 PM, lancemb said:

This car will be better than new...incredible!  I think I'd be afraid to drive it when done!

Geez Lance...don't tell him that!! :) Now he may want it as a trailer queen!! These beauties are meant to be driven, not trailered..

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This is what the rear seat heater looked like when I acquired the car:


Mostly mangled aluminum fins, but the tubing looked good.
I had the local radiator repair shop pressure test the unit; it passed with flying colors.

It took a couple of hours to get the fins to this point. I used tweezers, a fin comb, surgical hemostats and very small needle nose pliers...and a LOT of patience.





I worked on the fins until I could see air gaps between every fin, then a final cleaning to prepare for paint.





Painted heater unit with mounting brackets, attaching screws and newly fabricated gaskets:45915366962_5ce6a39f10_o.jpg

In-cabin installation is quite simple. Each mounting bracket required 2 screws and there is one center clamp.45052395265_2b9b25ac22_o.jpg

I'm going to wait to connect the underfloor hoses until I have the car up on a lift.

Now, back to interior bits!

These are the components that will become the rear door "dogleg" trim panels. They close out the rear door opening, from the rear edge of the sill plate up to the roof rail molding.


Top: stamped steel substrate (original to this car, with some corrosion repairs already completed)
Middle: 1/8" thick non-woven pad
Bottom: trim cover and windlace, already sewn together.
The trim cover and pad patterns were developed using the original "crispy" pieces that came off the car.

Trim cover and windlace after sewing and before attachment to the steel panel:


One edge of the steel substrate has pre-formed lance tabs to puncture and retain the windlace. The opposite edge is bonded with trim adhesive.

Binder clips make great clamps for this kind of work...




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Congratulations for this great job, I am very admiring ;) .
I did not know that there was already in 1958 the seat heating :) 

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Joe, your patience and attention to detail is outstanding.  The work on those heater fins pretty much sums it up!  



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It's time to start assembling the rear bumper.

The brackets, ends and center panel go together first.








Ready for installation...by 4 of us. Two holders, 2 of us installing bolts.



The rear bumper will be one of the last parts I install.

Once it's on the car, it will be difficult to get around the vehicle in my garage!


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When I test-fit the rear door trim panel, it was too large for the opening and the attaching "nails" didn't line up with the holes in the inner panel.

Time to figure this mess out...


First, peeled back the edgefold:



Compared the right and left trim panels and developed a new pattern to fit the rear door.

I made sure the pattern fit both the left and right door.

Comparing it to the panels I made, I found that I had made a couple of errors.



I had cut the armrest bracket mounting hole about 1/4" too low on the panel and I had made the perimeter about 1/8" too large all around the panel.

I re-trimmed the perimeter of the panel to fit the door opening with adequate clearance and re-cut the armrest bracket opening.

Then, I used the new pattern to accurately position the attaching nails around the perimeter of the panel.


The second test fit was much better than the first.



With the nails re-located, I edgefolded the part and tested it again.



Here's the panel with the upper moldings attached. It still needs the lower molding and the "Century" emblem added before installation.



With the rear seat structure in place, I could install the floor-mounted rubber retainers that hold the "legs" of the seat cushions in position on the floor.

The part in question is the small, black oval on the carpet, at the bottom of the seat support rod:



I have 3 of these for the car. One is in useable condition, but 2 of then have badly corroded metal reinforcements.

These parts were manufactured by molding a hard, black rubber material directly to the steel reinforcements.



Clockwise from upper left:
1. Useable part, with steel reinforcement painted black
2. Rubber portion of part after removing steel reinforcement
3. New reinforcement made from 0.040" aluminized steel
4. Underside of molded rubber, after removing steel reinforcement.


I removed all the dirt and corroded metal from the rubber parts and bonded the new, steel reinforcements to the underside of the rubber with a urethane adhesive.

After the adhesive was fully cured, I removed any excess adhesive and coated the rubber with "Bumper Black" topcoat:


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I had to delay making the quarter trim panels until the rear door trim panels were finalized. The two-tone split line on the quarter trim should align with the 2-tone line on the doors, so I had to confirm that location before making the quarter trim.

I marked the location of the 2-tone split on the rear of the rear door opening and used that to finalize the trim patterns for the quarter.

