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I installed all last years model of Pioneer Premiere products from Sonic for $650, 1 DIN CD head unit, 5.25 Coaxials in the kick panels rather than anticipate door slamming and moisture from the doors, 6 x 9's in the rear deck from the bottom with a mesh cover shelf so as not to see the ugly speaker covers 2 10" subs in a speaker box on the back shelf in the trunk along with 2200 watts from 3 amps. Ran off the regular battery with 110 amp alternator. Hired a stereo guy to hook it all up for $50. Sounds great and don't need it past half volume. Turned out so I have done 3 more for cust.
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1968 Coupe; SS396; Muncie M20; Detroit TruTrac Diff/3.42R&P; Full Restoration nearly complete
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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
I installed all last years model of Pioneer Premiere products from Sonic for $650, 1 DIN CD head unit, 5.25 Coaxials in the kick panels rather than anticipate door slamming and moisture from the doors, 6 x 9's in the rear deck
Wow, a CD/radio, 4 speakers and 3 power amps for $650.00? Holy moly! Good show! My main power amp alone was $1350.00. They must have seen me coming…

Latest update: getting close!!! A couple status-shots as of today:

Automotive parking light Car Land vehicle Vehicle Tire


Car Tire Wheel Land vehicle Vehicle


In this restoration, if it emits light, it's an LED, with one exception: Lights in the Sailboards. Couldn't be done...

All body panels are finalized, gaps correct. Bumpers on, all lights check out, as you can see. Front grill in, hood complete, including hood locks. Happy, happy, happy!
I’ve gone through my task list and we’re down to minor items before sending out to subs. These include things like glove box & door, ash tray, speakers, radio antenna, chrome trim and badging, and wheel restoration/new rubber. I’ve decided to go with the same size tires as before, in BF Goodrich Radial TA: P215/70R14 on front, P245/60R15 on rear. I’ve also decided to put the white side in, as I like the all-black look against the Maroon paint.

Once all these minor items are complete, Ricky will be driven to exhaust shop for 3” tubes, X or H interconnect, and Magnaflow “Straight-through” mufflers, exit out the rear.
Then front-end alignment, and finally, the upholstery/interior sub.

Once these sub-contractors have finished their magic, a Quality Audit will be performed and deficiencies corrected, and break-in cruise of around 100 miles will be performed by the owners. During that run, odometer/speedometer will be calibrated as close as possible. The final task will be to finalize the welds joining the frame connectors to the front sub-frame, followed by repairs to the bed-liner undercoat at that location.

Hood Automotive tire Trunk Motor vehicle Automotive exterior


Jerry, the body-shop master explained to me that the break-in run of 100 miles will result in the car "relaxing" into a marriage of parts, and only then will he be in position to truly lock the frame together.

Then, Ricky comes home!!! After I put 500-1000 miles or so on him, I will return to B&R Auto for a post-op check-up. This will consist of re-torquing bolts "everywhere", and changing out all fluids. Then I can go home and begin my audio adventure in the trunk and at the audio store. And a good time will be had by all.
 

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Pays to shop around and ask for discounts. I would reconsider 3" exhaust, in many cases it can reduce HP and increase sound. Your car is coming along and looks good. Finished mine in 2 years under budget of $25k with 500HP BB, 4 SPD, all mechanics new and OEM suspension, interior, tires and wheels, Vintage AC, 4 WDB, all done by myself except the machine work on the engine. Start my next one for a client, paint, interior, trunk and engine painted and detailed for $16k, 69 Firebird.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Pays to shop around and ask for discounts. I would reconsider 3" exhaust, in many cases it can reduce HP and increase sound.
I appreciate your advice re exhaust tubing diameter, but do not accept your theory that increasing to 3” tubing can reduce HP output. So no, I’m not going to reconsider 3” tubing, barring the Muffler Shop saying it will not fit. I do not expect the Muffler Shop to say it will not fit. My “Super Competition” upgrade over standard Hooker Headers theoretically takes care of maximizing extraction of exhaust between pistons in their 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2 four-stroke dance with the Stage 4 cam, so the exhaust tubing downstream of the collector ideally exists to minimize impedance of exhausting gases. Hopefully, the muffler will try to provide minimal impedance as well, while providing a desired attenuation of sound.


