QUICKIE RESTORATION PROJECTS you
can do on your car instead of playing around on this web site.
- by Sean Mattingly
Whether your car is a show car, drag car, or a basket case, it can
probably be improved upon somehow. There are endless things you
can do to enhance your GTO's looks, mechanicals, or safety.
Here are some ideas that may take only a couple hours to complete.
Unpaint your trunk latch.
This is an easy thing to do, but often overlooked on even the nicest show cars.
You've all seen the trunk open on a nice GTO. Whoever painted the car has
slopped primer on the trunk latch which is supposed to be natural metal in
appearance. Or maybe they've accidentally painted part of the latch Candy
Well, this appearance problem is one of the easiest to fix.
Auto parts cleaner (the kind that comes in a round can with a soaking basket inside)
Metal bristle brush (a small one that looks like a toothbrush, or use an old toothbrush)
Disposable plastic gloves (I like the clear plastic ones in the housepaint aisle)
Eye protection (nerd goggles)
Clear Lacquer spray (don't substitute polyurethane as it sometimes turns yellow)
WD-40 spray oil (use the little spray straw that comes with it)
Wrench (or socket set)
Remove the trunk latch with a wrench. Mine was held on with three bolts. Note the
position of the bolts when you remove them. Chances are, they were installed in a
particular place so the trunk lid will line up correctly. Usually, there will be slight
indentations in the trunk lid paint where the bolts were, so you may not even need
to mark the exact locations of the three bolts.
After the bolts are removed, the trunk latch will come free. There
is a trunk lock bar
that extends through the center of the latch. It will easily come out of the latch if you
bring the latch over to the side and downward as you remove it.
Examine the top portion of the trunk latch. It's probably bright
shiny natural metal.
The whole latch should look like this! Aha! Ahaaaaa!
Open the container of parts cleaner. Install safety goggles on
Drop the latch and the three mounting screws into the basket. Don't splash the
stuff on you. It stinks and can burn your skin. Put the lid back on the parts
cleaner. Again, it stinks. Agitate the parts cleaner every hour or so by moving
the can from side-to-side as it sits on the workbench. Go have a beer. Come
back an hour later and gently agitate the container again. Have another beer.
Agitate again. Go to bed. Sleep like a drunken baby.
The next morning, open the parts cleaner container, lift the basket,
and see your
trunk latch. The paint should be falling off of it. Scrub the rest of the paint
off with an old toothbrush or bristle brush with metal (brass) bristles.
Scrub the three bolts too. Wear goggles and gloves as you do this messy
Rinse with water. Let it dry thoroughly. Coat
the whole latch with clear
Lacquer spray. One light coat on each side is adequate. Now this trunk
latch looks like it was just born. Classy.
Paint the three bolts with clear spray or whatever color suits you.
I like to
paint the bolts satin black. Then sometimes I slightly overspray them with
primer so they resemble the black phosphated bolts the factory used.
Reinstall the latch. Shoot a little WD-40 oil in the mechanism.
Then open the trunk lid wide open and admire your natural metal trunk
Clean up your fan.
Aluminum fan blades will oxidize and get nicks and scrapes on them over
the years. It's easy to remove them for quick detailing.
My fan assembly was held on with 4 bolts.
Scotch Brite pads (made by 3M, the green wonders)
Rubbing compound (the kind that comes in a flat can)
Small file or Dremel tool
Wrench (open-ended wrench, because a socket set won't fit in there)
Masking tape and paint are optional
The goal is to remove the oxidation, oil, bugs, nicks, and scrapes from the
fan blades to make them look as new as possible. You can even paint the
steel parts of the fan assembly to freshen them up.
The trick with the aluminum blades is to remove the hard white-colored
oxidation without putting ugly scratches in the metal. Dip a Scotch-Brite
pad in rubbing compound and gently rub the blades. I was able to wipe
away primer, black overspray, oil, oxidation, and other debris to reveal
gleaming aluminum fan blades underneath. All the gunk comes off easily
with this method. Wipe in small circles to minimize the appearance of
Remove gouges and nicks with a Dremel tool. I use the slow
a mini grinding wheel attachment. Don't go overboard with this step.
All you can accomplish is removing the high spots. If you are careful,
you can use another attachment to shine up around the edges of the blades.
Next, you can paint the steel center portion of the fan.
If you do decide
to paint it, MAKE SURE you remove ALL the rubbing compound residue.
I found out that paint will not stick to that stuff at all. Mask and paint.
Reinstall and admire this yourself. You're on your own to
detailing handiwork on this one. Wives never admire clean fans.
Dye your carpet.
This is easier than it seems. If your old carpet has faded, you can make
it look like new again. In my case, I have black carpeting. Because I leave
my car in the sunshine 9 months out of the year, it fades. The black color
starts to take on a slightly reddish hue as the fibers fade. In my experience, I
have found that reproduction carpets don't look that great. In their quest to
keep the carpet price down to 100 bucks, the manufacturers compromise on
quality. I once bought a reproduction carpet that had some loops out of place.
