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1970 Chevelle LQ9/T56
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Figured it was time to start up a build thread for my car and do a better job of documenting the progress.

I've grown up in a car family and have always been around car people my whole life. I loved muscle cars growing up, but when Fast and the Furious came out when I was younger, I was captivated by Japanese cars from there on out. This is actually the first non-Japanese car I've ever owned! My dad and I did a restomod of a 240Z when I was in high school, which is my first love, but now many years and projects later, I got the itch to do another old car again. I recently sold a 300ZX twin turbo project I had for a lot of years and wanted a change of pace. I was tired of working in cramped conditions, boost leaks, expensive/hard to find parts, so many computers, etc, etc. so I wanted to simplify and get something with a completely different driving experience than my 240Z, which is what led me back down the muscle car path.

I was initially looking at getting a 68-72 Nova, but then this Chevelle popped up on Facebook Marketplace and was in budget. I was planning on putting on black circle track wheels, black hood, front lip and an LS/T56 swap in whatever car I ended up with, but this car already had all that (LQ9 not an LS, but close enough), plus a 12 bolt Posi rear end with a 3.73, UMI rear control arms and BMR 2" drop springs. Additionally, everyone I spoke to said the Chevelle was a better platform and had more interior space (I'm 6'5"), so it seemed to check all the boxes. I'm not the kind of person who likes stock cars. I like to tinker and hopefully improve things. This car is a Malibu, was an auto with a base V8 and drum brakes, so I have no qualms about modifying this.

So with cashier check in hand, I flew down to FL to buy the car and drive it back. That turned out to be a big mistake. The car was quite a bit more rough than I was expecting... The car ended up breaking down on me in Tifton, GA and I wound up having to get a Greyhound home and arrange for towing of the car back to Cincy. The piece of metal that holds the brake/clutch bracket snapped off, but thankfully it chose to break at a gas station instead of on the side of the highway in the torrential storm.

Some of the things I've done so far have been painting the interior roof black bc there was no headliner and it was just surface rust and old glue, I put in a longer and bent shifter for better ergonomics and a Hurst cue ball knob, added a reverse lockout to the trans, replaced the throttle body, my dad buffed and waxed the paint along with cleaning up a lot of the engine bay and wiring (he also tossed in the fuzzy dice when the car was delivered to our mechanic's shop from GA for them to do a thorough check on the car), secured the intake, installed seatbelts, fixed lights, new rear tires, and fixed various issues inside of the doors and added a passenger mirror.

I bought a new Borgeson quick ratio steering box since I didn't like the idea of gambling with a rebuilt unit or spending a ton for one of the companies mentioned on the forum to have one rebuilt. The Borgeson wasn't much more than getting a reman, so it was a no-brainer to me. The one on the car looked like it had had a hard life. I also bought a new PS pump because the one on it was whining. When I went to install the new box, it turns out the previous owner ground down one of the corners of the old box through the bolt head and used a smaller pulley to hack it all together to get clearance. I obviously was not going to do that to a new piece (aside from the fact that it's a total hack way of doing it) and I also didn't like the idea of having a small pulley on the PS pump which would overdrive it, so I bought the ICT kit to move the PS pump up and the Alt to the passenger side. This gave me plenty of clearance and I could then run the proper sized pulley. I also installed new PS lines at that point and everything seems to be working great so far.

As it sits now, it is a MUCH better driver, so I wanted to enjoy the car the rest of the summer before I take it off the road to do any more work on the car.

