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Discussion Starter · #65 ·
Put in a solid days work today. Got the drivers side floor panel replacement underway, no turning back now. Old one mostly cut out, got some more tweaking to do obviously and tons more fitment to do. Started getting the old spot welds ground down, as well as general grinding to clean it all up. The front brace that runs all the way across that the subframe rear bolts into was very rust free, and had paint still, while the rear brace that just goes across one side of the car and ends at the trans tunnel is totally shot, so got new one ordered up from classic industries. Felt good to get some progress done, 1 bite down, 1 million to do lol.


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'70 Esprit TA clone Pontiac 400
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I mentioned early in the thread I think the car needs to be stripped to the unibody before starting rust repairs. I'm still recommending it, and won't bring it up again if you choose not to. It would make all the work you need to do safer, easier, and quicker than trying to limit disassembly and you'd end up with a better job overall.

Don't lose the rods for the headliner and if you remove them mark their positions and number the rods front to rear. The rear window will come out very easily. Just run a wire through a gap where it was leaking in the upper corner, wrap each end of the wire around something and slide it in/out as you work your way around the window with a helper on the inside. Light scratches in the rear window can be polished out by a glass shop. Remove the windshield the same way and just toss it out, you'll want a new windshield.

Take all the seat belts out. Mark the hardware and send them out for re-webbing if the buckles are nice. You really don't want to be relying on 50+ YO belts and AFAIK there aren't any correct reproductions of the retractors for the lap belts.

Be sure to get the rear sub frame bolts free before replacing the floor pan so you don't have to cut a window in the new floor later if there's an issue. There's often problems with them.
 

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Ramblin' Wreck
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Start looking around for a real spoiler. As I understand most were aftermarket installations, so don't worry if it looks rough under the trunk lid...mine did ;-)
 

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'70 Esprit TA clone Pontiac 400
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Start looking around for a real spoiler. As I understand most were aftermarket installations, so don't worry if it looks rough under the trunk lid...mine did ;-)
'70 Formy's didn't come with factory rear spoilers. AFAIK they weren't even optional that year.

Jeff, if you decide to put a rear spoiler on it I'd use one of the one's with the short end caps (or cut the long type). Otherwise knowledgeable folks will point out over and over that you've got the later style end caps on an early car. I sent someone here a pattern for drilling out the deck lid that they might still have should you decide to add a spoiler.
 

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Ramblin' Wreck
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'70 Formy's didn't come with factory rear spoilers. AFAIK they weren't even optional that year.

Jeff, if you decide to put a rear spoiler on it I'd use one of the one's with the short end caps (or cut the long type). Otherwise knowledgeable folks will point out over and over that you've got the later style end caps on an early car. I sent someone here a pattern for drilling out the deck lid that they might still have should you decide to add a spoiler.
Yes, It was just the TA that had the rear spoiler by default. Are you sure it wasn't offered for the Formula, since almost everything was supposed to be an option on it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #71 ·
I mentioned early in the thread I think the car needs to be stripped to the unibody before starting rust repairs. I'm still recommending it, and won't bring it up again if you choose not to. It would make all the work you need to do safer, easier, and quicker than trying to limit disassembly and you'd end up with a better job overall.

Don't lose the rods for the headliner and if you remove them mark their positions and number the rods front to rear. The rear window will come out very easily. Just run a wire through a gap where it was leaking in the upper corner, wrap each end of the wire around something and slide it in/out as you work your way around the window with a helper on the inside. Light scratches in the rear window can be polished out by a glass shop. Remove the windshield the same way and just toss it out, you'll want a new windshield.

Take all the seat belts out. Mark the hardware and send them out for re-webbing if the buckles are nice. You really don't want to be relying on 50+ YO belts and AFAIK there aren't any correct reproductions of the retractors for the lap belts.

Be sure to get the rear sub frame bolts free before replacing the floor pan so you don't have to cut a window in the new floor later if there's an issue. There's often problems with them.

I fully agree that it would be better to totally tear down and rotisserie, and I suspect that's what eventually will end up happening. We are going to finish the driver's side floor panel as its already underway, and then I suspect I'm going to need to focus on disassembling and buying parts and learning the skills I need to do more work on the bird. I start university back up on jan 9th, so just trying to get some stuff done on the car before I go back to school, and my time is thinner. We are going to pull the subframe bolt and get new bushings in while we have the floorboard out. I also am going to be working with my brother on his 32 ford and getting better at metal work, as I'm going to need those skills for the firebird build. I have the front clip mostly unbolted now as well, and will get that off here shortly.

The rear brace for the front seat / floor pans arrived today, so after thanksgiving our place is to get that tacked up into place so we have more rigidity back in the car. I was concerned about fully tearing it down without some bracing.

