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RESTO-MOD

Resto-Mod Restorations - Part 1: Introduction - Page 3

Johnny's Petroleum Products of Mukwonago, Wisconsin sent their bright red, "Johnny on the Spot" GMC wrecker out to hook the Camaro up. They towed it from West Allis to Jeff Noll's place in Mukwonago to start the work.

Jim Mokwa kept tabs on his Goat for a decade before he was able to buy it. His friend Orville kept it tucked in the barn for a decade and 10 years of storage took a toll. When Orville turned 60, he realized that he was never going to get the car done. "At least he had kept it in a barn, out of the rain," says Jim.

In 2006, Orville called Jim. He knew that his Wisconsin friend loved the Goat and would pay a fair price for it. "He finally called and said 'If you want it, come and get it." Jim recalls. That April Jim rounded up his favorite auto body man, Leo Coonen, and set off for Spokane, Washington with Leo's truck and trailer. The five-day trip turned became an adventure when they hit a spring snowstorm in the Montana mountains, but they got the car home safe and sound.

Jim Mokwa finally got to buy the 1969 GTO ragtop in 2006. That April Jim and body man Leo Coonen made a trip to Spokane, Washington with a truck and trailer to bring the well-worn car to Wisconsin.
Jim Mokwa finally got to buy the 1969 GTO ragtop in 2006. That April Jim and body man Leo Coonen made a trip to Spokane, Washington with a truck and trailer to bring the well-worn car to Wisconsin.

Muscle Car Parts

You cannot restore any car without parts. When the author rebuilt a 1936 Pontiac, parts for that prewar car were extremely hard to find — nobody reproduces these parts. You must find either NOS or NORS parts. The Pontiac Oakland Club International was the only source for NOS parts and Northwestern Auto Supply in Grand Rapids, Michigan, helped with NORS parts. Some hobby companies like Kanter Auto Parts and Egge offered engine parts kits.

When the author restored an MG TD, it was extremely difficult to find NOS parts. A company called Abingdon Spares had some. However, reproduction MG parts are readily available from Moss Motor, Ltd. Moss even prints a mail order catalog with useful exploded drawings of every part on the car. The company can probably supply 90-95 percent of all the parts needed for a full MG restoration.

In the 1980s, the number of reproduction parts offered for American cars was fairly small. There were mail order catalogs offering copycat Model T Ford, Model A Ford, Mustang, T-Bird and 1955-1957 Chevy parts and that was about it. Then, the auto manufacturers saw the hobby growing and started licensing companies to reproduce vintage parts for their cars. Although they entered this as a source of revenue (licensing fees) the manufacturers also offered to help companies obtain original blueprints so they could make more parts and better quality parts. The author attended the 1989 SEMA Show in Las Vegas where the GM Reproduction Parts program was outlined for the first time.

Today it's apparent that the restoration parts programs of GM, Ford and Chrysler have helped muscle car and Resto-Mod builders. This reproduction Mustang body 'in white' was displayed in the Ford booth at SEMA 2010.
Today it's apparent that the restoration parts programs of GM, Ford and Chrysler have helped muscle car and Resto-Mod builders. This reproduction Mustang body 'in white' was displayed in the Ford booth at SEMA 2010.

While the parts makers did not like the fact that reproductions were suddenly being "policed" by GM (as well as Ford and Chrysler), in the long run it seems quite apparent that the automakers' restoration parts programs helped restorers and particularly muscle car restorers. It was easier for the automakers to find blueprints for these later-model collector cars and, at the same time, collecting muscle cars was on a growth trend that created demand for the parts.

As more reproduction muscle car parts came on stream, it was natural for restifications and Resto-Mods to evolve. The availability of parts made it possible to save more and more cars like the partly-diassembled Camaro that Jeff Noll discovered and the "batting practice" GTO convertible that Jim Molwa bought. Today you can purchase quality reproduction parts through a variety of suppliers and you can get anything from an OEM bolt copied in never-rust stainless steel to a complete reproduction 1969 Camaro body.

Thanks to the GM Restoration Parts program, these exact reproduction 1959 Cadillac taillight lenses are available in stock form (left) for restorers and in a custom style (right) for Resto-Mod builders.
Thanks to the GM Restoration Parts program, these exact reproduction 1959 Cadillac taillight lenses are available in stock form (left) for restorers and in a custom style (right) for Resto-Mod builders.

Making an Assessment

Before you buy any restoration parts, you have to know what parts you are going to need. This means making an assessment of what you have to start with. You need to determine if the car you're starting with is complete or whether it has missing parts. As far as the parts you do have, what condition are they in? Can they be restored? Will you need to replace them? When you are doing a Resto-Mod, some original parts may be good or salvageable, even though you plan to replace them with modified parts. You may be able to clean up, advertise and sell the original parts to help finance your project. Jeff Noll sold some parts on eBay.

Today it is pretty simple to make an assessment of the car you purchased. The digital camera is a great tool for doing this. A camera's memory card can hold thousands of images. You can have prints made or store images on a computer. They can also be transferred to a photo DVD for back-up purposes.

Start at one front corner of the car and work your way around the entire vehicle, taking both overall and detail photos. Remember that you are taking the photos to show you how to put the car together again, once you take it apart. This is not beauty photography. If a photo alone doesn't fully illustrate how to do something, write some notes (in your own words) describing how the pieces go together or draw a picture. Then, take a photo of your note or drawing so it doesn't get separated from the photos you took. If you photograph the note or drawing, it will be right there, in sequence with your photos and you'll be able to zoom in on it to see the smallest details of memo or a sketch.

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