The Breeze 1969 convertible project - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 14, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Duke
 
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The Breeze 1969 convertible project

Hello All,

I like the idea of the "build project" threads, so here goes...

"The Breeze" rolled off the Norwood line in June of 1969, as a Rally Sport V-8 (c.i.d. unknown), manual floor shift car (trans unkown) in LeMans blue, with a standard black interior and a white power top.

The next 11 years of its life were pretty tough, judging from the shape I found it in in the summer of 1980.

A quick look revealed that it had done combat with solid objects from almost every direction, and rust had taken its toll on any piece that was still straight. It was not running, and there was standing water in the trunk, complete with mosquito larvae (this did not upset me for two reasons- 1, it meant the trunk floor was solid, and 2, I'm an entomologist).

I bought it from a student at Michigan State University for $1,000. The car was immediately named "The Breeze" based on the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic "They Call Me the Breeze".
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post #2 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

After a few weeks of forensic studies the following was determined:

The 350 and M-20 in the car were not the originals.

The bends in the front cross-piece of the subframe and left inner fender suggested a fair hit on the left front. The right fender may have been original, but the left fender, header and valence must have been replaced after the hit that deformed the subframe and inner fender. The 1968 style nose stripe was very professionally done, including the paint wrapping down into the mating surfaces of the fenders and header. The front vibration dampeners were both missing.

The tail panel was quite irregular and roughly matched up to the quarters with blobs of bondo. The rear vibration dampeners were present.

The biggest impact crater was square on the end of the left door/front of the left quarter. The whole thing had been "reformed" without trying to bend or pull it out - bondo was used to create new lines. The side was pushed in a good inch or more at the top of the door-quarter.

Hardly a part had been spared some sort of injustice. The both side rails of the convertible top over the quarter windows had a bend in them suggesting that the top had been lowered under speed - with the wind blowing the whole top backwards. The back window had cracked and fallen apart long ago. I patched the top by sewing on pieces of white vinyl with 20 pound monofilament fishing line. It looked like Frankenstein's monster, but it was driveable.... sort of. More on that soon.
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post #3 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

Yes, it did run. It could be heard from around the block, and seen even farther away.

There was a leak in a power steering hose that gushed onto the hot exhaust manifold, creating a white smoke cloud that enveloped entire parking lots. That was fairly easy to fix.

The throw-out bearing squealed or shrieked on every shift, extremely loudly. As soon as I could afford it (weeks, unfortunately) I had a shop check out the clutch. It's almost unbelievable, but the throw-up bearing was essentially vaporized - the fork was riding on the disc of the clutch.

The drum brakes were pretty poor, so it was good that the public had both a visual and audible warning that the car was nearby.

Thew tires were a fine ancient set of Firestone bias ply wide ovals, complete with thin white stripes.

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post #4 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

Within months I located a very crisp '69 SS coupe in a salvage yard near Kalamazoo Michigan - the front had been removed rather suddenly by a large truck, but the beast still had the complete deluxe black interior in fair shape, a tilt steering wheel, and the full guage package. I managed to get the entire interior of that car for only $200!

I had everything transplanted in my convertible by the end of the summer. I stored the car at my parent's home for the fall and winter of 1980-1981.
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post #5 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

1981, year 2-

A busy but low income year, with very little work on the car. I rattle-can painted the driver's door and used white vinyl dye to make the top look sharp. Just for jollies a car fanatic friend of mine buffed it out and re-pinstriped the panels where they were missing. With the proper lighting and careful camera angle selection, the car actually looked fairly sharp, considering its starting condition.
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post #6 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

1982, year 3

I moved to Pennsylvania to attend graduate school at Penn State, and the car went with me. I was renting a room from a person with a dilapidated garage (which I was told was actually built around and over the pile of crud that it contained) that I could use for working on the car.

I replaced the subframe bushings, converted to front wheel disc brakes (from a Nova) and got the rear brakes in shape too. Some brake lines were replaced. New rear springs were installed and I cut one full turn off of the front coils. I also found the correct exhaust manifolds and much better quadrajet than the Olds model came with.

I installed aftermarket sway bars front and rear- I can't even remember the manufacturer right now, but it was one featured in the trade magazines in the early 80's, based on somebody's racing modifications.

