The Yankee Express.

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  • #71647
    Randy
    Participant

    This is my custom car project, “The Yankee Express”, a 1967 Dodge Coronet 500. I hope I don’t get run out of here for not customizing a 49 Ford or something…lol.

    I will say a little about me and this car to begin with. I’m in my early 60’s and have spent the better part of my life in the US Army, Combat Aviation. In 30 years of service I had ample time to dream up what all I would do to a this car once I had the chance. Fate stepped in and sent me to Iraq where I sustained injuries, TBI & PTSD as well as physical injures. So all of that dreaming seemed like it was for naught.

    Well, it turns out that I can still work on a car, it just takes six times longer. lol.

    So, I bought this Coronet in October of 2014, it was a 100% complete car & running and driving. It’s an A/C car and came with a 318 V- 8, column shift 727 auto, black/black interior and a cream color exterior. Factory tinted glass all around.

    I sat in various chairs and on buckets overturned for about a month trying to create the list of modifications I wanted to perform and that would blend in and not look gaudy or over the top. I wanted it to seem as though it came from Dodge that way.

    I wanted the mods to be such that an onlooker would know that something had been changed but not be sure just what was different. I hope that I have achieved this.

    Here’s the list of customized items that have been changed.

     

    Front to back—— Front bumper sectioned, shortened, turn signal rectangular holes filled, recurved to fit the new fender noses and to hug the sheet metal. Also enlarged the center license plate cut out into a ram airduct.
    1967 Charger grill and revolving headlights. Custom elec motors, mounts and linkages.
    Front fender noses swept back to a 90* angle ( Think 70 Road Runner).
    Front disc brakes swap from a 76 Aspen.
    All rubber bumpers and bearings replaced.
    Inner fender close out smooth panels to hide wiring etc.
    Smooth firewall with relocated wiper motor to under dash as is everything previously on the firewall.
    Battery to box behind passenger seat.
    Wiring pass through tubes running along outside of inner fender just below the fender mounting flanges and into the cab through the firewall.
    Wiring passthrough boots in the door frames.
    2004 Audi A6 Quattro dash/console /steering and center pull E Brake. And everything in/on the dash console too.
    Audi door panel elements fabricated into new panels that align with the Audi dash.
    Puddle lights and rear facing marker light on the rear face of the inner door surface so it can be seen when the door is opened.
    Power everything.
    Custom steering linkages.
    dual M/C and new hoses/lines.
    10 way, power/heated bucket seats leather.
    1967 Plymouth Sport Fury rear seat topper mounted just behind bucket seat tops and close out roadster type panels from there to the back glass. (Think 59 Corvette)
    Audi armrest with 4 analog gauges hidden inside.
    GPS speedo
    spare tire under the roadster panels in what would have been the center of the rear seat. Close out panel between cab and trunk.
    Fabricated shift linkage and lever. Hand made pistol grip and reverse lock out.
    Fake quarter panel side scoops opened up.
    dual motorcycle pop up gas filler caps, one on top of each quarter near the trunk lid front corners.
    fabricate the entire rear face of the car to accept 1966 Thunder Bird tail lights.
    Trunk lid on gas lifts
    17 gallon fuel cell with dual filler necks.
    trunk close out panels
    rear wells tubbed
    leaf springs relocated to under frame.
    center pull E Brake cables
    move spring perches
    remove spare tire well

    1970 Road Runner rear bumper lengthened 4 5/8″ and recurved to hug the sheet metal. TTI exhaust to exit through those back up light holes.
    Remote trunk release.
    ‘shave gas filler door
    ditch the 318 in favor of an RPM Racing Engines built 440 Magnum, and build a custom 727.

    There are a lot of smaller things that had to be done to facilitate the larger items completion as well.

    Here’s some pictures.

    • This topic was modified 5 days, 23 hours ago by Randy. Reason: addition,
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    #71658
    Randy
    Participant

    It’s been almost seven years now and it’s almost ready for paint. I have painted the front clip, and the rest of the shell has been epoxy primered in black previously. It’s about ready for light grey primer right now.

    Here’s some pictures of the journey, i’ll attempt to keep them in chronological order.

     

     

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    #71669
    Randy
    Participant

    More photos..

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    #71680
    Randy
    Participant

    More…

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    #71691
    Randy
    Participant

    Still more….

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    #71705
    Russ McLean
    Participant

    Randy,

    I’m another new guy here. I’m not sure if this site is mostly dormant – or – you are being ignored…

    I will post my car and we will see if it gets any reaction.

    Russ

    1962 Volvo PV544 mild custom. A 55 year old dream come true - with much help from Smooth Engineering in Phoenix, AZ (Many thanks to Ed Smoot).
    Still trying to navigate this site.

    I am the frequently deleted TrailerTrashToo on the HAMB, a little nervous if I am "on-topic" here.

