When I purchased the car, it did not appear to have a leaking cowl issue. Because I didn’t think it had a leaking cowl, I was fine leaving it outside in the rain. Well, I soon realized that the interior is becoming a swamp with all the water soaking into the carpet. I need to figure this out and find a stop gap immediately.
I started with tearing out the carpet to see what was going on, and also trying to drain the swamp. It was clearly the original carpet as it had very low structural integrity, tearing to pieces as I removed it. This is the first step down that slippery slope of having a project car versus having a working car. Tread carefully here!
While I don’t like the look, I needed functional weather proofing quickly. I picked these up from CJ’s and slapped them on. No real complaint for what they are. I just don’t like the big knobs sticking up or the cheap look to them. But they seal the cowl. With these in place, I let it sit for a few days to see if it’s going to get any dryer inside.
Unfortunately, that did not appear to help at all. Maybe I don’t have a leaky cowl after all. I went out in the car when it rained next, and saw the problem. Water was coming in from the A pillar on the side of the window and running down the dash. It looks like the problem is the windshield seal. Not great, but cheaper to fix than a cowl. I pushed on the windshield a little bit and was surprised that it nearly fell out. There was no sealant in the window at all! It looks like a previous owner took the window out when they painted, but didn’t bother to seal it when putting it back in. So, out come the windows. Might as well do front and back while I’m at it. Neither were sealed.
With the window out, it cleaned up quickly since I didn’t have to scrape hardened sealant. Lots of pine needles and dirt, but that’s welcome compared to sealant cleaning.
The edges look good from a rust/metal perspective. There was a bit in the corners which I ground down and covered with a rust encapsulator. When the car finally gets painted, those areas can be handled properly, but in the mean time, it won’t get worse.
Now, having to replace the windows, I talked to my son about where he wants to go with the interior. He really wants black, so I decided to take out the aqua headliner and replace it with a new black one. While this is against the “while I’m here” rule, I took it as an exception since this is the only time to replace the headliner without having to redo the windows again.
With the headliner out, I cleaned off the old insulation, inspecting for rust. Over all, it looked really good. A bit of surface rust near the front, but much better than I expected. I had a leftover original style insulation kit from my previous project, so he got a free set, and I got free shelf space. I used some spray adhesive and stuck it in place.
For reference, his is where and how the rear headliner retainer clips go. I reused the originals because the shape was slightly better than the reproductions I bought in case the originals were bad or missing.
Not intending to show too many details on the headliner, or a step by step. I watched some videos, left in the various screws, and used 20 feet of wind lace plus a small jar of adhesive. It’s not perfect, but pretty good. I also used the heat gun to pull out any final slack to tighten it all up once I was done.
The other big “while I’m at it” I did was paint the door and quarter window cover. I bought a can of black spray paint from NPD for interior and went at it. I started by using some stripper to get the nasty previous job cleaned off and down to metal or original paint first. Same with the door, but that needed some taping and masking first. Far from a pro job, but it’s better than it was. Mostly hold over to let my son do what he wants when he does it right.
At this point, I took the car to Mark with Leading Edge Auto Glass in Stanwood. He knows how to seal these old windows and set the clips for the trim correctly. He can also source the glass, so I had him order a new front windshield since I found some chips in the one I took out. I had a trip for work, so when I got home, the glass was in and ready to be picked up. Once I got it home, I started putting it back together after a couple days of sitting to ensure the interior was going to stay dry.
After painting, I replaced the torn up door vinyl and handles. No pictures of this side, but I also put new vapor barrier in place, using some of my leftover 3M strip caulk first. It looks pretty good if you don’t get too close.
Moving on, it’s time to get back to the floor. I found some surface rust in the back, and some more serious issues in front. I tried to clean it up a bit, then seal it with rust encapsulator to prevent it from spreading. Also replaced the drain caps while I was there. My son wants to learn to weld, so he can deal with this later. It’s not terrible, but the front floors are going to need some cutting and welding for sure.
I also ordered the original style underlayment to replace the hardened and broken original I pulled out in many small pieces. This should also help keep the road water off the carpet by the toe board seam where the metal is thin.
I ordered the modern style carpet since my son is young and appreciates newer style to old style like nylon loop carpet. It’s kind of thin, but at least it’s easy to work with. I also added the original style carpet padding underneath, but no pictures.
After getting the carpet in place, I put the seats back in. I still need to find some black seats, or deal with upholstery. The driver seat frame is broken on the bottom, so it leans back too far, so I need to deal with that too in order to keep driving it. It makes it hard to reach the stick without leaning forward to reach it. For now though, its staying with aqua seats until a cheap solution presents itself.
While I was there, I put new scuff plates back in, throwing out the scuffed and chewed up originals. You can see I also took out the speaker kick panels and replaced them with original style black. With a clutch pedal, the speakers stuck out too far to comfortably shift and park my foot. Once the stereo works again, I will have to figure out the speaker situation. Always more projects for later.
On the last mile. I tore down the driver door and stripped it. As should be expected, surprised awaited. I was having issues with the lock button not moving smoothly, so I figured now was the time to get things working right. The vent window also had some whistling, so I wanted to look into that before I replaced the panels and sealed it.
The first surprise was that this was not an original door. Well, not original to this car anyhow. It looks like it started as some kind of gold or bronze color, and it was also a deluxe door. You can see the pro bondo job on the bottom to cover up the holes where the speaker and light would go.
If you look close, you can also see the creative use of an old license plate as backer for the holes while the bondo does it’s magic on the outside. The original wiring harness is still in the bottom of the door too. At some point, my son will want to replace this door if he gets aggressive about restoring this car. Not something I am going to tackle.
The next surprise was this weather stripping in the bottom of the door. That explains why the whistling at speeds. The front guide on the quarter window had no seal at all.
Fortunately, I replaced mine and I still had the originals. I ended up taking out the weather stripping from my old one and using it here. I also couldn’t find just this part on any of the sites. Best I could find was the whole rail, so I cheaped out and moved on. No waiting for parts on this project. The target is always “better”.
After some paint and cleaning, things are assembled again. I used some spray lithium grease on the rails after removing the old buildup. Then I noticed a problem. The holes for the arm rest are not right. The deluxe door strikes again.
On top is the door on this car. Next is the original door from my 67 coupe. On the bottom is the reproduction door. Notice the sliding cover in the back on the reproduction, allowing for a shift of the back clip up/down by about 3/4 inch. Also note the 3 holes in the front. The deluxe door doesn’t have a hole for the front clip. A previous owner just drilled a hole directly into the door. Also, the back is slightly higher, so the door handle will not set level once it’s all back together. Again, making due, and adding another reason to replace the door later if he wants it to look right with the base trim. Surely not a good reason to replace the door, but it’s an add on reason.
All back together. The only thing left is the window crank. The screw for that was wrong, so I will dig around the pile and see if I can find one of my originals. I also need a couple other parts, like the door latch handle spring and a couple new plastic backing plates behind the crank and handle. Maybe I should just order a few things..
In the end, I think it looks pretty good. Definitely an improvement over what it started as, and the whistling is gone, with a smooth moving door lock mechanism. Ready for a few more years of use.