First of all, thanks for your interest - I have been lurking for most of the year and have picked up a lot of useful information from these forums.
Before I get into the details, a bit of preamble and history.
I am the third owner and have been taking care of it for the past 23 years. For the first 15 it was a reliable workhorse as I worked as a musician putting in big miles around the state of New South Wales while for the remaining 7 years it was unloved and abandoned in various front yards and sheds as I moved around. Restoring it was always on my "list" and despite a false start in 2007 (I stripped the interior and the paint, and then became a proud dad) I'm glad to say that as of January 26 this year, I commenced a factory correct restoration.
While I am an Economist by trade, I have always been a "car guy" either looking over the shoulder of my father, pulling things apart or learning bodywork at night school. I am doing everything myself apart from the final base/clear on the exterior.
I'm sure many of you know that Australia was the destination for a lot of imported GM product over the years, typically in CKD form (Completely Knocked Down) and then assembled by the local Holden Plants.
In 1964, local buyers were faced with a myriad of choices from the local manufacturers. Those looking for Chevrolet would most likely have seen the below newspaper ad offering Belairs (locally assembled) and Impalas (mostly assembled from Oshawa Canada).
Mine left the Oshawa Factory on March 30, 1964 and was delivered to Canberra, where it has resided all of its life. As per the letter from GM Canada below which I obtained this year it shows that it was one of 3 right hand drive models exported in 1964 and came with a generous list of options. It also confirmed that the engine is original to the car (McKinnon 9 digit engine number.)
The original dealer release receipt and owners manuals have managed to stay with the car all of these years. The first owners address was written in the owners manual and is about 5 minutes from where I live.
The second owners used the wagon as a daily driver before it met, in their eyes, a sad end. It was hit in the left rear quarter and door by a red light runner, puncturing the tank and leaving it looking pretty sad and sorry. I'm not sure how long it sat around for but it was eventually advertised as a "1964 Station Sedan needing restoration" in 1990.
I spotted the ad and was in the market for parts (I had a 4 door Oshawa Impala hardtop project which needed one of everything!). Upon arrival I was firstly surprised that it was a wagon (I didn't know what a Station Sedan was!), and secondly how unmolested it was. It had some rust in the bottom of the tailgate and of course the rear quarter was toast.
$900 later it was mine and was towed to a house nearby. Some new plugs, leads, a battery and fresh fuel and it ran and drove beautifully. Photos below are from the first week during which time my father and I removed and patched the tailgate, drilled off the rear quarter to bang, cut, and shrink some shape back in it, and fixed the tank. After sealing the quarter with some cheap primer, we screwed it back on with metal screws and it stayed that way for.....wait for it.....the whole 15 years!
Sorry, I never took a "before" shot of the rear quarter but you get the idea:
Loads more detail to come.
You're doing good so far, tell us more.
409 powered 61 Poncho
best time 9.06@ 148
I like the "X09" speedo adapter , let me know if you find and of those around !!looks like you will have a fun project.
1963 Acadian Beaumont Sport Deluxehttp://www.63acadian.com/
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1969 Pontiac Laurentian 2 door hardtop **SOLD**1975 Firebird Esprit 350/4speed **SOLD**Canadian Poncho World Headquarters - Prince Edward Island
Wow, I'm loving it! Very nice wagon!
Prince Edward Island'64 Parisienne CS "barn find" - last on the road in '86 ... Owner Protection Plan booklet, original paint, original near-mint aqua interior, original aqua GM floor mats, original 283, factory posi, and original rust.
Thanks everybody for the comments - just to clarify all of that early work was done 23 years ago in order to get it looking reasonable and get it on the road.
Just to add a bit more to the wagon's history, and before I get into the juicy details and photos of the current restoration, here are some pictures from the 15 years when it was my workhorse.
Pretty much straight away I bought the numberplate US-283, completely oblivious to the fact that the car was in fact Canadian.
Lots of miles covered through country Australia (yes, those are beers in our hands and on the hood!)
