October 31, 2005

Assembly
It's a big day when the paint job is finally finished, and you can begin car building. The third step in our restomod recipe is general vehicle assembly. In this step, glass is installed, electrical wiring goes in, mechanicals go on, trim gets snapped into place, and interior parts go in. At this juncture, work becomes exacting because it's so easy to scratch and nick a new paint job.

Some car builders think it is acceptable to nick and scratch paint during vehicle assembly. that's nonsense. Go to great pains to protect your paint. Cover vulnerable surfaces. Mask edges with blue masking tape (for easy removal) to protect them from nicks and chips. Bury the body in blankets if you have to. If you store your car outside under a car cover, remember that car covers will chaff the paint in the wind. Cover the body with blankets and soft terrycloth towels, especially at the edges, to protect the paint.

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Engine and Driveline
The fourth step is where powertrain building and installation occurs. This includes the engine, transmission, and rear axle. You may return all components to stock condition or install enhancements as interest and money allow. Scour the swap meets and car shows for bargains. Used high-performance parts are a good alternative to new in-the-box hardware. watch out for overpriced used parts that aren't any cheaper than new.

When you are planning and building the engine, build for reality. Build your engine for planned driving conditions. If you're going to drive it daily, go easy on the valvetrain. Don't opt for a radical camshaft that will beat the daylights out of your valvesprings, guides, and valves. A lumpy idle is cool for a cruise night or at the racetrack. however, you will hate it during the morning commute. By the same token, carb for planned driving conditions. You don't need an 850-cfm Holley double-pumper for a mild-mannered 302. Build for reliable transportation in your daily driver. Install an electronic ignition. Think about a mild hydraulic roller camshaft. Install a dual-plane intake manifold for good low-end torque. Spend the extra money for ceramic-coated headers for a cooler, corrosion-resistant operation. Go with the best gaskets and seals money can buy. Tune not only for performance, but also for cleaner emissions and fuel efficiency. If you can install electronic fuel-injection, do it.

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This is also an opportune time to consider transmission options. If your car is equipped with an older two- or three-speed automatic transmission, consider installing an automatic overdrive, which is a Ford four-speed automatic with overdrive, first introduced in 1980. Three- and four-speed manual transmissions are easily substituted with a Tremec T-5 five-speed gearbox for those of you who like to pound gears. The fifth-gear overdrive feature is nice to have because it reduces engine revs at freeway speeds, making it the best of all worlds. Six-speed transmissions sound exotic, but execution is simple: two overdrive ranges instead of one. The downside to a six-speed is the space they consume in the transmission tunnel. Sometimes, it can be a tight fit.

Step four also includes the rear axle, which is easy to overlook because it's just not as exciting as the rest of the car. If you've gone with a larger engine or a big power adder, that 8-inch peg-leg differential probably won't survive the additional power. If you're converting a six-cylinder Ford to V-8 status, the integral carrier rear axle designed for the six will never stand up to the torque of a V-8. At the very least, you will need the removable carrier

8-inch axle. Ideally, there will be budget for a 9-inch heavy-duty Ford axle. Sources range from a lucky salvage-yard find to a brand-new piece from Currie Enterprises.

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