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70 Posts
Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Wow, thanks a lot! I'll just be happy to drive it. If it inspires anyone to dive in and do some fabrication and customization on their own cars then it will have all been worth it. Happy MOPARing and Happy Thanksgiving.

70 Posts
Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Back to the tail lights & rear bumper...

I thought long and hard about how to incorporate the 66 T Bird lights into the rear face of this car. There is a lot to consider that doesn't immediately meet the eye. As I found out along the

The primary thing that needed to be changed was to move the lower trunk seal rail up to a position above the tail light bar base. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of room vertically between where the top of the bar sets, and where the trunk rear lower edge had to end up. Very narrow space within which to work. So, I mocked up the light bar where it needed to be and then examined what space I had left to work with in order to determine if it would be doable. I thought up a couple of designs for this top section above the lights, and, how to fabricate the pieces it would need to come together. I tried my first design over a few months and eventually scrapped it as unworkable. It did, however illuminate several issues and a few solutions as well. My failure had informed my thinking on the next design quite handily.
I was essentially "Overthinking" it.
The concerns/issues, are/were, as follows:
The lower section below the tail lights needed to be closed in and attached to the trunk pan/rear cross rail. The section below the light would need a new hunk of body sheet metal that matched the shapes of the left and right quarter tail extensions lower half, end piece profile.
It would have to somehow attach to the rear pan face.
The upper edge of the rear pan face had to have an ability to have the lower edge of the tail light base mount up to it AND be water tight.
The tail extensions would need to be sliced into and modified to match the new light lenses end profile, which is taller than the OEM one, and shorter left to right than the OEM and the tail extensions are made of pot metal.
The entire perimeter flange of the T Bird light panel/bar had to have a correspondingly shaped piece of metal into/onto which it would be fastened, AND be water tight.
This flange area would ALSO need to be an integral part of the section that spanned to area above the light bar AND also incorporate the trunk rear seal rail into the same piece. The outer ends of the seal rail areas would have to be hand fabricated as well as the down turning corners of the rail and any supporting metal below it.
The inside area of the trunk directly behind the rear of the tail light panel would need to be closed up due to wiring harness/ lightbulb base ends sticking out into the trunk area in which there is a 17-gallon fuel cell.
Plus, this close out of the tail light area inside the trunk needed to look nice and be carpet covered AND incorporate the trunk latch mechanism and mounting flange somehow.
The trunk lid would have to be radically reimagined, and fabricated, to match whatever I did on the rear seal rail area so that when closed the two would meet up along the rubber seal surfaces.
Whatever I designed as the inside close out would have to NOT cover up the rear of the tail extensions as they are removable.
All of this would have to LOOK right from the outside and be symmetrical with the rear bumper.

Nothing to it, right?
I drew it all up on paper and tried to plan out the eventualities looking forward.
That didn't really work. There were so many little issues that had be solved in light of how they each worked with the overall plan and with adjoining areas and the issues with each of these, quite a puzzle. I understand now why the car designers got the big bucks back in the day before computers. They had to think of everything ahead of time and it all had to go together seamlessly the first time out of the gate AND be infinitely reproduceable!
I messed up the section of the seal rail from this car the first time I tried. So, I bought the rear section of a donor car to try again.
This time it went a lot better although I'm still not jazzed about the end pieces behind the quarter tail extension areas on either side, BUT they are hidden behind the trunk close out panels anyway. I'm NOT a pro. This isn't
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Bitchin Rides

1,744 Posts
Where do you live? It's possible! I'm in central Vermont. With nearly 500HP and a "rumpity-rump" cam I don't think i'll be driving across the USA...
I'm only 3700 Kms away (3500 in Canada) ... 35 hour drive :p Look up Thompson MB Canada. When I'm retired my plan is to do a cross country Auto show tour and you happen to be between family out east and us here in the great white north. Longest we have driven on holidays to date is just over 10000Kms round trip so I'll need to beat that one.. lol 1000Kms = 621 miles