We considered the wagon to be so cool, it featured in a few of our band promotional photo shoots. (Yes, my children think I looked ridiculous back then!)
After racking up a considerable number of miles it became very apparent that the engine was getting tired. Oil consumption was high and we used to carry around a box of spark plugs for those regular times it would drop onto 7 cylinders from a fouled plug.
Here's a typical pic of us in some one-horse town on our way to a gig, changing 1 spark plug (note the dodgy rear quarter, by this time in a "not-quite-right" shade of Gold)
A brief lull in gig bookings enabled us to take it off the road and give it a standard 30 thou rebuild.
The two most critically important parts of the rebuild were this book:
...and this guy - my buddy Nick who looks like a proud father after we pulled it down, sent it out for machining and screwed it back together ourselves - all in 1 week! For those with eagle eyes, you can probably already spot some of the non-original parts that were on it when I bought it.
The motor still sings today and doesn't use a drop of oil. I think back on when we did this and at the time we had no idea that the motor was original to the car. Thank goodness we didn't get the idea in our heads to stick a 350 in it and sell off the tired motor.
From there it was driven relentlessly. Daily duties as well as 4 gigs a week within a 2 hour radius of our home city. While it drank plenty of fuel, you just couldn't kill it. I remember one particular night the powerglide linkage fell apart and the only gear I could get was reverse....so I drove it the 15km home backwards!
A little later in the piece I swapped out the steel wheels and whitewalls for 15x7 rally wheels - silver then later sprayed black:
The shots below are about 17 years later and were an important turning point. I had given music away, had finished university, it had been off the road for 2 years, moss started growing on the roof, I had bought a new house, I was engaged and I had just been given a company car.
Restoring it seemed a bridge too far so I tentatively decided to sell it. I asked my wife-to-be to take shots while I washed it for the last time (with a green kitchen scourer!). It was during this last wash that I actually decided to keep it - too many memories, and we planned to start a family so it would of course be a brilliant family cruiser. My wife (then fiancée) could see what the car meant to me so restoring it went on to the "list".
Next post is the "False Start" restoration of 2007.
OK.....the false start restoration of 2007.
To be honest, I didn't think it through as well as I should have and ended up going around in circles a little bit. The obvious things were the interior which was shot, and some bodywork. I decided a respray was in order as well. My wife had worked in the trade as a motor trimmer so was well connected. Her paint guy mixed up some gold by eye from the inside of the gas filler flap and she arrived home with everything I needed - deoxidine metal cleaner, 2k etch primer, Hi fill primer, 4 litres of Gold, 1 litre of white and some Autothane Clear. Even at this stage I was unsure if I was going to paint it or we would hand it over to an expert.
What I did do which I later regretted was to get carried away with POR15. I love the product but ignored the instructions and painted lots of things with it. As most probably know, it sticks to rust and it flakes off everything else! Anyway, you'll see all of that pain a bit later.
So... out came the interior.
As mentioned my beautiful wife Janelle is an outstanding motor trimmer so she knew exactly what to do. (apparently there's a bit more to it than just ripping it out!)
You can see above the destruction of the floor, the side panels and the headliner from years of loading and unloading guitar amps and speakers. Below you can see how bad the front bench was:
Using the partial remains of the seat covers, Janelle used them as templates to make new panels from scratch, faithfully copying the original pattern:
Finished front bench with re-used buttons:
...and rear bench to match:
Despite all of this great work, we decided 2 months ago not to use these covers. We have instead purchased a full correct factory original interior which includes door cards, carpets, star headliner, visors, seat covers, side panels etc. That way everything matches and is right.
Anyway, after the interior was out it was onto the right front guard.
As you would have noticed in the earlier photos it had a very strange flare to it. My best guess is that it got caught on a post by the first or second owner while reversing, thus pulling it outwards. So off it came and it was binned.
I had a spare guard which was straight but had some damage on the front corner as well as some rust down low. Lacking the patience and passion that I now have, I loaded it up with filler, smoothed it out, and sprayed the gold base colour on, minus clear (I have no idea why I painted it at this stage - perhaps I was just too excited about new shiny gold!