This is the preliminary assembly of the quarter trim, for mock-up in the car.



And in the car:



I still need to add one decorative stitch line, above the color split. Just waiting for my friend to wrap up the seat covers so I can use the proper color thread for these pieces.


I've learned to take lots of photos and notes when disassembling a project. I also try to retain as many original parts as possible, just in case they can be useful.

These remnants of the quarter window gaskets came in very handy.



The witness marks on the outer surface indicated the correct orientation of the exterior molding clips and the dimensions of the gasket helped indicate how much material had to be removed and where it had to be removed.

I used a fresh razor knife blade and a disc sander to shape the gasket. It took many iterations, removing only a few shavings each time, to get the gasket to fit into the opening.







When the glass and gasket could be fit tightly into the opening, I removed the gasket from the glass.

I applied a bead of bedding compound into the glass channel of the gasket and re-inserted the glass into the gasket. A small amount of bedding compound is visible at the gasket edges:



With a bead of bedding compound applied to the inside of the quarter window and some liquid detergent as a lubricant on the gasket, it was finally time to install the glass.



The glass is retained by 4 stamped retainers on the inside on the body. The exterior reveal moldings are retained by a variety of clips and threaded rods.







With the exterior moldings installed, the interior garnish moldings are next.






At the front of the quarter window, the C pillar trim consists of one painted steel garnish molding, a vinyl-wrapped trim panel, the polished aluminum roof rail molding plus a cloth windlace.

The vinyl-wrapped panel is installed first and is visible as a sliver of dark tan between the upper steel trim molding and the polished aluminum roof rail trim.

Originally, I had wrapped the steel panel with a single layer of cotton felt and the vinyl cover, which was exactly as the original piece was constructed. The part was too thick and it couldn't be loaded properly under the edge of he headliner panel.

I had to remove the layer of padding and re-apply the vinyl directly to the steel substrate. 












I had not realized that the new vinyl was significantly thicker than the original material; with the padding removed, everything could be properly installed.

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This is a stunning vehicle.  It will be at Autorama in Detroit this spring and at the Buick meet in OKC in June if all goes as planned.

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Things have been moving quickly as I prepare the car for its maiden show. It will be displayed at the Detroit Autorama on March 1-3.

Early in December, I visited my friend Pat who has been working on the seat trim. He had completed most of the covers and we planned to install the covers onto the frame & spring units.

He had researched the correct appearance for the covers. Images of interiors of several other cars showed that there was a lot of variation in the way the trim covers were sewn.

For example, these seats look "overstuffed" and the french seams at the corners do not line up with the outboard stitch lines on the insert areas:






This seat has better contours, without the overstuffed look, but the upper (red) panel goes straight across the seat, instead of curving downward at the outboard corners:



Here is the 1/3 section of the rear seat back. The short , angled french seam aligns perfectly with the insert stitch line and the corner of the tan and beige joint.

The upper edge of tan/beige joint is contoured to match the images in the 1958 Buick color and trim book and images of original interiors.



This is the initial test fit of the 2/3 folding rear seat cushion. Shape looks good, corners and edges still need some finessing:



Looking better!



Here, I am beginning to assemble the 1/3 section of the rear seat back.

A perimeter wrap of non-woven polyester will help retain the shape of the side facings.



Together in the car for the first time.

 I'm not happy with it, so I will disassemble it and start over.



But my granddaughter gave it her approval for comfort!



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On 1/9/2019 at 10:27 PM, 95Cardinal said:

I'm not happy with it, so I will disassemble it and start over.


Well, I understand and it is your car after all -- but I'll wager what you have now is still nicer than the way most left the factory in Flint...  The finish line is in sight!  ;)

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Someone needs to show GM how it is done by example.  GM should stop pandering to its labor force, but to its buyers.


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First step in assembling the front seat back was to clean, paint and inspect the seat frame and spring unit.



The transverse spring wire  that supports the individual zig-zag springs (essentially the lumbar support) was fractured and had to be replaced.

This frame came from low-mileage car and was in excellent condition. The clean, shiny metal you see is as the frame appeared when the old trim cover was removed!

It has been coated with a clear protectant to preserve it.


