Been looking for a fun, cheap project car

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It nearly left me stuck at a gas station when it wouldn't start. First time it didn't kick over by the 2nd turn. Let it sit and waited for the carbs to air out, running way too rich right now. 

Bought a timing light to get it back on track, my 40 year old one finally gave out. 

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I think I outlined that earlier. Choose one of the three; Fun, Cheap or Project car. 

Fun is the car was restored by someone else and you pay for that but probably less than was invested.

Cheap, you don't care what it looks like, drives like, smells like.

Project Car, you're the guy that will invest far more into it than it's worth.

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I got the timing back in order and it ran fine but after fully warmed up it started to miss in the lower RPMs. I did a compression check and was amazed how strong and even each of the cylinders read. So it's not a valve or piston ring problem.

About a month ago I got up early and drove to Coffee & Cars in Corona, it's an informal bring what you've got car gathering, and again, after warming up it started it's lower RPM problem. Since I was an hour early I stopped at the Del Taco for coffee and breakfast burrito and afterwards hopped in the car, turned the key and it won't start. The starter engages and spins the crank but it just wont start. I'm confused as hell, it's cold out so it's definitely not vapor lock. I just timed the car so I was thinking it can't be spark but It smells like gas. I can't see anything disconnected under neath and after another ten minutes of trying to decide what to do I hit the key again and it comes to life. I go to the gathering, talk to a lot of people about the problem, no one seems to have an answer. When it was time to leave it started right up but still lugged and didn't want to run smooth in the lower rpms.

Fast forward a couple weeks and I've cleaned the pugs, done all of the tests I can think of, take it for a drive and get some lunch and again, it won't start back up. This time I'm screwed because I have a new bed being delivered and I have to get home. So I call a tow truck and $90 later we just get it in the garage and the bed delivery arrives.

By this time I'm thinking it could be a failing coil, that when it heats up it starts to give intermittent power to the distributor. So I buy a new coil and install it and the tests starts say it's working so I plan on another trip to Coffee & Cars since they were having a British Invasion theme. I get down the 71, roll the 91  for one exit and sure enough the damn thing it running poorly on surface streets in the lower rpms. I park it, lift the hood for show and wonder if it will start again.

The car got a lot of attention, four different guys said they owned one back in High School as their first car. I talked to the guy next to me about the hot start problem and he waited around to the event end and when I hit the ignition it wouldn't start. So we went through the double checking of everything we could and we both could tell it was pouring gas so we popped the distributor cap off and ran the starter to see what's going on inside. That's when we found I had no point gap. The car never should have started in the morning that way so we guessed it was a faulty spring that heats up and goes slack. We set the gap by eye and it starts on the second hit and runs smooth as silk. 

I get it home and just as I'm pulling into the driveway I start to hear a noise. I shut it down and popped the hood. rechecked the point gap with a feeler gauge and set it to the proper setting and started it up gain but the noise said we're not looking a point gap problem. 

That is the sound of $200 for a rebuilt distributor.


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The old distributor has about 3/8" vertical play on the shaft. That's not supposed to be able to happen which means something inside is seriously shot to hell. No rebuild parts were available so I had to go after market. Called up a trusted supplier and ordered a new distributor that is supposed to be plug and play. 

Installed the new distributor. It came with an electronic ignition module which is a plus. What it doesn't have is the adjustable vacuum advance which is dissapointing but it really doesn't need it. I just wanted it to stay factory original in looks. I may have thd old one rebuilt and stick it on a shelf for a backup. 

The electronic ignition required wiring both positive and negative to the coil. Once seated and wired up I pulled the Choke and turned it over. It sat long enough I had to wait for the mechanical fuel pump to catch up and after the third try it started up. 

Then all it required was to let the engine warm up and set timing. That required rotating the distributor and checking the timing marks with the strobe while also reading out where it sat degree wise on the scope. Once at 8 degrees I tightened down the clamp that holds the distributor in place and went to work on idle adjustments. 

Because the other unit was failing the idle setting was way off. Once I pushed in the Choke it died immediately. So I adjusted both carbs idle screws and locked them down. Or at least tried to. The first in row SU idle screw and fastening nut were stripped so I can't actually lock it in place. I scrambled through my collection of screws only to find this is a metric threading and nothing I have fits. I'm going to stop by King Bolt on the way to work to see if the have a replacement that I can get by with until I do a complete rebuild. Otherwise I will be paying $12 postage for a $2 part. I hate that. 

Fix one thing, another shows up. But at least I'm not paying mechanic prices for labor so it's all my own time which if you ask some of my clients it ranges from priceless to worthless. 

Oh, it drives a hell of a lot better right now. I took it for a test drive down to the Railside Cafe for a celebratory coffee. I can't wait to see what it does once it's all dialed in. 


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So I have a 1972 Chevy C-20 “Highlander”.  It’s an uncommon trim package that was offered late in ‘72 that basically has plaid seats, with a few other upgrades.  Today, plaid seats is what differentiates a Highlander vs. any other C-10 and C-20 trim package.  Apparently the story is that Chevy needed to sell its remaining stock of 1972s before the new body style 1973s came out.  So they threw a bunch of high end options on the trucks at a discount and, genius idea, “let’s throw some plaid seats in, too!”  

So today the Highlander is a uncommon and not well known relic of late 1972.

I bought mine about 5 years ago (when I sold my ‘66 Mustang but couldn’t give up having a classic) and over the years it’s been my Home Depot and back truck and short haul big items truck, but little things kept going out and I didn’t fix them.  

I was on the verge of selling it but I decided to have all those little things fixed (headlights, heater, gas sending unit, fuel pump, starter, wiper motor).  Everything is functional now and I’m in love again with the truck and am going to start fixing things up.  

Anyone else own or owned one of these 66-72 Chevys?

I need to do a few things on the interior, which I can do myself, but I also probably need a paint job, I definitely need to do something about the wood bed that’s deteriorating.  Any suggestions on places that will do body or paint work at reasonable costs?

Here she is:


Edited by calscuf

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