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ST GEORGE, ONT

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Continental Build
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Thought I'd share how I've been spending my time lately

This 56 Continental Mark II belongs to my Dad

Dad has been into the big cars for decades, mostly Lincoln's and Cadillacs

Back in the early eighties he had another Mark II and has always regretted selling it,  this time he wanted to go one better and have a convertible version. The only problem is that the factory never officially built a convertible.

Well one day he notices a convertible project on eBay and buys it sight unseen, he figure he has a head start on the car he's always wanted to build. He was very wrong. The previous owners work on the conversion was terrible and had to been completely torn out . I'll get into the previous work later

we are about 1000 hours into this project but I'll start from day one

This is a Georgia car that we picked up in upstate New York

Here's the car when we picked it up last winter

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For those of you that may be unfamiliar with these cars they are quite rare, only 3005 of them were built in 2 years of production 1956-57

They were the most expensive American car you could buy in 1956 at $10800 with air conditioning

Ford wanted a world class luxury car to compete with Rolls Royce

Ford created a separate Continental Division just for these cars and later the 58 Continental

after 58 ,Continental was merged with Lincoln 

There were 3 convertibles that were commissioned by Ford and built by 2 different coach builders 

2 by Hess and Eisenhart and 1 by Durham, these were test cars and were never offered to the public but 2 of them are still known to exist and are in private hands now



-- Edited by wolfman1 on Saturday 27th of September 2014 11:18:58 AM



-- Edited by wolfman1 on Saturday 27th of September 2014 11:19:44 AM

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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After getting the car home it sat for a couple of months until we could devote the time that it needed
The first order of business was to assess the convertible top and it wasn't pretty
The previous owners attempt at welding was terrible, I couldn't hang that many "grapes" if I tried.
The top frame they used didn't sit right and the panel they built to divide the trunk from the passenger compartment was 30 gauge ductwork from Home Depot
So we gutted the inside of the car and did some research and found out that the car that Durham built for Ford , used the tub and components from a 57 Ford
So a 57 Ford convertible parts car was found and the fun began
In this picture the old top etc. has been removed and the drain gutter from the 57 Ford can be seen clamped into place. We have also started to strip the car to bare metal and melt all the old lead out

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LONDON, ONT

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VERY COOL FIND

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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el toro wrote:

VERY COOL FIND


 Thanks, it's been a fun but challenging project



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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We found another MK II for parts about 2 miles down the road

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It was completely disassembled



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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The back of the parts car will be made into a couch to match the convertible

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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We started mocking up the 57 Ford top frame etc.

The ford top frame was a little wider than the car so all the crossbows would eventually get shortened

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The length of the main top arms was too long as well ,so the were shortened ay the front 

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The metal panel you see the red bracket attached to and the window motor hanging from is from the parts car

figured we'd mess with drilling holes in the worst panels and transfer the final holes etc needed to the good panels later

seeing as the top frame was too wide, so then was the rear seat frame ,so it was cut in half for mock up

We had to figure out seat angle and amount of room we had between the rear seat and trunk lid , hoping there was enough room for the convertible top to stack properly when down 



-- Edited by wolfman1 on Saturday 27th of September 2014 02:39:16 PM

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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You may have noticed that the quarter window does not fit up against the top frame
The Durham car didn't have quarter windows, they had the top start right behind the door glass. You had to undo a snap before you put the top down
My Dad did not like that look, he insisted on quarter windows so custom stainless window frames were built, I don't have pictures of them right now but will post later when they're installed
Here is a picture of the mock up again but we used some tape so we could visualize the roofline, once we were happy with the roofline , we started on the hydraulics

image.jpg

 



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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We had to make a custom header bow to match the wrap around windshield 

The windshield frame had to be reinforced, gussets were installed at the corners, the inside of the top channel had gussets installed about every 6" inside the channel and the top of the frame was capped with 11 gauge steel

it's now strong enough that you could literally stand on it , then the latch set up from the 57 Ford was used 

When we started working on the hydraulics we found the 57 Ford hydraulic cylinders were too long, I had a set of spare cylinders for my 62 T-bird Roadster and they worked out to be the perfect length, so mounting brackets were fabricated and welded in

We put in some hydraulic lines and a pump and the top frame went up and down perfectly

At this point we are about 1 month in

now that the top was working and the sheet metal was stripped to bare metal, my Dad decided that the body was far better than he initially thought ,so he said we're going for a complete frame off build

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The factory undercoating was heated and hand scrapped off after we attached the body to a cart

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The driveline removed and it's decided the frame will be blasted and powder coated 

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The frame was in excellent condition and no repairs were necessary before it was sent out



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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Got the body and frame dropped off for blasting and powder coat

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Here's the shell in the media blast booth

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The frame has been blasted as well and waiting to be powder coated

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And now powder coated

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BRANT COUNTY, ONT

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could you post up who did the blasting and if you wouldn't mind roughly what it costs to do the shell like that. Looks great.
Thanks

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OAKVILLE, ONT

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Very cool keep those posts coming!! Are you keeping it all original?

 

  Randy



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BRANTFORD, ONT

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Great project. I've seen the Bill Ford car and its very impressive in its overall look . Yours will be just as impressive. Keep posting.

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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slab wrote:

could you post up who did the blasting and if you wouldn't mind roughly what it costs to do the shell like that. Looks great.
Thanks


 The blasting and powder coating was done at Teffline on the North Service Rd in Burlington

i can't recall the exact cost on this but was very reasonable

the blasting is an hourly rate

i'll check with Dad as he wrote the cheque



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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v8deuce wrote:

Very cool keep those posts coming!! Are you keeping it all original?