Initial test fit of the trim cover and side panel to ensure that all the seams will be covered by the side panels as designed and sewn.



I installed the 2 screws that will ultimately attach the ash tray to the seat back.

Having the screw heads in place will make it much easier to locate the attaching points for the ash tray after the trim cover has been attached to the frame.



Visible at the top of the above image is the first point of attachment of the seat cover. There is a wire-reinforced upper bolster that is attached via hog rings to the upper frame rail.

The heavy felt isolator is installed between the two layers of springs in the seat back spring unit. 

The trim cover is drawn over the perimeter of the frame and retained with hog rings.



After installing the cover and verifying the fit of the side panel, the upper bolster looks loose and baggy.

The area beneath the french seam required additional padding to fill out the cover contours.



I removed the cover and added thin layers of cotton/poly blend padding to better match the cover shape


After re-installing the cover, fabricated stuffing tools like these make it easier to manipulate the last bits of padding into the necessary position under the corner:


End view of the seat back after revising the corner padding.



Front seat back, ready for assembly to the cushion:



The 1958 Buick foam seat cushions were among the earliest applications of molded urethane foam seating components.

The Special models retained the traditional spring and pad designs for the seat cushions and backs.

The Century, Super, Roadmaster and Limited models were equipped with foam seat cushions, but retained "spring and pad" seat back pads with rubberized horsehair pads.

I disassembled the seat frame and cleaned and painted the steel structure. Since the cushion frame had some surface corrosion, I used a more aggressive treatment and then painted the frame black.

I inserted a stiff reinforcement layer of woven carpet material between the springs and the foam layer, hog-ringing the carpet to the zig-zag springs to ensure that the underlayment would not shift with occupant entry/egress. The carpet replaces the original layer of cotton burlap, which had long ago lost its ability to support the foam and isolate it from the springs.




New foam is installed, along with a layer of non-woven cotton/poly felt to retain the rear edge of the foam to the frame.

The felt also acts as an insulator/isolator between the rear section of the trim cover and the "bar cover", or rear bottom section of the frame.


The foam is trimmed to shape and "skived" or contoured at the perimeter to give a smooth appearance of the cover after assembly.

I have found that an electric carving knife works great for shaping and contouring the urethane foam.




The pink chalk mark highlights the center of the frame and the center of the trim cover.

I always start in the center and work outwards from the center to establish and maintain the proper cover position on the seat.



Like the original design, I added a layer of padding and burlap above the foam, then applied the trim cover:



The first step in retaining the cover was to hog ring the rear "tie-down" to the lower portion of the seat frame, just beneath where the forward edge of the seat back would eventually be positioned.

Then, working out from the center, hog-ringing the perimeter of the cover to the frame.

After building up the assembly, I determined that I needed additional padding to get the required comfort, fit and appearance. The cover was too loose on the pad assembly.



I removed the cover from the frame and added a thin layer of padding over the entire seating surface, with additional layers around the perimeter to provide a more full looking perimeter.



The second build-up was much improved



Attaching the seat back to the cushion is accomplished with 6 - yes, 6! - 1/4-20 bolts.



Adding the ash tray and robe cord to the seat back:



It took 3 of us to maneuver the seat into the car, but we managed to position it without any injuries or damage:



It will be challenging (impossible?) to install the seat side panels in the vehicle, but the side panels are still at the anodizer's facility.

If necessary, the seat will be removed to allow installation of the aluminum trim panels.

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With the seat covers completed, I was able to resume work on the quarter trim panels.


First step was to install the windlace along the rear door openings.


The windlace tucks under the roof rail molding at the upper end and is retained with trim screws to the inner "dog leg".


The quarter trim panel - now completed with the decorative deck seam - installs on top of the windlace and is attached with a trim screw to the inner structure.



The black line on the water shield indicates where the color split line is positioned on the rear door trim panel. The quarter trim and door trim color split line up perfectly.


And then, do it all again on the passenger side!


Moving on to the rear door trim installation, I fabricated the water shields from 6 mil poly film instead of coated paper.



Then I re-installed the door handle and window regulator handle springs...



And the trim panel:



The alignment of the rear door and quarter trim two-tone split turned out nearly perfect.


I installed the door handle at the wrong position; another item to add to the list.

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