From here two things happened. I bought new whitewall tyres and put the wheel covers back on, and we bought a new digital camera!
Here's what the new panel in the new gold looked like:
More excruciating detail tomorrow...
Great pictures (especially the vintage band ones ), and write up Simon. Thanks for taking the time to do it!
Man, your wife is good at doing the interior. Is it her profession?
How is parts availability in Oz for this type of car?
Pontiacanada wrote:Great pictures (especially the vintage band ones ), and write up Simon. Thanks for taking the time to do it!Man, your wife is good at doing the interior. Is it her profession?How is parts availability in Oz for this type of car?
Thanks for the comment - I have been writing about the restoration on a local Australian forum so posting here is no extra effort.-
My wife was a trimmer for 4 years (before I met her). She didn't enjoy it so moved on to a sedate office job (for 3 times the money!). Mind you in the past month in her spare time she has re-trimmed a 1968 Plymouth Sport Fury convertible and a Honda Fireblade motorcycle.
Yes, parts are in good supply in Australia. Internet classifieds usually turn something up every week. If you want a Belair sedan there are about 10 to choose from at the moment in the 62-64 range. If you want to restore one to original, it's hard as the engines are rarely original to the car. Aircleaners, rocker covers, fans, carbies and exhaust manifolds are usually the first things removed and dumped so those also can be hard to find.
The next job was for the wagon was to be wheeled inside the garage where I did a pretty simple patch in the spare wheel well. These 6 seater impalas were configured with the tank in the rear quarter and the spare in behind the right quarter. The rear floor well was a "Luggage compartment", covered by a hinged lid - hence the option listed on the build sheet "A96 - Rear Compartment Lock".
I sealed up the patch and the wheel well with POR15.
I gave the rear luggage compartment some POR15 as well to seal it up.
The floors were in excellent condition apart from a few strange dents from underneath. They were also relatively rust free which is an advantage of living in a city 250km from the coast. I straightened the dents and sealed up sections of the floor with POR15.
Next was the left rear quarter that as I mentioned was never properly attached. I screwed it off and started work on the inner. The line around the wheel arch was never right which made changing wheels a real problem over the years. I basically needed someone to pull on the quarter to enable clearance for the tyre to get on and off.
Therefore it was time to get it right. I started with some basic bending and bashing but it was clear that more drastic measures were needed. So out came the offending piece to be flattened on the ground and welded back in. Fixed!
Then it was time to finally (after 17 years!) spot weld the quarter back on and dispense with the screws. I basically welded back through the factory welds which had been drilled out.
As meticulous as I was with re-welding the factory spot welds, I was lazy with the seams and just scraped filler over them (not smart and has since been done properly....which I will show in a future post).
In keeping with the theme of being lazy and stupid, while I had the filler out I filled some rust holes around the right taillight housing. (this too has since been done properly - pics to come).
While the tank was out I gave it the POR15 tank treatment - hopefully all good for another 50 years! (note the ripples from the slide hammer when we repaired it in week 1):
Finally while the tailgate was off it got a sand and some primer (all of which would be undone when I got more serious about the restoration!).
Paint on...and then off in tomorrow's post!
Alright - to illustrate how I was going around in circles a bit, I painted the tailgate jamb and the inside of the tailgate in the metallic gold basecoat and then Autothane clear. I was hugely impressed with how it looked straight off the gun - beautiful gloss and the shiny metallic really popped.
The tailgate then went back on with a fresh coat of acrylic primer and guide coat....only to be stripped again a week later! I though about it over the week and decided that I should take everything back to fresh bare metal and do it right:
I then started the tear down of the trim and glass - labelling everything carefully:
Then came the paint stripper, the DA sander, wire wheels, and scrapers...
And then it was done - all back to shiny bare metal
This is where the 2007 restoration ended.
The photo above was taken on 18 Feb 2007 and my first son was born 117 days later. The wagon was wheeled back into the garage and sat in bare metal for 6 years.
Boy, you had The Flash working on the car!