When you put one these cars on a rotisserie, is there a certain rhyme or reason to where you should tack up bracing inside the car to keep it from twisting while taken all apart?
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
'70 Formy's didn't come with factory rear spoilers. AFAIK they weren't even optional that year.

Jeff, if you decide to put a rear spoiler on it I'd use one of the one's with the short end caps (or cut the long type). Otherwise knowledgeable folks will point out over and over that you've got the later style end caps on an early car. I sent someone here a pattern for drilling out the deck lid that they might still have should you decide to add a spoiler.
I suspect any purist will hate what I do with this car, and what's already been done to it. One thing we noticed today to, the motor they used from the 68 gto looks like they used the belts / brackets / accessory setup from the GTO and the power steering pump is way lower / at a not a very nice angle for the hoses, and hits the steering box. need to figure out what I want to do about that. My brother is heavily suggesting fixing all the unknown / motor issues with LS / T56 swap.

Honestly it not having the numbers matching motor has me really wondering if this is the right car to build the way I was originally planning, especially considering all the rust issues as well. IDK. part of me wants to say, if I have to do all the metal work anyway, make it the frankencar and throw a ttop roof on, and since I have to do a tail pan anyway, and I vastly prefer the round taillight look of the camaro, using a camaro tail pan instead and converting over to round taillights. How's that for pissing off purists.

Another part of me thinks I should part this car out, rip the 400 out, sell it to someone restoring their GTO that wants a period motor, selling the 12 bolt rear end, and the heavy duty th400 and if I can get any other parts sold off it and starting over with a solid body and take the loss on buying this 70 overpriced.
 

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Ramblin' Wreck
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Whatever you decide, do it out of your passion for cars and not economic gains. Better in the long run for your psyche ;-)
 

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'70 Esprit TA clone Pontiac 400
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Keeping your options open is a great idea IMO. You might find a suitable body donor by opening up your search to include base Firebirds and Esprits. Although there are some minor aesthetic differences like door jamb stamping during the early years the only really structural difference between a 70-72 Base/Esprit and a Formy body are the rear anti sway bar brackets welded to the rear frame rails, and they can be added easily. "73 has the provision for retractable rear seat belts IIRC but is otherwise also the same basic body.

The power steering pump bracket set up is '70 only if you choose to go the "correct" route. I'm not aware of reproductions.

While going LS is a popular modernization upgrade, keep in mind it also adds a bunch of things you need to consider like a different fuel system, stand alone engine management, engine cooling system, integrating dash gauges, etc. And, while re-configuring your belt driven accessories on the '68 engine might be necessary, you may run into similar LS issues depending on the LS donor. An LS install on top of your current project might be a lot to take on.
 

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78 w/Chevy 350 TH400
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My advise….if you really like the car…..just chip away at it. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially as you get into it. I restored a 56 Chevy truck…took me 10 years total from start to finish. Sometimes you have to walk away for a bit in order to get back in the fight.
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1978 Trans Am - 400 - TH350 - 3.23 - Y82 - WS6
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I suspect any purist will hate what I do with this car, and what's already been done to it. One thing we noticed today to, the motor they used from the 68 gto looks like they used the belts / brackets / accessory setup from the GTO and the power steering pump is way lower / at a not a very nice angle for the hoses, and hits the steering box. need to figure out what I want to do about that. My brother is heavily suggesting fixing all the unknown / motor issues with LS / T56 swap.

Honestly it not having the numbers matching motor has me really wondering if this is the right car to build the way I was originally planning, especially considering all the rust issues as well. IDK. part of me wants to say, if I have to do all the metal work anyway, make it the frankencar and throw a ttop roof on, and since I have to do a tail pan anyway, and I vastly prefer the round taillight look of the camaro, using a camaro tail pan instead and converting over to round taillights. How's that for pissing off purists.

Another part of me thinks I should part this car out, rip the 400 out, sell it to someone restoring their GTO that wants a period motor, selling the 12 bolt rear end, and the heavy duty th400 and if I can get any other parts sold off it and starting over with a solid body and take the loss on buying this 70 overpriced.

Hey man, new member here but I found your thread and saved it for some inspiration as you have a great attitude towards tackling this beast.


Jeff1970formula said:
All in all, pretty excited at this stage. When Im knee deep in rust repair ask me again then lmao.
Jeff1970formula said:
This rust bucket car has already brought my family together grinning and smiling as we work on it
Jeff1970formula said:
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.