    #71711
    Rik Hoving
    Keymaster

    Hello Randy, welcome.

    we don’t have a cut-off date here, as long as the subject stays on topic, and your description sure fits that.

    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    #71720
    Randy
    Participant

    Russ, thanks for the assist. While your car is out of the mainstream focus it’s still an interesting project. I firmly believe in working with what you have and enjoying whatever makes YOU tick. I look forward to seeing all about your Volvo. BTW my bucket seats are out of a Volvo XC-90…

     

    Randy.

    #71721
    Randy
    Participant

    Hello Rik & thanks for the reply, I WAS beginning to wonder. I understand that every car forum is different and the subject matter moves along at varying rates depending. As an example I belong to FBBO ( For B Bodies Only) and that site is very busy. I belong to a number of forums, primarily because I love the car world and because I suffer with TBI & PTSD. They preclude me from traveling much or attending crowded shows. THIS is my outlet to the world and my social network concerning cars. Thanks for allowing me to participate.

    Since I’m NOT in violation of a year model type requirement i’ll begin sharing the trials and tribulations involved in my customizing. Sharing the journey so to speak.

     

    Randy.

     

     

    #71722
    Randy
    Participant

    I’ll start at the beginning.

    My wife knew that I was looking for something to occupy my time after forced medical retirement from the service, after combat in Iraq, and also knew of my intense interest in classic and custom cars. I have never had any particular affinity for a certain make or model, always enjoying the wide range of styles and trends on offer.

    One fine day she happened to see this Dodge Coronet offered up for immediate sale on Craig’s List in NY state. She mentioned it to me and I perused the listing. After some discussion about price we called the lady up to inquire. I ended up asking the seller to hold the car for me as I was literally on my way from Vermont with a trailer and the cash! $3750.00

    I rounded up my good friend Rick from up the road a ways, a fellow gear head and owner of several custom trucks and 1966 Coronet, his trailer and snacks for the trip. We headed up to Massena, NY near the St Lawrence Sea Way to pick up my prize.

    The car was as advertised, a 1967 Coronet with 69,000 original miles and running and driving.

    We paid the lady and hauler her home through the Adirondacks. The car, not the lady….

    The first photos in this thread are of the car right after unloading it from the trailer at Ricks place in October of 2014. The car was complete right down to the nice hubcaps.

    It’s a NC car that spent some time in Texas as well. Built in Canada, a three owner car with the original Cert-i-Card still present in it’s little holder on the radiator frame.

    After thanking Rick for his invaluable assistance I climbed in and fired the old girl up. It drove okay, a little loosey goosey in the steering, and drove it down the road a mile or two to my house and right into the garage bay where she still sets. At that time I had no equipment and barely had hand tools, likely I had no business starting a car project, but, undaunted I set about figuring out what exactly I meant to to do to this car.

    One of the photos above shows a set of 340 Duster hood scoops setting on the cars hood. This was Ricks contribution to the early mock up of ideas we were kicking around. lol. They didn’t survive the second round of ideas. lol.

    I viewed many, many 67 Coronets online for several weeks in an effort to see what everyone else was up to with this model because I simply didn’t want to make changes that the community had already tried and discarded as simply wrong or unsightly. For instance, I found out that rump stripes were a ‘no no’ for this car as well as rear spoilers.

    Good to know. Also I found that nobody to date had tried the ideas that I had i mind for this car, although there were several examples of the use of different dash layouts and console types.

    Along the way I learned that most of the 66/67 models of B Body cars were somewhat interchangeable part wise. The body measurements and axle widths matched. Cut & paste was a possibility.

    I had always liked the rotating headlight idea on the cars that came with it and immediately made the first decision for this car that I would incorporate them into it. They were a direct swap in. the front sheet metal was identical. The surrounds were different but the cars were using the same upper grill support and a different lower support that would bolt right up. The headlights on the 67 Coronet would need to be dismounted to make room for the 67 Buckets from the Charger. The wiring would need to be transferred over as well due to the limit switches and relays for the rotating buckets and motors. So, job one was a doable deal.

    The next item became the fender noses. I disliked a few things about the look of the 67 Coronet and the hood contour lines was a big one for me. The way they flowed down the center of the hood was fine but then way they angled out towards the front corners turned me off. I felt that it was a design mistake on the part of Dodge to not just keep them straight down to the nose of the hood. Worse, in my view was the continuation of this mistake by having those lines incorporated into the noses of the fenders, causing the nose to angle forward at a 45* relative to the front face of the car. I think it just makes the car look unnecessarily longer. Dowdy & pedestrian rather than living up to the promise of the ‘Coke Bottle’ side styling and swept back roof lines of the remainder of the body. It seemed, to me anyway, that Dodge had designed a car here that they then ruined by including several touches that took away from the sleek lines IMHO.