I wish the Flash was helping me - I'd be driving it by now!
So another day another post - I'm assuming you guys don't mind the "post-a-day" format..? I've got about two weeks of daily posts before I get to where I am now. Let me know if I'm hogging this forum as I can slow them down.
Becoming a father quickly removed the urge to restore the car. Instead I remodelled the house, and got fit!
So... 2 sons, 2 marathons, 2 ironman triathlons, a kitchen, a living room, a deck, some landscaping, a sound proof studio, an ensuite, a full interior re-paint and an amateur cycling career accounted for those 6 years (made even crazier by the fact that I did all of the house re-modelling myself).
Here are those 6 years in 1 brief collage!
By the end of 2012, my two boys became a lot more independent and the house was looking great so my attention finally returned to the wagon.
I spent the summer of 2012/13 (Xmas holidays in Australia) exhuming the wagon from under old furniture, toys, building materials, blankets, and bicycles and dusted off the welder, the compressor and all of my bodywork tools.
With 6 years of extra thinking time, and with the advice of a number of my car buddies I decided to do a full factory correct restoration on it. It seemed the right thing to do for a number of reasons - it was "1 of 3", it still had 95 per cent of it's original components including the engine and transmission, it was turning 50 next year, and most of all I wanted to repay it for the faithful service and great memories it had given me.
After 3 weeks, the garage was converted from an untidy miscellaneous storage unit to a proper bodywork/mechanics shop. Over that same period I trawled through my old papers, spent countless hours on the web, and wrote to GM Canada - all in order to know as much as I could about how it left the factory. I regularly visited KiJiJi in order to build up a library of images of Canadian built Impalas. I searched images on Flikr of American car shows held in Australia, trying to find original export examples but alas, 99 per cent of what I saw had candy paint, fat wheels, and non-original motor/tranny combinations.
My greatest breakthrough however was making contact with a very knowledgeable chap named Gil from Canada. He is a judge at Chevy Conventions and owns the country's most original 63 Impala Coupe. Essentially what he doesn't know about Canadian built Impalas, no-one knows! Our weekly email exchanges have been invaluable in making sure I do this right.
So here it is after 6 years (photo taken January this year). Dusty, a little rusty and home to a few spiders:
The only extra bit of work I ended up with after being in storage for so long was the left front guard. Janelle's motor bike toppled over onto it leaving a nasty dent.
Work commences in tomorrow's post
OZ64Wagon wrote:My greatest breakthrough however was making contact with a very knowledgeable chap named Gil from Canada. He is a judge at Chevy Conventions and owns the country's most original 63 Impala Coupe. Essentially what he doesn't know about Canadian built Impalas, no-one knows! Our weekly email exchanges have been invaluable in making sure I do this right.
Hey Simon, I don't want to hijack your interesting build thread, but can you put me in contact with Gil also ... you can PM me. I own a Canadian-built '63 Impala myself. Thanks, Darryl.
It's cool that you are working out of a 1 car garage!
Darryl, it's actually a 3 car garage which has been reduced to 2 after I built a soundproof studio in the third bay. The exact size of the studio was determined by measuring the diagonal length of the wagon - I needed to be able to spin it 90 degrees in the remaining 2 bays.
So after brushing up on some welding skills the 2013 restoration began. The first thing I tackled was the hood.
In the excitement of spraying gold and clear around in 2007, I painted under the hood as well. Although it came up really nice, it needed to be semi gloss black as per factory ...so off it came. Scuffed the clear first, some paint stripper, scrapers and wire brush:
I then tackled the first of the small rust repairs in the front lip of the hood - 4 patches in all - 2 inside and two on the outside.
I started with the trickiest patch which follows the intricate pressings on the inside near the latch - took 2 hours to get it close.
I ran my little Dual Mig 120 welder in gasless mode with 0.8mm shielded wire. I was hesitant at first as I've always used gas but it worked beautifully - nice penetration and very little heat distortion using the trusty "join-the-dots" method.
A couple of patches on outer side of the hood. Rust pinholes were showing through on the right and a there was a large hole on the left:
Patches done and double checked with a light in behind to ensure no pinholes.
