1975 Chevy Laguna Parts & Accessories- Makeover Magic
14 Homegrown Ideas To Spice Up Your Pro Touring Ride.
From the April, 2009 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Johnny Hunkins
Photography by Heath Elmer, Johnny Hunkins, Keith Kanak
Project Talladega, our resident...
Project Talladega, our resident '75 Laguna NASCAR tribute, is the source for the overwhelming majority of DIY tips in this story. Used independently or in combination, they can visually juice up any Pro Touring project--and not just those with a NASCAR bent.
When we first got the idea to do a Chevy Laguna project car years ago, it occurred to us that these cars had the strongest identity with stock car racing in the '70s. In planning a project direction, it just made the most sense to go with a NASCAR look for this particular body style. As the idea grew, we also realized that the look could be duplicated relatively easy, and with some creativity, it wouldn't cost much. And while other magazines have talked about doing it for years, we're actually the first to pull it off.
We've assembled here the most important fabrication and styling aspects of our '75 Laguna in these 14 mini stories. Most of them were done during or just after our Laguna was painted at Ricky's Customs & Restorations (Apache Junction, Arizona). A lot of the ideas and most of the heavy lifting for the Laguna came from Heath Elmer of Arizona Auto Trim (aka Heath Elmer Restorations, Mesa, Arizona). If you've got a project that needs help, Heath's a great guy to call (602-670-8880). Heath is a rare jack of all trades; he specializes in graphics, but does body and paint, restorations, and best of all, he's got a great eye for detail and style.
We're aware that the stock car racing theme may not resonate with everyone, but there is still a take-away for the roundy-haters: these tips and tricks can be lifted from this story, and they will translate well to other build styles. Our choice of mid-'70s iron may also raise some hackles, and to those purists who only dig '69 Camaros, we say keep an open mind. If we can make a '75 Laguna look cool, just think what these ideas will do for your car!
Custom Steel Wheels
When we settled on a NASCAR theme for our Pro Touring Laguna, it automatically meant steel wheels, but we were in for a big shock when we found out how inexpensive they were. After measuring our fitment, we special ordered five wheels (gotta have a spare!) in Bassett's D-Hole Lightweight line. For our '75 Laguna, we ordered 15x8-inch wheels with a 5x4.75-inch bolt circle and a 4.5-inch backspacing. We also ordered 1-inch NASCAR-style lugs, 5/8-inch valve stems, and custom bright orange powdercoating. The bill topped out at just $448.95, including freight.
Bassett Racing Wheel
Our Bassett D-Hole Lightweight...
Our Bassett D-Hole Lightweight steel wheels weigh just 17 pounds each--that's about what a custom billet alloy wheel weighs, but it costs about 90 percent less. Bassett was even able to match the exact color of our vinyl graphics with the swatch we provided them. Bassett custom powdercoats wheels all the time for big race teams, so this was no big deal for them.
Before ordering from Bassett,...
Before ordering from Bassett, we measured our Laguna, and discovered we had plenty of space. Use a straightedge and a ruler to calculate backspacing; support the car under the ball joint, and check the clearance at both ends of steering lock. We settled on a 15x8, but we could've gone 15x10. We also made the decision to stick with the stock bolt circle just to make things simple.
Compared to what was on the...
Compared to what was on the Laguna, the new Bassetts look way better, and fill the wheelwell just fine. For rolling stock, we chose Nitto NT555 Extreme Drag Radials, 275/60R15 for all four corners. Of all the things you can do to your car, the rolling stock is what leaves the biggest impression, good or bad. It pays to science this out.
At Bassett, they got to work...
At Bassett, they got to work building our custom wheels within the week. Each wheel is made to order, and custom backspacing is no problem.
With our rolling stock settled, we wanted to further exploit the NASCAR theme with big white letters. Traditionally, that would mean Firestone, Goodyear, or Hoosier lettering, but we had Nitto tires. No problem, just hijack the look using a Nitto logo. Fortunately, we were working with Heath Elmer of Arizona Auto Trim on this project, and he was able to quickly download a Nitto logo off the Internet, load it in his graphics program, curve it to our tire diameter, and cut a painting mask out of vinyl. All this took less than an hour's time, and it's inexpensive, too. Additionally, Heath can make painting masks for anything, including bodywork.
Arizona Auto Trim
Peel the paper backing off...
