Our Restoration Process
There are many opinions regarding how to restore a classic car and an equal number of interpretations of what is the right way or wrong and what is correct or not. Rather than fret about what is identical to how the car was originally made with nearly 50 year old technology, we restore our cars to be better than they ever were from the factory and do our best not to repeat some of the truly dumb things automotive manufacturers did in order to save a few $$$ on each car. We are less concerned about whether or not what we do differs from what AMC did because we create extraordinary looking, running and driving cars that will always look great and be problem free when we finish the restoration.
In that we have many works in progress or cars still awaiting their turn for restoration, we have more cars than I will ever be able to drive in order to truly enjoy each car so almost all of our cars are available if someone is interested in owning a great and beautiful example of a very rare muscle car from AMC. At any given time, one or more of the cars will be under a restoration contract specific to the future owners preferences and the rest of the cars will be restored and enhanced just the way we like restored muscle cars to be.
The following details how we restore out cars:
- Only remove factory rust proofing if requested because no matter how hard you try it cannot be duplicated. 40 year old undercoating looks very tired so and preserve and renew it rather than take it off. If we buy a car where it has already been removed we will do our best to recreate the original look but will usually leave it on any car we restore unless it is damage and chipping. It is our belief that undercoating looks much more original the way it was done at the factory but if someone wants it done differently they are free to make an offer on any of the cars and if we agree upon final price it will be done however they want it to be done
- We post pictures of all restorations for everyone to see and welcome constructive input and suggestions from the car’s future owners however we always reserve the right to advise the buyer about our experiences on the best way to restore these cars. Hopefully others learn from both what has been done to factory specs but also learn a different perspective on why they may want to do things differently from how it was done at the factory
- We dislike factory rubber bushings and will only use them if a car we buy already has new factory style bushing installed or if a buyer prefers them. We feel that urethane bushings when installed correctly in conjunction with radial tires are far superior to the factory rubber bushings. A lot of people drive my cars and are always very pleased with the way the cars ride and some true blue AMC people are very, very surprised when we tell them we have urethane vs rubber because the cars ride like a brand new car. What we like most about urethane bushings is the tightness in the suspension that is impossible to get with the stocker style rubber parts. We do not however recommend urethane for daily drivers in northern climates where road salt and sand is used
- We remove all brake and fuel lines when redoing the underside of the cars and replace them with new lines from Inline Tube, Fine Lines or Right Stuff. We also try to preserve the original line hangers whenever possible but if they are just too far gone to preserve we use the closest repopped parts possible
- We ALWAYS strip the car’s body and inteior to bare metal by hand and replace any areas even suspected of rust then rust proof, prime/seal and repaint
- We prefer single stage over base clear for solid colors on these older AMCs even though it is harder to get a great looking paint job with single stage. Metallic paints get base clear due to modern metallic paint forumulas clustering the metallic particles when wet sanding, cutting and buffing.
- When stripping, will not remove things that are hard to replace particularly if they are prone to damage when removing. Also, we do not like to fully remove the main wiring harness from its bracket due to not wanting to destroy the factory firewall rubber grommets if they are not reppoped. We do pull the wiring harness inside the car and wrap harneses and place it out of the way when painting the engine bay. Likewise,we try to leave any parts that were originally already installed when the car was first painted at the factory such as black out pieces that were just sprayed over after installed. All wires and wiring harnesses are cleaned with lacquer thinner and then with acetone to make them look new. Wrapped harnesses are retaped
- Always use new straps, hangers and bolt dress up kits on every engine bay and almost always retape the wiring harness unless the original is miraculously preserved and in good shape
- ALWAYS spend the money on the things that count the most on every car such as Legendary http://www.legendaryautointeriors.com/page/70/SeatUpholstery.aspx seat covers, foam and door panels and rear kick panels on AMXs (we have a dealer account with them and get great prices) or SMS (they do not do dealer accounts but we do a ton of business with them) seat materials done by a local interior craftsmen, high quality carpet kit and spend a lot of time to carefully install it correctly, any Amark interior parts available such as any and all lenses, correct decals and emblems, all new pedal rubber and seals and anything else that is highly visible
- ALWAYS spend the big bucks for such a small item on what we feel is the best steering wheel restoration in the business from RimBlow Buddies www.therimblowbuddy.com/. They are now friends due to doing so many wheels together and we will be sharing website links and cross selling parts from each other’s sites. They feautre a lot of my wheels on their web page
- All engines are rebuilt and fully balanced with new pistons (excpet on a low mileage engine that have like new pistons), rings, bearings, seals, and freeze plugs, new multi angle valve job, new guides and valve springs if needed, new locks and retainers, machine for positive valve seals, new performance upgraded cam and matching lifters with hardened pushrods, new roller timing kit, block and heads surfaces resurfaced, flywheel resurfaced, new oil pump kit, crank ground or polished and new rod bolts and resized rods if the engine was previously rebuilt or stock rod bolts if the engine was virgin. We build our engines the way we think they should be if we were the car’s owner or have them rebuilt to a buyer’s specific requests such as one 401 engine where the buyer requested significant performance upgrade parts from www.alfanoperformance.com/. That specific engine is built with full floating Bulltear www.bulltear.com custom made forged pistons on K1 rods with ARP bolts, mains journals line bored, a deep pan with swivel pickup, new nickel plated Bulltear front cover and matchign pump gear set, and the block bored .030 with a torque plate which is how we build all purpose built performance engines rather than a warmed over stock rebuild
- Autonmatic trannies are always rebuilt unless they were previously rebuilt before we bought the car. Manual trannies are redone if they make any kind of noise but at the very least always get new seals
- We replace any windshield that has fogging in it, get all new window, windshield, door, hood and trunk seals
- Always get either new or rebuilt brake calipers, power boosters, master and wheel cylinders and replace rotors if needed and available for whatever car is being restored. If rotors are bad and no longer available then upgrade to the more modern front disk system that still has parts available
- All front suspension is removed, media blasted and either powder coated or rust treated and painted but either way in satin/semi gloss. Install new bushing before reassembly
- Rear end is removed, powerwashed and wire brushed and/or media blasted where required and then painted in POR chassis black or other similar epoxy based paint. Rear end bearings are replaced where required or just repacked and rear seals are usually replaced
- Rear springs are removed, disassembled, recurved with an extra inch of lift (to allow for settling to correct ride height), painted and put back together with new inserts and leaf spring straps/clips. The alignement center stud is replaced if worn. If there is any pitting on rear leafs, new rear springs are custom made.
