Detroit Muscle Featured Projects

Detroit Muscle Builds

Parts Used In This Episode

The Industrial Depot
Tools, Hardware, Shop Supplies

Episode Transcript

(Tommy)>> You're watching Powernation!

(Joel)>> Today on Detroit Muscle we're kicking off a brand new build.

(Tommy)>> So if you're into big bone bowties and burnouts you're gonna want to stay tuned. [ Music ] [ engines revving ] [ Music ]

(Joel)>> Well guys we're all set to kick off a brand new project, but what we've got up our sleeve ain't exactly a mainstream build.

(Tommy)>> The generation of car that we have our eye on can usually grab plenty of attention, but I bet it's in a completely different mindset than what you're thinking when it comes to fixing up a car. [ Music ]

(Joel)>> Most of the time people tend to gravitate towards the more popular cars.

(Tommy)>> Is that one rough?

(Joel)>> It's seen better days.

(Tommy)>> What we're planning to build is a bowtie, but it's not your normal muscle car. What about this one? Enough said!

(Joel)>> The 1971 to '76 big body GMs have a following on their own. Often times when a person builds one they're welding the doors shut to crash and smash it up on a Friday night. If you guys have ever been to a demolition derby you know size and durability matters, and the draw of big bowties is that they have enough horsepower and backbone to pack one mean punch, making them ideal derby rigs.

(Tommy)>> I did that for several years, and it was a whole lot of fun, but that's all in the past now, and there's something about being able to build and create something that you get to keep instead of recycling.

(Joel)>> This even legal? When it comes to the '71 through '76 GM B-bodies the overall shape and silhouette are pretty much the same, but the most popular and most sought after has got to be the drop tops.

(Tommy)>> Finding one of the these that's a good candidate for a fixer upper can be extremely difficult because convertibles are normally rusty, and when they aren't they're expensive, and that's for a good reason. Quality tin work can be a bit pricey. If only a person could find a rust free body sitting in a barn somewhere in the sticks. Now between the years there are some variances. Mainly the differences are the impact strips of chrome on each end. The '74 to '76 cars have bigger bumpers. That's probably one of the main reasons why the crash and bash guys love them so much. And in '74 GM introduced the five mile an hour bumpers on the front and rear. These can absorb a small impact and then go back into place. This design made it safer but it is a bit bulky. The early model big bodies like the '71s and '72s have much smaller and tighter bumpers, and when I'm talking smaller I mean multiple inches in comparison to their later model counterparts. Often this design is considered cleaner because it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. The taillights, some of the trim, and the grille are also a bit more tasteful compared to the later models.

(Tommy)>> You could think of one of these as a big brother version of a Monte Carlo or Chevelle. It has some of the same characteristics and shapes coming at you, just in a bigger scale. Just look at the lines of the fender, the bump in the hood, and even the shape of the front bumper. If you can see that resemblance that should tell you that these have potential.

(Joel)>> When you have a lot of project cars to work on maximizing your storage space is key, especially when you're sharing that space with a few friends. So when parking spaces are hard to come by we like to use the Backyard Buddy. Advantage Lifts' Backyard Buddy is crafted from high quality steel right here in the USA. It's free-standing and mobile to help you make the most of your space. The underside construction has been enhanced to allow easier adjustment along with greater durability. Its double lock system paired with single point manual release is designed to keep you and your ride safe and secure. With a dedication to quality, safety, and strength, Advantage Lifts' Backyard Buddy is an affordable storage solution for any gearhead. Batten down the hatches because this old boat is going full steam ahead.

(Tommy)>> So let us introduce our latest project.

(Joel)>> It's a 1971 Chevrolet Caprice that we've christened as Fat Stack.

(Tommy)>> A while back we had the opportunity to help one of you guys out with a Driveway Rescue. The owner of this jewel had been tinkering on it in his spare time. Just having it back to a reliable condition was his main goal.

(Joel)>> Then one day we got the call. He was ready to pass it on and asked if we were interested. How could we say no.

(Tommy)>> With being inspired by some of those trends that we just showed you we've devised ourselves a plan for this big project. And no, we're not about to weld the doors closed and put headers through the hood. We're gonna apply that sweet hot rod recipe, which usually means big power, cool paint, and killer stance.

(Joel)>> To achieve our goal is gonna take a whole lot of work. Plus, a truckload of parts because this big boned bowtie is by no means a performer in its current state.

[ Tommy on the walkie talkie ]>> So what's your words of encouragement for this car?

(Joel)>> Go fast, don't die, and look good doing it. [ engine revving ]

(Tommy)>> Even if we sped up the footage this thing would be slow. However, it did bow up when we stood on the gas pedal. The body had good weight transfer but I bet that was from just being old.

(Joel)>> Woo!

(Tommy)>> Burning some rubber is fun but somewhat embarrassing if you only leave one mark. Shoot, that thing looks like one of those Duke boys burnouts.

(Joel)>> Now we knew it wasn't gonna be fast. It weighs over two tons and it doesn't make a whole lot of power, and we had a lot of trouble trying to find where this thing shines in its stock form.

