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'70 Esprit TA clone Pontiac 400
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what a great forum and community building center. Super awesome to have the....support...
Sorry to burst the bubble. I really, really, didn't want to be that guy and debated for hours whether I should be the one to give you the bad news.

While people like Ed above are enthusiastic hobbyists who will cheer from the sidelines, most have never done the type of extensive metal replacement that car would require. It's expensive and very time consuming, even if you do it yourself. That car needs to be completely stripped to the shell before any rust repair begins. The parts expenses will exceed the value of the car when done, even if you don't count your labor.

Before doing anything with the car I'll recommend you remove the passenger fender and verify that the VIN stamped in the firewall matches. The fender itself isn't a '70 fender. If the cowl VIN doesn't match you might have recourse with the seller. The dash VIN can be fairly easily swapped from car to car while the hidden cowl VIN stamp can't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Sorry to burst the bubble. I really, really, didn't want to be that guy and debated for hours whether I should be the one to give you the bad news.

While people like Ed above are enthusiastic hobbyists who will cheer from the sidelines, most have never done the type of extensive metal replacement that car would require. It's expensive and very time consuming, even if you do it yourself. That car needs to be completely stripped to the shell before any rust repair begins. The parts expenses will exceed the value of the car when done, even if you don't count your labor.

Before doing anything with the car I'll recommend you remove the passenger fender and verify that the VIN stamped in the firewall matches. The fender itself isn't a '70 fender. If the cowl VIN doesn't match you might have recourse with the seller. The dash VIN can be fairly easily swapped from car to car while the hidden cowl VIN stamp can't.
you certainly didnt burst my bubble, as debbie downers are a dime a dozen in life, and if you listen to them, nothing cool or hard would ever get done. If you want to send early 70 firebirds to the graveyard to be crushed that's on you. This rust bucket car has already brought my family together grinning and smiling as we work on it, if you do not think that's worth time and money, thats your lose.
 

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'70 Esprit TA clone Pontiac 400
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As I said, I really didn't want to give the news and although you may think I like seeing early 2nd gen birds go to the grave you are wrong. I will happily answer any questions I can as you progress.
 

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78 w/Chevy 350 TH400
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If you have your family helping and enjoying it, freaking sweet…..could be worse things to spend your money on…..like a $4000 trip to disney……could buy a lot of parts for that.. lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
As I said, I really didn't want to give the news and although you may think I like seeing early 2nd gen birds go to the grave you are wrong. I will happily answer any questions I can as you progress.
I suppose thru text at times tone / meanings can become hard. If I have been overly gruff or whatnot, my bad. My wife thinks im probably insane doing it, but such is life. I maybe crazy, but I am going to put in the work anyway. Its already here sitting in my garage, and if dont save it, I doubt anyone else will. It is my dream model year, and sure I prob would be better off with one more solid, however, I also was looking for one for quite a while just to find this one, so it was one of those things, I jumped on, and now I get to discover the hard work I signed myself up for. Luckily I have an amazing family all in the hot rod building / body work / mechanic backgrounds, and a deep wallet. This will be my first actual resto mod type build, so I'm sure there will be times I will think back and think, maybe it was just a parts car and I should have spent more time looking for a more solid project...but such is life.
 

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'70 Esprit TA clone Pontiac 400
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I suppose thru text at times tone / meanings can become hard.
This ^^^^ is very true and I apologize for being waaaay too blunt.

I've been working on these cars since they were new and became very familiar with where, how, and why they rusted in certain areas as the decades went by, AND, I am familiar with how much money (in today's world) and time it takes to repair them. I lived in the salt area up North and saw how the cars deteriorated there and am in FL now where different things occur at different rates. Looking at your pics and videos I saw things that are signs to me of the cars history and issues I'd expect to find that aren't obvious from outward appearances.
 

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1993 6-spd T/A - 1996 C4
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Luckily I have an amazing family all in the hot rod building / body work / mechanic backgrounds, and a deep wallet.
Deep wallet? ...say no more. That's the one tool that can fix anything. With that and time, nothings impossible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Deep wallet? ...say no more. That's the one tool that can fix anything. With that and time, nothings impossible.
indeed lol. Im a cannabis seed breeder and a day trader, make great money, and this is my dream car. I have the funding to be able to stomach putting in double what the cars actually worth, as I have no intent to part with it
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
This ^^^^ is very true and I apologize for being waaaay too blunt.