Peel the paper backing off the mask and tape some paper on the edge to prevent overspray. White or yellow spray paint can be used; just make sure to put on a very light coat. A heavy coat will crack the paint as the tire flexes. Over time, the paint will dull and turn brown, just like a used tire. We like that look, too.
Want that no-nonsense NASCAR...
Want that no-nonsense NASCAR look for your tires? Paint the logo of your choice right on the sidewall. You can put anything there, but we chose a big Nitto logo using a paint mask and some Dupli-Color spray paint.
You'll need a vinyl mask to...
You'll need a vinyl mask to do this, and you can have Heath Elmer make them for you for a very minimal charge to cover his time and materials. Heath charges $45 plus shipping for a set of four tire masks. After cleaning the sidewall with lacquer thinner, carefully place the mask on the tire, then burnish it.
A headlight block-off cover is a real easy way to send out a race car vibe for a Pro Touring car, especially if you're looking for the NASCAR or Trans Am look. The only problem is that permanently blocking your headlights is illegal for the street, not to mention unsafe. The key is making a block-off that can be easily removed. After making some block-off blanks from sheet aluminum using a template and a waterjet, we discovered some Dzus fasteners from Moroso would give us the quick access we needed, while keeping the race car equipment theme.
Summit Racing Equipment
Nothing says race car like...
Nothing says race car like a headlight block-off cover. We even put a vinyl number on the driver-side block-off to increase the vibe.
The inspiration for our Laguna's...
The inspiration for our Laguna's headlight covers came from period NASCAR racers, the only difference being that the originals were not removable.
After Advanced Waterjet cut...
After Advanced Waterjet cut the aluminum block-offs from a template we made, we curved it to fit the bezel, only to find out that the domed headlights interfered. Advanced charges $47.50 for this pair of 1/16-inch block-offs.
After lots of trial fitting...
After lots of trial fitting and trimming to the block-off cover, we established the cover's depth inside the bezel, bent the mounting clips at a right angle, and drilled holes to mount the formed clips in the bezel. Here, we're attaching the retaining clips to the mount with a rivet gun.
The answer was to replace...
The answer was to replace the stock headlights with these flat ones from Zoops. We got them from Summit Racing (PN 101C) for $49.95 each, and they bolted right in and plugged up to our existing wire harness. This was by far the biggest expense for the block-off covers.
Once the mounts are in place,...
Once the mounts are in place, you can mark and drill your holes for the Dzus fasteners. These are riveted to the covers once you have trial fit the covers to the bezel. Ours now fit perfectly, and come off very easily with a screwdriver or a spare coin.
While our Laguna was being...
While our Laguna was being painted, we sent out the chrome headlight bezels with the rest of the trim for powdercoating (Extreme Powder Coating in Mesa, AZ, 480-832-9034). The satin black matched the car perfectly. With those back in hand, we began fashioning the Dzus fastener receiver clips (Moroso PN 71550, $6.88 from Summit) to the inside of the bezels. The Dzus fasteners (PN 41440, $41.69 from Summit) attach to the covers after the mounting clips are in place.
Quick Trick: Nutserts
Also known as threadserts, these dandy pieces are useful for adding attachment points to metal surfaces. A nutsert is similar to a rivet: it's installed with a crimping tool that pinches the nutsert around a metal surface in a hole that's the same size as the OD of the nutsert. We used nutserts for our windshield blow-out straps and rear spoiler, and found them easy to use right out of the box the first time out. Threadserts come in a variety of thread sizes (you can get them at Ace Hardware), and once installed, provide a fairly sturdy attachment point that lasts a long time. It's a good alternative to welding tabs or nuts, especially after you've painted a car. These are widely used in race cars, and add a nice repertoire of build choices to the hot rodder's trick bag.
Quick Trick: Riveting
Rivets are a staple or race car builders; they're quick, easy, sturdy, and lend any car a distinct race car vibe. We're not saying they're for every car, but if you like your hot rods rough and ready, rivets give you clear fabrication options unavailable from other techniques in the same price range. Riveting two pieces together is shamefully easy--drill your holes, load the right size rivet in the gun, and squeeze. You'll want to practice on a few pieces first, because the rivet gun clips the extra nub off the rivet at the end, sometimes resulting in the tool bouncing on your paintjob! Easy does it, and you're good to go.
