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my 1966 Special rejuvenation


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This project came about after my 66 Skylark GS got totaled by a hit and run driver. I bought the Special with the idea of dropping the GS engine in it. As you will see it snowballed into much more. I located the Special in Eastern Idaho and went back and forth about buying it because i really didnt want an A/C car. finally I gave in and bought it sight unseen other than pictures sent by the seller. much to my delight what arrived on the transport was a completely original unmolested car with literally no rust whatsoever. it did have it's fair share of senior citizen dings and scrapes but thats it. it even had the California smog equipment still on the car and fully functional.

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got the GS all parted out and sold off the stuff I didnt need. my next move was to start disassembling the Special to facilitate the drivetrain replacement. I stalled on this for a while because I'm borderline OCD and I know how these types of projects tend to snowball for me. finally I started the task of removing the old engine. I knew I was going to be rebuilding the fropnt suspension and adding disc brakes so removing the old stuff before puling the engine made perfect sense.

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Then IT happened. I told myself "it's just the front clip" " it'll make the engine swap easier and i can clean everything up real good"  I was struggling with getting the front of the frame degreased and with not painting the rest of the frame and then I spotted my excuse to go further. smashed body bushings.. of course I cant leave this like this.

 

 

engine removal 1.JPG

frnt clip removed.JPG

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smashed bushings.JPG

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I started to clean the bare frame with manual labor but that was tedious. so i took it to a local sandblaster and saved myself much misery. then i went over the entire frame and fixed all the poor factory welds and removed all the excess splatter and dingle berries. washed the frame in POR15 degreaser and metal prep and painted the entire frame with the POR15 chassis black.

 

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now that the frame is clean and painted it's time to start assembling. I took the original stock lower control arms an welded in the factory style braces for cars equipped with rear swaybar and installed new bushings and hardware. then I was able to install the 3.42 ratio Buick 10 bolt rear. 

 

 

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10 hours ago, 8E45E said:

What is wrong with that two-door sedan missing its front clip in the driveway?

 

Craig

it was rear ended HARD. that coupled with heavy rust issues in floors and trunk as well as every single piece of interior and exterior trim being pitted beyond repair made the car less than a viable candidate for repair.

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1 hour ago, GARY F said:

Nice car to start with and you are doing great work.

thanks, it is probably the easiest project I've ever tackled simply for the lack of rust or corrosion. even the bare steel underside of the rear filler deck is free of surface rust which is unheard of

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1 minute ago, SpeedyBuick said:

it was rear ended HARD. that coupled with heavy rust issues in floors and trunk as well as every single piece of interior and exterior trim being pitted beyond repair made the car less than a viable candidate for repair.

That is a shame.  From what I can see in the photo, it appears to be a very well equipped car, with more options than the car you have replaced it with.

 

Craig

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  • 2 weeks later...

after giving it much consideration and going back and forth I decided that i didnt want to remake the brake lines and relocate the combination valve. I pulled the mockup 401 engine and installed the mockup Buick 455 and st400 transmission. everything clears just as if it's made for it. had to relocate the crossmember about 4" back. now other than the driveshaft the rolling chassis is complete and it's time to send the engine in to the machine shop and to move the body in to the garage for the next phase

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455 test fit brakes.jpg

455 test fit pass close.jpg

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rolling chassis low view.jpg

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took a look at the  fuel tank and didnt like what i was seeing. Ordered a replacement and proceeded to remove fill neck from old tank and install on new tank.  the pickup assy didnt look any better so I ordered a new improved version with larger feed and return connections.

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new tank complete.jpg

new tank ready.jpg

fuel pump and pickup assy.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

some parts have arrived for the new engine. things have begun to get out of hand a bit.  (dont tell my wife) drilled and tapped holes for the oil baffle in lifter galley, it eliminates the need to use the bath tub style intake gasket. wanted this done before  the block goes to the machine shop so i'm not creating metal filings after final cleaning.

 

notice how much lighter the new piston and rod are compared to the original parts. 136 grams is a decent reduction and the new pistons are forged and larger.

 

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old piston and rod.jpg

new piston and rod.jpg

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On 1/24/2021 at 11:57 PM, Roger Zimmermann said:

With different pistons, you will have to balance the crankshaft/pistons assembly. I'm sure you know that!

oh I'm aware. there are NO shortcuts being taken with this project.

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  • 1 month later...

now that the chassis is completed I started on the body. The underside didnt have any factory undercoating and just a light coating of road grime and oil from the 55 years of use. sprayed it down with brake cleaner to dry out the oil and then went over the bottom of the car with a wire wheel on a drill. next i degreased it with ZEP505 and rinsed with hot water.

chassis march.jpg

underside 2.jpg

underside dirty.jpg

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Posted (edited)

going on the 3rd month of having my block at the machine shop for cleaning and sonic checking. I can't imagine how long it will take for actual machine work  based on the time frame thus far. I do have a complete running 66 GS Nailhead setup I could put in the car instead.  

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Edited by SpeedyBuick (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

I got motivated Saturday and put the body back on the rolling chassis. all new body mounts and hardware. I put a bolted body mount in place of the rubber puck puck to give the car a little stiffer chassis.  Still a lot more work to be done but every step is progress.

body back on.jpg

body on front.jpg

rear underside.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

I ran the last two brake lines needed to complete the brake system.  Since these are visible anytime the hood is open they had to be just right.

 

A certain member of the AACA forums has a 38 Century for sale and I'd love to replace this car with that Century Hint Hint..lol

 

 

 

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