I've been working on these cars since they were new and became very familiar with where, how, and why they rusted in certain areas as the decades went by, AND, I am familiar with how much money (in today's world) and time it takes to repair them. I lived in the salt area up North and saw how the cars deteriorated there and am in FL now where different things occur at different rates. Looking at your pics and videos I saw things that are signs to me of the cars history and issues I'd expect to find that aren't obvious from outward appearances.
I appreciate that. While on the subject, what are you seeing in the cars history / issues? And what did you spot that makes you think the fenders arent from a 70?

I can definitely see alot of the roof / pillar / window surrounds having the Cardova top really got the rust going. I don't think I will put another top on it when we get to that stage, as seems like its a recipe to shorten the life of the metal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
first of many many upcoming Auto metal deliveries...

Todays parts - Both driver and passenger side of the floor pan! I may regret not getting the full pan - but Its on the plan to put in a t-56 at some point, which will require some trans tunnel modifications, so figured since thats gonna have to chopped up anyway, might as well get the 2 piece floor pans and figure the trans tunnel area out once I have a t56 to use to mockup.

Material property Font Rectangle Tints and shades Book
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
I started more of the tear down today, got the driver and rear seats out, and pulled the carpet, and started scrapping off the floor liner off, and in general, getting a better look at the driver side floor pans. Right now, the birds at my garage, but I'm going to haul it over to my dad's place down the road where all the tools and experts are at prob next week, or at worst maybe next month after Im back from a vacation down to california. I think my next step will be a heavy vacuuming, and then start cutting out the old pan, and wire wheeling and grinding and get her already to see how the new amd pans fit. Id like to be able to do this without pulling the body off the subframe, but we shall see. Someday I do plan to pull it 100% apart, acid dip and all that, but I'm not really ready for that yet as I havent decided the direction I want to take with the build. So Im going to see what we can get done in the mean time. When I thought it was a numbers matching car, my plan was to have butler go thru the motor and get it all like new and rebuilt, but now that I know its not a numbers match, and not even a motor from a firebird, its making me debate that. kinda torn between doing the ls t56 swap, and a TCI front subframe, and do more a resto mod. Dollar for dollar, anymore it seems more cost effective to go the LS route...but theres the purist voice also saying stroke the 400 I already got, have it all machined, and it will still be a period correct car...

Decisions decisions...
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Gas Composite material Automotive exterior

Automotive tire Wood Gas Soil Auto part

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I appreciate that. While on the subject, what are you seeing in the cars history / issues? And what did you spot that makes you think the fenders arent from a 70?

I can definitely see alot of the roof / pillar / window surrounds having the Cardova top really got the rust going. I don't think I will put another top on it when we get to that stage, as seems like its a recipe to shorten the life of the metal.
Personally, I really like the vinyl tops on certain cars. At this point in time your car's not likely to ever be used as a daily driver in adverse weather conditions once rebuilt so I wouldn't let the fear of rust caused by an old, dry rotted, cracked, sun beaten, vinyl top keep you from replacing it. Chances are, after the rebuild it won't even see a hose, never mind rain, snow, ice, or whatever. I think it'd look good on your car if you repaint it the stock blue w/black vinyl unless you add a rear spoiler, rear wheel foilers, etc. Replacing the vinyl top would also reduce the perfection level of bodywork required (therefore hours) as the top masks minor flaws. The vinyl tops also conveniently hide the place where these cars are prone to crack at the upper rear corner of the door windows. I can elaborate on vinyl tops if you'd like.

'70-'72 front fenders don't have a provision for core supports that the '73 and later cars have which provide triangulation increasing crash protection. If you look at engine compartment pics of later 2nd gen birds you'll see the bars I'm referring to. I'm pretty sure I saw the raised flat part of the inner fender structure with the flat place and two bolt holes on the passenger fender where the triangulation bar would mount. Couldn't see the drivers side well enough in your video.

I see quite a few things but so I don't seem overwhelming I'll just mention a few for you to investigate.

The car was outside in the same place for a very long time, probably pointed mostly South. While it might have been garaged for 10 or 15 years it's still over 50 years old. The early 2nd gens had a better grade of vinyl covering on the dash than later models and the inner plastic dash pad structure seems to warp less than later ones. Your dash pad is really trashed indicating it spent a lot of time out in the sun. You can't really fix one that bad, new reproduction ones are about $1,500.00 when they are available which is kinda sporadic.

