Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed - Chevelle Tech
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 17th, 19, 1:57 AM Thread Starter
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Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

I'm terrible at sitting down at the computer & organizing photos of my latest project, but since it's 115˚ here in the desert, I'm not very motivated to get any work done in the garage. So yes Davewho1 & Augy, I am actually starting a build thread!

Some of you might recall when I lucked out & stumbled upon my '64 2 door wagon in Flagstaff a couple of years back. If not here's the story again...

Was in Flagstaff, AZ back in February 2017 for a little 3 day getaway & I drove past a house with a few old car projects sitting outside for sale. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a '64 Chevelle Wagon that I pointed out to my g/f, assuming it was a 4 door. Then I got a closer look & it hit me...That wagon is a TWO DOOR!!! I immediately looked in my rear view mirror to see if anyone was behind me before I cut across three lanes of traffic to pull into the driveway.

Lo & behold, just sitting there waiting for a new owner is a '64 two-door wagon. I knocked on the door, but no there was no answer. I was actually on my way back to Vegas when I spotted this thing, so I knocked one more time, this time a little louder. Still no answer, but a nice friendly old lady next door came out & told me the owner wasn't home, but luckily she had his phone number. I asked how long the car was sitting for sale & she said a few months. I was a bit surprised...couldn't believe this car wasn't scooped up instantly.

When I got back to Vegas, I called the next day & got in touch with the owner. When I hear his voice, I can tell he's an older gentleman, and he's extremely soft spoken. The conversation was very cordial, but brief. We quickly agreed on a price & scheduled a date a week or so later when we could make the deal. I wanted to drive back there that day!

Wound up having to reschedule a couple of times due to one reason or another. The entire time I'm having severe anxiety about someone else spotting this car & dragging it home the same day.

Finally it works out & my dad & I arrive to pick up the car. As we pull up to his house, I ask my dad to give me his opinion of the car before I pay for it to make sure my excitement hasn't blinded my judgement. Even though I've been around these cars for 27 years, it's nice to have a second set of eyes. I know the car is nice, but he's been a body/restoration guy for 45+ years.

As I greet the owner, my dad makes a walk around the car & with his body shop hands, he feels around for damage. He walks back over to me & says, "you'll never find a straighter one, this car's never been in an accident". Jackpot. (edit 2 years later..turns out this wasn't completely true)

Here's the car as she sat waiting to be loaded up on the trailer. Still has an original six cylinder with a 3 speed on the column. Unfortunately he had the car primed a few years back by some hack body guy, covering up the original paint. I neglected to take pics of the trim tag, but the remnants of the original color looks like Desert Beige.





The only rust on this car is in the floors. Those damn factory rubber mats hold in moisture & the floors pay the price. Other than that, there is zero rust on this car. The bottoms of the fenders are perfect & the frame doesn't have any pitting. Typical of an Arizona car that was stored mostly inside for 40+ years.

While we were loading the car on to the trailer, I start asking the owner about the history of the car, how long he's had it, where he found it, etc. Turns out he's 82 & bought the car from a young couple that just graduated from Northern Arizona University. His house was directly across the street from the campus. The couple was moving east to Michigan or Ohio & didn't want to drive the wagon back there. So I asked when that was, he replies 1969!!! Needless to say I was stunned, but then I ask when the last time it was on the road. His answer, 1973. All I could say was HOLY SH T!

Then he opens his garage & he has these gems sitting inside.






I believe he said the '27 Chevy was in his family since new. The '49 Olds was his race car at some point in the early 60s.


As we drove away, I felt like I took away one of the seller's kids. However, he assured me he was happy the car was going to a good home after I showed him pics of my '67s. He came to the realization that he wasn't going to ever get around to working on it.



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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 17th, 19, 3:02 AM Thread Starter
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re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

At the time I found it, I had nowhere to keep the wagon, but I was able to stash it at my Dad's place in Southern California. Unfortunately 2 years went by as I dealt with some health issues & figuring out a place where I can actually work on it. Fast forward to the end of February of this year & my health is doing much better & I'm living in a place where I have enough space to start tearing into the car.

In the meantime Ive been collecting as many NOS parts as I can find & trying to come up with a build plan. The day we picked up the car, we were sitting having lunch in Flagstaff when the seller calls me. He says he forget to mention he has a 327 "Corvette" engine along with the matching Muncie 4 speed. Immediately I'm interested, but he says he needs time to make them accessible & to research what they are worth. We agree to get in touch with other to follow up.

Now I neglected to mention this gentleman doesn't own a computer or a cell phone & has never been on the internet. Which is the ONLY reason it took him so long to sell the wagon. He didn't advertise it anywhere other than his front yard. So when he tells me he's going to research the value of the engine & trans, I find it a bit humorous.

Anyway, right as I purchase the wagon is when I began having those health issues that persisted for the next 18 months or so. During that time, I subsequently injured my back & the project is seriously on the back burner while I'm dealing with these problems. Fast forward to October of 2017 & I get a call out of the blue from the seller of the wagon. He reminds about the 327 & 4 speed & says he's coming up to Vegas to meet his buddies for a few days. He's offering to deliver the engine & trans & we quickly agree on a price.