I've been amassing many parts for this winter, and my plans include:

-Wilwood D52 front calipers
-Stainless brake lines
-Rear disk conversion
-Fresh disk brakes up front
-UMI front swaybar
-Hellwig rear swaybar
-TrickFlow rear diff cover
-Bassett wheels
-Custom Autosound headunit and front kick panel speakers
-SS dash conversion with Dakota Digital RTX gauges
-Rear 3 point seatbelt conversion
-Lots of cosmetic fixes
-UMI front upper and lower control arms w/ tall upper ball joint
-Global West steering arms
-ProForge steering kit
-Manual brake conversion
-Rebuilt GM tilt steering manual column
-SS steering wheel
-Heater delete
-Hella horns
-New fluids and engine maintenance
-Paint the frame and underbody
-Replace any hardware with new/correct/upgraded ones as needed
-Eventual basic dyno tune, nothing crazy

I didn't do a great job of documenting much of the things my dad and I have fixed on the car thus far because I was pretty embarrassed by the car for a while, but it is a lot better now that we've fixed many smaller issues. The car was essentially slapped together with the bare minimum effort by the previous owner, so my dad and I plan on redoing quite a few things over the winter to make the car more up to our standards. The body is very much a 10-footer, but I don't plan on getting into body work too far because I know it would be many tens of thousands of dollars to go through this car, so I'll just leave it as a bit-more-rough driver. At the very least, I'll likely take it to our body guy next year to try and adjust all the panels to get better body gaps and maybe fix a few more visible areas that have rotted...

Enough with the talking, here are some of the pics I have from my phone:
Wheel Car Land vehicle Tire Vehicle


Car Automotive parking light Vehicle Land vehicle Automotive side marker light


Car Land vehicle Vehicle Wheel Tire


Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive design Steering wheel


Automotive fuel system Automotive design Motor vehicle Automotive air manifold Automotive exterior


Wheel Car Tire Vehicle Hood


Land vehicle Car Wheel Tire Vehicle


Car Wheel Tire Land vehicle Vehicle


Tire Wheel Land vehicle Car Vehicle
 

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1970 Chevelle LQ9/T56
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks!

I truly am just showing the good angles in the photos, though. The entire rear of the car would be better off cut and replaced, all panels have some sort of issue and I'm sure there's gallons of bondo hiding under the single stage paint. Its really as if someone blasted the body and then painted over everything without fixing any of the chewed up metal. Oh well... Just as long as the paint doesn't start bubbling up, I'll live with it. It's relegated to a nice day only car and lives in the garage when not being driven
 

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70 Malibu 327 Edelbrock EFI 700R4 3.73 10 bolt 2200 stall
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What bucket seats did you use and did they bolt in to the stock locations or after market seat brackets?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What bucket seats did you use and did they bolt in to the stock locations or after market seat brackets?
The previous owner put them in, but they’re Procar Rally seats:
Procar Rally® Seat | Procar by SCAT | Custom Seating Solutions

I’m unsure of the bracket they’re mounted to, but they’ve got sliders on both sides. I’d honestly be surprised if these were stock mounts, but again, I don’t know the specifics.

The seats are very nice, though. I would definitely recommend them if you were considering them for your car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Today was finally the day to start the winter work. I drove it over to my parents' place this morning to claim the lift until spring.

Some more detailed photos of the car and its many, many body flaws












We started off by removing the hood to make life easier in the engine bay.





My dad made the mistake of trying to tidy up the engine before I had even gotten started on what I want to accomplish over the winter...





Some pics of the ICT Billet relocation brackets I installed in the spring so that I could mount the new PS pump and use a proper pulley without interfering with my new Borgeson QR box





Coolant overflow bottle is JD bottle. Seems very fitting for this car, so I hope I'll have room for it after I install the new aluminum radiator

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Going to have to break this into multiple posts since there's a 20 image max...

There's the radiator removed. It seemed to work OK, but I don't like plastic end tank radiators since I've had them fail in other cars. Also don't like the fan setup, lack of shroud, and having the coolant hose snake across the top of the engine bay to the driver side. The ACC radiator is made for LS swaps, so the inlet/outlet will be on the passenger side, plus the fans have a dedicated shroud. I'm also deleting the heater and will be connecting the steam port to the throttle body, so that will further tidy up the engine bay. I think the car has an AC delete box installed. I would have preferred a delete plate since it looks cleaner, but oh well, can't beat free...





