In the previous installment we looked at some of the candidates to be my next daily driver, but this time around we move onto the project cars which are more interesting to me. There was quite a selection so I actually had a hard time deciding which one to bid on. There were just so many semi-worthy clunkers that could be given a second chance.
First up under consideration was this 1975 Chevrolet Camaro. The first car I had bought on my own was a cherry condition 1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 so perhaps it would be like revisiting my youth. I am in my forties now, so pretty sure I am supposed to do that at some point and this would make a very affordable mid life crisis car. Being a 1975 model, it had a 350cid V8 but a pretty heavily smogged one with a mere 145hp. On the bright side these engines are pretty easy to swap out or hop up. The car sat on mismatched rims and the body had some rust, but nothing terminal.
Poking around the interior it was clear this car had been off the road for a couple of decades. The interior was all there but not always in good shape. This would be a reasonable prospect if it went cheap enough as it would be easy to get upside down value wise when fixing up the relatively unloved middle child of the second generation Camaro range.
Perhaps not a good sign was this old and unused condom in the glove box. It seems like this car had not brought much luck to the previous owner.
This 1983 Dodge Rampage was rusty and crusty but somehow still charming. The linkage in the gearbox felt as if it was lacking all sense of a link to the gears but for some reason I still found it charming. It was equipped with a manual gearbox, funky patterned seats and was an appealing size (to me) which was a bit of a siren song for me. A closer investigation showed the inner structure to be quite solid and that it could be saved with a lot of exterior body work. Again, if it went cheap enough … I own a welder and was irrationally interested.
The trucklet was fully complete inside and reminded me of the Plymouth Turismo I had learned to drive on a with a similar steering wheel. Despite the passed years I still think that wheel is unnecessarily ugly and cheap looking.
This 1958 GMC 9400 school bus converted to a motor-home held a special appeal for me. It has such great character and could have been a very usable family classic vehicle. The body itself was rust free and would have swallowed a more modern drive train quite easily. Alas, I did not have a space to store/work on such a big beast. Plus, there is a good chance it would be my new home if I was declared the winner. So onto the next one then with at least a couple fond looks back over the shoulder.
Going into this I did not really think about an older, full size truck as the project possibility. It is an itch I want to scratch sometime, but it has never made it to the top of the priority list. The yard had a selection of amazingly rust free trucks, especially of the Ford variety. Many were from the Sixties. There was a Canadian market 1967 Mercury pickup (sadly lacking its Mercury trim) and a pair of 1969 Ford F100s. The best of the trio was this Custom Cab model which was complete with a 302cid V8 and three on the tree standard transmission. It had a beautiful body with just the right amount of patina.
The interior was even usable as is as well as being shockingly complete.
The only bummer was this mismatched tailgate, but overall this was a strong but unexpected contender.
If one was willing to go a little newer this 1971 Ford F250 was in amazingly good shape for an almost half century old pickup truck in a storage yard. Unfortunately it had been converted to propane at some point, which I had little desire to deal with. One can be picky with when surrounded with an embarrassment of riches.
When I first saw this 1987 Renault GTA on the auction web page, I was very excited. An unusual orphan for cheap sounds like something that would be a nice match for me. Plus I have never owned a French car before which I really should do at some point. As I researched it further my hopes for this car diminished. A very real deal breaker was the timing belt, which is specific to the GTA’s 2.0L engine. There were whispers from owners that any of the parts supply stores that offered the timing belt were always mistaken and sent the belt for the smaller Alliance engine. The specific 2.0L engine was only used in North American and only in the GTA so owners were hoarding the remaining belts. Compounding this, when looking at it in person the windshield was cracked, which is likely another unobtainium part.
A real shame considering how good the interior looked except for a rough looking stereo removal.
This 1966 Valiant 200 sedan could have been a nice candidate as well. I envisioned a similar revival to my old Pontiac Laurentian. The chrome was in excellent condition and even the windshield was un-cracked. The front driver’s wheel looked a little suspect but otherwise it was incredibly rust free and looked relatively straight forward to revive.