(Tommy)>> Now according to my calculations that car is gonna be a crowd pleaser because it's a five thousand pound vehicle, and it makes about 200 impressive horsepower, and it has a front tire that's about this wide. So that thing is gonna be all over the place.

(Joel)>> The size, power, and suspension ain't much to write home about. There's a reason people call these things a boat, and it has nothing to do with their buoyancy.

(Tommy)>> If it looks this impressive out here I'll be it feels like something for sure in the drivers seat. That dude's got... I'll bet that thing's got that much body roll in it.

(Joel)>> The motion of the ocean in this situation will put a smile on your face, but there's a good chance you'll be tuckered out from all the cranking on the wheel. This old thing at one point even looked like it might lift the driver front wheel off the ground. [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> I think that cone got nervous. It fell over like them old pigmy goats. [ Music ] That was impressive! Oh, the wind got a hold of it he said. That must have been he come around it so fast. That thing's probably about as aerodynamic as a bulldozer. [ Music ] So if you want to see what 850 horsepower, trick suspension, and mile deep paint looks like on one of these you might want to stick around.

(Joel)>> You guys may have noticed that our old Caprice has a few cool characteristics about it, and one of the most prominent has got to be the reverse cowl deck lid that's complimented with a number of louvre style air vents. Not only did this add a few aesthetic upgrades to this body style, the engineers at GM also wanted to add some function to the personality, and the story behind this forced air ventilation design is quite interesting. Back I the '60s safety concerns were circulating around carbon monoxide poisoning. GM set out to fix this problem with a feature they coined "Astro ventilation". The idea was to build a setup that would push fresh air through the car even if the windows were rolled up and the a/c was off. The air flowed through the cowl at the base of the windshield and into the interior by vents in the dash as it was moving down the road. In 1971 GM decided to take this design a step further by positively moving air through the car's cabin, whether it was in motion or not. Drawing air in through the cowl through the h-v-a-c system it was then pushed out to the vents on top of the trunk lid. However that plan severely backfired and a national recall was summoned after complaints of multiple drivers falling asleep at the wheel due to exhaust fumes leaking into the cab of the vehicle. GM's solution, a simple piece of Styrofoam to be stuck into the vents of the deck lid in order to seal out the toxic vapors. And this is one of those things where just because an idea looks good on paper doesn't necessarily mean it's gonna translate well out here in the real world.

(Tommy)>> Up next, our Caprice has an out of body experience.

(Tommy)>> We've all heard that old saying, sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better, and that's the situation that we're in. Now we're gonna disconnect a few things here under the hood and then go up with the car and disconnect a few more. What we're gonna do is separate the body from the chassis, leaving the engine on the frame. Now it's time for us to get busy.

(Joel)>> A metal piece off. When you go to disconnect the chassis from the body there's a lot of things you need to remove. You've got the radiator, hard lines, hoses, and some wiring that can get hung up during separation. [ Music ] Not to mention those nasty core support bolts. Then you've got the brake lines and everything connected to the ignition coil.

(Tommy)>> We could go up and take the starter loose from the bottom. [ mechanical humming ]

(Tommy)>> I like big bodies and I cannot lie. They should make a song about that. She's a beaut! [ Music ] [ drill humming ] [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> Well the way that we're separating our body and chassis we're gonna have to remove the front and rear bumper. The reason for that is they more or less hook over it. Trying to separate it without them off, you're gonna bend something up and we definitely don't want to damage that grille. [ drill humming ] [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> Alrighty, that bumper's loose. [ Music ] We made some pretty good progress. We've got the transmission disconnected with the linkage and the speedo cable. We also got the emergency brake cable disconnected. What we need to do now is unhook the fuel tank lines and zip out the body bolts. If everything goes on without a hitch we'll be ready to pull off that body. Removing body bolts may sound like a simple task but sometimes it can be quite complicated. Now you can use an impact or a standard ratchet but I'm gonna give you a little tip. If you put the impact on there and they come right out keep going. If you start hammering on that thing hold off a second. Grab yourself just a regular old ratchet, put it on there, and keep constant pressure on it as you're cranking that thing out. The reason for that is inside of the body there's a captured nut, and whenever you use an impact and it's hammering on it you can break that thing loose, and to get it apart you're gonna have to cut on the body or torch off this bolt. [ Music ] [ impact driver humming ]

(Tommy)>> Oh that's a good sign! [ Music ] [ impact driver humming ]

(Tommy)>> That one don't like it. [ Music ]

(Joel)>> When it comes to these big body vehicles Tommy is definitely the subject matter expert. [ Music ] [ ratchet squealing ]

(Joel)>> At this point he's taken apart so many heavy Chevys it's become second nature. [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> Success! [ Music ] [ ratchet clicking ]

(Tommy)>> This is one of them instances you start thanking the powers that be that thing come out.

(Joel)>> As you can see, there's clearly a method to the madness. [ mechanical humming ]

(Tommy)>> Only thing between there is air. [ mechanical humming ] [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> I guess you could say right now it's time for the work to begin.