    I spent some time to decide exactly how to make that happen. I bought a nose section from another hotrodder so I could cut it up and see if it would be possible to do, and what the pitfalls might turn out to be, if any. I found out that this car had been smacked on both front corners at some point so there would be bodywork up there regardless.

    After slicing apart the section donor, basically removing a wedge of material, i rotated backwards the remaining front part to butt up against the fender. This gave me insight into how the contour lines would match up. They didn’t really. I needed to cut in a different spot to make that happen. Good thing I tried it on a donor piece! After much cutting and taping bits and chunks back on I arrived at the optimum cutting locations to achieve the look I was after AND end up with the least amount of filler to make it look right. Making it LOOK right was high on my list of priorities.

    One down and moving on. I still had not begun to disassemble the car. After looking at many 67 Chargers and Coronets, comparing the two front ends looks I noticed that the Charger had the parking lights incorporated into the grill and not on the bumper. So THOSE rectangular holes would have to be shaved, or, a different bumper would need to be used. I didn’t like the Coronet bumper to begin with, so modifying it was a given.

    • This reply was modified 4 days, 8 hours ago by Randy.
    • This reply was modified 4 days, 8 hours ago by Randy.
    #71725
    Randy
    Participant

    So… after looking over many bumpers, from many year/models/makes of cars and trucks it became clear that the 67 Coronet bumper would need to be sliced and diced.

    This eventuality would require some serious consideration before the fact. While thinking this over I happened to stumble across photos of someone else’s 67 Coronet custom roller that had had the front bumper modified in a similar manner. A-HA! A clue!

    It also became apparent that the bumpers would need to painted body color because I didn’t have the cash to send them off to be rechromed after modification. Oh well.

    So this would be a project point which would have to be dealt with after the fender noses were modified. Moving along Rick and I sat around and spit balled about what else might look good.

    A Hemi scoop was a must have. the fender mounted turn signal indicators had to definitely go.

    Moms grocery go getter was NOT what I envisioned.

    The radio antenna was also going in the trash, or to be traded. Charger grill trim would have to be sourced. The car came with a 318 V8 & A/C so it also had a 26″ radiator and a transmission cooler. Both must haves. Also this meant that it had a V8 K Frame, the span of steel that supported the motor/steering gear front suspension assembly. One more thing that I wouldn’t have to source. We turned to the issue of front drum brakes next. The pitifully small Master cylinder would HAVE to go as well. After some research I found that late model 1970’s Dodge and Plymouth cars and trucks had many parts that would bolt right up to the 67’s. How nice of MA MOPAR to do that. I then met, through Rick, another Mopar guy, Gary, who had a very nice stable of cars and many parts to sell/trade. He happened to have a set up of front disc brakes off of a 1976 Aspen. I bought them right away. They were a rusty mess but salvageable. I really only needed the spindles and caliper mounts.

    Next up was the engine bay & what could be accomplished in there that might be cool.

    Several ideas came and went. I saw an Opel, of all things, at a local show around then that happened to have smooth inner fender close out panels on it. They were really neat looking too. I also saw an episode of a car builder show where they did the same thing to a 59 Impala. The purpose would be twofold, to hide wiring behind and for looks.  Looked easy enough so I went to the local steel supply and got a sheet of 20 Ga steel and had them cut them to size for length and width as well as putting the bend in there using their 8 foot sheet metal brake, as per my cardboard cut out pattern. I got them home and trimmed them to fit. Pretty easy mod to make.

    We decided to move the battery out of the engine bay to the trunk. Also to replace the firewall with a smooth one and relocate the wiper motor to under the dash and fill in the divot it sat in on the cowl edge. This meant I would need to locate the right spot under there that would let the arms move without binding up or interfering with anything else. Lots of times in & out under the dash on my back. Fun stuff!

    I had also joined FBBO at that time and began to accumulate friends there who I could use as sounding boards for my proposed ideas. An invaluable resource. One suggested that a smaller wiper motor might be needed. We discussed what vehicles had them, he had needed one to put in his ‘Little Red Wagon” tribute truck. In the end it didn’t matter, I decided to radically change the inside of the car.

    • This reply was modified 4 days, 7 hours ago by Randy.
    #71727
    Randy
    Participant

    Sitting on overturned Home Depot plastic five gallon buckets we tossed around ideas for the interior of the car. Different seats, different fabric, custom door cards, power add on’s etc.

    We couldn’t decide and left it for awhile, to percolate. During this time I began to disassemble the car. Removing fenders and doors, pulling the engine. Funny story about that. I had the car on jacks stands then while working on it. The Dodges were designed to have the entire engine bay contents mounted onto the K Frame and inserted into the bay from underneath, all in one go. The K Frame bolts to the frame with four big bolts and Bob’s yer Uncle.

