I found the ad for the car in the local Triad Trader. "For Sale - 1969 Cutlass convertible - Needs TLC". I had no cash, but I had a 17 foot Ski boat that I had purchased for $450 and a pair of Blue Jays tickets. I had completed about 90% of the restoration of the boat. I called the owner of the Cutlass, and told him that I didn't have the cash, but I had a ski boat, and did he want to trade? My younger brother and I went to see the car, and I decided that I really wanted it. He came to see the boat, but after 3 weeks he finally decided he didn't want a boat. I advertised the boat in the Boat Trader and sold it in 2 days. (Before taking money for my boat, I called him to make sure he didn't sell the car before I got there.) The car was delivered on August 14, 1996. It actually didn't look too bad from 50 feet, or in a photo, but it needed quarters, trunk floor, drivers floor, top, carpet, tires etc.
Two weeks later the disassembly started. I removed the body from the frame, built a rotisserie and a pressure pot sandblaster and completely stripped the underbody and frame. I welded in a drivers floor pan, left and right side trunk floors and body braces, trunk extensions, rear wheel openings and lower quarters, repaired the inner wheel housings, patched the front fenders and lower cowl area, and repaired some damage and rust in the drivers door. Because I was on a limited budget, I did everything myself with the exception of some welding on the rear quarters and installation of the new windshield. I had never painted a car before, so one year after buying the car, I practiced on my future sister in laws Toyota with a body and paint job. 5 months later I did the body and paint on my truck for more practice. Then I started the finish body work on the Cutlass and started painting all the parts. The frame, underside, inside floorpan and both sides of the firewall were done with POR 15 in semi gloss or gloss black.
All brake and gas lines were replaced, the front drum brakes were
converted to disks, the drivetrain was stripped and detailed, and every
piece of the car including fasteners and clips were painted, replaced,
or refurbished. The engine was stripped and repainted 455 metallic blue.
I beadblasted the transmission and clear coated it. The body was stripped (to bare metal) of two coats of the original metallic blue, and two thick coats of black paint with intermittant layers of primer. The entire car was primed with epoxy primer before the finish body work. All body fill was sealed with epoxy primer before applying primer surfacer. The topcoat was 4 coats of BASF Diamont base, and 4 coats of Diamont Clear coat. The color is Matador Red.
My father and I did a 30 hour marathon to finish the bodywork, prep and paint the car. My father helped with the grunt work, made sure the floor was wet, kept my air hose untangled, and made sure that I didn't stick my butt in the wet paint. The reason was for the marathon was because I had a deadline to finish the car. I had a dream and I had told too many people about it. I was determined that my wife and I were going to be driven away from the church at our wedding in the car. I painted the car on the 22nd of July. Beverley and I were getting married on Saturday, August 8. When painted, the body had every item and fastener removed. I had less than 3 weeks to replace the hood, fenders and trim, replace all the underhood components (except for the engine) replace the dash and wiring harnessess, get the engine running, and completely reassemble the interior. Without the help of my father, brothers, and the gang at my car club pitching in to help, it never would have been ready by August 8. If any of you are reading this.. THANKS. I pulled the car out of the shop on August 7th and drove it 50 miles to my hometown where we were getting married.
At this point, the car still needed the stainless rings installed in the rear wheels, wheel opening trim and a bunch of other stuff. My brother put 5 hours in on the car that day while I did groom things. I spent the next morning with a friend cleaning the interior and polishing the chrome and stainless trim. I finished cleaning and polishing at 1:10 pm and was at the church to tie the knot by 2:00...Right on time!
1969 Cutlass Conv, 455 (from 71 442), C heads, headers, Rear bumper w/cutouts, power antenna, Kenwood AM/FM/Cassette (in glove box) w/6 disk changer under seat (w/original AM in dash),TH 350, 2.78:1 differential, bench seat, column shift, 65,000 mi, 225 70R14 Radial TA's on 7X14 SSIII wheels, front disc brakes.