Shed or car? The interior and trunk were choke fun of random old car parts. So much so that the rear suspension had bottomed out for who knows how many years. Ultimately this was a pass as well since it offered little value when fixed up. I do not need to make money but I would prefer not to lose almost my whole investment.
So ultimately I decided my bids would target the 1983 Dodge Rampage, 1975 Chevrolet Camaro, and 1969 Ford F100, with a few others as wildcard possibilities. In the next installment we will take a look at selection of the other vehicles in the auction.
CC Goes to the Auction: Part One – Daily Drive Fodder
CC Goes to the Auction: Part Two – Potential Projects
CC Goes to the Auction: Part Three – The Others
CC Goes to the Auction: Part Four – The Purchase
CC Goes to the Auction: Part Five – 1992 Ford Mustang LX Budget Makeover
The F100 is my pick. A Panther front suspension would be high on my list if it were my project.
EASY – F-100!
Lots of room to work on it, and well worth the investment!
…buying the F100 is a no-brainer.
Ditto. Not that I need another. But I’ll pass on the Panther suspension.Why? You going to go racing with it?
Why? Rack and Pinion steering and 4 wheel discs. I wouldn’t use it for hard work, I’ve got a F-250 for that.
The way the swap is typically done the Panther’s rear axle gets swapped in on the F-100’s factory springs, though axle over spring instead of axle under spring like stock.
Of course it depends on the exact year and model but your basic Panther has a GVWR of ~5200lbs. The highest GVWR of the 69 F-100 is 5000lbs.
So the Panther stuff is more than strong enough to not hinder the factory ratings and should stand up to overloading too, since the same components hold up stretched Town Cars.
Yes, ground clearance is significantly reduced and even with shorter stops in back, less compression travel. But again I wouldn’t drop a ton of gravel in the bed, more likely something like a washer, lawn mower, a few pieces of lumber or a run to the dump.
So just go buy a 2005 F150 or something.
Sorry, not into the restomod thing.
The whole point of driving an old vehicle i to experience it for what it was, not for a modern vehicle in drag. It’s fake.
But help yourself.
The whole point of driving an old car may be to experience it for what it was for you but it is not the entire point for me. It is also about driving something that looks cool and not something you see on every street corner.
For a project like this there is also the fun of actually doing the swap and the satisfaction that comes from building something the way that you want it.
Not really any different that when you update an old house and make it safer by getting rid of old wiring and fuse panel, and more comfortable by insulating and installing a modern HVAC system.
And some people like old cars because they can be tinkered with. Kind of like the original hot rodders. Of course, to each his own, but I certainly wouldn’t deride it as “fake”. I’m not sure what part of turning or stopping better isn’t real.
Yup! Once you get it roadworthy again you can take your time restoring it.
Yep, the 69 F100. Even though the tailgate is a different color it is the correct tailgate for the model year so count your blessings. Manual with easy to work on 302.
Yeah, I think I’d pass on that Camaro This was one of the ugly bumper/weak engine years. Get either a pre 74 or after ’77. Also, I would hold out for one with a 4-speed transmission. They’re still out there, but will likely cost more.
Had a ’76 – hard to work on if you are over 6′ and 200 lbs. Tight engine bay, bad interior parts.
Like the author I owned a ’78 back in the day (1985-1987) though mine was strangled even further with a 305. While you could see shocks and springs if you looked beneath the car, I think they were there simply to add to the porky curb weight than to actually participate in things like “ride”, “handling” and “suspension”. Also, as it was with GM in those days, had a “50 shades of red” interior due to different components fading at different rates. The only thing good I can say is when clean, not looking at the dent on the passenger door that happened before my tenure, it looked pretty sweet. The 1987 Iron Duke Grand Am LE I was handed down years later was a better car in every conceivable way.
I’ll go for the 1983 Dodge Rampage. Something about it draws me near. Parts should be no big issue, and I like the versatility of the boot. Great for home improvement runs (BBQ pits, dishwashers, washers, dryers) and consignment furniture.