The studies I enjoyed as an engineering student tend to make me doubt that more restriction provides increases in horsepower, given that an internal combustion machine is just an air pump. More air pumped, more HP. More restriction, less air pumped. I suspect that the most HP from a tuned exhaust system comes with open collectors.

Given that I did not have Britco create 500 or 600 HP output from my 396, out of deference to my age and level of driving ability, any discussion of RPM’s vs Horsepower and Torque is probably moot, in any event. I will be pleased as punch with 425 HP, and a similar amount of torque. You can only go so fast driving through Doug Fir forests on twisty mountain roads on the wet side of the Cascade Mountains, while driving a rude crude machine that is still pretty much box stock 1968 Camaro. I know this for a fact, as many of the years I drove him were on such roads, while maybe 40 to 45 years younger than I am now. I’m happy to say I never became acquainted with side ditches or guard rails or other cars in those five or six years, mostly through good luck rather than any particular driving skill.

Regarding shopping around for bargains, I get that and say ‘Go, man, go!” The result of purchasing a sound system really comes down to what makes you happy. For me, I’m sorry to say, (but also happy to say) it takes more like $4500.00. The problem with seeking discounts in high-end electronics is that profit margins there are very thin, and discounts most likely come out of the back of a hijacked semi. In my early 20’s, I sold high-end stereo for three years, and I get how that all works. I would have made a lot more money selling “less expensive” stereos at a discount shop or box store. I just loved selling a stereo that made a recording of an acoustic guitar sound like an acoustic guitar was in the room.

Different strokes for different folks, truly, and nobody’s right and nobody’s wrong. You’re happy with your install, and I will be happy with mine.
 

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Just giving some examples on your journey that I have been on for almost 60 years and done dozens of restorations on these cars in my resto shop that my son runs before retiring and moving on to developing another business. My stereo set up is above average and was from Sonic Electronics at a great price as it was last years model. I could give you other real life suggestions on your restoration and you are right as far as different strokes, been there done that, have a great day

Bruce
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Just giving some examples on your journey that I have been on for almost 60 years and done dozens of restorations on these cars in my resto shop that my son runs before retiring and moving on to developing another business. My stereo set up is above average and was from Sonic Electronics at a great price as it was last years model. I could give you other real life suggestions on your restoration and you are right as far as different strokes, been there done that, have a great day

Bruce
Bruce,
If you’ve been working on vehicles professionally for almost 60 years, you must be a bit older than me. I would have had to start at 13 to be able to say that. Please forgive me if I sounded somewhat negative. I am truly sorry, and meant no offense. I understand that you were trying to provide some guidance based on ‘years of practice’ and I do appreciate that. Regarding the stereo, my years of selling “audiophile-grade” stereos in my early 20’s have left me with that “first class is the only way to fly” attitude of audio snobbishness, and I suspect your stereo is above average, but also note that there are degrees of excellence once you enter the world of “above average”.

When I was trying to decide whether to even put a stereo into this noise-maker, I was torn between choosing an audiophile-grade stereo or Recaro seats. Since I am retired and on a fixed budget, this restoration has required liquidation of some fraction of our lifetime savings, and I just couldn’t justify them both. Recaro seats lost, for now. Still, what I am saying about high-end stereo is correct. When a JL Audio VX600/6i 6-channel amp with tunable cross-over and full-scale equalizers on each channel sells for $1400.00 or so, there are no deals of, say, $200.00 floating around unless the package is VERY warm. I don’t do VERY warm; I just pay the money and love the incredible sound quality of this system. I don’t do it to impress anyone else, I just do it for my wife and me.

I do realize that in the second sentence of this thread, I said I would welcome suggestions. However, I also reserve the right to not agree in every instance, and that is what I was doing here. I tried to explain why. It’s true I haven’t been restoring classic cars for 60 years, and I guarantee that I could in fact benefit from suggestions that do make sense to me! Please don’t hesitate to comment where you will, both to me and to the many others who benefit from your years of experience. Just realize that I’m not unskilled when it comes to mechanical things. I have a wonderful set of tools that I too have been using for many decades, and while my actual expertise is in the esoteric world of ‘logic and switching circuits’ under the umbrella of Electronic Engineering, I also own a Millermatic 200, a set of Victor Journeyman torches, planers, metal bandsaw, wood-cutting bandsaw, drill press, etc., hand tools beyond count, all of which I love to use.