Quarter-windows, especially the opera windows of mid-'70s cars, are pretty useless. In fact, our Laguna originally had louvered covers that served a strictly decorative function. For some reason, these were missing from our Laguna when we bought it, so we improvised with these aluminum block-off plates. We felt they would look racier than the louvers, and we could make them faster (and cheaper) than we could find original louvers. The original NASCAR stockers used the factory louvers, and it's painfully obvious from looking at period photos that they did so because they were required, otherwise they would've done what we did!
We made a rough cardboard...
We made a rough cardboard template of a block-off while the car was being painted, scanned it, and converted it into a digital template. We emailed the cover template, along with the headlight template and a few other template scans, to Advanced Waterjet in Anaheim, CA. (Price for the pair came to $78 for materials and labor.) We had the 1/16-inch-thick aluminum waterjet pieces in time for when the car came out of paint. Without access to this software, you can simply cut a piece of cardboard and send it to Advanced; they can create a smooth digital template for you. If you've got a Laguna, Advanced already has our templates on file.
The aluminum block-off will...
The aluminum block-off will be riveted in place like a real race car would have. Here the holes are being marked on the greenhouse with a center punch. It's important that the rivet holes in the block-off plate match those in the roof perfectly.
We used the rivet gun--a staple...
We used the rivet gun--a staple of race car builders everywhere--liberally throughout the Laguna. They're fast, the rivets are strong, and they have the perfect look for what we wanted. It took just a few minutes to attach all our block-off rivets.
Start With A Rendering
As much as you may be tempted to jump right in with both feet, just remember that few people have the ability to visualize a project in their head and follow it through. It's also a problem when other vendors or shops get involved who cannot see what's floating in your head. Take the time to produce a good rendering, stick to it, and provide it to all parties--you'll be rewarded in the end. After seeing Chris Gray's rendering of a fantasy 1970 Chevy Nova Trans Am car, we knew he had the chops to pull off our NASCAR Laguna idea. Chris did about a half dozen versions for us before we settled on this one. Chris works on computer, so once the body template has been modeled, it's relatively easy for him to change out graphics and color schemes. If you work with an artist who draws freehand, changes are going to be more costly. Chris charged us $500, but he also had to render a complete 3D body shape for a '75 Laguna--which jacked the price up. If he's already done a body style--say a '69 Camaro--the price is much less.
Sometimes inspiration comes...
Sometimes inspiration comes from existing sources, like this old photo of Neil Bonnett's '75 Laguna race car. We used Bonnett's car number, and even put his name on the roof. Note the headlight covers, and the rear spoiler, which does not extend all the way to the corner of the car.
We also liked the look of...
We also liked the look of cars in pre-season testing, which are usually primered, and have very few sponsor logos. The suede/satin finish of our Laguna mimics this primered look. Down the line, we plan on thinning out our decals to come closer to the pre-season test style. One thing that didn't translate from the rendering to the finished car is that the graphics look a lot more imposing on the finished car than in the rendering.
Converting a fresh rendering onto a real car calls for special equipment and special skills. You'll need someone to produce your graphics, and Heath Elmer of Arizona Auto Trim is one of the best. Most graphics can be applied at home with a few tools such as a razor blade and masking tape, but you only get one chance to get it right. Heath can do a graphics package like the one on our Laguna for about $400, including the installation. (It runs about half that if you do the install yourself.) Compared to having graphics painted on, it's a lot less expensive, and it's temporary, too (in case you change your mind or mess up). Vinyl graphics like this typically last 6-7 years when stored outside--just make sure to use top-quality exterior vinyl like the Calon Arlon line Heath uses.
Arizona Auto Trim
Vinyl graphics can be big...
Vinyl graphics can be big and bold, like on our Laguna, or classic and subtle, like the SS stripes on our '68 Chevelle project car. Either way, it's a quick, inexpensive way to get the look you're after. They're also easily removed in case you lose your sponsor! (During the mid-'70s, Neil Bonnett had different sponsors just about every time he raced.)
Heath Elmer runs Arizona Auto...
Heath Elmer runs Arizona Auto Trim out of his house with a computer, and a Roland graphics plotter. Roland is more widely known for their musical instruments and keyboards, but they are a top manufacturer of plotters and cutters for vinyl graphics.
You will receive your vinyl...
You will receive your vinyl graphics from Heath with a protective paper adhesive backing on top. This will allow you to position them on the car with masking tape before you peel off the sticky side.