The sun also burned up the door window sweeps. When that happens the pieces fall into the door and block up the drain holes in the bottom of the doors. Additionally, once the outer sweep rubbers fall into the doors leaves, pine needles and other debris can fall into the doors which hold moisture as they rot and cause the bottoms of the doors to rust out. Telltale exterior sign is when rust starts in the lower front or rear corner of the door skin. If you jab a screwdriver under the bottom of the doors you may be able to poke right through the metal if there is any metal left.

The front floor pan rust gives us a couple clues. The cowl probably has a hole in it right above the brake pedal. Inside the cowl a small pond forms when it rains or the car is washed etc. When the car is driven regularly the water sloshes out when making a right hand corner. If the car sits for a long period the pond rusts through and from then on water pours in. To see the rust hole easily put a light in the drivers foot well pointed up and go look down through the plastic screen in front of the windshield on the top of the cowl. If it's bright out close the garage door or whatever.

The passenger side front floor pan rust usually appears like yours when the heater core leaks and someone doesn't dry under the carpet when they replace the core. In addition that side may have been leaking where the vent opening with the vacuum AC diaphram is below the A pillar. In both cases the standard floor pans are not likely to be put in without replacing at least part of the toe boards.

When cars sit for long periods with water in the interior the air inside becomes very humid during the day when the temperature is high. Then when the ambient temp drops quickly at the end of the day the windshield and roof cool quickly. When they do, condensation forms on the inside of the roof skin and the inside of the windshield. So typically you'll find the sweat from the inside of the windshield runs down and rusts through the top of the cowl at the lower corners of the windshield. You'll probably notice surface rust over the entire inside of the roof skin. Pay particular attention to where the inside roof structure touches the roof skin as that's where it starts to rust through the skin from the inside and you may want to prevent further rust.

Take note: The side trim of the windshield are one year only pieces with the screw hole at the bottom and IIRC are not reproduced so if you remove them be very careful as you may want to have them reconditioned. Also at the lower outside corners of the windshield there are what we refer to as "eyebrows" which are black plastic pieces that have a screw into the bottom end of the side windshield trim and another into the cowl structure. They are also one year only and you can't remove the plastic pieces without removing the fender unless the screws rusted away. There is a guy who recently started making the eyebrows but the cost is like $350.00 for a pair IIRC. Both the trim and eyebrows can be replaced with the later style pieces but you'll have to hear about it from "experts" every time you say it's a '70 because both can be seen from the outside even with the hood closed and those who know early 2nd gen birds know to look for them.

I'm getting long winded so I'm going to stop writing but I'll leave you with this. The reason I believe it sat facing mostly south for many years is because of the rear inner plastic sail panels. If the car wasn't pointed south the tails with the screw holes under the rear window would have completely disintegrated by now. I saw they are the one year only '70 pieces IIRC (so I assume original) and the tails would have turned to dust if sun shined through the rear window.

Edit: Almost forgot about the pass door. Put on a good pair of heavy work boots. Go out and sit on the tunnel hump in the back seat area and give the door a couple really hard kicks straight on. It's worked on two early 2nd gen pass side doors for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Personally, I really like the vinyl tops on certain cars. At this point in time your car's not likely to ever be used as a daily driver in adverse weather conditions once rebuilt so I wouldn't let the fear of rust caused by an old, dry rotted, cracked, sun beaten, vinyl top keep you from replacing it. Chances are, after the rebuild it won't even see a hose, never mind rain, snow, ice, or whatever. I think it'd look good on your car if you repaint it the stock blue w/black vinyl unless you add a rear spoiler, rear wheel foilers, etc. Replacing the vinyl top would also reduce the perfection level of bodywork required (therefore hours) as the top masks minor flaws. The vinyl tops also conveniently hide the place where these cars are prone to crack at the upper rear corner of the door windows. I can elaborate on vinyl tops if you'd like.

'70-'72 front fenders don't have a provision for core supports that the '73 and later cars have which provide triangulation increasing crash protection. If you look at engine compartment pics of later 2nd gen birds you'll see the bars I'm referring to. I'm pretty sure I saw the raised flat part of the inner fender structure with the flat place and two bolt holes on the passenger fender where the triangulation bar would mount. Couldn't see the drivers side well enough in your video.

