Sunday, July 1, 2012

1971 GTX - Interior and Component Restoration By Roman Sobilo

The GTX restoration is progressing well here at After Hours Restorations.  We are slowly achieving our goal of completing the GTX for its debut in November at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Chicago.  Ever since the shell was transported to the body shop we have shifted our focus to restoring components.  The main goal is to utilize the time we have restoring all of the components while the shell is at the body shop getting painted.

In this issue we will be discussing interior and component restoration.  There is a lot to say on both of these topics but unfortunately I only have a certain amount of space in Chrysler Power.  I will do my best to cover the major areas of these topics using the currant GTX restoration as reference. 

Restoring a classic Mopar is just like putting a puzzle together.  The restored components are pieces to that puzzle.  The quality of the puzzle depends on the pieces which it is made from.  It is easy to say “that’s good enough” when you are working on components especially if it’s a part that is concealed or partially concealed.  Looking under the dashboard on a restored car can give you a general idea of what type of workmanship was put into the restoration.  Was the heater box properly restored?  How about the driver side vent box on a non-a/c car?  What about the pedal assembly, wiper linkage, e brake assembly and so on? 

Disassembled for restoration.                                                                     Restored ready for assembly.

For example, I have seen rotisserie restored cars that have body color brake pedal assemblies in them because they were never removed during the restoration.  The actual pedal was spray painted black while still attached to the car and it was called good enough. 
There is a huge difference looking at a restoration than looking into a restoration.  Looking into one requires a person to really dissect and analyze a restored car inch by inch.  That’s when you will notice all of the fine details that go into a quality restoration.  
Most of this stuff is pretty simple to deal with.  With a little more effort and a few extra bucks you can make your restoration standout amongst others.  Remember everything adds up! 

In our case we shipped out all of the hood, trunk, and door latch assemblies to Jules Daddio ( in Canada the first week we began disassembling the car.  Jules services usually take anywhere between 2-4 months.   Jules is an artist and his work speaks for itself.  His work is defiantly well worth the wait.

However, shipping out the door latches did create a dilemma.  We had to find a loner set since they are needed to hold the doors in place while body work is being performed.   
Jules is also restoring the wiper motor, wiper transmissions, wiper linkage, and steering column.  All of these components were completely stripped down, repaired, detailed, and reassembled.  It is not uncommon to see metal and plating colored paints used on these components.  Not in our case.  

Working with Jules you can be assured every part will be properly plated just like it was by the vendors Chrysler used back in the day.  Jules is always After Hours Restorations first choice in component restoration!

Steering column ready for reassembly

Moving on…  The heater core box was completely disassembled.  All of the metal brackets were removed by drilling out the tubular rivets which hold them onto the box.  These brackets are bare steel and will most likely be covered in surface rust.  We soak the steel brackets in Evapo-Rust to remove the rust.  Once the brackets are clean of rust we simply apply R.P.M. (rust preventative magic) to keep them from rusting again.  R.P.M is available at ECS automotive Concepts ( 

These boxes are very fragile and can be easily damaged.  When media blasting you must keep the air pressure turned down very low and use a less abrasive media such as glass bead.  If you have any doubts it may be a good idea to practice inside the box before you proceed to the exterior side.

Once the box is media blasted it will have a dull finish.  Lightly spraying a quality semi-gloss clear over the heater box will restore that factory appearance.  At this point we install all of the metal brackets using the correct style tubular rivets.  The blower motor was also sent out to Jules for restoration. 

The heater core and A/C condenser will be replaced with new parts.  However, just because they are new don’t assume they are good.  We always pressure test both units before assembling the heater box.    We started testing them a few years back when we found that a brand new heater core was defective in a freshly assembled car.  There is nothing worse in the restoration business then disassembling a fresh museum quality restored car, especially for an avoidable cause.

All of the screws and J clips were replaced with new ones.  All of the foam, gaskets, and seals were also replaced.  If you decide to tackle a project like this on your own remember to take tons of pictures during the deconstruction of your heater box.     

The brake pedal assembly was also left bare metal by the factory.  To restore this assembly we simply disassemble it and soak all of the bare metal parts in Evapo-Rust.  Once it is free of all surface rust we treat it with R.P.M.  The bare metal section of the actual brake pedal gets taped off and the black painted part is media blasted.  It is important to cover the bare metal section up to avoid dulling it with the media blaster.  Repaint the black portion of the pedal and reassemble.  This is one of the easiest parts of the car to restore!

 When it comes time to restore the interior in your pride and joy must of us turn to one of the two biggest muscle car suppliers in the business.  We open up their colorful catalogs and just go crazy ordering away thinking this is just too good to be true.  Look at all of these parts available for my interior!  Well, it is too good to be true. 

Don’t get me wrong we are very lucky to have these suppliers developing, manufacturing, and supplying us restoration parts.  I have a lot of respect for these companies but feel that they need to do a better job advising their customers of the type of part they are actually purchasing.

For the GTX restoration I called a major interior supplier and ordered lower door and rear interior panels.  I also ordered a set of bucket seat backs.  All of these panels are molded hard plastic parts with a coachman type grain finish.   

Once they arrived I was not impressed with the quality of these parts.  The grain is completely off and not consistent.  The driver side door panel had light sanding scratches directly above the inside side door handle.  The molded channels and valleys were bigger than and not as defined as the originals.  The color was also off on the seat backs being glossier than the originals.

However, there is an alternative option to purchasing substandard reproduction interior parts.  Just Dashes ( in Van Nuys California offers a re-skinning service for original interior pieces.  They have the ability to re-skin original interior panels with a thin vinyl that resembles the factory grain.

I have always had great results using Just Dashes services.  They were a huge help in restoring the 66 Hemi Charger interior which was featured in the last issue of Chrysler Power.  They re-skinned every interior panel and dyed it to the factory correct color.  As of this writing they are in the process of restoring the bucket seat backs, lower door panels and rear interior panels for the GTX.

Next issue we will be discussing body and paint work.  As always questions and comments are welcomed at