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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all

I love all sorts of cars, but I have always had late models. I bought a Dodge Challenger in 2013 and turned into a show car. It did not start out that way, but I just kept doing things to it that eventually led to that. I made a lot of friends at these shows, and they all had early model classics of many different makes and years. They kept telling me that I needed to get myself a classic, so that is what I did.

I originally looked for a 67 because that is my birth year, but eventually landed on a 69. My plan all along was to get a turnkey solution that was not to over the top but may need some work. I bought the car in 2019 and pretty much decided as soon as I got it home that I wanted to do more with it then originally planned. So, I came up with a plan, and took to a local shop and he started to tear it down. After about a year, he had to close his shop due to him being unwell, so I brought it back home. I searched around for another builder, but everyone was 2+ years out to start, so I set off on my own to do pick up where he left off. As I got into the weeds of it, I realized right away that I was unhappy with the craftsmanship of what was done by both the previous owner and my builder. So, I started reversing some of what my builder did. I also decided since I was in the weeds with it, I might as well make it more than what it was.

I moved the challenger to the other side of the garage and put the Camaro on the lift and got to work. I will warn you now that I am as slow as molasses, partly because of time constraints, but mostly because I have an inbred sense of plan, research, plan some more, research, plan again, then execute. I will be the first to admit, as you will see, even with the planning I put into it, I changed my mind often for one reason or another, and I am sure I will continue to do so. I am also self-taught on a lot of the work that is needed by combing through forums, research, videos, friends, etc…

Here is what it looked like when I bought it…
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Here is what it looks like after competition (stay tuned!!!)

Table of Contents of Planned Work (more to follow)
Body and Exterior
Anvil carbon fiber hood (heat extractor): TBD​
Anvil carbon fiber inner fenders: TBD​
Anvil carbon fiber spoilers: TBD​
Anvil carbon fiber deck lid: TBD​
Anvil carbon fiber header: TBD​
Anvil fiberglass valance: TBD​
Anvil fiberglass cowl panel: TBD​
Anvil carbon fiber closeout panel: TBD​
Anvil fiberglass instrumentation cluster panel: TBD​
Ring Brothers hinges: TBD​
Custom built billet front grille: TBD​
Fessler glass: TBD​
Cowl area: TBD​
Floor pan area: TBD​
Trunk area: TBD​
DSE mini tubs: TBD​
Kindigit shaved door handles: TBD​
Misc: TBD​

Frame
DSE subframe connectors: TBD​
DSE Hydroformed front suspension: TBD​

Engine/Drivetrain
March serpentine system: TBD​
Holley Sniper EFI system: TBD​
454 BBC: TBD​
Lemon headers: TBD​
Tremec TKX: TBD​
Vintage Air: TBD​
Misc: TBD​

Electrical/Lights
Marquez taillight: TBD​
LED rear: TBD​
Anvil LED front: TBD​
Battery relocation: TBD​
Painless wire harness: TBD​
Keyless start: TBD​
Nu-relic power windows: TBD​
PCU: TBD​
Misc: TBD​

Interior
IDIDIT custom steering column: TBD​
LizardSkin ceramic heat barrier: TBD​
SDS sound control: TBD​
Upper dash: TBD​
Procar seats: TBD​
Classic instruments cluster gauges: TBD​
Misc.: TBD​

Suspension
DSE Quadra Link rear suspension: TBD​
Custom 12 bolt narrowed: TBD​

Fuel Tank
Ricks stainless steel tank: TBD​
Holohan pump access panel: TBD​

Brakes and Wheels/Tires
Wilwood brake system: TBD​
R888 tires: TBD​
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I knew going into it that the previous owner had saved me some time because he already had most of the external panels replaced, so I did not need to do that. However, some of the more labor-intensive items that should have been replaced were not. After stripping away the filler, fiberglass, and other coatings, I found several that had to go. So, I started with the cowl area…

Several cowl pieces had injuries to them in the usual places. I ended up replacing the upper, lower, and outer cowls. At this time, I was not planning on replacing the inner dash, so I bought an upper cowl with a speaker delete option. I later regretted that because I did end up replacing the dash and I could have saved myself a lot of time by just patching the upper cowl and deleting the speaker myself. More on that later…
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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
The next item up was the floor pan. At first, I thought I would patch a few places here and there, but the more I found they covered up, the more I worried about what I would not find, so I replaced the entire thing.
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All marked up and ready to cut
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Friend of mine had a plasma torch, which made easy work of it... mostly. Careful not to cut the frame rails...
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The frame rail pieces and the leftover floor edges from the plasma cutter needed to be removed the old fashioned way.
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Once the floor pan was cut out, I found I also needed to replace part of the toe board on both sides. For this I patched, as the rest looked good.
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I did go through and removed all of the old seam seal, cleaned up the edges and prepped the metal before I put the floor pan back in. I then reapplied seam seal everywhere...
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Welded the seat brackets back on...
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Once done, I sprayed LizardSkin Ceramic coating, which acts as a heat barrier. I would have liked to wait on applying the LizardSkin a bit longer, but I bought it while the previous builder had the car, as he was going to do it, but now it falls on me and these things have an expiration date…
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
As you may already know, the Camaro firewall looks like Swiss cheese. For the type of build I want this to be, it needs to be smooth. So, that was the next task on my list…