Some looked shaggy, others weren't sewn completely through the backing
material. So I sold it.
Mar-Hyde carpet dye (sold in a spray can in the spray paint aisle)
Resiprator mask (like the simple kind you strap around your head)
Masking tape (the wide stuff is good for this)
Old newspapers (comics work best)
Start by thoroughly sweeping the carpet. Then mask off the area NOT to
be dyed. The dyeing part is quick. Spray, spray, spray. No big deal.
But it will take some time to mask off the stuff you DON'T want to be
black, like the console, the white seats, the door sill plates, the seatbelt
retractors, the heel pad, the dimmer switch, etc. Fortunately, the dye
spray has low overspray. It generally goes right where you shoot it.
Read the comics as you mask off the seats and console with newspaper.
The dye spray always irritates my lungs. So then I *stop*
and put on the little respirator mask. Duhh. I always forget that part
till I start choking on those powerful fumes! Read comics while
catching breath. Then resume spraying the dye.
The results of this project are always *breathtaking* in more
ways than one. And my black carpeting is the deepest black color
imaginable. The good results from this project are well worth the time.
Let it dry for a day before inviting passengers for a ride.
Many GTOs suffer from buckling hoods. They can easily be prevented by
oiling the hood hinges once a year.
Door hinges squeaking? Oil them. Same goes for
door lock mechanisms.
And there's something about oiling door hinges that always draws a curious
crowd. I don't know why this happens, but whenever I repeatedly open
and close my doors, listening for more squeaks, people come around and
ask stupid questions. It's a fact. People are overly fascinated when you oil stuff.
Paint your feet.
Look at the metal feet on your front seats. If they are like mine, you see nice
seats sitting on nice carpeting, with rusty feet. The rusty feet are held to the floor
with rusty nuts. This appearance problem can be remedied with not much
more than a 1/2 inch wrench!
Sandpaper (so fine)
Dremel Tool (use the little grinder attachment)
Trim Black (spray paint made for external trim on cars)
Other spray paints (see below)
WD-40 spray oil
Remove the bucket seats from the car. This is a simple process that requires
only a 1/2 inch open end wrench. Start by sliding the seat all the way back.
Take off the two front nuts. Slide the seat all the way forward. Take off the two
rear nuts. If you do it in the reverse order, the seat track nearest the hump will
go "sproing" when you lift it off the floorbolts. The "sproing" doesn't hurt anything,
just be ready for a "sproing" if you do this in the reverse order. If you don't
follow the order I stated, the seat adjustment helper spring snaps the track
toward the back of the car as you lift it off the bolts.
Flip a seat upside-down. Pick up all the loose change that
comes out. Take the
money and buy the MATERIALS specified above. Sand the seat feet. Dremel
the crusty rust off the bottoms of the feet. Sand some more. Mask off the
area around the feet and shoot it with the trim black. Let it dry. Put on a second
heavy coat. Later, people will be scuffing these with their big fat feet, so a heavy coat
of paint will be good.
Now for the nuts. Mine were originally cadmium plated nuts
with built-on washers.
You can duplicate the look of cadmium plating with some creativity. Examine the cadmium
nuts for their color. Its complicated to describe. Cadmium looks like a dull gold plating,
but it's a little on the silver side too. It also has other transparent hues of red, green and a
darker grayish tint in some areas. Weird stuff. I roughly duplicated that look like this;
Paint nuts gold. Overspray 80% of that with chrome paint. Overspray 10% of that
with gold again. Lightly overspray some cast iron paint onto that. Not a direct spray,
but an overspray. In fact, the goal here is not to spray any of the colors evenly onto the
part. You want to end up with light, random coatings of color. Then clearcoat the whole
mess. They will darken a little at this point and resemble the original cadmium plated nuts,
but minus the hideous rust. Mine turned out great. I wish I would have taken a picture
of my nuts to show you. You would have loved to see my nuts!
Such nice nuts. Now, back to the seats. The
black paint has now dried on the seat feet?
Spray WD-40 on the seat tracks. Work the tracks back and forth. Oh... One side of
each track has a big spring on it. Temporarily take that big spring off. It makes it possible
to work the track back and forth as you oil it.
Put the seats back in the car. Take Doan's back pills if
necessary. Install your simulated
cadmium plated seat nuts. Such beautiful nuts. Tighten and test drive. It's nice not to
have to look at rusty seat feet anymore.
Just for the record, The Eastwood Company sells a professional kit to
look of cadmium plating on metal parts. I think it's basically gold spray paint
with transparent colored tinting sprays.
Little project six.
Project seven will be here if I get busy.
There will be room for this one too.
This will be an easy one.
Maybe ten is enough for now.
Attention GTO newsletter editors! Go ahead and reprint any of these Text Topics articles. Just give me credit as Sean Mattingly (Sean@UltimateGTO.com) at The Ultimate GTO Picture Site located at http://UltimateGTO.com
Here's a comment from a recent visitor...
Says Brien Curtis (vanbrien.@aol.com) - "Your site is way cool, well organized, hats off to you guys! I had one in high school and would like to restore one to be one I used to have."