More general photos of the current state of the car




I'm on the fence about the brake lines. Apparently they're Nicopp brake lines and aren't supposed to ever rust, so they're good and solid, but they look so sloppy. Plus the way the previous owner routed one of the lines has it going right next to the header, which I don't like. I've got a master stainless brake line kit, so I'll make a game time decision on what to do once I get to the point of swapping over the brake parts and installing the manual master cylinder. At the very least I'll be swapping the front to rear brake line, since that appears to still be stock...




Current state of the front suspension. I haven't taken the wheels off yet since I want to crack the crank bolt loose with it on the ground, then I'll remove them. I have a new crank pulley to put on and this current one is shot. As you can see from the photos, the front suspension is quite tired. I've got all new UMI, Pro Forge, Belltech, Wilwood, etc parts to swap almost everything that you see in the photos, plus I will paint anything leftover that has surface rust.










The old plugs after doing some general maintenance. Put in new NGK plugs, plus fresh oil and filter.




Hard to get a good picture of the videoscope, but I was able to see that the pistons are flat, which confirms the engine is an LQ9, not LQ4.







I started pulling up the rotted engine bay/cowl seal and came across all this cracking stuff in the gutter that I'm not sure what it is. I started chipping away at it with a hammer and scraper, and it comes up pretty easily. Maybe its some sort of seam sealer or Bondo? The metal under it is pretty rough, but solid. I'm not yet finished cleaning it all away, but I will finish it all up with a wire wheel on a drill, rust converter and then top coat the whole cowl area with Chassis Saver when I paint the frame.

Anyone have any idea what that stuff is that I'm chipping way?





 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It's the Factory seam sealer. Had it on my car too.
Ah OK, thanks!


Got some more work done this afternoon. I was dreading the pulley removal from all the horror stories I've read online, but removing it wasn't too bad. It was stubborn, but only took about 15min. I had my dad hold a heat gun on the bolt for a min or two, then I hit it with an air impact and it only took us two attempts before the bolt spun loose. I also used a normal three arm pulley remover and it came off pretty easily. I guess the aluminum block LS pulleys must be harder to use a puller on, but the truck pulley had plenty of space for the arms to grab onto. I'm only replacing the pulley with a new GM one, nothing fancy, and I'll be using an ARP bolt. My dad had put some brush on rust neutralizer on the old pulley in the spring, so it actually looks a lot better than it did when I first got the car back home, but it still looks like shit...




I tried to get the front crank seal out, but read that it's really meant to be removed and installed with the front cover off of the car. I wasn't expecting that, but judging by the weeping oil, it won't be the worst thing in the world to take the front apart for new gaskets and inspect the oil pump.





I also finished up clearing away most of the old seam sealer and painting the area with rust converter. Not perfect, but it was good to get up the old sealer since I think moisture was getting trapped underneath it, which would explain the surface rust.


 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Had some time after work a few days last week to go over and get some work done on the car. I removed the timing cover to replace the gasket and crank seal, but it turns out i chipped where the seal goes when I tried to pry it off when it was on the car. It was pretty minor and probably would have been OK, but for $30 to get a used cover online, it wasn't worth the risk. I also bought ICT Billet bolts for the timing cover, water pump and coil packs to help make the engine bay a little prettier since some of the bolt were badly corroded. So, I don't have that all back together yet, but here's the state of the the engine behind the cover:
The chain play doesn't seem excessive and I didn't have any weird misfire issues, so since I don't want to drop the pan to remove the oil pump, I won't be replacing any of those components.
For the rest of the time in this update, I was working on removing the valve covers to replace the gaskets and clean them. I also replaced the PCV system since it was hard, cracked and looked like it was blowing oil over everything. Apologies for a few cell pics mixed in... A few camera photos came out blurry, and I forgot to take an 'after' photo of the cleaned inside of the valve covers:



Here's a shot of the internals. It's clear this engine wasn't well taken care of, so I'm going to run LiquiMoly engine cleaner and both Berryman and Techron fuel system treatments separately, then switch to high mileage oil. The engine seemed to run strongly, so it's a testament to their stoutness, but I want to clean the engine out and treat it better.

