Thiis is Part 2 of Jim Mokwa’s owner restoration of a ’69 GTO convertible. Jim had wanted this car for years. By the time he was able to buy it, the car needed a complete restoration. He already had four stock GTOs, so Jim decided to do this one “Resto-Mod” style. Here, in his owns words, is the continuation of the blog that started yesterday about his project.
I got a radiator and interior and hooked up the power steering. I purchased a “generic” four-core aluminum radiator on eBay. It was set up for an automatic transmission so I ended up not using parts for the transmission cooler. I drilled and tapped the transmission mounting area and put in tubes for a transmission cooler
So, at this point I had the chassis pretty much done. The body shop was still doing its job, so I tackled the seats. Again I took pictures of things like the cardboard inserts; even pictures of the mouse nests! As I took them apart, the seats needed work. Performance Years and Legendary Interiors sell the GTO seats. I bought from Legendary and found them to be of real good quality.
I took the seats down and sandblasted them to clean them up before recovering them. I cleaned the seat frames and looked for broken seat springs. The average person can do seats, but they take a lot of time and patience. You need to take note of how the seat was assembled as you take it apart. Where were the hog rings? You see a lot of seats where the people didn’t put the hog rings in the correct position to draw the seat down on the seams to create a pillow effect. Detail is important. You have to do more than just cover a seat. You got to be careful with the hog rings and draw everything down inside. That’s the hard part, but it really pays off when you’re done.
Next, I went to the body shop and asked them, “Where are you?” What’s going on? I worked with the body man and we put the body on the frame. First we ended up trying to fit all the panels with the body on the cart, but I had another core support and he had bracing to try mocking up the front clip. This wasn’t as safe as having the car on the frame. So here we took the primered body and mounted it on the frame to get everything fitted. The front clip was put on. Fitting the fenders and the hood was very important. You can’t just start hammering on fenders and bending and tweaking them to get them to fit with the car painted. Once we got them fitted, we had to be able to pull them back off the body. Then we went in to paint the car off the frame. That way you can get a nice detailed finish and you can paint the firewall. Finally, we put the body back on the frame and fitted the now painted fenders and hood back to where they were.
Doing a Tremec five-speed transmission, you have to enlarge the tunnel. They tell you that before you buy it. Also, they send along sheet metal. And so I cut out the tunnel, put in a piece of sheet metal like they said and used the original doghouse so then I could use the original factory carpet that has a molded-in area for the doghouse. Once you have the body on, putting pedals and all the brackets in is simple. I had refinished all these parts before we put the body on.
I sandblasted the heater core and all that and painted it. I cleaned the plastic ducts that go up to the vents with soap and water. I scrubbed all that up and wiped it dowen with something to get it looking new again.
Next I put the dash in. I assembled the dash pretty much outside the car. I got all the gauges in and the wiring harness, just like they do it at the factory. They had all that assembled outside the car. It’s not for the weak of heart — I’ll tell you that. Then I started piecing the interior in. I didn’t want to put the seats in the interior until I was all done, but I put the wiring harness in for the lights.
The chrome that goes around the rear window and the roof is used only on convertibles and it was dented. I took it to Vintage Vehicles Co. in Wautoma, Wis., and they did wonderful work — an unbelievable job. It was expensive, but ended up really good in the end.
I took apart the convertible top frame, sandblasted it and painted it up with the right satin gloss finish. It’s very important to take lots of pictures of how it fits back together. The restorer came to my house and installed the convertible top there. I bought the pre-cut top from Performance Years. I got the right tweed, text and material. The restorer liked it because he didn’t have to clean up the top frame or remove the old pads and staples, which I had already done.