I hear ya, the frustration is real! I had to get rid of an '87 GTA due to it being almost similar to your situation and I got in over my head and couldn't handle the rust repairs at the time. However this project seems to bring you and your family happiness no matter the work. I'd recommend don't get too discouraged even with the rust/non number's matching, it's your baby you do what you want with it. Keep posting updates, if not for advice but for your sake.
 

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Discussion Starter · #77 ·
Keeping your options open is a great idea IMO. You might find a suitable body donor by opening up your search to include base Firebirds and Esprits. Although there are some minor aesthetic differences like door jamb stamping during the early years the only really structural difference between a 70-72 Base/Esprit and a Formy body are the rear anti sway bar brackets welded to the rear frame rails, and they can be added easily. "73 has the provision for retractable rear seat belts IIRC but is otherwise also the same basic body.

The power steering pump bracket set up is '70 only if you choose to go the "correct" route. I'm not aware of reproductions.

While going LS is a popular modernization upgrade, keep in mind it also adds a bunch of things you need to consider like a different fuel system, stand alone engine management, engine cooling system, integrating dash gauges, etc. And, while re-configuring your belt driven accessories on the '68 engine might be necessary, you may run into similar LS issues depending on the LS donor. An LS install on top of your current project might be a lot to take on.
yea, and that's the tricky part to as this motor is a 68, so not sure if the head is drilled in a way that the 70 stuff would work, or if Ill need to fab up something or go to the aftermarket. un answered questions to track down for sure. Either way, thats a long ways off on the priority as getting the rust out is my bigger priority.
 

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Discussion Starter · #78 ·
thanks all for the kind words, it makes the project feel less daunting. I definitely am in over my head if i look at the big picture. Gotta just tackle one thing at a time, and go from there.

I figure while I have the driver floor board out, Ill get new body bushings in, and I got some subframe connectors for heidts ordered as well. They are the dual type - bolt in or we can weld em in. Figure while its apart, might as well make the car more rigid when I go to put it back together.

My FIL and I got the floor pan fitting very nicely, the edges all ground down to nice shiny metal, and starting to get the last fitment and adjustments done. I am going to take the toe board panels over as well and make sure with the new pan and the new board mocked up, it still looks right. Its been both easier and harder then I was expecting to fit the new panel, but overall, I am liking the way its look. The rocker panel on driver side is solid, and only had minor surface rust, so that was very nice to see.
 

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'70 Esprit TA clone Pontiac 400
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I used the '70 power steering brackets on a '75 P 400 with '68 #16 heads in my car without issues. So if the heads are '68 you should be good. The only difference would be if the block mounting points were different. Did you verify the block used in your car?

Use solid sub frame bushings. DO NOT USE RUBBER OR URETHANE. We can make recommendations and explain the differences between various companies if you'd like.

The rockers are probably rotted on the inside toward the front where the water from the cowl drops down, you'll find out when you remove the front fenders and inspect the lower section of the sides of the cowl where they rot. I suspect, based on the rust on the floors you'll find the lower sections of the cowl sides are rusted as well as the inner fender structures in that area. Also look under the car on the back side of the rockers just in front of the rear wheel well where the rubber flapper lets water out of the rockers. If the rubber flapper's are gone and there's just rust holes there then the rockers are likely rusted out inside.

Don't install the sub frame connectors. You don't want them on the car while you're doing the other work for several reasons, I could write out a long explanation but for now just trust me on this because I type by hunt & peck. You're a LONG way from frame connector install.

While fully welding has historically been considered the gold standard for all of the panel repair type of work you're doing the modern structural adhesives and panel bond can be used to save time for certain things and in some cases provide a stronger repair that's actually better than welding alone. I've done 2nd gen floor pans like the one's you're using with a combination of adhesives & plug welds and it can save a lot of work. Might want to learn about adhesives if you've never used them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #80 ·
for some reason half my photos on this photo dump the site says- so some photos not showing up, ( The uploaded file was not an image as expected.)

But anywho - spent another couple days working on the floors. I got the toe panel area all cut and grinded where the toe board replacement panel fits and was pleasantly surprised when we got the plastic trim off the inside front rocker area to see it was solid. Had to remove the parking brake, and the hi low dimmer switch, and get the throttle pedal unbolted, and pull the ac ducting, but its coming along. Got the brace - front sear rear brace, not sure if theres a better technical term for it in these cars, but the shorter one that ends in the trans tunnel. Got it ready to spot weld in, fits nicely. I put it where the old one was, then measured the width for the seat track on the passenger side, and it was equal, so as far as I can tell, its where it needs to be.






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Also, in weird things discovered - on the front most section in front of the rockers, behind the cowl / fender - from the inside - Someone had used several inches of putty - and sealed this opening. my FIL and I couldn't for the life of us figure out as to why this was done - definitely didnt seem factory. Any guesses?

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