Affordable Classic: Little Fixes – 1961 Pontiac Laurentian

So I now have a project (1961 Pontiac Laurentian), a plan and have ordered some parts but what to do while waiting for the parts to arrive? Dive into some of the smaller jobs of course.

First up is that glove box that just will not stay closed. When I purchased the car the release button was missing but luckily there was spare mechanism sitting in the glove-box along with a variety of other small bits and pieces.

One of the nice aspects of old cars is the ability to disassemble and repair small components like this. The mechanism came free by undoing a screw and I was able to combine it with the spare parts I had. Once it was cleaned and lubricated the mechanism was again working nicely. However the glove-box still did not stay shut so I had to dig a little deeper.

After investigating I found that the latch catch would slide back when pressed against. When attempting to tighten one of the screws it would just spin but I added a couple small washers and was able to tighten the screw. Now with the latch staying in place the glove-box now closes as designed.

While the glove-box door is repaired and functional it is time to tackle the inner box. It is made of a cardboard type material which I was able to work into not perfect but much better shape.

It could still use a slight adjustment on the striker latch but now functional for the first time in over thirty years. A small but uplifting victory.

While visiting Calgary I took the opportunity to visit the self serve scrapyard. My mother-in law gave me the excuse I needed as she was looking for a replacement wheel for her Ford Edge. I suspected her vehicle was still too new and therefore it would be a bit of long shot but how could I turn down a wander around the scrapyard? As expected there were no Ford Edges on offer as the average age of the yard inventory is usually fifteen to twenty years old. There were a number of more interesting finds like this 1970 Pontiac Catalina two door. The headlights and related trim had been harvested but it was still reasonably complete otherwise.

This straight six powered 1972 Volvo 164 is definitely a rare find in the scrapyard. A real shame as it looked very solid and complete before hitting the yard. I find it hard to imagine that a Volvo fan would not have taken on this project for whatever small payment the last owner received.

Speaking of Volvos how about this 1982 Volvo 240 with a Ford V8 sitting in the engine compartment? It did not have  transmission so not sure if it ever roamed the streets with V8 power or someone threw in the towel before finishing it.

A fellow Canadian market Pontiac! The Pontiac Sunburst is an obvious re-badge of the Isuzu I-Mark and Chevrolet Spectrum sold between 1985 and 1988. Oddly someone had harvested the grill off this one so perhaps there are a handful roaming the streets still.

A brown 1988 Lincoln Mark VII that had not had many parts pulled off yet. No one even wants the grill which is a sad end for a once premium car.

After my wander around the yard I did find myself a set of rims and tires for the Pontiac on the cheap. The yard claimed there were off a Chevrolet S10 but likely the rims started a GM G-body of some kind. The rims themselves were a little rough but the tires were like new. Once the disc brake conversion is complete I will have to see if the stock rims still fit (it is rumored they will not) and then the good tires could be transferred over. The backup plan will be to give these a lick of paint and run both the junkyard tires and rims.

A non-critical but extremely annoying area of the car was the condition of all four arm rests. They looked nasty and brought the vibe of the whole interior down. Not to mention a gross feel when resting an elbow on them. The snag was I literally had no budget room for the Beater Challenge. However something had to be done.

Off it comes. (note this is now the rear door, the rest of the images are of the front door).

The padded arm rest is just wrapped in vinyl type fabric. Not sure if its original but the color did match.

Metal base, hard rubber like core and fabric outside held together with some glue and a couple screws.

I managed to do some dumpster diving to snag some free material. It started life on the back of a couch.

I also had some left over dollar store glue. It was now a case of wrapping and gluing one section at a time.

Not perfect but it does show a little better in person. The most important parts of this repair are that it is functional and a zero cost repair. Oddly the color appears more brown in the photo but it is really dark brown almost black. They could be dyed with vinyl paint at a later date.

The coolant sensor had some missing wiring. I had some left over bits of wiring from a Mercedes 220D parts car that I temporary crimped into place. It will have to be tested after the water pump is replaced.

The speedometer had a crude metric conversion done to it at some point.

Another small but valuable job is applying a bit of lubrication to all the hinges and locks. Amazing how much more quiet and smooth the door opening and closings are. In the next installment we will get to some of the bigger jobs.


The whole Affordable Classic series:

  1. The Search Is On
  2. Landed One – 1961 Pontiac Laurentian
  3. Dragging It Home
  4. Assessment and Planning
  5. Little Fixes
  6. Shocks and Brake Removal
  7. Disc Brake Mounting
  8. Cooling and Fueling
  9. Back into the Brakes and Other Odds and Ends
  10. First Drive!
  11. Last Minute Fixes