Repairs to the fenders tomorrow
Onto the right fender:
As I mentioned earlier the original fender was disposed of and this one was put on in its place. It came from a rusty wreck and in 2007 I ignored the rust and damage and just loaded it up with filler.
The damage was a small hit in the front corner. Someone had obviously tried to repair it by probably brazing on a puller tab and using slide hammer. They were pretty heavy handed as the metal had torn in a few spots.
With the fender off I was able to get it much closer with the hammer and dolly, and carefully filled the tears with the mig welder (once again checking my work in a darkened garage with a light in behind to make sure it's all sealed)
Next was a proper rust repair in the bottom corner. Both the outer fender and the inner brace were in poor shape and the bottom bolt hole surround was also thin from rust:
First up I chopped out the inner brace:
..and then the outer skin:
A new inner brace:
A new outer skin patch (all the insides were coated with POR15)
..and a new bolt hole flange:
Left fender tomorrow
This just went up for sale in Calgary...too bad there is no pictures.
Some nice goodies there:
posi track, roof rack, seat belts, tissue dispenser ,283/auto, power brakes, power steering ,power rear window and impala trim.
I wonder what condition the wagon is in, and how much it would cost to ship to Australia?
Yes, shame there's no photos - mind you I have everything I need and even with those nice goodies, I probably wouldn't use them only for the fact that they aren't original to my car.On to the left fender:
This is original to the car and was in pristine condition until my wife's motorcycle fell forward off its stand and left this:
The fix was to lay it flat on to the ground and using a bolster, pop it back out on the body line:
I then lifted up the lows from the back side using a slapper and a heel dolly:
As expected, dents mean stretched metal so I ended up with a high spot.
Rather than resort to heat shrinking with an oxy torch, I tried out a stainless steel shrinking disk, spinning at 1800rpm on my buffer. Heat up the high spot with friction from the disk...
..and cool immediately with compressed air:
Kept shrinking and caressing and checking with the body file.
I got there in the end but I'm too slow to make a living out of it!
From there I thought the panel was good-to-go however a closer look at the bottom corner showed some rust pinholes. After a bit of poking around I decided to open it up. I'm glad I did:
Fortunately the inside brace and bolt hole were fine so just a outside patch needed:
Inner fenders tomorrow.
Ok...the inner fenders. Two things wrong with these.
I brush painted them with POR15 in 2007 - big mistake as it is high gloss which looks nothing like factory correct....not to mention that it doesn't stick to non-rusty surfaces.
The second issue was the number of holes that had been drilled in them over the years by the second owner. For airhorns or relays perhaps..? There were 13 holes in the left inner alone!
I know that these Impalas had an antifreeze bottle mounted on the left inner but of all of the images I found online - none of the bracket holes matched. I therefore decided to fill all the holes until I do more research - much easier to drill them later. What I did learn however was that the antifreeze was green in Canada, and blue in the US!
So out with the mig to fill all holes, leaving one on each side (excluding the top fender bolt holes of course) - on the right the hole is for the clip for the positive battery cable and on the left, a single hole for the alternator wire clip.
I hit them with the DA sander to get rid of the flaking POR15 then sealed them with a black 2K etch primer. I then skimmed the small dents and ripples with some filler...
Another quick touch up with etch primer and a light block sand to check they were all straight...
Then some 2k semi gloss black - just like factory! ( I used a Valspar Industrial Black)
Onto the grille
I was lucky over the years of travelling through the night that I never had a serious wildlife incident. I did nail a large kangaroo one night but the headlight bucket took most of the damage - there was the odd bird and rabbit so only relatively minor repairs needed to the straighten the grille.
In this case the bolster came in handy again:
I gave it a shine up with a scourer and some truckwash...
...and then set about the excruciating job of masking up the ends for paint. A roll of 3mm tape and lots of patience!
1 coat of etch and 1 coat of semi-gloss black and it came up like a new one!
More front end bits tomorrow
very nice work, and excellent documentation.