Friday, September 19, 2014

Buick Gran Sport for Sale

I have decided to place the Gran Sport up for sale. I really enjoy 4-Speed cars and one that I had looked at prior to purchasing the Gran Sport has resurfaced on the market. I have placed an ad on Ebay Motors and the following is the basic information from the Ebay ad.

I am the fourth owner of the Gran Sport and this is the history per the last owner.

The first owner purchased the car in Canada and had the car for many years. I have receipts for maintenance by the original owner showing mileage into the 70,000 + mile range. The car was sold to the second owner, a Fireman in New Jersey, who also kept the car for 8 or 9 years and sold the car due to poor health. The third owner was also a Fireman and a friend of the previous owner. He retired and brought the car to Florida and also developed health issues which prevented him from maintaining the car to his standard and sold the car to me.

All matching numbers. This is a rare big block muscle car as only 7,602 Gran Sport 400's were manufactured in 1969. It is very difficult to find one or see one at a car show in this condition.

It comes with the original GM Protect-O-Plate metal warranty card as issued to the original owner, Owners Warranty booklet showing owner and date of sale and Owners Manual.

Also have the original Buick dealership's booklet of information on their 1969 lineup of vehicles including specifications of the Gran Sport 350 and Gran Sport 400.

The following is an overview of the car.
1. 400 cu.in. engine rated at 340 HP and 440 pounds of torque ( without Ram Air ). With Ram Air Buick rated the engine at 367 HP and 466 pounds of torque.
2. 10.25 to 1 Compression ratio
3. Engine runs at approximately 75 pounds of oil pressure at driving RPMs.
4. Engine does not smoke, burn oil or leak
5. Does not run hot
6. Turbo 400 Transmission, considered one of the best heavy duty transmission manufactured by GM
7. New Electronic Ignition and spark plug wires
8. Newer hoses and belts
9. 3:31 Posi-Traction rear gears with a 12 bolt heavy duty rear differential
10. Duel exhaust, Mufflers and exhaust pipes replaced at about 79,000 miles
11. Power Brakes, with rare Aluminum Finned front brake drums. Stops straight.
12. Power Steering, no leaks
13. Power Windows, (all work perfect)
14. Tilt Steering wheel
15. Wood steering wheel with Buick Logo on center horn cap
16. Rear window defroster, blower in trunk, not wire in glass. Works great
17. Heater / Defroster and blower fan all work.
18. Cigarette Lighter does not work as a lighter, but has electrical power for accessories
19. Rally Sport Wheels, original factory and in excellent condition
20. BF Goodrich Radial T/A 235-60-15 tires with very good tread depth
21. Original Factory radio
22. Original factory correct GM seat belts
23. Tinted Glass
24. New Windshield installed August 2014
25. Windows, doors and hood weatherstriping in very good condition
26. New trunk weatherstriping
27. All lights interior and exterior in good working order ( including side marker lights and trunk light )
28. New GM certified carpet ( 80% Rayon & 20% Nylon Loop-Pile with 36 oz. jute padding ) Same as factory
29. New matching floor mats with Buick Tri-Shield Emblem. Also GM certified
30. No cracks in the dash
31. Newer vinyl top in excellent condition, no rust under top or around glass molding
32. Parking brake works
33. Trunk has been sprayed and has mat. no rust
34. Original jack ( refurbished to like new ) Full size spare
35. Front suspension is solid with no excessive play, recent lube of all points
36. Newer Gabriel Ultra Shocks
37. Floor pans appear to be solid. No rust found when new carpet was installed.
38. New oil change and Delco filter

When I purchased the car it had an aftermarket JVC stereo AM / FM / CD player with a plug in feature for front and/or rear Ipod / Portable Audio Player type accessory. The owner had the original radio which was in amazing condition. I removed the JVC unit and reinstalled the original Am radio. The JVC stereo will fit in the glove box and comes with the wiring harness and installation and operating instructions. Color coded wiring matching the wiring harness were capped under the dash and would be easy to reconnect to the JVC unit. This is becoming more common for people who like the original look but would like to enjoy a more modern sound system. Also the rear speakers are new. This is an option offered to the buyer.