Maybe the proper title for this tip is "Don't Be A Dork!" Seriously, if you drop thousands on parts and spend years working on your car and it still looks like a refugee from Hurricane Katrina, then it's time to quit. Cutting your coil springs is a relatively unsophisticated and cheap way to arrive at the right stance, and within reason, won't cause any handling problems. You were planning on upgrading your suspension later on anyway, so why not make the stock springs work for you in the meantime? Later on, we'll be putting legit suspension parts under Project Talladega, but until then, we can have some fun with the junker stock springs.
Here's our de-dorkified Laguna...
Here's our de-dorkified Laguna after the springs were cut two coils in the front and one in the rear. We're ready for Talladega now! Keep in mind that this type of mod is strictly for looks. If you plan on actually hitting the track, you need professional help with a properly matched suspension system. We'll get to that later this year, but for now, this look is working for us.
We started with the stock...
We started with the stock ride height and these outcast third-gen Z/28 wheels with too much negative offset. It's about as goofy as you could make it. Wheel offset, ride height, and tire size all have a tremendous visual impact on a car. Clothes might make the man, but wheels, tires, and stance make the car!
All you need is a cutoff wheel...
All you need is a cutoff wheel and you're there. Unless you've done this before, you'll want to proceed one coil at a time until you get the ride height right.
Narrow The Bumper
The '70s had some inspired automotive designs that were almost always destroyed by fugly bumpers. Like the '76 Camaro that we finished last year, our '75 Laguna also suffers from big-ass bumpers. (Chevelle and Malibu owners of this year also have a massive front bumper to deal with, but we're lucky that our Laguna has a sleek aero nose, so we kept the front as-is.) Our huge rear bumper can fortunately be corrected with simple surgery, and since we planned on painting it, we didn't need to have it rechromed. Our operation consisted of cutting roughly 4 inches out of its width, shortening the mounting tubes by 2.5 inches, and trimming the urethane filler panels.
Our narrowed bumper now looks...
Our narrowed bumper now looks properly proportioned to our car--like it should. Note the cool "12" vinyl decal on the taillight!
The original disco bumper...
The original disco bumper by comparison is supa-wide, and sticks out from the car enough to mount a continental kit on it. Fix this hideous problem, and any '74-77 Laguna is golden. Other GMs--Novas, Caprices, Camaros, etc.--suffer from the same affliction.
Start by removing the rear...
Start by removing the rear bumper from the support struts. You can shave 50 pounds or so by removing the steel reinforcement that's inside virtually every bumper from the '70s.
Figure out how much you're...
Figure out how much you're gonna chop out, mark it, then get out the cutting torch. Note that we also removed the rub strip and its metal backing plate (about 20 more pounds gone). This left us with a half dozen square holes that needed to be welded closed, then ground flat. We closed up the jack slots while we were at it.
The filler panels were removed...
The filler panels were removed and trimmed after we shortened the mounting tubes. Before you take a torch to the mounting tubes, remove them from the struts! The struts are filled with oil, and will explode if they get too hot.
Mock up the two bumper halves...
Mock up the two bumper halves with some clamps, ensuring that everything is straight, then weld them together. We're leaving out a lot here, like how to fab and move the strut mounts, and how to prep and paint the bumper, but you get the picture. Just make sure to think everything through, and double-check your measurements and your mock-up before you start cutting or welding.
Quick Trick: Waterjet Cutting
We discovered our local waterjet shop (Advanced Waterjet) a few years ago, and wondered why we didn't use them sooner. While owning your own waterjet machine is prohibitive, it's very inexpensive to design templates for custom parts, and have them cut out at your local job shop. You'll feel the pride of designing your own parts that nobody else has, yet that everybody wants. And in our experience, it's very inexpensive, too. All the parts we've made in this story came from Advanced Waterjet in Anaheim, CA (714-278-9874, (www.advancedwj.com). The digital templates for all our parts are on file, and can be ordered directly from Advanced, or you can send them your own template. They'll scan it, verify it with you, and cut it. (You can even have a dummy part cut out of masonite.) A week's turnaround time is pretty normal for most small jobs like ours.
Hood Extractor Vents
Making convincing-looking hood vents with a race-inspired look was a lot easier than we thought. Once you get past the idea of cutting holes in a perfectly good hood that nobody repops, you're home free. Naturally, we made a cardboard template for a bezel first, then sent it out to our waterjet guy for cutting. (If you've got a Laguna, Advanced Waterjet has our template already on file, or they can cut one to your specification with a template you provide.) Once we had a piece we were comfortable with, we put the cutoff wheel to the hood to cut out the stamped factory vents. We start out here after the waterjet bezels were cut, the hood was cut to the bezel size, and the car was painted.