70 Posts
Discussion Starter · #36 ·
You can tell in the picture of the rear rail in primer that the mounting screw holes for the light panel are right at the lower edge of that rail. It was tight. Plus, you can see that I installed the light panel about an inch down into the tail panel extensions. If I had split the difference in that spot, I would have been buying new extension The trunk latch is a whole other story too. I tried it both ways, with it on the trunk lid hanging down, and on the rail poking up. I decided that it looked better, and was less liable to snag my arm or whatever, to have it on the trunk lid hanging down and the latch arm incorporated into the rail. In order to make the rail stiff and strong I placed a flange underneath that gets sandwiched in the bolts for the latch arm which sits atop a fabricated mounting plate out of 3/16" plate bent to fit. So, the rail, even though it looks thin, is very solid. Also, I fabricated the close out panel that goes inside the trunk so that the top angles over and slides under the front edge of the rail body and is screwed together adding even more rigidity.

The 1970 Road Runner rear bumper was an addition that came about for a few reasons. I wanted those upswept bumper ends to match the tail extensions; I wanted the exhaust to poke out through the back up light holes like the Roadkill Road Runner and I needed the height symmetry to play against the rest of the rear face.
I bought the bumper off of my pal Gary who was building a Super Bird and had a new one.
Once I mocked it up, I discovered that it needed to be lengthened a bunch so I sliced it in half and got to work on reforming the end corners to hug the quarter panel sheet metal pockets. I saw that dirty yellow custom job that I got the idea for the front bumper from and it had them hugging the sides real close.
Once I had both ends where I wanted them as far as the sides went and aligned with the upsweep of the extensions, I measured the middle gap.
went and purchased a length of mild steel plate the same thickness as the bumper, minus the chrome plating, I sliced a hunk of that off and got to heating and notching for the bends to match the bumper shape profile. I welded it in and mocked it back up to check. Perfect. A little bodywork and glazing later and "Bob's yer Uncle."

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70 Posts
Discussion Starter · #38 · (Edited)
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The motor. It came with a 318 V8. Grocery go getter and in good shape with only 69,000 miles on it.
That had to go.
I ended up with a 1972 440 RB big block that was already 0.030 over. It had a forged steel crank and a Crane Cam/lifters in it when I got it and the cam was toast along with a lifter that had gotten stuck in the bore and saddled out. I took it upstate to RPM Racing Engines; they perform a bunch of engine work for all sorts of racers all over New England. I took it in December during the Covid height in 2020. I had spoken to them and found out that they were slow then and could fit me in as long as I didn't want extravagant work done. I didn't, just the usual. I had it bored out to 0.040, the crank polished, the cam bearing replaced, the decks milled, bores squared up and honed and one cylinder head issue resolved. I also had them supply me with the correct main and rod bearings, rings set, new Speed Pro pistons and wrist pins, a high-volume oil pump and Viton Teflon valve seals. I assembled it myself. I have a vintage 1970'd Weiand "Xcelerator" single plane intake for it that's powder coated in Alien Silver and Black. Has a Holley dual feed 750 cfm carb w/ Electric choke, Summit Racing fuel rail w/ inline liquid filled pressure gauge, Mallory Unilite Distributor with electronic module, Taylor Racing 8mm plug wires, new 440 Source push rods, Mancini Racing billet aluminum rear main seal tower, March polished aluminum pulleys, Aluminum wrinkle Black valve covers, block is painted in VHT High Temp Hemi Orange, water pump and PS pump and oil pump in wrinkle black, plated chrome timing cover and indicator, Billet Steel timing set with double row chains, high torque mini starter, 7-quart Hemi style 901 oil pan with windage tray and bult in baffle.
The valve train is stock 440 with 316-11 Comp dual springs and Titanium keepers and 10* locks with Viton Teflon seals. The heads are fully ported and polished and the valves unshrouded. Simple valve grind job on the valves. The heads are port matched to the intake.
The cam is a Comp 21-306-4 stick that gets, 270/470 @ 50. It's the grumpiest cam you can put in a 440 before you have to increase stall speed. I expect to get 480 + HP and torque out of this set up. Should do nicely.
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