And here's the state of the underside valve covers with the bolts. Sorry one photo is pretty blurry:




Cleaned the valve covers with plenty of brake cleaner, degreaser and elbow grease:

Since the VC bolts aren't really seen under the coil pack bracket and they were in good shape, I didn't bother replacing them and just ran them under the wire wheel to clean them up:

Cleaned valve covers ready for paint:



Painted and mounted with new Fel Pro gaskets and Mahle VC bolt seals. I went with Chevy Orange instead of black or unpainted since I wanted a little bit of contrast under the hood. When I remove the engine in a few years for a refresh, I will paint the block in the same color, but for now will leave it as-is and just try to clean the accessible areas:




I also cleaned and painted the coil brackets, but forgot to take some more detailed photos. The paint was drying this afternoon, so I don't have updated photos of that yet. I have High Temp POR on order for the coil mounts and I'll get some pics when they're all mounted up with the cleaned wires. Here's a reference photo of the 'before':


In the coming days I would like to remove the front and rear bumpers to assess the mounting brackets and see if they're worth saving or just replacing them. After I get past that portion and get some more parts in the mail, I can button up the timing cover and install the pulley, then I can finally move onto disassembling the steering and front suspension so I can replace the parts.

I've got some more parts to order this week during Black Fri/Cyber Mon, but I'll update the thread when I get some more work done...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Got the replacement timing cover in and cleaned up with a new gasket pressed in. I tell myself that I'll paint it if/when I remove the engine, but in reality, I think I'm just already sick of scrubbing and painting... I stupidly ordered the wrong ICT bolt kit, so I'm waiting on the correct timing kit to come this weekend hopefully, then I can get the front bolted up and the pulley and water pump reinstalled:



I also removed the bumpers tonight. I knew the brackets were in poor shape, so I wanted to get a closer look and have them cleaned and painted to protect them from further corrosion, if they were worth saving. The PO put a Camaro lip on the car and I love the look, however a couple of months ago it broke. The plastic is super thin and there was nothing really supporting it. I bought a mounting kit for a Camaro and I know it won't work overall, but it'll give us a starting point to modify things to make it work and give the new spoiler proper support.


Bumper removed


The front brackets aren't TOOOOOOO bad, so no need to replace. Just a few passes with the wire wheel should do the trick and I'll paint them when I do the frame and underside of the car with Chassis Saver.



I'm really on the fence about the radiator supports, but I'll likely keep them and give them the same treatment as the bumper brackets.



The front frame rails are chewed up, but at least the PO mostly cleaned and painted them. I'll hit the front frame with Chassis Saver when I remove the front suspension and steering.




And here's the state of the rear bumper brackets. They're pretty trashed, a stud broken off on each side and one bracket completely missing. I went ahead and ordered a complete kit and new mounting hardware for the front and rear.


I didn't get an up close photo of the taillight lenses, but one side is broken and both look like they're warped from heat. I've got new lenses (I think...), new housings and mounts, along with LED boards to replace the lights. I'm worried about the tails being too dim, so the LEDs should do the trick to make sure people see the brake lights. I'll put that all in when I'm done painting under the car, and I want to paint behind the bumper. Continued in the next post, you'll see why...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've told people that this car realistically just needs a whole new shell, so here are some more detailed photos why:







I was feeling brave tonight and attempted my first metalwork repair:



I'll keep with the updated photos as I go along, but there's plenty to make you squirm in the trunk and the floorboard. I know having someone try to do metal repair will open Pandora's Box on the car, so I really just want to paint everything with Chassis Saver to help prevent new rust/slow and contain existing rust. I want to paint behind the rear bumper area because the gaps aren't tight and you can see the metal behind it (or really, the lack thereof). Painting it black will help hide it at least.