The Gran Sport is completed!

Here are some photos of the Gran Sport post-restoration. Click on the image below to play the slideshow and 4 arrow button at bottom right to enlarge.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New carpet installation, restoring the armrest and door sills on the Gran Sport

I thought I would share the latest phase of restoring the Gran Sport. That being interior work and more specifically the installation of new carpet, replacing the armrest and buffing the door sills along with a few other small items.

Reworking the interior in a classic car is one of the most important and value added parts of restoring a car. It ranks almost as high as a new paint job.  Unfortunately, it is not as simple as some may think and if you are not willing to do the work and have to send it to a shop it can become very expensive. An extensive interior restoration, which would include new carpet, seat covers, headliner, dash pad, door panels, package tray and various miscellaneous trim items can easily run into the $2,000 to $2,600 + range depending on the car.

Basically there are two types of carpet offered for classic cars.  The first is Loop-pile and as the name implies the fabric is woven in a loop formation. This is the style of carpet that came in the cars of the 60s and early 70s. The second is Cut-pile. This style has the brush look and is the type of carpet found in most modern cars.

Since the Gran Sport is very close to being factory original throughout I decided to install the Loop-pile type of carpet. If you are considering purchasing new carpet for your classic my suggestion is to not be guided by price, especially if you are the one who will be doing the installation. When I am shopping for carpet here are a few descriptive terms I am looking for:

1. I want it to be a custom cut for the specific car I am working on.
2. I am also looking for a carpet that is Custom Molded or Press Molded, this is carpet that has been formed by the factory to fit the indentations of the car's floor pattern such as the drop in the floor area forward of the seats and also to the rear of the seats. Molded carpet will also have a rise in it to accommodate the center hump covering the drive shaft and transmission.
3. One last item on my list is that the carpet has sufficient jute padding attached. The jute padding will help to reduce both exhaust and transmission heat as well as reducing interior noise. The only downside to thick jute padding is that it makes the carpet less flexible. All the more reason to purchase a Custom or Press molded carpet.

So with the above said, what you will see being installed in the GS carries the following description;  Loop-Pile 80/20 ( 80% Rayon and 20% Nylon compound, same as factory and very durable) Custom Molded  with 36-oz jute padding. This is high quality carpet and came with an official GM Licensed Product tag that guarantees it conforms to the original GM quality standards. Purchased through Year One Parts.

When you are looking at the picture of the carpet in the catalog it appears as if it is ready to simply be dropped into the car once the seats are removed. Not really the case. It has been folded and packed for shipping in a flat box that has probably been sitting on a shelf for months before being shipped to you.  As a result, it has creases and lumps from the packing and does not look like the perfect picture in the catalog. Once you receive the carpet I would suggest you remove it from the box and lay it out on a flat surface for 3 to 5 days. This will help to remove some of the unwanted lumps and creases. Placing weights on the worst of the areas will help.


Loop-pile is a heavy duty carpet that is naturally stiff and with the added 36-oz of jute it becomes even more difficult to manipulate. I highly recommend a steamer as it will help to relax the fibers and make the carpet much easier to work with. These are two types of steamers that I have used. I prefer the smaller black unit as it can be brought into the car and also because it is trigger controlled. This unit is made by Singer and can be purchased at stores such as WalMart, Target and Ebay. Obviously, the larger one is a clothes steamer and it can also be used, however I find it bulky and the steam flow is constant.


This is where the installation and fun begins.  Seats, console, seat belts, and door sills have been removed. This is also the time when you may find some unexpected rust holes in the flooring. Fortunately, this car has solid floors and that was not an issue. 


Always start with the front section. This is the most difficult area to work and the most time consuming.   This section is not a perfect fit regardless of what the ad states. You will have to trim areas such as along the front fire wall, both sides that fit under the door sills, headlight high beam switch, if located on the floor, and a hole for the shiftier if a center console is installed in the car. This picture shows the front section just placed in the car. Note some of the creases and lumps are still in the carpet from packing. Before cutting or measuring use the rubber heal protector that is built into the carpet as a guide. Position the carpet so that the heal protector is properly situated under the gas pedal and brake pedal. Once this is done look at the rear edge of the carpet that will be going under the seats (has finished edge) to make sure it is not at an angle and is 90 degrees to the door sills. THIS IS THE TIME TO MEASURE TWICE AND CUT ONCE.