By fall it was really a blast to drive! It was such a blast to pass modern (1980's) pseudo-muscle cars on the hills in the Appalachains.
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post #7 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

1983, year 4

No work at all on the Camaro, as it was time for some work on another project car and my daily beater needed some work too.

Other project: 1968 Firebird coupe, bought new by my brother in late 1967, owned by my father until he gave it to me in late 1979. Eventually sold in 1986, one of the biggest mistakes of my automotive life.

Beater: 1974 Plymouth Duster, purchased new by another brother and sold to me in 1979. I rolled it in 1980, but we both survived and it was a very faithful ride until well over 250 K miles.
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post #8 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

1984, year 5

Ouch, another derelict Camaro in need of my care was found in mid-Michigan while I was home visiting friends. A 1969 SS-RS coupe, highly optioned and very rusted, was added to the fleet for $3,000.

Not the original 350, but a healthy one, TH350, 12 bolt posi, AC, Frost green, dark green vinyl top, deluxe medium green interior, tilt column, full guages, rear-window defroster, remote side view mirror, visor vanity mirror, under-hood and trunk lights, tinted glass, really quite amazing. Remarkably, everything worked except for the headlight doors.

This car had also led a tough life before I found it. There were dents and scrapes on the driveshaft tunnel from where the differential yoke had beaten against it- and a tire rub on the left frame rail- probably from a broken spring in the recent past. I had to shore up the floor of the trunk to help support the fuel tank.
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post #9 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

1985, year 6

My four-car fleet was quite a kick, but the cost of keeping them all on the road was too much. I only kept insurance on the beater Plymouth and any one of the others at a time. The Duster snuffed it in early winter, and I chose the SS coupe as my daily driver to replace it.

1986, year 7

I took a job in Washington state and moved out there in March, after storing the convertible at my parent's place in Michigan and selling the Firebird. The drive across the Great Plains and over the Rockies in the SS was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.

While in Washington I spent may days charging up the Cascades with the SS - again, showing a lot of more modern cars how to do it with power and style.
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post #10 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

1987, year 8

A job change sent me and my Camaros to New Jersey. I was now making decent money so I intended to start restoring one. After a decent daily driver Blazer was found, I parked both Camaros at a friends house where there was plenty of room to work.

At this time I finally started making estimates of the potential costs, and it became very apparent that I was really kidding myself to believe I could do both cars. At that time quite a few needed internal body parts were not yet available as reproductions, so the incredible rust of the SS coupe was going to be a huge issue. The Breeze was chosen as the prime goal, and tough decision was made to part out the coupe for the good of the cause.
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post #11 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

1988, year 9

A significant distraction and her three children started to draw my attention away from the convertible project. Luckily, I had given them all a ride in the Breeze before I started working on it, and they all loved the car, so I was encouraged to keep at it.
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post #12 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 8th, 14, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

1989, year 10

The SS coupe was stripped of all its valuable parts and the shell was sold off. The person that bought it worked at a body shop, and I have always hoped that the car made it back to the street someday.

1990, year 11

Another job changed took me, my new family and the old convertible to Traverse City, Michigan.

Thus ends part 1.
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post #13 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 10th, 14, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

Part 2 - Back to Michigan

My new job and new family put the Breeze at a very low priority level for a number of years. I considered selling it many times, but my wife convinced me to keep it with the argument that "if you sell it, you'll never be able to justify buying another one in the future."

1990-1, year 11-12 - high quality indoor storage!
1992, year 13 - fun shot of the family in the hulk.
1993, year 14 - forced to store outside under a tarp.
1994, year 15 - a new house and garage storage again - note Briggs & Stratton mill in the engine bay.
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post #14 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 10th, 14, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Talking Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

1995-1996, years 16-17

After five years of tripping over the wreck in the garage and no restoration funding option in sight, the "fun" of the project was wearing a bit thin on my wife.

I celebrated my 40th birthday in October of 1996, and we threw a huge party. The convertible was put on display in the driveway in in desperate fund-raising attempt.
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post #15 of 78 (permalink) Old Feb 10th, 14, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Breeze 1969 convertible project

1999, year 20

At last, after only two decades of waiting, the mighty Breeze was taken to a body shop in Traverse City. The two most needed parts, left and right reproduction quarter panels, were ordered from Classic Industries. This was just as full repro convertible quarter were becoming available.

The quarters were immediately put on back-order, and the waiting period began...
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