With the launch of our Vinvanco Site, I've placed this blog onto the site. I've backtracked to provide context. To update you in short order: Drew passed the van back to me when I bought him a 1967 Impala as his first vehicle. An unexpected job change and subsequent move left Poochie sitting in our Austin garage untouched until a couple years ago. We're back and Poochie is on the radar once again. Much research has taken place since our original plan to slam Poochie. Today's plan is much the same to the original plan in one regard. We're going to leave the body and paint justhow it is with the exception off rubbing it our to bring back whatever luster we can and possibly clearcoating it to offer a little protection from further decay.
The plan for Poochie involved patience and planning. We hop to put a modern drivetrain in her, and to lower her to the mocked up ride height. Instead of using period correct performance parts, we will be using modern small engine technology, a five-speed automatic transmission and perhaps an independent rear suspension.
What we have planned for Poochie is the ultimate sleeper. If all goes as planned, an EcoTech 2.0 or 2.4 direct injection engine and five speed transmission will be sourced and a Mustang II style from end will be installed. The rear will either be a C-notch with a 9"Ford, or completely custom fabricated IRS rear end from the afore-mentioned Eco-Tech drivetrain.
The ideal donor would be a lightly wrecked Pontiac Solstice, a Saturn Sky, a Cobalt SS or a Chevy HHR. We mention patience because this is a long-term built and there another first-generation van in line before this one goes under the knife. And with that, I encourage you to have a look at our Pandora project blog, but be advised that any research for the Poochie build will be periodically posted herein. Over and out.
(SIDEBAR: THESE WORDS WERE WRITTEN BY MY SON, AFTER I AGREED TO LET THIS BE HIS FIRST VEHICLE. WE CHANGED COURSE WHEN WE BOUGHT HIM A '67 CHEVY IMPALA INSTEAD.)
I got some awesome parts for Poochie. my dad went to get some rod and custom magazines from his friend Greg today, and Greg donated a cool boat steering wheel, a pool cue ball and some cool gauges to Poochie's build. I'll get some pics tomorrow if i can. Thanks again, Greg.
We removed the headlight buckets, and the grille assemblies, so we had a straight shot at the back of the nose. Since the motor and doghouse are out, it gave us a clear shot at the numerous dents in the nose of poor poochie. The front end is the only bad panel on the whole vehicle. Using a combination of my size 13 foot and my dad's size 14 foot, we kicked out the majority of the dents, then using a couple of mallets and some wood blocks we managed to flatten out the nose of the van quite a bit. It may not be the straighest panel on the truck but its a fair share straighter. Since neither of us profess to be bodymen, we reassembled the light buckets and will leave any subsequent bodywork to paid professionals. Not a bad little nose-job for a couple of hacks like us.
We went out to pick-up a 12-bolt for our 29 Model A roadster. Came across an old Econoline that was nice enough to donate a couple of parts. Picked up a rear tail light lens to replace poochie's broken one. Pluse a headlight surround that was in better shape than poochie's original one. Also found a glovebox door. It's real rusty but my we kinda like it that way. Next time we're our that way, we're going to see if the instrument surround is just as rusty. If so, we're going to swap it in to add to Poochie's beautifully used look. We removed the instrument panel and restored the gauge faces, giving the needles a fresh coat of orange paint and probably cleaning both sides of the instrument panel's glass for the first time in forever.We've decided that we won't be replacing the paint anytime soon. Nope. We're going to focus on the mechanicals for now and let the exterior paint be its glorious bumped and bruised self. We're in the process of cleaning all the bolts and miscellaneous parts we've pulled so far. Everything's getting a well-deserved soak in degreaser. We took the slicks and rear wheels back out from under it that we'd placed there just for grins. They're going off with dad's 29 to for mock-up. More on that later. We've moved the Econoline's suspension and rear end out to the stall for storage. We've put the orginal 13"s under the front and a set of junk 14"s in back to better apporximate the appropriate rack we're going for. Of course, it'll ride and inch or two higher, but you get the drift. That's about it fot now. We'll check in when we have more progrees to share. Guess whats coming up next?
Our bud Marty, who is a fabricator and does things with metal that we only dream about, came over last night and we started talking about the plan for the van's next life. Drew and I had the front end nearly out when Marty arrived and he helped us get it completely out. rolling some rubber under the front wheel wells, we basically lowered the front down as far as we could to see how far we could drop it before the tires interfered with the front wheelwells. Long term goal is to put a Mustang II Front end in so that we can achieve an extremely low but equally safe ride height. We discovered that if we plan the wheel and suspension spacing carefully, we can get real low by setting the wheel back a couple of inches within each well. Playing around with turning radius, we think we can pull off a very low ride height without reworking the front wheelwells. For the short term, we'll keep the stock suspension, relocate the springs below the axles and add blocks until it sits where we want it. It won't be driveable but it be a rollable. While under the van, we studied the unibody and determined that we've got some serious reinforcing to do before get too far along. We made a parts list so that we can begin scrounging parts from craigslist, swap meets, etc. We'll share that soon. Here are some shots of the van in the garage, where it will be for the foreseeable future. The fun has just begun.
Removed a few bumper stickers and tried to keep "Levi Garrett for President" intact. About fifteen bolts were removed and presto, the doghouse was out. Pulled the tank and found Jimmie Hoffa inside. I was told it ran when it was parked. We'll see about that! Is this a one or a none-barrel?
Today, Drew and I degreased the engine and began scrubbing every inch of the interior using Greased Lightning, Crude Cutter and a boatload of elbow grease. We spent the better part of the day and didn't finish. But we got a good start and tomorrow we'll knock the rest of it out. A couple friends have stopped by and think the lettering on the van is a hoot. We're starting to think it might be worth keeping until everything else is sorted out.
Next step is to pull the gas tank and radiator to be boiled out. Will it run without a rebuild? Stay tuned.