    So, clever me decided to take it out that way too. I unbolted those four bolts and the entire front of the car lifted up and the rear bumper smacked the garage floor! Boy was THAT a dumb move. I had the rear set of jacks stationed too far forward of the rear wheels, setting up a teeter tooter.

    After determining that it wasn’t about to fall off of the stands, and that it had not hit hard enough to damage anything, I slid the engine and K frame right out from under the radiator support. I leaned on the top of the support and the car returned to level but I had a problem. I was by myself and couldn’t leave go of the car or it would tip back up! What to do?

    The front wheels with tires on them were leaning against the wall nearby and i could just reach them with and outstretched leg. I tipped one over and dragged it with my heel over to me so I could wrestle it up on top of the corner of the radiator support and inner fender. Ditto with tire two. They weighed enough to counterbalance the rear. I immediately moved the stands around. lol.  While this went on I was still thinking about the interior. As it happens I am also an AUDI fanboy. I bought a brand spanking new 1985 5000 Quattro sedan from a West German dealership while stationed there and drove it all over the autobahns. Great car! Loved it so much I had it shipped home and drove it another year in the states before selling it along. Anyway, that got me to thinking about Audi interiors. I looked them up online and settled on the 1998-2004 A4-A6 variety. I like the way they looked. Now, to find a donor.

    I wasn’t 100% set on the idea yet and decided the best way to settle the matter was to first locate cars and trucks with dashes that I could live with that were also the correct length to mount in the Coronet cab between the A pillars. With my trusty tape measure in hand, I hit the local wrecking/salvage yards. I must have poked around in at least 700 cars and trucks. Nothing suited me. On the last day of looking I found out that a local tire joint had a scrap yard behind it with about 100 cars and trucks sitting around. Low and behold there was a 2004 Audi Quattro A-6 wagon sitting there. The windows were up and the inside dry. I put the tape measure to it and YES!!!! it was the correct length, and complete. I had found my interior.

    #71728
    Randy
    Participant

    I went to the owner of the yard and described what I wanted to do and asked about costs. He was good to me. lol. I came back the next day with my pickup truck and lots of tools. I intended to pull that car apart. One of the things that I like about Audi’s is the German craftsmanship, the solid feel. I learned that day why they were that way. What a pain in the butt to disassemble that car!! Holy Moly! it had been way overbuilt! I had a lot of work ahead of me. The wiring harness was a bear to get out. The aluminum dash frame had hidden fasteners….

    I got it all eventually, including the door cards, console, A/C ducting, steering, stereo system, door speakers, handles, dash, heater, computer, rear door cards and trim, two bucket seats from a nearby Volvo XC-90.

    After getting my purchases home I set the dash body into the space where it would go and stood back for an appraisal. It would have to be modified to fit, the windshield curve didn’t match. The front of the dash stuck out into the cab past the A pillars by 9 inches. No go.

    So I got out the snips and began cutting the leading edge of the dash down to fit. I ended up cutting 7 inches out of the center on a curve to copy the Coronet windshield. I had to be careful because I had decided to remove from the Audi door cards the pull handles and upper trim that matched the contours of the dash ends which allowed the dash contours to continue flowing through the upper door cards. I wanted to incorporate those bits into a custom door card for the Coronet. The door bits needed to be done first before the dash because the Coronet door frame was different than the Audi and I had no idea how to match them up. After trial and error over weeks I had a working design for the doors that would look  right, match the dash, and allow the door to open and close without the Audi bits hanging up on the A pillars. Also I had to work out the opening and closing of the wing windows. Once they were fabricated and mocked up, another story, I hung the doors in place and proceeded to trim the dash. First getting the curvature right I trimmed that bit by bit until the dash matched the doors for perfect flow through of the contours. I mocked the dash in place by supporting it with a rolling seat and some other junk and then took measurements and made patterns for the dash mounting plates to bolt up to the Audi aluminum dash sub frame. I fabricated those plates and welded them in to the A pillars. I then bolted in the dash and sat back to admire my handiwork.

    Several things became self evident in short order.

    First of all there were no pass throughs in the door frames for wiring, the floor shift lever base now sat 14 inches rearward of the stock location, as did the bucket seats, the steering wheel hit the Coronet brake pedal mounting assembly, the gas pedal would be a reach, there was gobs of space under this dash for whatever I wanted to hide under there. I would have to devise a center pull E Brake assembly mount. The Coronet trans tunnel hump was much lower than the Audi console. Clearly this was NOT going to be a simple bolt in. But, it looked “Bitchin” setting in there and I was undaunted! Many other small changes came to light as I moved along with this install, things that would have to be fabricated to make it all work in the Coronet door shells and cab.

    #71731
    James D
    Participant

    Interesting later model custom. Cool read.

    #71733
    Randy
    Participant

    Thank you!  It has been fun. mostly..

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