- The drive shaft is cleaned and repainted in chassis black as is the entire center of the bottom of the car between the frame rails from front to back. New universal joints are always installed
- Radiators are always boiled and rodded out or get new cores and a bottom tank if cracked. W use Hays Raditor Service in Phoenix or Dana’s Radiator in Mesa, AZ to do the work. We try to preserve or find another date correct top tank whenever possible if the top tank it bad
- Factory valve covers, chrome mirrors, bumpers and any interior chromed plastic parts are rechromed with show chrome process or matt chrome by Metro Plating in Mesa. Their chrome work is far better than anythiung the factory ever did
- All brightwork trim is hand polished. We prefer to not remove the stainless drip rail due to the high potential for damaging them when removing. On custom paint jobs like the Breedlove Tribute we purposely left the drip rail trim off after the car’s beautiful paint job was finished
- Gas tanks are always boiled out unless the car is a running car with a clean tank when we bought it
- Use name band parts like Cardone, Autolite, Goodyear belts and hoses, etc as well as use AMC vendors for AM specific parts or parts that are not available elsewhere
- Convert newer style large throat air cleaner tubs from the oval snorkel by cutting it off and adapting the older rectangle snorkel for new larger throat carbs
- Always install a rebuilt alternator from a part store or from Billd over on www.theamcforum.com
- Rarely use an original carb unless on a later larger CFM carbed engine like on the 70 and above AMX. We do not reuse any carb after 1972 as they were heavily designed for smog motors. Any used carb is fully rebuilt. For new mildly upgraded engines we prefer the 650 CFM Thunder Series Eddelbroack AVS carb. For higher performance engines we prefer one of the Holley carbs with power valve anti backfire protection
- Always use either a new Mallory Unilite distributor or add the Pertronix III insert with rev limiter on high performance engines. For very high performance engines we use an MSD setup
- Will only use Bulltear’s www.bulltear.com front cover if a new one is needed – Only use custom forged pistons from Bulltear, Wiseco www.wiseco.com, Alfano or Diamond and NEVER use shorter cast replacement pistons that contribute to worse pinging than stock pistons. Only use KB hypers on stock rebuilds in cars that will not be driven hard
- Use new Vintique chrome magnums or American Torq Thrust D polished rims but in 14X7 or 15X7 where appropriate. These are by far our favorite wheels and we are not into modern blingy wheels and rubber band tires. If someone asks us to do that to an old muscle car we will do our best to talk them out of it. The only stock wheels we will use are Machine wheels. They are on the previously sold bule with white stripe 70 AMX and look fabulous!
- Always use radial redlines or white letter tires unless requested otherwise by a buyer. Use repop redline bias plys or white letter tire only if the buyer insists that they are used as they are too harsh with urethane bushings. We love the ride and handling of urethane bushings with radial tires and hate the wandering tendencies from stock bushings with bias ply tires that all cars had back in the 60s. If bias ply tires were better they would still be used. They are not and nearly all cars used radial tires by the mid 70s because they were so much better than bias ply tires.
- Always swap out anything that a buyer requests as was the case on putting crossrams on two SC/Ramblers after the engines were already completed and will even do a different engine entirely than what was intended for the car if requested by the buyer.
We have enough projects underway at any point in time so we can repurpose any engine that is displaced in another project. There are so many, many other little things that are not covered in the above such as resurfacing a defective dash, new interior or exterior hardware/parts that are worn out and so on. All of our restorations are done to either our personal preferences and beliefs on what looks, rides and works best or to a buyer’s or owner’s preferences albeit with advice and suggestions on what we think works best. There are too many modern innovations that are far superior to what was available in the 60s and 70s and we try to use the best of both the old and the new.