Update January 22, 2010
It's three years later and CC has been parked with two flat tires all this time. No more work has been done - at least not until recently.
Like many of us this restoration is subject to finances. My home needed work before it would qualify for a loan and I've spent much of my time on that. Now, with a little extra cash I made a list I called "Phase 1". The objective being to make her drivable, reliable, and street legal.
In several past attempts I proved to myself that I'm not a mechanic. I'm an upholsterer by trade and am comfortable "inside" making things look new again. When it comes to mechanical work I'm better off to pay someone who is good and likes it. Shop rates here are about $85 an hour and I don't like to leave my car at a shop. I have a heated garage so, rather than pay those rates, I ran an ad in Craigslist seeking a MOPAR mechanic who would come to my home. I described the work needed and offered to let them set their own schedule. To my surprise, I received over a dozen replies in three days. One fella said he'd done several MOPAR restorations and could do everything I mentioned in my ad. Other replies offered to work for $20 an hour. I called and asked him to explain more about the restorations he mentioned. As he talked my bs detector remained silent. When it came to an hourly rate I told him the market was telling me $20. He agreed and said that's the figure he had in mind too. So I invited him to come over. As we talked in person, again I saw no red flags. After about 20 minutes I told him I'd think about it. I did and later that evening gave him the job. The next day he was here at exactly the time we agreed on. He brought his tools and was ready for work. The following is the mechanical list of work needed:
Engine - Convert points and condenser to Electronic Ignition. Replace fuel filter. Adjust carb. Replace plugs. Adjust timing. Transmission - replace all seals except the front main seal and see if that cures the leaks. Brakes - Replace front disc brakes and brake lines. (Budd brakes) Replace front shocks. Repair exhaust system. (The pipe was broke in two places between the muffler and engine and just hanging there). Repair Master Light Switch and replace all exterior light bulbs to be street legal. Have all electric windows working. (Three out of six motors needed replacing). Clean switches.
My job was to install the new Walnut inlay, redo the door panels, and have the tires fixed.
My mechanic's name is Dakota. He completed all of the above work in under 40 hours (spanning three weeks waiting on parts). I was lucky to find Dakota. He was punctual, courteous, and knowledgeable. If I decide to have the engine rebuilt he can pull and replace it. He also does body work and painting.
I also finished my part. The door panels are installed now with new wood and all of the windows work. (I especially like seeing the little wing windows open and close by remote control) The engine runs smooth and strong now, there are no more leaks from the tranny, and with the exhaust fixed she purrs nice and sweet.
I've decided to paint her dark metallic red with a black leather interior and red pleats in the seats to tie in with the exterior. I'm not a purest trying to restore to 100% original. Rather, I'm building a nice driver with a few personal touches, non of which go far from stock.
So, now CC is drivable. My enthusiasm for her seems to increase in direct proportion to the amount of improvements she receives. As you can probably tell, I'm finding a great deal of enjoyment in this process. Also, by working on her I develop a deeper appreciation, even respect, for the thought the designers put into this car. Sometimes as I sit and stare at her from the window she becomes the most beautiful car I've ever seen. Then I get up and go into another room only to come back and stare at her some more. A love relationship is blooming and I have a feeling that many of you can relate.
Thanks for your time..
When I installed the door panels they seemed a little bland with the black painted inserts. So I added some dark red fabric I had to see how that would look. I used outdoor carpet double sided tape, so it can be removed without damaging the original black paint.
One day, while out for a drive, I saw a 1967 Imperial in a pasture with a For Sale sign. I stopped to take a closer look, mostly out of curiosity. The owner came out and we chatted for awhile. Eventually the conversation turned to price and he said originally he wanted $1000, but since vandals broke the windshield he'd take $750. That was much less than I expected and I became interested. I asked if I could drive it. He said the brakes needed work and told me to be careful, then gave it a jump and aired up the tires. It needed a tune up but drove well considering the time it had been sitting. I figured that I couldn't get hurt at that price and bought it. Because she's a Crown Coupe, CC seemed like a good nickname.
A local glass company had the windshield in stock and came to my home and installed it for $350, which I considered a bargain. Then I bought a new set of tires but couldn't get the lugs off. I worked like crazy, eventually rounding the lugs. I fought a few other things, got frustrated and moved onto another project. She sat untouched for a couple of years until a neighbor who is a Mopar guy told me the left side had left hand threads. "Get out of here", I said. I never heard of such a thing! But he was right. Eventually I got the new tires on and adjusted the stance with the Air-Ride shocks. It's amazing what new tires do for the appearance of a car. My old enthusiasm for CC returned and I decided to make her my winter project.
My mechanic is doing a tune-up, fixing the brakes and a leak in the transmission. When I get her back I'll remove the interior, install new floor pans and work on the electronics. My plans are for dark burgundy paint with black leather interior. I'm an upholsterer by trade and plan to use her for advertising. I will stay with the stock interior design but will use modern paint. A customer and friend in the auto/body business uses me for his customer's interiors and is helping me with body and paint work. I am going to paint it myself. Other plans include POR13 for the underside and trunk, and painting the engine and engine compartment. I hope to get all electronic items working. Achieving #2 condition would be nice but there is a fair amount of pitting in the chrome. At any rate, the creativity of restoring a classic like this is very positive. I'm looking forward to the day I can take her for a drive. The first place I'll go is to see that guy with the pasture.
(Click on a small image to view a larger version.)
After a tune-up, transmission leak repair and brake system inspection from my mechanic, I parked CC in the garage, drained out the old yellow gas and started her again. Although the 440 still doesn't run as smooth as I'd like, it's close enough for now and I decided to move on.
The mechanic told me that one of the front disc brake pads was missing. Anchorage Chrysler had the part number but not the part in stock. They are connected to a national system that queries inventories of hundreds of dealerships and were able to refer me to three. I was glad to know parts are still available and ordered a new set from South Dakota for a reasonable price.
When I started checking out the car I found the headlights, tail lights and dash lights are not working. Since these are all a function of the headlamp switch and 67 and 68 Imperials are known for this problem, I plan to rebuild it. I am enjoying the site and have made friends that are very helpful. I never considered myself a mechanic, but I feel I can do most of the work myself with the help of our members. My next objective is the removal of the seats and carpet so I can weld in new floor pans. After that I'll work on the electrical problems when I can stretch out.
The hole in the floor pan behind the driver's seat. The carpet conceals it somewhat. It is about one square foot. The stance with the air-rides.
Here's a picture of the floor pan hole. It measures about 24" x 18". Now that the interior is out and the floor is swept clean, it's a good place to stop until I can work on it again.