These race-inspired hood vents...
These race-inspired hood vents look way better than the stamped hood louvers, and they add some surface detail that was missing in our rendering. Note that the brushed aluminum bezels echo a common appearance seen in the headlight block-offs, the side-window block-offs, the spoilers, and the rear window straps. From any angle of the car, there's a taste of this same kind of surface detail, which is important for continuity of the theme.
We considered a coarse stainless...
We considered a coarse stainless steel wire mesh, but when we came across this scrap of perforated stainless sheet for free, we liked it better. We cut a piece out the size of the opening, put it in the sand blast cabinet to give it a rough texture, then hit it with some satin black paint before sandwiching it between the hood and waterjet bezel. Advanced Waterjet cut our hood louver bezels out of .063-inch (1/16-inch) aluminum for $75.
The rivet holes were cut into...
The rivet holes were cut into the bezel when it was cut with a waterjet, so we had to transfer these holes to the hood with a center punch. This was followed by the drill for the rivet holes. Another process that's ongoing is the gentle shaping of the bezel and the screen to match the contours of the hood.
Some manipulation of the screen...
Some manipulation of the screen was needed in order to get the rivets to pass through without interference. Heath Elmer operated the rivet gun while PHR contributor Keith Kanak gets the bezel and the screen to cooperate. Note that we've grained the raw aluminum bezel with a Scotch-Brite pad and WD40, which gives it a satin appearance.
You've seen hoodpins before, and you've seen these particular hoodpins before in PHR--they're the billet pieces from Hoodpins.net. Unlike your average chrome-plated speed shop variety of hood pins, these won't rust, and they have a precision machined look to them (they're billet aluminum). A pair cost $115, and the lanyard kit runs $36. To get the look we were after, we ordered three pairs of hood pins and lanyards--four hoodpins for the hood, and two to use as trunk pins! (This operation cost us $453 in total.) The ones on the hood are pretty straightforward, so you'll be able to figure those out on your own. The key thing is to pick a spot that has a good mounting point on the radiator core support, and a corresponding flat spot on the hood. Here, we're showing you the far more interesting job of making trunk pins. Note that in preparation for this, we removed the trunk lock and blanked it over when the Laguna was painted.
Hoodpins.net/Wilson Muscle Cars
The close proximity of the...
The close proximity of the billet trunk pins to the custom aluminum spoiler (see "Spoiling For Fun," p. 80) makes a nice visual statement and has a purposeful look. Unlike hoodpins, there is no readily available mounting point for the pin, so a mount must be fabricated.
You'll be welding in this...
You'll be welding in this area, so grind off the paint around the hole.
The hoodpin's mounting nut...
The hoodpin's mounting nut was welded to a flat piece of steel stock about 5 inches long. This will serve as the base for the pin that holds the trunk down, so it's got to be thick enough to do the job. Find the right position for the pin at a spot it can pass through the trunk, then figure out where you want to weld the mounting bar. Drill a couple of holes through the trunk driprail.
Mounting the scuff plate on...
Mounting the scuff plate on top of the hood (or trunk in this case) is relatively easy--drill the hood where the pin contacts it from below, check the clearance between the pin and the edge of the hole, then drill smaller holes for the attaching screws. Here, we added some RTV sealant to protect the smaller holes against rust. In fact, this was done for the rivet holes we drilled elsewhere on the Laguna.
The work will be clamped firmly...
The work will be clamped firmly in place for a rosette weld that will attach the mounting bar under the driprail. We used some adhesive paper from 3M that's designed as a splatter guard for welding. This protected the fresh paint while we were MIG welding the bracket. Before welding, move any taillight wiring harness out of harm's way.
Here's the finished trunk...
Here's the finished trunk pin mount after the area had been masked, spray bombed with satin black Dupli-Color, and our Soffseal trunk weatherstripping was laid in. Check out the lanyard, which keeps the pin from walking away! We're guessing we're the first to use Hoodpins.net's pieces on a trunk.