When he shows up in Vegas he has the 327 in his truck, but not together & it's not complete. He has most of the parts to build a complete engine. I see a set of heads, a GM aluminum intake, bellhousing, 14" flywheel still bolted to the crank, quadrajet, some pulleys, a starter, etc.

The trans however, is not a Muncie. It's a cast iron Saginaw 4 speed & I'm not remotely interested, but I tell him I'd like to make a deal on the engine & the related parts. I give him the cash & he's back on the road to Flagstaff.

When he leaves I get my phone out & google the engine suffix. Turns out the engine actually is a real deal '65 327/300 Corvette block with an HF stamp. Sweet! I check the manifold, but it's from the wrong year Vette. It's a 62 Vette GM intake # 3795397,but in very nice shape. Probably hasn't been run in 45-50 years. Bellhousing is a GM 621.

Unfortunately, the heads turn out to be early 60s 283 heads with tiny valves. I literally threw them right into the scrap pile at my buddies shop where we made the deal. I had the decency to wait until the seller had left the parking lot before doing so. Didn't have the heart to tell him they were worthless.

So in the next year or so, as I'm deciding the direction I'd like to go with this build, two things really stand out. Number 1, my previous '67 project was 100% custom build & it took forever. Waiting for parts & the trial & error of making things fit exactly right left a lasting impression.

Number 2 is every single 2 door wagon I see are customs. Some of them are done tastefully, Rich's '65 stands out, as does Gary's (Saltygog). However most of them, look like hack jobs, IMO. It hit me, other than Allen Petroskey's '64, I have not seen a bone stock 2 door wagon, anywhere.

Now when I say bone stock, I'm excluding 2 main components, the engine & trans. I will never build a muscle car with a 6 cylinder, nor will I leave it column shifted. So now that I have that 327, I decided to build a 327 L79 car. The '64 wagon that GM should've built. Other than that, this car will look like it rolled off a GM assembly line, complete with 300 seat covers & door panels.

The fortunate aspect of this wagon, is how mostly complete it is. It was missing the rear bumper when I got it, & all 4 tail lights were cracked, but all the vital, irreplaceable 2 door wagon parts are all present, including the side moldings. With such a strong foundation, I felt like I could only take this car in one direction. There are enough LS converted 2 door wagons in the world.

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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 17th, 19, 3:08 AM
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Talking re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

Well.

It's ABOUT freaking TIME for your long-promised build thread!!!



What's the latest, Pete?
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 17th, 19, 3:21 AM Thread Starter
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re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

Now that I have a place to work on it & I've chosen a build theme, the next step was driving down to SoCal & towing it up here to Sin City. After bribing a friend to hook up his trailer & drive down with me, we made the trek back in late February.

As soon as we got back to town, we immediately took the car to his shop & tore into it. I wanted to remove the drivetrain before bringing the car home to my garage. Access to his lift & the ability to leave the 6 cyl & 3 speed in the scrap metal pile made it a no brainer.

This is what it looked like when the work began. 45+ years of desert dust and grime had settled in under the hood...





Looking from underneath, you can see the daylight coming through the holes in the floor. They look much worse from inside the car.





The floorpans under the rear seat & the cargo floor are completely rust free.




Here I am holding the tail of the tranny above the radiator support & the 6 cylinder is no more. Notice I'm wearing my safety glasses!




Here's what's left of the greasy, dusty engine compartment...




More updates to come tomorrow.
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 18th, 19, 1:47 AM Thread Starter
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re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

After yanking the drivetrain, I took the car to my house & for the first time since I've owned it. Finally I was able to spend some time with it & really assess what needs to be done.

First thing that stood out was the interior looked like it had a rough life in the 10 years it was on the road. The front seat covers & foam are trashed & the seat frame itself was broken. 3 of the 4 door panels are completely destroyed and the headliner is dry rotted at the seams. The back seat is in pretty good shape, except the two pins that allows the seat to collapse have both sheared off. The factory rubber mat was removed awhile ago I assume, which really shows how bad the floors are. I did find some remnants of the rubber mat when I removed the seats.















The good news is all the specific 2 door wagon parts are there & in very nice shape. All the side window trim & the steel interior side panels are in excellent condition. The plastic & rubber trim is badly dry rotted & basically falls apart in your hands, but luckily most of those parts are reproduced. The only part I haven't seen anywhere is the rear headliner strip that installs above the tailgate, but a generic piece of curved windlace will probably work.

As I began disassembly & started doing some research, I noticed a couple of irregularities with some pieces of the car. First of all the interior cloth patterns do not match any Chevelle 300 models I've come across. The sales brochure & every photo I've seen shows the correct pattern in the upper right.




Close up...



