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I was just having a little fun today and came up with this custom Nash Metropolitan roadster. I like it so much I am considering building it. Big V-8 and 5 or 6-speed?  The entire chassis and drivetrain would need to be changed so it would be an incredible amount of work but how fun would that be to cruise with?Metro-blue white fin1

Well, I was just a few days from a completed project when one of those wierd problems, I always seem to get, showed up. First the good news. The interior and bed are completed, paint touch up about done and lots of little minor details done.

I just needed to get it running and take it down to get the exaust system done. Started up on the first try, once I got a few electrical problems figured out. Changing from an automatic to a standard trans and from an electronically controled ignition to an HEI distributor will do that to you. It sounded great but what was that huge oil puddle under the front end? There was oil leaking all around the oil pump mount so I pulled the pump bottom replaced the gaskets with not any better results. Replaced them again, this time talking a file to the bottom of the timing case cover and pump bottom surface to make sure I didn’t have some little spike holding the surfaces apart. Not it, still leaking, alot! So I pulled the alternator to get a better look and there it was. A crack in the timing case cover just above the oil pump. Now I get to pull everything off the front of the motor and replace the cover. It’s a job I didn’t want to have to do once the engine was in. To make it worse I bought an aftermarket harmonic balancer from “Professional Products”  that was near impossible to get on because it was machined so tight. If I can get it off I will probably go back to the stock balancer. If I can’t get it off, I’m screwed. I was really hoping to have it ready for shows this summer but unless things go very smoothly the show season will be over for this year. Too bad, so sad.

More Interior

The interior is coming along nicely and almost complete. It’s taking me longer than I anticipated, but what else is new. The console is done as are the door panels.

The next step was the rear panels. As the Pacer is now a pickup the back must be all new to fit the Volvo wagon hatch window and surrounding area. So out comes the cardboard and it’s template time again. Templates are not difficult to do they just take a little time, thought and a utility knife. I needed to make one main panel that would handle the area below the window and two side sections that would extend to the headliner, as they would need to be angled forward a bit.

I use tape to fill in areas where to much of the template has been cut out. It is a process of cut and fit several times until you’ve got the shape you want. Once the main template shape is done it’s time to measure the speaker, courtesy light and wiring cutouts.

Once the temlate is done I set it over the 1/4″ plywood sheet and mark and cut it out. Check one more time to make sure the cut panel fits, make a few adjustments and it’s ready to be covered. First I glued a 1/4″ piece of foam to the front side and then a piece of black vinyl over the foam using a spray on upholstery glue you can buy at any parts or hardware store. Make sure you leave plenty of extra material at the edges so you can glue and or staple it to the rear side.

Once done it looks great and is ready for install. I will do that next week along with the building the side panels. I will also be building a subwoofer box at the center of the main panel, over the hump. The amp will set on top of the subwoofer box.

Dashboard and interior

I haven’t had time to do“any” work on the pacer since I brought it home four months ago. Other home projects took precedent and when you remove yourself from a project for that long it’s always hard to jump back in and get started. I couldn’t finish the electrical system without installing the dash so I decided to go ahead. The dash was pretty much completed two years ago and has just been sitting on my counter. After months of delay, from the point of installing new electrical wiring for this and that and moving things around to fit the “custom” part, I got started. Throw into the mix moving the car and all it’s parts to a new location, wondering if you’ll be able to find everything again and if you can remember “What in the heck” all those wires go to and fear begins to set in.

Thanks to my parts Pacer I was able to find parts to do the install that I had packed up and couldn’t find. For now I’m using the stock Pacer speedo but added a VDO tachometer, a Pacer Ralley pack gauge pod and moved the fuel gauge and clock just aboze the pod, with the help of a spare ralley pack pod. The tach had a flat surround and didn’t really match the other gauges so I cut out a gauge pod surround from a 67 Rambler American and fit it over the top. There were several wires, once the dash was installed, that I had no idea what they went to. One was new radio wiring, which I had already reinstalled, another was wiring for the fog lights and the other was a set of dash lights that went into the fuel gauge and clock. You can see them hanging by the gas pedal. No room to get them in so I had to remove the rally pak to get access.

