The car was a 1 owner and started life out in California and was brought to Pennsylvania sometime in 1995. The car had a runability issue where it would not idle and never saw much use and was parked within a year of arriving on the east coast. I was told lots of money was dumped in the car, but no one could get it to run right. The car was on it's way to the scrapper when it was intercepted by someone else in the Chrysler community and from there it went on to me.
The car was in very good shape for it's age, but needed alot of TLC to bring it back to life. The seats were starting to split up front, the carpets were dryrotted, and the interior plastics were faded and yellowed from age. The paint is sandblasted and you can see primer in a few spots, but the sheetmetal is clean and straight with very little rust showing. I really doubt there are many '78's around the snow belt that have a body this good.
A total assessment of the car was next on the agenda. I already knew from the get go the rear brakes needed new wheel cylinders, all new cooling hoses were needed, and the electrical needed cleaned up. The list ended up going on and on so I decided to leave it parked and start by gutting the interior and aquiring replacement parts for a general overhaul up under the hood.
I started in the trunk of the car and cleaned up the very small amount of rust in the wheel well and painted it with a Generic POR 15 product. After that the back seats came out followed by the front seats. I repeated the process with the rest of the floor boards. The front section was a little rusty, but cleaned up very nice in the end. In between all that work I started diving into the engine compartment to strip accessories and clean up under there. The plan at the time was to leave the engine itself alone and only clean the outside of it. Those plans ended up changing a bit later. I also found a trunk paint I liked alot and applied a first coat to see how I liked it. It will stay I decided and a second coat wll be applied later.
Picture of trunk near completion. The paint on the metal needs one more coat, but I'll do a final when the car is closer to done. Also the repainted "C" pillar plastics can be seen.
I spent other time gathering parts. I tracked down a brand new instrument cluster bezel from a dealer in Pennsylvania. One of 3 left in Chrysler's parts system. I learned this was a '78 specific part. '79 & '80 were also specific to their year. Wonder why they did that. More can be read about the clusters here. Ebay ended up being a cheap way of buying new parts. I ended up buying brake rotors, brake pads, fuel pump, starter, carb rebuild kit, and headgasket set. On most of these auctions I was the only bidder and walked away with the stuff for cheap. Spent just over a $100 including shipping on all that stuff. I scored about 3/4ths of the interior plastics I needed at the pick 'n' pull for $20. Now all I have to do is repaint them to match. I had a local paint shop mix me up a batch of paint using the paint code found on the body tag for reference. If you can't already tell I'm trying to do some of it as cheap as I can so I can spend more money on the body.
I started painting plastics and before I knew it late fall was here and it was getting too cold to paint outside. The remaining panels will have to wait to spring. I again moved my focus to the engine compartment. The wiring harness came out and is now draped across a table and I'm in the process of rewrapping it and fixing wires here and there. A few connectors are being replaced while I'm at it for some additional insurance. The radiator came out, followed by the air pump and water pump. Before I knew it I had the engine compartment looking pretty bare.
The next step I did turned out to be a mistake in a way and in another way it was good to find out. Since I bought a headgasket kit I decided since I have everything this far down why not go ahead and throw a new one in while I'm at it. One saturday night in December a friend and I removed the head to find a surprise awaiting us. We found 3 cracks between water jackets and bolt holes. Qualifies the block for a peice of scrap metal. Pictures can be seen here. Finding this is a huge setback and could prove to turn this car into an interesting project in the big picture.
I had already been investigating other VW engines since the 1.7L is a Rabbit motor. I ran across some interesting things the further I dug. In the end I have decided that I will be using a 1.8L block and internals from a Jetta. From there I'm going to try and locate a 1.8L DOHC head and a dual carb intake. I'll be stuck using Solex carbs, but I don't think that will be a big problem. My other option is the MPI manifold. That means alot of extra stuff needs to be added for the fuel injection. A carb car sounds so much more simpler to me than trying to make EFI work in a car that never had it. If I end up going EFI I'll go with a mechanical system such as K-jetronic.
As time goes on and decisions are made I'll be updating this page for those few who are actualy following along. Check out some of the links below for some pictures of different things going on with the car.
Pictorial on the body
Pictorial on the electrical
Art work, outtakes, other oddities
pictorial on the interior
Under the Hood
pictorial of under the hood
The Cracks found in the engine block
Pictures showing differences between the motor mounts in the early L-bodies versus the later models.