At this is point I have been using the steamer and hand pressure to get the carpet as smooth as possible and molded to the flooring. If necessary, do not hesitate to go over any ridges or creases a few times with the steamer, it will not damage the carpet or cause the jute to separate. With this completed I made most of the major trim cuts for the front section and it is in place. As a note - the carpet needs to overlap into the door sill area about 1/4 inch. When the sill is replaced it will press down on the carpet and hold it in place.



The rear carpet section goes in the same as the front. One area to note is that the rear carpet goes under the trimmed edge of the front carpet. There should be a minimum of about 2 inches of overlap of the front section to the rear carpet. So, make the final cut of the front section along the firewall your last major cut in the event you have to slide the front carpet section back some to achieve the 2 inch overlap.   

As to the screwdrivers - when you are at the stage where both the front and rear carpets are in their final place and you are ready to re-install the seats, seat belts, etc., it is much easier to locate the various bolt holes while you can still pull the carpet up and see and feel their location. If it is a bolt, just cut around it with a razor knife. If it is a hole, mark it with something pointed such as a screw driver and cut an X over the hole. As this area of the carpet typically has the jute backing, I cut out the carpet and jute so I can actually see the hole. This makes it much easier to get the bolt to catch the threads. Never use an electric drill to make holes in carpet as the drill has the tendency to catch fibers of the carpet and wrap it around the bit and in a split second it will pull a run in your carpet and I know of no way to repair it. Also, as you re-install the seats check to make sure that there are no electrical wires that will be under the seat railing.



Some final touches to the interior.

This is the armrest on the driver's side door. With the new carpet and the remaining components in this car's interior being in excellent condition I could not let this eye sore remain.

Even though this Buick is considered an "A" body car and was designed to compete with the GTO,     Olds 442 and Chevy Chevelle, almost everything seems to be carried to a higher level. This armrest for example is made up of four components. There is a chrome back plate. the armrest base, metal trim and the armrest pad. It is the armrest pad that is damaged. On most "A" bodies the armrest pad is 11 inches but on the Gran Sport it is 16 inches. The passenger's side armrest was in good condition but when ordering replacement armrest pads they are only sold in pairs and they only come in one color: black. The cost is $80 for two pads. Over the years I have worked frequently with vinyl dye so I was not concerned with a color change, my main concern was with finding matching colors. The armrest is actually two colors. The pad is Ivory and the base is Slate. I removed the complete passenger side armrest and made a visit to a paint and body supply store that carries my favorite brand of vinyl dye which is SEM. This "Made in the USA" company produces excellent paint and vinyl dyes. If the surface is prepped properly it is as durable as the original color. They also carry a large selection of colors.  
                                                                                                                                  

This is the restored pad and armrest. I redyed the armrest pad, put a new coat of dye on the armrest base and polished the trim. As I stated above, the armrest pads are only sold in pairs, so I restored both the driver's side door as well as the passenger side. Now both are like new.

As installed

Being that a lot of components have been removed from the car in connection with the carpet replacement it is the best time to do as much restoration as possible and save the time of removing the same parts again. Door sills are one of the first things you see when you open the door and a large trim piece of the interior. On some of my other cars the sills were in rough shape and had to be replaced. These were actually in good condition, so while I had them out I buffed them out using green buffing compound and a buffing wheel. I also ordered and installed replacement "Body by Fisher" emblems, which gave them the new fresh look. 



This is a list of everything that was done during this interior phase of the restoration.  

New carpet installed, restored both armrest, buffed the sill plates, redyed the seat belt retractor covers, redyed the hard backing on the bucket seats, refurbished the complete console including new bulbs and wiring for the shift selector, replaced the rear speaker covers and dyed them to match the package tray.


The finished product.






Hope this was helpful!