Once all the new wiring was in place and the dash installed I wanted to finish out all the trim( which I also had finished and had been sitting on a shelf.. Well, it installs from the floor pan up so the carpet was next. I had gotten a tip from a local AMC buddy that Lowe’s carried some stuff called “Peel and Seal”, that was used in roofing applications but was virtually the same sound deadner products on the market but at a much cheaper price.

It was pretty easy to install and stayed put, even to an old floor pan. Be carfull! Once you overlap the seams they are very difficult to undo. I purchased an ACC carpet from Ebay and was a little worried about the fit. I had purchased a “molded carpet” for a 1979 AMX several years ago and if the heel pad had not been installed I would have had no idea which way it went in. It was a terrible fit and never did get it to fit very well at all.

Much to my surprise it was a perfect fit! I haven’t had custom sewn carpets by my local Upholstery guy fit this well.

The rear carpet also extended about 12″-14″ further back than the factory carpet under the rear seat so it worked out great with the pick up design.

In the middle of all this my son surprised me with a custom made leather wrapped steering wheel he had made from a three spoke AMC sport wheel. I wondered were it had gone. It was awesome! We worked together on the center design and he made if to fit.

 

 

 

I wanted to use a Hornet hood emblem base I had so I cut a hole in the center and routed the edges so once the leather was installed I could cinch the base down into the center.

 

It turned out great!

I had a console from an early ’71 AMX that I knew would fit well under the gauge pod but once the dash was installed it just didn’t match the interior.

So now I had to hit the wrcking yard, and with a few measurements started searching for a console that would both work with my dash set up and half way match the interior. After some searching I came accross a console from an “Olds Acheiva S” and figured with some cutting and lowering it would work. You never know if it will and sometimes it takes a few tries but it turned out pretty nice. My son, Eric, is also making the custom leather seats, door panel inserts and shift boot for the console. I’ll have them early next week and get them in. Headliner and trim is all in, door panels are next and then the final touches on the rear window/truck bed wall, speakers, subwoofer and Amp.

 

Bringing it out for pictures

It was a nice day so I decided to pull it out of the garage for a few pictures. My motorcourt does no allow for alot of sunlight this time of year and since it is not in finished form it was push it out and back in again. I hope you enjoy them.

From reality…To concept…

To alternate reality.

This catagory is about custom or retro automobile design. Basically so I can post some of my own ideas but I also would love to see your ideas. This is Just for Fun! First is a quick sketch I did in 2007 of a retro AC Shelby Cobra design. I had seen Fords new prototype and although it was very nice it was far too much of a box for me and left out some of the essential design elements that made the original AC Cobra a hit.

First without the racing stripes and than with.

I’d love to build it but I’m still recovering from the body ground effects kit and truck bed work on the Pacer.Feb. 8, 2011. I just did this sketch over the top of an AC Cobra. It’s O.K. but not really what I’m after. The rockers need to be lower and, well, it just doesn’t thrill me. When I find more time I’ll play with it a bit.Feb. 12, 2011. Here’s another sketch with some revisions. I like it better. Looks more up to date and has better lines. Still, a work in progress. I changed to foglights below and turn signals where the headlights go with pop-up headlight above.

Bringing it Home.

At some point I wanted to get the Pacer home so I could finish the interior and final details. Everything that needed to be done in the shop was done. I didn’t want to do any paint or mechanical work in my own garage just in case I had some spill or smell problems. Figuring out the steering was frustrating and took me about 3 months just because I had to take some breathers so I didn’t start pounding on the car when angry. Putting it on the trailer was a Challenge. The Pacer was, “The first wide small car”, And with the wider wheels it left me with only about 1 1/2″ on each side from bare rim to trailer metal.

It was slow going but with alittle help from my jack we got it on.

Unloading I thought would be slow. Since it was so tight we had to take it off very carefully because it would be running down hill and we had no way of slowing it down. I decided to put some pull straps on both sides and let it down slowly an inch or two at a time. It was working great until my son let off tension for about 6″ at once. Well, it picked up too much speed and, “POP!”, went the straps and away went the Pacer. To my surprise it rolled off straight and the rims came through without a scratch. A little grunting and it is now home, ready to be finished and close enough to work on it in the evenings.

Gave it a little bath and ready for a few pics. It was way too cramped in the shop to get any good pictures.