This restoration has been under way for 2 years, is very well thought out, is almost done, and unlikely to change course to any great degree. If you have read this thread in its entirety, taking your time, this should be clear. This car is being restored by a crew who bring your type of skill set to the job. That’s why I’m not doing the work myself. As Clint said, “a man’s gotta know his limitations.” I’m not having them rebuild this car to win awards at shows. I am very fortunate to live in an area that is ideal for back-road cruising! While my home is at 53 ft of elevation, and two miles from the Puget Sound, drive 30 miles east and you will find yourself at 14,000 feet, if the road went to the top. And so, the money I spend on this endeavor is for the thrill of driving this beast, not worshiping it. I purposely chose not to modernize the drive train but rather to leave it “rude and crude”. There is a near-infinite number of ways to restore such an automobile, and I believe there is no right or wrong way so long as the end result is safe for passengers and the public, and pleases the owner. Ricky Camaro is a really great toy! He pleased me and my wolf-dog for 6 years of driving, and while Targus the Wonder Dog is no longer here to sit on the passenger seat, Ricky is coming to life to please me again. Targus just gets to live as my Avatar. Last September, I stopped by B&R Auto, sat in the driver’s seat and started the engine (with only Headers), and there is no substitute for the way that made me feel!!!
 

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Nicely said and I agree with a lot of what your mission is. Built my first car, a 37 Ford when I was 14. I still have my first of 37 F Bodies, a 69 RSSS Vert with AC, tilt, delux interior and a few other options, bought from the original girl here in NC. in 1977. Thats when the disease of Camaros began. I was buying them for less than a grand, "restoring" them, selling and get another one. I was handy as you are with tools as I worked with my Dad builing houses as a teen. Here in Charlotte we are 2 hours to the Smoky mountains or 2 hours east to the Ocean and a lot fun driving one of my current fleet of 8. . . . . .8 is enough. I am starting a 69 Firebird for a customer in a coupla weeks. Have a great day.

Bruce
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
Restoring my 1968 Camaro required a certain number of decisions up-front, concerning the intended configuration. Issues such as “authentic suspension, original design” vs “modern suspension, classic skin”, for instance. Or perhaps, “original design but different components/options than my actual car came with”. And if so, which ones? These are issues we all deal with when we own a classic Camaro and elect to perform work that we feel will improve its condition.

Answers for me didn’t always come automatically, but sometimes needed research and thought to decide on my intended use. First and foremost, I needed to decide on a philosophy of intention. Second, I needed to determine what was practical to implement, both in terms of Ricky’s physical reality, and my financial health.

Philosophy of intention was easy. I wanted a 1st Generation Camaro that was a 1st Generation Camaro. I have no desire to have a modern car disguised as a 1968 Camaro. I don’t have a problem with those who do. I just don’t want that for me. I drove this car for around 6 years as my daily driver, back in the early 80's, and I really truly love how crude but powerful it is. I am willing to allow a few improvements, such as the Eaton Detroit Truetrac differential, but in the main, this could have come off the dealer’s floor, been driven to a wheel shop and been equipped with Centerline Mags that same day.

Once I knew what could be done and what I could afford, I had to decide levels of importance assigned to various issues needing resolution. Let’s pick an example to illustrate how decisions were reached, by examining a ‘for instance’ area: NOISE. I decided that the audio nature of this beast needed to favor a free-breathing engine, balanced against not getting shot by my neighbors. Factors included the nature of the exhaust system chosen, the degree of sound-proofing of the cabin, the quality of the sound system playing the music I happen to love, and the most likely use-case for driving. By use case, I mean: twisty country roads, in-city drives, freeway travel, etc.

Exhaust system decisions for the 396 were fairly easy to make, given my requirement to minimize restriction of exhaust while creating a somewhat harmonious sound. There, I chose high-quality steel-tube tuned headers, 3” tubing, interconnection to minimize bass throb, and Magnaflow “Straight-thru Performance” mufflers.

Sound-proofing the cabin really came down to Lizard Skin versus Dynamat. Lizard Skin is expensive to buy, but inexpensive to apply. Dynamat is pretty much the opposite. I think (without any proof) that they are fairly equivalent in total cost. Just boils down to “different strokes for different folks”, I guess. In any event, I went with Lizard Skin.