It first came to my attention when I contacted SMS in Oregon to send me some samples of Chevelle 300 material. After receiving 3 swatches that didn't match the pattern on my seats, I sent Doug from SMS photos of my interior. He confirmed the pattern is original GM, but the fabric was correct for Corvairs. Both Doug & I assume the Fisher trim shop ran out of the Chevelle 300 material & just substituted the Corvair fabric pattern with the correct Chevelle vinyl embossings. Interesting to see how they just got these cars rolling down the line, whatever it took.
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 18th, 19, 1:51 AM Thread Starter
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re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

Next irregularity is the rear tailgate emblem. There are two versions of the '64 tailgate emblem. One is just a larger version of the other. From every other Chevelle 300 wagon & 300 sedan I've seen, the emblem on my tailgate should be the smaller of the two versions.

Here's the 300 page from the '64 Chevelle sales brochure. All the models get the smaller version emblem.



Here's a close up of the wagon from that page.



Mine has the larger version used on Malibu wagons.



From everything I can see, my tailgate is original to the car. I thought the car was accident free, but the car was actually hit in the rear. The tailgate had a bunch of holes drilled to pull out the dents. My dad & I were both fooled by some pretty decent mud work by a bodyman back in the 60s or 70s. They holes were filled & smoothed with bondo, but I can't imagine they replaced the panel.

The interior paint is a perfect match to the rest of the interior pieces of the car. I cannot imagine lazy 70s body work would yield such a perfect match on the interior paint portion of the job. Plus the pot metal portion of the emblem is bent & split, while the plastic portion is cracked, both presumably from the collision.

Here's the inner structure where you can see the paint certainly appears factory.



Like the interior fabric, I'll chalk this up to the factory using whatever parts they had on hand at the time. Or a hungover union worker.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 19, 12:00 AM
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re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

Me likey!

I knew a few guys running around SoCal with 2 door wagons in the early 90's, they were unusual, but I didn't know how rare they were. Looks like you have a great starting point. I like your thoughts of an original car, with a little added motivation. I'll watch.

I doubt you'll need it, but having had a 64 for nearly 30 years, I have a lot of little bit of this and that kicking around. My son has hit my stash hard over the last 6 years or so, but if you need something specific I may have it.

Devin
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 19, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

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Originally Posted by 64SS427 View Post
Me likey!

I knew a few guys running around SoCal with 2 door wagons in the early 90's, they were unusual, but I didn't know how rare they were. Looks like you have a great starting point. I like your thoughts of an original car, with a little added motivation. I'll watch.

I doubt you'll need it, but having had a 64 for nearly 30 years, I have a lot of little bit of this and that kicking around. My son has hit my stash hard over the last 6 years or so, but if you need something specific I may have it.

Devin

Devin,

Thanks for checking out my thread. I've followed your builds from the beginning.

I happen to be looking for a set of straight front inner bumper brackets & a set of parking lamps. PM me if you have anything!
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 19, 8:41 AM
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re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

If you haven't already, you should join the Rarewagons group on Facebook. The group is ONLY about Chevelle 2-door wagons. At the very least, the group can be helpful in chasing down parts.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rare...?ref=bookmarks

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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 19th, 19, 9:50 PM Thread Starter
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re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

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Originally Posted by Rich-L79 View Post
If you haven't already, you should join the Rarewagons group on Facebook. The group is ONLY about Chevelle 2-door wagons. At the very least, the group can be helpful in chasing down parts.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rare...?ref=bookmarks
Rich,

I don't do social media, but I made my GF join that group a couple of years back when I found the wagon. She posted a pic of it on there awhile ago. I usually take her laptop & scroll through that group once a week or so.


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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 20th, 19, 12:21 AM
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re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

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Devin,

Thanks for checking out my thread. I've followed your builds from the beginning.

I happen to be looking for a set of straight front inner bumper brackets & a set of parking lamps. PM me if you have anything!
I'm pretty sure I had some in the past, haven't seen them in years. Likely either sold or trashed them. Probably not nice enough for a good quality build anyway. I'm doing some cleaning lately, if I run across them, I'll let you know.

Devin
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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 20th, 19, 3:25 PM
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re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

Cool story and a very nice project
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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 21st, 19, 8:35 AM
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Re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

Thanks for sharing your awesome find & ideas. I hear you on delays due to health, I broke my wrist badly at the end of '17 & have had a few surgeries. Was useless until this year.

The stillborn L76 for '64 looks just like an L79 without the chrome, and basically is except for the solid lifter cam. Concept wagon perhaps?
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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 21st, 19, 8:55 AM
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Re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

My buddy has a 64 2 door wagon. Someone put a 65 front clip on it and then someone turned it into a drag car/wagon. Replaced the back half of the frame w/ a 4 link setup. Replaced the rear glass w/ lexan. When he goes to the track, the wagon is always the center of attention.
If I 'ever' get my hands on it, I'll put it back to stock. But I don't think he'll ever sell it.
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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old Aug 21st, 19, 10:21 AM
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Re: Project '64 Tudor Wagon, L79 4-speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cam View Post
Thanks for sharing your awesome find & ideas. I hear you on delays due to health, I broke my wrist badly at the end of '17 & have had a few surgeries. Was useless until this year.

The stillborn L76 for '64 looks just like an L79 without the chrome, and basically is except for the solid lifter cam. Concept wagon perhaps?
In a Chevelle appllication, the L76 was to have had all the chrome as found on the L79. At least according to the Assembly Manual.
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