I see quite a few things but so I don't seem overwhelming I'll just mention a few for you to investigate.

The car was outside in the same place for a very long time, probably pointed mostly South. While it might have been garaged for 10 or 15 years it's still over 50 years old. The early 2nd gens had a better grade of vinyl covering on the dash than later models and the inner plastic dash pad structure seems to warp less than later ones. Your dash pad is really trashed indicating it spent a lot of time out in the sun. You can't really fix one that bad, new reproduction ones are about $1,500.00 when they are available which is kinda sporadic.

The sun also burned up the door window sweeps. When that happens the pieces fall into the door and block up the drain holes in the bottom of the doors. Additionally, once the outer sweep rubbers fall into the doors leaves, pine needles and other debris can fall into the doors which hold moisture as they rot and cause the bottoms of the doors to rust out. Telltale exterior sign is when rust starts in the lower front or rear corner of the door skin. If you jab a screwdriver under the bottom of the doors you may be able to poke right through the metal if there is any metal left.

The front floor pan rust gives us a couple clues. The cowl probably has a hole in it right above the brake pedal. Inside the cowl a small pond forms when it rains or the car is washed etc. When the car is driven regularly the water sloshes out when making a right hand corner. If the car sits for a long period the pond rusts through and from then on water pours in. To see the rust hole easily put a light in the drivers foot well pointed up and go look down through the plastic screen in front of the windshield on the top of the cowl. If it's bright out close the garage door or whatever.

The passenger side front floor pan rust usually appears like yours when the heater core leaks and someone doesn't dry under the carpet when they replace the core. In addition that side may have been leaking where the vent opening with the vacuum AC diaphram is below the A pillar. In both cases the standard floor pans are not likely to be put in without replacing at least part of the toe boards.

When cars sit for long periods with water in the interior the air inside becomes very humid during the day when the temperature is high. Then when the ambient temp drops quickly at the end of the day the windshield and roof cool quickly. When they do, condensation forms on the inside of the roof skin and the inside of the windshield. So typically you'll find the sweat from the inside of the windshield runs down and rusts through the top of the cowl at the lower corners of the windshield. You'll probably notice surface rust over the entire inside of the roof skin. Pay particular attention to where the inside roof structure touches the roof skin as that's where it starts to rust through the skin from the inside and you may want to prevent further rust.

Take note: The side trim of the windshield are one year only pieces with the screw hole at the bottom and IIRC are not reproduced so if you remove them be very careful as you may want to have them reconditioned. Also at the lower outside corners of the windshield there are what we refer to as "eyebrows" which are black plastic pieces that have a screw into the bottom end of the side windshield trim and another into the cowl structure. They are also one year only and you can't remove the plastic pieces without removing the fender unless the screws rusted away. There is a guy who recently started making the eyebrows but the cost is like $350.00 for a pair IIRC. Both the trim and eyebrows can be replaced with the later style pieces but you'll have to hear about it from "experts" every time you say it's a '70 because both can be seen from the outside even with the hood closed and those who know early 2nd gen birds know to look for them.

I'm getting long winded so I'm going to stop writing but I'll leave you with this. The reason I believe it sat facing mostly south for many years is because of the rear inner plastic sail panels. If the car wasn't pointed south the tails with the screw holes under the rear window would have completely disintegrated by now. I saw they are the one year only '70 pieces IIRC (so I assume original) and the tails would have turned to dust if sun shined through the rear window.

Edit: Almost forgot about the pass door. Put on a good pair of heavy work boots. Go out and sit on the tunnel hump in the back seat area and give the door a couple really hard kicks straight on. It's worked on two early 2nd gen pass side doors for me.
that is some truly amazing information. I appreciate you taking the time to write that for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Dont get discouraged, if you have a good set of tools have a welder and can do most of the work, You’ll be fine. If you don’t it will get real expensive. There are so many aftermarket parts available. For me , I love hunting for parts on line, swap meets Craig’s list…etc. I am working on a 85 Fiero GT that had some rust issue that many have said to just find a donor car. I’m sure I’ve put more money in it than what it’s worth but it is my sons first car we bought when he was 15.he drove it thru college…moved to Texas, then Ohio then back to Illinois for me to work on it. Patience is needed for your build. I’m sure you were probably hoping to do the basics and drive it….but…..now its going to take more time.
how much did you pay for it ?….if you don’t mind me asking.
I ended up paying 10k
 
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