A Change of Direction

Time for some soul searching. Occasionally during a build there comes a time when you have to step back and reconsider some of your goals and steer things in a slightly different direction. Sometimes its because your tastes change or outside influences create road blocks which make your original plan unworkable. Then sometimes finances play an important part.

Any of these can cause a change of direction, but in my case it's a combination of external factors and cash. With most of the mechanical work completed I'm looking at finish work which includes some "expensive" trim and interior finishing components. This wouldn't be much of a problem if this car was a GM product because almost all the restoration parts for those cars are cheap compared to a Ford or Mopar, and for the latter some parts just aren't available and must be "repaired" and usually the cost of this is not exactly cheap. This is my dilemma.

The cost of repairing the instruments, dash trim and other components is going to be very expensive. More than I wish to spend and then you add in the cost of re-chroming both bumpers and other trim that needs to be redone and the total rises dramatically. In fact it rises so high that it will make the "restoration" way more expensive than the car will ever be worth. So..... what to do...

I didn't want to go completely back to the drawing board or drastically change directions mid stream so the solution was to look for inspiration. While perusing the Internet I found an article in Hot Rod magazine about a white '64 Polara and after taking a close look at the pictures I realized I had found my inspiration.

It's no secret that this car will be bright white in color and the example above fits right into my idea of what this car can be... given the cost. It has a bright red interior which really POPS and if you look closely the bumpers have been painted to simulate aluminum, (an all aluminum front end was available on these cars from the factory). There are a few things that I don't care for on this car, the wheels for instance, but for the most part its very close to what I can achieve given my financial limitations on this build.

What this will allow me to do is deviate from the "426 Street Wedge" recreation a little and have a little fun by exploring my creative side.

The first place I'll be able to do this is with the dash. When I checked in to the cost to "refurbish" the original plastic pieces and all the instruments, it was prohibitively expensive. So instead I'm redesigning the dash to represent what someone back in the day would have done if they were pretty serious about racing. Here is the stock dash for a 1964 Polara. Lots of plastic and most of it chromed.

The first thing I did was to delete all the "factory" plastic pieces. A flat metal surface with racing gauges, and a radio would be appropriate, but I also need to integrate air conditioning vents.

Here's the dash with new metal panels tacked in place. This will allow me to start with a flat surface. The original glove box was rather large and went all the way to the right edge of the dash. This wouldn't allow for any room for an AC vent on that side so... The glove box was narrowed 4" which made room for an AC vent on the right side.

On the driver's side a couple of flat pieces were tacked in place. I removed the outside skin of the ash tray and also tacked it in place. Let the rough body work begin....

After a few hours of work it was time to start laying out the instruments, vents and the radio locations. The photo below shows the proposed instrument layout along with the driver's side AC vent (round vent on the left side). Also note that the blower switch hole for the original heater has been filled. This area (next to the ignition key) will be where the controls for the AC will be located.

Next (after purchasing the radio) the appropriate hole was cut. Above the radio hole is where the two rectangular AC vents will be located. They will actually be slightly higher than what is marked on the dash, but you get the idea.

On the passenger's side the AC vent will fit nicely just to the right of the resized glove box door.

Finally the holes on the top of the dash that mounted the dash pad (another extremely expensive item) were filled.

And here is the finished dash design.

Finally to protect all the bare metal a couple coats of epoxy primer were sprayed on. I had to stretch my primer so it was a little over reduced which resulted in a couple minor runs. These will be taken care of in the finishing body work process. Next, once I receive the gauges and vents a lot of cutting is in order, then finish work. More on that next month.

OK, enough on the dash. Also this month I completed the AC installation. I made a cover for the stock air vent and fished the lines through an appropriate grommet.

I also drilled a hole in the floor for the drain hose.

Finally all the lines were hooked up permanently. Now all that remains are the two heater hoses and wiring. You can also see the two brass fittings for the heater lines on the right side of the unit. These will be hooked up next.

I also got started on the wiring by mounting the new fuse panel. This was mounted between the e-brake mechanism and the clutch pedal assembly. This is a good spot and will be easy to reach if fuses need to be replaced in the future.

This is a rudimentary wiring kit and includes basically just the fuse panel and the wiring for the dash. All wiring from the dash to other locations will be supplied by me. I am replacing all the wiring since 53 year old wires can't be trusted and can easily fail. I will also be using a system that's a little less complicated and easier to install than the stock Mopar system. More on that in a later update.

Finally I bench tested the wiper motor and lubricated and installed the motor and mechanism.

That's about it for this month.....check back next month for another update...

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