At first, I ordered a piece of sheet metal cut to go over and hide some of the holes in the firewall, but once I got it in and did a mockup, I did not like it all. Then I ordered an Anvil fiberglass firewall cover that is very nice, but again once I did a mockup, I decided to go another route because I wanted more. I finally landed on another piece of sheet metal cut to fit, but this one covered the entire firewall and not just some of it. It required some work to get it the way I wanted it, like cutting out some of the factory firewall sections, but that was fine.

From the beginning, my goal was to hide everything. For the firewall that meant nothing would be on it or coming through it except for the master cylinder(s) and the steering column. For this to work, I broke it down into three sections… one being the piece that spans most of the firewall, second being the piece that covers the master cylinder area, and third would be the piece that the steering column would come through. I got my inspiration from going through the pics over at The Roadster Shop. By far this section took me the longest to do. I think I spent around four months here alone. I just wanted it done right and I went very, very slow.

As I said above, there had to be some sections of the factory firewall that had to be removed so that a flat piece of metal can be attached to it. It was not too bad to figure this out, but I did go back to the pictures so many times to make sure I got it at least close. Also, since the piece of sheet metal came oversized on purpose, I needed to mock up some cutouts then transfer and cut. This would be the cutout for the first (main) piece...
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Once cutout, I started refining the shape.
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Then I started on getting the two smaller pieces sized up...
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For the steering column section, I took a piece of steel tubing and welding some bungs on it. This tube would be welded to the firewall and act as a tunnel for the column so that nothing would show on the outside except this tube. The bungs would be there to bolt to and hold the column in place inside. Before welding it in place, I mocked up the steering column to ensure the angle and length were correct.
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I also made it overlap the lower cowl so that I would have a smooth round edge across it. I ended up smoothing out that entire area as well.
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I think it turned out great.
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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
With the firewall done for now, I turned my attention to the rear of car, but first I decided to replace the dash. Remember when I said I wished I would have done it when I replaced the upper cowl? Well, a year later I did...

It was fairly straightforward, but because I already welded in the upper cowl, in no way was I going to take that out, so I traced and cut the upper cowl out of the new dash, and then cut out the old dash leaving the already welded in upper cowl.
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You can see here where I cut the dash away from the upper cowl.
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New dash installed. I am not sure if I want to leave the holes there for the handle and badge. I will more than likely come back at a later date and just weld those in to get a smoother look... TBD
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Here you can see the weld seam. The metal is very thin here and at least for me, it was hard to get it looking the way I wanted it. For the most part it is smooth and it will be covered by the dash pad, but I am not happy with the way it looks now and will probably fill it in with filler or Combo-fil before primer. I also still need to transfer over my VIN tag, but I will do that later.
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
The first thing I did when moving to the rear was the deck panel. Two sections, at the very least, needed to be patched in this area. That could have been done easily enough without replacing the panel, but this panel is known for rusting underneath. The seams between the quarter and the panel have been a sticky point for me for several months. If you cannot tell by now, I am driving towards that smooth look and although I always planned on deleting these seams, I debated heavily on how I was going to do that. When looking at this area on many resto's over the past year at my shows, many of them have hairline cracks there. This is a high stress area and when folks put seam sealer or filler in here, it will eventually crack, based on my research. The same research tells me that if you have the right suspension and reinforcement, welding the seams is just fine, so that is what I decided to do. That, coupled with fact that I wanted to ensure there is no rust under the panel, lead me to replacing the panel entirely.