Yet, wrap it up, I’ll take it!!
One thing that is nice about working on pickups, especially older ones, is that that cab and bed can be easily removed, allowing for great access to the frame and powertrain. If you don’t have a lift, ordering some pizzas and beer (for later) and a few friends makes easy work of lifting them off. Plus, there are tons of aftermarket and common parts for these, compared to the Rampage and GTA, for example. Camaro is pretty solid for repo parts but it’s not a Trans Am. TAs seem to be way higher valued than the same era Camaros.
Always the Camaro. Unusual color, and these years can only go upin value, while there are plenty cheap parts around. Whatever you do, stay away from the Renault….
I like the Camaro. It appears to be a Type LT – the “pre-Berlinetta” upmarket model. Fairly rare, I would think, but additional chrome and better interior finish than standard. This would be a nice ride once cleaned up.
I do like the Dodge Rampage. I looked at these when they first came out in 1982. The dealers acted like these were going to be a red hot commodity and were refusing to deal. At a nearly $8,000 sticker price, I said no way! I ended up buying a Plymouth TC3 with the 1.7 VW engine for $6,000 and it was a trouble free, fun car. One of my favorite cars ever.
And at 43 mpg it paid for itself, since my ’77 Ford F-100 300 6cyl. got maybe 16 mpg.
Rampage! My favorite car ever was my ’82 Charger 2.2. Simple, fun, cheap to run, almost indestructible.
That shift linkage probably felt like that when it was brand new. Shifting those things was like stirring a can of paint. FWIW, I actually really like that steering wheel design. Mine had no power steering or brakes, and that wheel just felt great carving down a twisty road. Now I want one.
Canadian? 1hat 1966 Valiant looks like my old 1966 Dodge Dart…
Yes, that is a 1966 Canadian Valiant.
For me, the F100 is the only way to go.
The Camaro has enough visible rust in key spots to suggest what you can’t see is really bad, that’s not patina. Hard pass. It would be my pick otherwise
I think my choice would be the F100 as well, though that F250 is really nice, and I like that grille better
No interest in the Buick Reatta convertible? At least it looks like a convertible…
Hard top. Windshield is cracked – new ones are really big money.
OK, I admit it…I’m a sucker for the Rampage, especially with a manual transmission. I’m a huge fan of the El Camino/Ranchero/ute style (shameless plug – I founded and admin a Facebook group called El Caminos Rancheros Utes)…and my ’83 Omni is one of the best daily drivers I’ve ever owned.
This one’s a bit rough for my tastes. I’m thinking that if it was me, I’d go for the ’69 Custom Cab or the ’71 (and I’ve never owned a truck).
But that Rampage…..wow…
Rampage or F100. The Camaro is peak malaise and undesirable at any cost.
A good selection and choices!
I’d love to get that Valiant in my driveway, I would stop by the waste transfer station on the way home
The F100 is a no brainer. The stray kitten that needs to be saved just because is the Dodge Rampage.
I had 6 66 valiants in my younger days. An aunt had one growing up and it was a 200 four door like that. I had a real thing going for them. I hope someone shows it some kindness.
Here’s another two votes (both hands) for the Valiant!
For the record, rockauto.com has what seems to be a timing belt for the Alliance GTA.
And here’s one for the 1.7 engine, so it seems they know the difference.
According to rumours on the internet Rockauto was explicitly called out as giving the wrong one. But, of course, no first hand experience.
F100 for me certainly not the Renault or the Camaro, possibly gthe Valiant as local parts would fit mechanically but I already have another old car so Im not in the market at all.
The F250 for me, the propane conversion doesn’t scare me; easy enough to undo if it’s sketchy, and if it’s solid, there’s a full-serve propane station two blocks from work. That truck looks completely umolested.
I believe it needs to be certified on a periodic basis here so I would imagine leaving as is would be an expensive option. Converting back should not be too bad.