As I said in my first post, I know this isn't a show car and I don't intend it to be, but I want to keep it from getting worse and possibly have small bits fixed here and there over the years. Like my Datsun, I will try my best to avoid the rain, the car will always be garaged and I'll park the car for winter/I won't drive it when there's salt on the ground. That should help things from getting any worse
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Today I was meaning to paint the coil pack brackets, but I realized I ordered the wrong color high temp POR 😑 Going to have to wait until the proper black paint comes next week...

In the meantime, I finally tore out the front suspension and steering. Took out the steering system all in one piece since I've got a full Pro Forge kit to replace it, and I want to retain the tie rod settings so that I can get the new setup dialed in close.



I always thought the mound on the front crossmember was just booger welds, but it turned out to be clumps of dirt and grease. Can't tell if it was painted over or not, but the metal is fine underneath it. Now that everything is out, I'll have to clean it all up and paint the crossmember:


After the steering was out of the way, I started with removing the shocks in preparation for the control arm removal. Not familiar with this brand, but the shocks were completely blown and could be easily compressed by hand. I know the theme of this car is me wondering why the previous owner cut so many corners and cheaped out on nearly everything, but this one is up there. Why not match the fairly new Belltech shocks in the rear with new ones in the front when doing all this previous work? They're only $50/shock... Oh well, I've got the parts to correct it when reassembling everything.


Everything was fairly straightforward to remove, however, as blown as all the ball joints were, they put up a HUGE fight releasing their grip. My dad and I eventually overcame and got everything out. I won't be reusing anything on the front spindles except the spindles themselves, splash shields and any hardware I need for the Wilwood calipers. I've got new replacement rotors, bearings, seals, etc. and the Global West steering arms that have a slightly different angle to help bump steer. For the control arms I have UMI upper and lower sets with tall upper ball joints. I've also got UMI front sway bar and frame brace. I'll put them all on once I have a chance to clean and paint the frame. That will likely be my next move, since I don't want to get too ahead of myself and start dropping the rear axle and gas tank.



Here's the current state of things




I made some more orders today. I noticed one of the front radiator supports had some pinholes in the bottom of it. Another one of those "it'll likely be OK, but I don't want to risk it" scenarios, so I bought a new pair. I also bought a new support bracket, the one that goes in the center of the car behind the grill and supports the hood latch. It was cheap and mine looks like the surface of the moon, even though it's fully painted. My dad also convinced me to get new wiring harnesses for the front and rear. He thinks the wiring is on the very edge of what's acceptable, so being that its 50 years old and I have incredible access, he said I should replace them rather than risk potential fire or electrical gremlins...

Lastly, my dad was able to bolt the bottom corner of the passenger fender liner, which always bugged me and you can see it in the above photo. He tried to do the other side, but the bottom of the fender was so rotted out that it's not possible to. Guess I'll be ordering a new fender in the spring when I take the car to our body guy...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Today I cleaned up the front frame and crossmember with a wire wheel on a drill. Aside from the minor surface rust/scale, the metal looks like it's in great shape, minus the front frame tips that were already painted.




The rest of the afternoon was spent removing the steering column and intermediate steering shaft and cleaning the intermediate shaft.




The bolt on the clamp of the intermediate shaft to steering column was worse than finger tight - it was completely loose. Some dickhead put red thread locker on the bolt previously, so the nut couldn't be done up past it:


And here are some before and afters of the shaft. Spent plenty of quality time with the wire wheel on the bench, plus plenty of brake cleaner and paper towels. I've got a new boot and clips in the mail, so I'll paint the shaft this weekend and then pack with grease/reassemble once I get the parts in.

 

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Looks Good. I’m guessing you are going to need pretty much every piece of sheet metal that AMD makes once you start blowing that thing apart. Good job on the thread so far.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Looks Good. I’m guessing you are going to need pretty much every piece of sheet metal that AMD makes once you start blowing that thing apart. Good job on the thread so far.
Thanks! And yeah, AMD will love me if I ever decide to go all the way with the bodywork haha


Today was spent painting the intermediate shaft and cup, running the bumper brackets through the wire wheel, and disassembling the front brake assemblies and painting the spindles.