Once I removed the seam seal leftover from the factory, the left side had a much larger gap than the right, so I was glad I decided to replace the entire panels.
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Removing the old panel was not that bad. Many spot welds at the top and bottom of the panel with some hidden ones in the bottom corners. You will need to get in the trunk to remove those as well. I had remove several brazing spots from the factory within the seams. As I thought, there was rust, but luckily it was just surface rust with no pits. You can also see here the patch that I was doing to the window seal.
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All cleaned up and ready for the new panel.
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I test fitted the panel with the deck lid in and out several times. I also took measurements before I removed the old one and set the new one to match. I also made sure the seams were gapped well for welding. Once I got everything where I wanted it, I welded the panel in.
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Patch is welded in and ready to go as well.
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Seams welded in.
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From the looks of it it seems the car had some issues but not seen when bought, like many. When did you start the resto and your plan is quiet extensive. I am curious what your budget is and timetable? The work you have done is great and will make for a solid car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
From the looks of it it seems the car had some issues but not seen when bought, like many. When did you start the resto and your plan is quiet extensive. I am curious what your budget is and timetable? The work you have done is great and will make for a solid car.
Unfortunately, there are certain area that one cannot gauge the integrity of the situation until it is torn down. Things are easy to hide with the products that are on the market today.

I hired a builder to start the work in Feb of 2019, but he did not get very far. He did tear the car down and stripped most of the product off of the body and added some back, but he had to quit about a year later. I picked up the car early summer in 2020 and started the work on my own around the end of the same summer.

I do not really have a budget per say. I have a vision and I never wanted cost to get in the way of that, to a point. That being said, we all have our limits. Realistically I am looking at probably two years out. I would like to unveil it at the beginning of show season 2024. There is an outside chance it could be ready by later summer next year, but I doubt it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So, moving from the deck panel to the trunk pan, I found that at a 10,000-foot level, it looked fine. However, when I stripped away some of the undercoating and the filler, yes I said filler, it needed to be replaced. They actually filled in the pitted areas with body filler and then applied coating on top of that. Luckily, the injuries are specific to just the inner pan, so I did not have to replace the entire trunk pan.
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While I was waiting for my pan to come in, I started messing around with something that I had been going back and forth on for quite a while. As I mentioned before, and I will probably mention several more times… LOL, I am wanting a smoothed/shaved look, which includes getting rid of several holes. My builder did delete the signal badges in the rear, but he did so by taking a piece of sheet metal and tack welding it from the inside, then filling in the outside gap with filler. I was not happy with that, so I removed it and butt welded in another piece.
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I am sure you are aware that the side marker lamps were government required from 68 on. Depending on your DMV where you are could be a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
It was about this time that I changed direction and decided to do more of a pro-touring type of build. With that came the decision to add wider tires, so mini-tubs were added to the list. This is also the time that I decided to swap out my current suspension with DSE.

Because of this change, I had to take a step back and reevaluate what I was doing in the trunk area and when I was going to do it.

I was already going to replace the inner trunk pan, so I figured cutting that out first would help with getting access to what needed to be done for the tubs, or at the very least let me stand up while doing some of it. :)
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I started on the drivers side and I read the DSE instructions several times and watched several videos over and over. I expected there would be some challenges to overcome. Of course, there were some hidden gems that has become par for the course. Luckily, in this case the injury was mostly on the inner wheel well, which will be replaced.
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So I measured multiple times and begin to cut. I got the wheel well out easily enough.
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I then started removing the rest of the floor pan and trunk pan. This was challenging because the cuts do not line up with the pics or video, at least not for me, but I did eventually get there.
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After getting those pieces out and getting the line right, I test fitted the tub a few times, made some adjustments, test fitted again, then started to work on the frame patches after I got it the way I wanted it
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Unfortunately, there are certain area that one cannot gauge the integrity of the situation until it is torn down. Things are easy to hide with the products that are on the market today.

I hired a builder to start the work in Feb of 2019, but he did not get very far. He did tear the car down and stripped most of the product off of the body and added some back, but he had to quit about a year later. I picked up the car early summer in 2020 and started the work on my own around the end of the same summer.

I do not really have a budget per say. I have a vision and I never wanted cost to get in the way of that, to a point. That being said, we all have our limits. Realistically I am looking at probably two years out. I would like to unveil it at the beginning of show season 2024. There is an outside chance it could be ready by later summer next year, but I doubt it.
I had the same situation several years ago. After re evaluating the car I bought that was finished, rather than start over, I sold it and made money and bought an original CA car that was as pristine as one gets to the point I wiped the undercarriage with a laquer rag and it was perfect. Set the budget at $40K and finished at $42 in 20 months, and been offered $100k, now I do everything in my shop and work very close to a budget with all 35 I have built. Good luck you have your hands full.
 

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The work your doing looks great! You probably don't want to hear this, at this stage I would definitely raise the tunnel another inch or so. This way you can put your TKX up higher and get better drive line angles, especially with a lowered stance.
 

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I thought TKX fits with no tunnel mods?
 
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