Sound system issues were easy for me, due to my personal history with high-end audio sales and use. One item concerning audio that needed some thought concerned sub-woofer bass: speaker location and quantity. The cabin of a 1st gen Camaro is really not very big, and sub-woofers are, especially in a cabinet. So, where to put it (or them)? Another issue to deal with concerned sound-proofing the trunk from the cabin, as a large fraction of road noise comes in through that area. A few entries ago, I made clear how I was solving both of those issues with a common solution.

So, finally we come to the various use-cases for driving. The reason for that issue being relevant concerns engine RPM at various speeds, and its noise. Freeway driving means relatively constant RPM, while City driving is mostly mellow acceleration between stop lights, or a lot of idling. Back road driving is adrenaline-based at times, where RPM changes are power-induced or dependent on down-shifting into corners. I decided that back road driving times were less relevant to noise, city driving as well, but freeway driving could be “interruptive” regarding the drone of constant RPM, especially if it was relatively high RPM; say in the mid to high 3000’s. In that scenario, hopefully the degree of soundproofing and quality and intensity of audio sound system might enter in, but the other factor I could control would be rear-end gear ratio. One of my givens is the gear ratio of a stock Muncie M20 (i.e. no Gear Vendor overdrive), which at best is 1 to 1 on the freeway. Changing the rear end gear ratio dictated what the engine RPM would be at a sustained speed. However, rear gears also impact the level of performance under acceleration from start to final speed, or varying performance through the gears on back roads. I sought to find a happy medium, then. So, how could I see where shift points occurred with this transmission, while deciding what rear gear ratio to use.

Back when I was a ‘working class hero’, actually doing work that made money for my employer and income for us, I spent some amount of time in Microsoft Excel; the land of spreadsheets. I was aware that there are websites where you can enter your transmission gear ratio, your differential gear ratio, and the diameter of your tires, and be provided an engine RPM. The problem was that I couldn’t see the “big picture” of RPM over a range of speeds, all in one place at one time. My initial solution was to create a very simple spreadsheet that really was just meant to provide that picture, a demonstration of shift points, useful when you knew the torque and horsepower statistics of your engine. I then filled in each cell by shuttling back and forth to the website I chose to use to determine RPM’s. This was a good solution, but very cumbersome if I wanted to see what would happen to RPMs if I changed, say, tire diameter, or rear-end gear, or went with a different tranny, especially if that tranny had a 5th gear overdrive. So, I went researching what the math was that the websites were using to provide the “RPM” answer. And I found it. Once I knew how to compute RPM for a given speed, gear ratio, differential ratio, and tire diameter, I created a spreadsheet that allowed me to change any one of more of those variables and INSTANTLY see RPMs in 5 MPH increments for each gear of the transmission. I added a second worksheet for 5-speeds where the 5th gear was an overdrive (i.e. less than 1 to 1). The result was an area of each worksheet where computations happen, and a separate area of the worksheet that was a print area. In that print area, I left cells where you could specify each gear ratio for the transmission, the gear ratio of the differential, and the diameter of the rear tires. If the end user changes any of these values, you see the RPM’s change for each gear at each speed. Now I had a tool to decide what ring and pinion to use for Ricky Camaro. Since Ricky was going to spend a respectable fraction of his life on freeways, in order to drive to shows or to different back-road areas, and since I was not trying to build a race car, I ultimately went with a 3.42 ratio for the rear gear. Here is what my 4-speed worksheet produces. Note that I have bolded the RPMs in the area I am most likely to find myself, roughly between 2K and 5K RPM.

Font Material property Parallel Pattern Number



Note, the numbers in bold yellow can be changed, and you immediately see the change in RPM for each gear at each speed. The other worksheet populates the right hand column which in that sheet is labelled “5th Gear”. Ultimately, if freeway sound becomes too irritating, I will entertain the possibility of adding a Gear Vendor overdrive to the Muncie. If I do, the second worksheet looks like this:
Line Font Material property Parallel Number


So, this discussion illustrates what I meant about reaching decisions in order to provide direction to B&R Auto. Of course many other areas were more consultative as they were in a good position to tell me what my choices were, both financially and realistically.

And a good time was had by all.
 
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