If you're going to sell the race car theme on a Pro Touring car, window straps are an instantly recognized cue. It just so happens that the aluminum straps they sell in Home Depot to secure water heaters to the wall are the perfect size and shape for this, and they're dirt cheap. While we were at Home Depot, we also got some foam strips that are used to seal between a window and a wall-unit air conditioner. They have an adhesive backing that can attach to the strap, and protect your window from the vibrating strap. The only other special ingredient you'll need is a nutsert tool, which we found at Ace Hardware.
Window blow-out straps are...
Window blow-out straps are used in race cars because at full speed, the air pressure that builds up inside the car is enough to blow the window out. Early stock car racers often had to dodge windows that popped out and shattered in front of them, or sometimes on them! We hope we never have to test the theory, but at least it looks cool.
You'll need to carefully form...
You'll need to carefully form the aluminum strap over the window trim, and on the roof and filler panel at the bottom. Lightly push on the ends where they'll be bolted down. The center of the strap should not bow out on the windshield. Work the bends over the window trim until you don't get any bowing.
Start by laying the aluminum...
Start by laying the aluminum water heater strap on the rear window to see where it looks best. We referenced some old photos to help out. Run a line of masking tape down the window; the ends should be equidistant from the edge of the glass so they are symmetrical to the car's centerline.
Use nutserts (also called...
Use nutserts (also called threadserts) for your mounting points on the roof and filler panel. These pieces install cleanly like rivets, they're inexpensive, and they look really sweet. Best of all, nutserts are genuine race hardware, so they work well.
Race-Style Gas Cap
A race-style fuel-filler door is a great way to add a race vibe to a street car, and we've seen it done a multitude of ways, from the motorcycle-style latch cap found on Steven Rupp's Bad Penny '68 Camaro, to aircraft hardware on winning show cars. This Cobra-style fuel cap kit for early model Mustangs is the first time we've seen a specific retro kit, and it's offered by a company called Mustalgia for $229.95. They also offer a C3 Corvette ('68-77) version for $249.95. The kits include a 2.25-inch ID fuel filler hose to connect from the new Le Mans cap to the existing tank. The cap can be oriented in any direction and locked in place. Underneath the flip-top cap is a Stant brand vented, locking fuel cap that snaps into the machined aluminum base. All hardware is stainless steel, and is included.
This bolt-on kit easily installs...
This bolt-on kit easily installs a Cobra-style Le Mans roller-latch fuel cap onto any early model Mustang, and is the only kit of its kind that we could find. It installs into the taillight panel at the original fuel cap, and uses the factory screw holes.
This Le Mans cap by Mustalgia...
This Le Mans cap by Mustalgia gives early model Mustangs a racy look, and is instantly recognized and associated with the Cobra-style flip-top cap on the original race cars.
Quick Trick: Spray Bombing
All hail the spray bomb! There's very little in the world of hot rodding-dom that can't benefit from a good hosedown of Krylon, Dupli-Color, or VHT. Virtually any part on a car can look as good as new with a thorough cleaning and a quick coating of the good stuff. We typically use Dupli-Color (www.duplicolor.com) because they have a vast assortment that covers a lot of applications. Some of our favorites: Chrome, Wheel Coating, Vinyl & Fabric Coating, Truck Bed Coating (good for a whole lot of stuff), Spatter Paint, Metalcast, Engine Enamel/High Heat, Caliper Paint, and the old standby: General Purpose Satin Black!
While most of our makeover tips are exterior in nature, a few interior pieces are significant enough to go beyond cockpit nuance. The proper seats are such an item, and we chose the Procar Rally Series 1000 seats for our Laguna project for three reasons: they had the right look, they were the right price, and they are well built for our purposes. To do a period-correct muscle car, we just don't favor a high-back import-style seat, but we do want head and side-bolster support. The Procar seat isn't excessively tall, and has a nice adjustable headrest in the style of a '60s or '70s muscle car. The lateral support on the seat back and seat bottom are also very effective, while maintaining a period-correct stitching and vinyl style. Pricewise, we paid only $736.90 for a matching pair in black vinyl, including the seat brackets for a '75 Laguna. Most people think these are OEM equipment, but in reality, they're way more supportive, and look the part up close, and from a distance.
Procar By Scat
Our NASCAR theme stopped at...
Our NASCAR theme stopped at the interior, but the interior still plays a role in aggressive driving. We fortified our Laguna's cockpit with Scat's Procar Rally 1000 chairs. These are more supportive than the originals, and are close enough in style to blend in with a mostly stock interior. We're going to show you the complete interior restoration on Project Talladega in the next few months, so stay tuned for the rest of the details.