Turns out the front of the car makes a great parts hanger for painting:




The brackets are super crusty, but they're still solid. Oddly, it seemed like there was remnants of old paint and some really thick material left on it in certain spots. Maybe some rubberized undercoating?


After spending a lot of time with the wire wheel:


They cleaned up pretty well, and I haven't yet cleaned them for paint prep, so they look way dirtier than they really are underneath. The metal is badly pitted in areas, but the metal is still all solid and no holes. The beauty with the paint I'm going to use is that it's similar to POR in that it likes a slightly rusty surface to bond to, but unlike POR, it is much more forgiving with surface prep.

After cleaning the dirt shield from the wire wheel:


Tearing down the brakes to get to the spindle. Turns out the caliper bracket and dust shield are pretty new The Right Stuff units, and the spindle snout was in fantastic shape. The spindle body, however, needed a coat of paint badly. Hit them with the wire wheel and sprayed them with high temp primer and black top coat. Outside of the spindle snout and threaded hole, I wasn't overly concerned with the masking. I'll get pics tomorrow of the finished product. I've got Centric fully coated rotors to replace these and Timkin inner/outer bearings and seals. Sorry that some of these pics are a little blurry. I need to keep dialing in my settings...






Tomorrow I'm going to crack out the Chassis Saver to paint the front frame and the bumper brackets and maybe take the brake system out
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Apologies for the cell pics in this post. I accidentally left my camera at home...


Spent the morning first cleaning up the mating surfaces for the timing cover and water pump.

Timing cover with new FelPro gaskets and ICT bolts waiting for the black RTV to set up on the bottom corners. The yellow thing is a cheapo alignment guide I got off of eBay to make sure the timing cover is in the centered when you're bolting it down.

All back together

I then hung the bumper brackets from the car and prepped them for paint along with the front frame.

Red neck wind chimes?



And here is the result after painting. Stuff makes a mess and stains your skin/clothes if you're not careful, but it's all worth it in the end. I didn't care about runs and drips since you won't really see these parts and not the frame. I was more concerned about getting maximum coverage and really laying the paint on thick for the best and longest protection. The paint was still real wet when taking the photos, but will dry to a more satin finish. Oddly enough, the driver side only needed minimal painting since it was more thoroughly painted previously vs the passenger side.





And a quick pic of the painting from yesterday. I wasn't too hot on using the gloss high temp paint for the spindles, but I had a can laying around that needed to be used up and I could save the last can of semi-gloss high temp for something else. All in all, the parts came out well and I just wanted them protected against further corrosion, so 6 coats of paint will be plenty.

The Chassis Saver paint needs a few days to fully cure and I'm waiting on a few parts, but next up is putting the suspension and steering back in, put in the new brakes, paint coilpack brackets and reinstall. I may not be able to drop the rear end and fuel tank next weekend, so I might only get some minor stuff done this next week, but I'll be sure to keep the thread updated.
 

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If you end up replacing rear quarters/wheelhouses and trunk drops use the chassis saver to seal the joints. When the metal work is complete pour the chassis saver on top of the wheelhouse from inside the trunk and let it run down both sides. It will wick into the seams and help ensure many years of rust free area. just make sure it runs out the drain holes in the bottom and doesn't plug them up. Much better product than cavity wax.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
If you end up replacing rear quarters/wheelhouses and trunk drops use the chassis saver to seal the joints. When the metal work is complete pour the chassis saver on top of the wheelhouse from inside the trunk and let it run down both sides. It will wick into the seams and help ensure many years of rust free area. just make sure it runs out the drain holes in the bottom and doesn't plug them up. Much better product than cavity wax.
Oooh, good tip. Thank you!
 
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