One last sho

O.K., it’s all done but what a hassle. The Ford rack and pinion steering shaft sits about 1″ further towards the center of the car. I could not get the steering around the header. Not enough room or to steep of an angle to work. So, off came the headers. Believe me, I tried everything but bagged it out of frustration. Stock manifolds back on and with the help of some Borgeson parts it actually steers! Maybe someday when I get real ambitious I’ll try to tackle it again.

’78 Concord 2-seater

   As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, I had a freind in high school who shortened a Corvair by 36″. That first inspired me to build a project I had started in the early 90’s. A 92″ wheelbase 2-seater AMC Concord. I had first considered doing it with a Hornet but the years past and a 2-door Concord became available.  It was perfect! Factory V-8, rally pak, twin grip, HD suspension. and a fender bender diamond in the rough. It took a while to consider how I would actually “cut and paste” it. What the heck! I got it cheap. If it didn’t work out the parts on it were worth what I paid for it. So I dug in and got cutting. I wanted to keep the opera windows so I cut them out with the frame and would weld them back in but further forward.

I also cut the inner rocker panel frame but did not cut it out. I bent it in slightly so it would fit over the existing frame on the forward end. It would help with the structural integrity of the unibody. Along with that I decided that rather than cutting a clean line across the floor panel I would stager the cut at the hump also helping to improve structural strength.

I had installed supports underneath to keep the car from falling into two pieces and now it was time to fit it together. It was my lucky day! I grabbed the rear bumper and literally just pushed the two sections together. The frame on Hornets, Concords, Gremlins and Spirits tapers slightly from front to back so the extended inner rocker frame slid perfectly over the forward frame. I put some screws in the side frame and started welding. The roofline was a little more challenging but worked out fine with a little massaging. I built it about 20 years ago and was on a tight budget. After shoring up the frame and welding the opera windows back into place I started the body work.

 I used 79-80 AMX flares and front spoiler to give it a racier look and added Eagle plastic rocker mouldings along the bottom. I also decided to use a 77-78 AMX targa band and vinyl top the rear section of the roof (it worked for the time period).

It turned out pretty good. I added a 401, 4-speed and was on my way. About 5 years later finances were looking a little better and I decided to redo it. I wasn’t crazy about my first paint job and it was starting to look dated. I also had some different ideas. One was to use Eagle bumpers and integrate the bumpers into the body and flares and remove the targa band. The other was to remove the factory AMX front spoiler because I wanted a lower profile and knew the front spoiler would never last. I also wanted custom wheels and 50 series tires.

I never really liked the 78-79 Concord taillights so I replaced the rear panel and added the 1980-up taillight setup. I liked it better but am not sure the time was worth the switch. The interior was redone and I added Mustang GT seats in place of the AMC buckets and had them reupholstered to match the door panels. A much better seat! The last thing was to replace the t-10 4-speed with a t-5 from a ’89 Mustang GT. This was a great car to drive and handled fantastic. I don’t own it anymore but it’s still around.

I decided to use a Mustang rack and pinion steering set up in the Pacer mainly because I wanted faster steering and they don’t make quick ratio steering gears for Pacers. Besides the Pcer R&P is like driving your grandmothers car, way too slow lock to lock. Along with that Mustang R&P units are alot easier to find then the Pacer. So many of their steering and suspension parts are becoming obsolete. It is not too difficult to do the switch but it does take some work. First remove the old Pacer R&P set up with outer tie rod ends and toss it or ? Then  remove the mounting brackets including the large welded plate on the left side. You will need to weld new mounting brackets onto the cross member. I did them in a u-shape with enough room between the mount and the crossmember to get the bolt and nut in. Then I welded a side brace just so I didn’t get any side movment in hard steering. While you’re at it you can replace the stock Mustang mount bushings with ployurethane or polygraphite bushings for more positve steering (another advantage in using the Mustang R&P). You want to make sure ( in a V-8 Pacer anyway) that you shift the gear far enough to the left to get around the exaust manifold with the steering shaft. If you are using the new Edelbrock headers get over as far as you can. I have not, as yet, hooked up the steering shaft and that will take a few borgeson joints but it should work. Then repaint and mount the new steering unit. The outer tie rod ends on the Mustang R&P are long enough for the Pacer front end and fit, as far as I can tell, right into the AMC steering arms tapered shafts. Next is hooking up the power steering hoses, which I have not done yet. But I’ll let you know once I get that and the steering shaft completed. Good luck!

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