(Joel)>> Coming up, we waltz through a piano wire duet in part preservation.

(Joel)>> You know guys, when you're starting a new project it's real easy to get caught up in the moment and start ripping this stuff apart. I think we've all been there. Get tools, trim pieces, hardware, body panels all strewn about like a tornado just ripped through your shop. In all reality though this truly is the time to slow down and take care of the parts and pieces that you're pulling off. And I'm not just talking about the traditional tag and bag that'll keep everything organized and save you a significant headache down the road. You also need to consider that replacing broken or missing parts lost during disassembly can hurt both your sanity and your wallet. For example the taillight housing on our '71 Caprice. This particular setup has a somewhat sturdy hardened plastic shell, as opposed to its later model counterpart such as a '75 or '76 that were constructed from a flimsier fiberglass material. Although one is technically stronger and more durable the approach is still the same. You never want to risk any unnecessary damage to your restoration components during disassembly because as you guys know, this stuff is becoming harder and harder to come by.

(Tommy)>> The subject of working with glass normally scares people. It's easy to say that the main concern is breaking what you're trying to remove. Sacrificing your glass normally isn't the goal, but if you slow down, pay attention, it's really not that intimidating and it's pretty basic. With our big body we need to remove ours for a couple of reasons. One is it leaks around the seal, and we're planning to replace that vinyl top. To get this glass out it's similar to some other GM models. We've got some trim around the perimeter and some wipers that need to go before all that fun can happen.

(Joel)>> Removing these old wipers can be a little bit tricky. GM had a few different designs. So it's good to take a quick glance, and it might save you a little bit of hassle. Often times there's a small clip that needs to be unlatched. If you lift the arm off the window, this little tab can be slid out. Sometimes you may have to use a flat tip screwdriver or a pick to lift this tab up. Then with a little pressure from a pry tool on the end of the arm where it attached to the pivot point a little bit of wiggle action and it'll usually pop right off. If possible I like to use a plastic pry bar because it's a little more forgiving on chrome and painted surfaces. [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> Now it's time to work on the trim. With this setup we've got a big wide piece here at the base of it for those hidden wipers, and it's held in place with a couple of screws. For any of you guys who have worked on a setup like this you know that there's one of them that always seems to just give you a fit. If you have one of these take a hammer and hit the handle of your screwdriver. This does a couple of things. One it sets the tip of the screwdriver in the head of the screw. Also it shocks the threads, which in turn helps to loosen things up. [ Music ]

(Joel)>> Next up for removal is our top and our side windshield trim, and these are held in place with a little clip that have to be pried up with a specialty tool. What you want to do is slide the hook in up underneath the trim on top of the glass. Use the hook to find the clip, and once it's set rotate your wrist to pry the clip off the trim to free it up. A little wiggling and pulling and the piece should pop off. Now you've just got to do that with the rest of the clips on the trim piece. Once it's all out of the way time to tackle the glass itself.

(Tommy)>> There's several ways to go about this, and there's several different tools. Some of these are a bit more forgiving than others. To choose the correct one for your application you need to know a main factor, and that is what's holding it in place. Is it the old school soft butyl or does it have the tougher urethane? Another thing that you need to consider. Are you trying to save that piece that you're removing? If not you can flog it just about as hard as you want to, but if you are trying to save it I'm gonna recommend to you not to use anything air operated cause this thing can get pretty aggressive. With our old Chevy it's got that old soft stuff. So it shouldn't be a big deal to get that thing out. What we're gonna do to get this task done is use some windshield cutout wire. What some people refer to as piano wire. Thank you sir. Now what we're gonna do is take this and kinda push it up under the edge of the glass, and then saw it out old school. It's kinda like them two man saws. It isn't really required to be a two man operation, but doing it this way lets each person pay attention to each side you're cutting. [ Music ] Now what we're gonna do is Joel's gonna pull that through there, and then I'm gonna hand him a bolt and I'm gonna use a bolt o my side, and we'll actually wrap this around there, and then we can pull it back and forth. I wouldn't recommend just taking this wire and wrap it around your fingers cause when you go to pulling on this you're probably gonna cut yourself. For our side I can choke it down this way, and you want to pull it in the direction whichever way we're cutting. [ Music ] I'm gonna try to lay it around this glass corner. [ Music ] Alright, pull it to you. We'll just go a little saw, a little saw. Alright, then we come back. Makes them cool noises don't it? [ Music ]

(Joel)>> There it is! [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> I need to get a stand to set that dude on. [ Music ] Well we've had a pretty good day and ole fat stack is spread out all across the floor.

(Joel)>> You know what's kinda funny. With this car put together it was already taking up quite a bit of space, and now that it's disassembled it's taking up the whole shop.

(Tommy)>> Now Fat Stack, we've got some big plans for it. It's gonna get big power and make a huge statement, but that's all to come. I'm whooped for the day.

(Joel)>> You're not a spring chicken anymore.

(Tommy)>> That's not very nice!
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