The Laguna's interior originally...
The Laguna's interior originally looked like this. The factory swivel bucket seats were long gone when we bought our '75 'Guna, and we might have tried to keep those, but it came with these junkyard Datsun 260Z seats instead. The swivel mechanisms were gone, so our choice was clear: go with something modern, comfortable, supportive, and affordable.
The answer to our prayers...
The answer to our prayers was a pair of Procar Rally 1000 seats, with their corresponding mounting brackets. For less than you can get a single import chair from an Italian company, you can get a period-correct setup from Procar. We spent less than $750 for everything we needed.
The Procar mounting brackets...
The Procar mounting brackets are supposedly designed for a '73-77 GM A-body, but we had to "nuance" the bracket into the correct shape to fit. Compared to other things we've had to do, this presented little difficulty, and we'd easily do it again.
Some interior components make an important visual statement about your car, and your center console is one of them. At the very minimum, having a crappy looking console can really detract from an otherwise nice car. From a budget perspective, rehabbing a console is so inexpensive that anybody can afford to do it. Our options on the Laguna were limited: you can't get a reproduction one, and NOS items are outrageously expensive, if you can even find them. We could build something custom, like we did with our '68 Chevelle, but this time we opted to do a quick and easy home restoration. All you need is some mild dish detergent, a Scotch-Brite pad, and a can of Dupli-Color HVP106 flat black Vinyl & Fabric Coating.
PHR contributor, Keith "Yeti"...
PHR contributor, Keith "Yeti" Kanak tries out the Laguna's interior after we finished installing the rehabbed stock console, a new carpet from Original Parts Group, and one of our Procar Rally 1000 seats. Hint: The console lid hinges on '73-77 GM A-bodies are plastic membranes, and they rip easily. Ours was ripped too, so we bought a pair of Ace Hardware cabinet hinges, screwed them to the lid and box, and spray bombed them black for an easy fix.
Our stock console looked so...
Our stock console looked so worn out, we thought it was a lost cause, be we gave it a shot anyway. Taking the interior out of a 33-year-old car is like opening a time capsule. We found all kinds of junk that took us down memory lane. We just had to save a gas receipt for 59 cents a gallon!
After disassembly, we scrubbed...
After disassembly, we scrubbed the various console parts with soapy water (using mild dish detergent) and a Scotch-Brite pad. This simple action had a remarkable effect on the appearance, so we also worked the same magic on some other interior parts.
The final touch was a few...
The final touch was a few coats of Dupli-Color Vinyl & Fabric Coating. This stuff is amazing. If it weren't for the split lid hinge, it would've been like new. We also tagged the bottom door panels.
|WHERE THE MONEY WENT |
|Summit Part Number: ||Description: ||Summit price: |
|SCA-80-1000-51L ||Driver-side seat ||$301.50 |
|SCA-80-1000-51R ||Passenger seat ||$301.50 |
|SCA-81140 ||Driver-side seat bracket ||$ 66.95 |
|SCA-81141 ||Passenger-side seat bracket ||$ 66.95 |
|Total: ||$736.90 |
Quick Trick: Aluminum Graining
Custom-fabricated aluminum pieces can be built in a variety of ways, but how you choose to finish them off can make or break the look. Aluminum doesn't rust, but it does oxidize white. Some more expensive options include anodizing, painting, or powdercoating, but the least expensive (yet one of the nicest) options is graining. This amounts to using an abrasive pad like Scotch-Brite in a uniform direction. The finish will be a soft satin grained look, and will last a few months before oxidizing white again. The trick is to grain your aluminum with a light spritz of WD40. This will shield the aluminum from oxidizing, and give your work a deeper, shinier grain that lasts a long time.
Quick Trick: Powdercoating
If you're looking for a finish that's more durable than paint, such as exterior trim items that are exposed to high-speed debris, or underhood items that see excessive temperature, powdercoating may be a better option than painting or spray bombing. Many of the trim pieces on Project Talladega were powdercoated instead of painted. Most of our window trim, headlight bezels, grille pieces, and marker light surrounds were powdercoated by Extreme Powder Coating in Mesa, AZ (480-832-9034). They matched our satin black paint so closely that it's impossible to tell the difference between powdercoat and paint. The same goes for our Bassett steel wheels, which were powdercoated to a perfect match with our vinyl graphics.