 

  Randy


 Thanks, the car will be kept as original as possible considering the conversion to convertible



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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Bob T wrote:

Great project. I've seen the Bill Ford car and its very impressive in its overall look . Yours will be just as impressive. Keep posting.


 Thanks Bob, I still have lots to post 



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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While the body and frame were out being blasted, I thought this would be a good time to have a look at the engine
It's a Lincoln 368 Y block, early production cars were 285 hp, this is a later car so its factory rated at 300 hp, which was impressive in its day
But this is a 5000 lb car and 19' long
The engine was supposed to have been rebuilt a few years ago with very few miles on.
I was hoping to just open it up and re-gasket it
When I pulled the first head I was pleasently surprised, combustion chamber looked great and I could see the hone marks on the cylinder walls and no scoring
I should mention it seemed to run great before it was torn down
Well disaster struck when I pulled the 2nd head off
Whoever did the last rebuild put the head gasket on backwards, blocking the cooling passages on this side of the engine. It had obvious signs of overheating and some sludge in the cooling passages

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If you look closely in the upper left hand corner, you can see where it says FRONT on the head gasket,well this is the back of the engine

Apparently this is a common mistake with all the Y blocks, both head gaskets are identical and people get confused

So , we're not getting too lucky

Off To see someone else to have a look and measure the bore for us

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The end result was that 2 cylinders were out of round by nearly 10 thou, so we had to bore it 20 over

It was still a standard bore so the last rebuild was probably just a hone and rings

sourcing the parts wasn't too bad, between Egge and Kanter they had everything needed



-- Edited by wolfman1 on Saturday 27th of September 2014 08:49:46 PM

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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While the engine was at the machine shop and the trans off being rebuilt too, we got the frame and body back

I could now start some reassembly to get a roller frame 

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The diff was pulled apart and the gear set seemed to be in excellent shape , so new bearings ,gaskets and seals were installed after the housing and backing plates were stripped, epoxy primed and painted

springs were stripped down and painted, all new spring mount bushings were installed  

image.jpg

All new brake lines were installed

the flex line looks short but with no weight on the frame I can assure you it's the correct length

we were held up on the front of the frame ,waited for a couple of weeks to get the proper bushings



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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I'll jump ahead and show the frame has been completed enough to be rolling again

image.jpg

Control arms, springs sway bar etc, were all stripped and epoxy primed and painted

some parts may have been powder coated but can't remember which ones

there were quite a few parts that we had Teffline blast and powder

All new bushings and front spring isolators were installed

i used the old ball joints at this time because they appeared to be in good condition but may change the just because later

new shocks were also installed as well as a new centre hanger bearing for the split driveshaft

image.jpg

We're a roller, woo hoo



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BARRIE, ONT

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AWESOME! Great work, and that is one wild looking frame.

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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hotroddonnie wrote:

AWESOME! Great work, and that is one wild looking frame.


 Thanks, the  guys that blasted and powdered the frame commented that it took 3 guys and their tow motor to flip it over

it was Ford's first ladder frame, one of these frames was used to build the Lincoln Futura concept car , which everyone now knows as the Batmobile.



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DORCHESTER, ONT

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Wow, This is destined to be an outstanding car when finished!!! Subscribed!

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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Fordy Acres Car Farm wrote:

Wow, This is destined to be an outstanding car when finished!!! Subscribed!


 Thanks for the kind words



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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We got the shell back from blasting

I should mention that there has been 3 of us working on the car, myself ,Dad and Dad hired a licensed auto-body mechanic named Andrew

Andrew will be doing all the bodywork on the car , it's not that I'm not capable of doing it but Andrew will speed the process up and the end result will be better seeing as Dad has decided this will be a black car

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That's Andrew blowing out the blasting media, we need to get the shell in epoxy right away to prevent any kind of flash rusting

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A bunch of various parts back from blasting

top right is the custom front header bow 

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And the trunk lid

this is the first car to have the famous "Continental "hump in thetrunk lid. 

Fenders and doors after blasting



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BARRIE, ONT

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There's a post on the HAMB asking what is the hard to find car parts, I would think your frame would be in that category. HRD

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HILLBILLY HOTRODDIN



ST GEORGE, ONT

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hotroddonnie wrote:

There's a post on the HAMB asking what is the hard to find car parts, I would think your frame would be in that category. HRD


 Most of the parts are hard to find and what parts are out there fetch a premium price

dad got a "deal" on 2 hubcaps @ $350 each

He has an extra frame from his parts car, if anybody needs one . 

A nice hood seems to go for about $2500

Rocker mouldings are very hard to find in decent shape and can bring $1000 per side, sometimes a little more for a perfect set



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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The next step was to get everything in epoxy like I said in the previous post

here's a couple of pics,

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Now you can see the 57 Ford trough and rear seat in it's final position

Now the final metalwork and bodywork can start



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ST MARYS, ONTARIO

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awsume work and project..and you were hesitant about posting this ??? confuse

 



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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Just to give you an idea of the finished car

image.jpg

This is one of the Hess and Eisenhart cars (the other is missing) the owner Barry is very helpful to anyone restoring these cars

he drives this car regularly and enters it in many events

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Another shot with the top down

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This coupe was owned by Elizabeth Taylor and painted a special 1 off colour to match her eyes

it was a gift from Warner Bros

other notable owners of these cars new were Elvis , Frank Sinatra, Nelson Rockefeller, 

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This prototype was a retractable hardtop, it was built before a final body design was decided for the car

it used a 54 Lincoln shell.

the research that was done on this would later be used for the  Skyliners 



-- Edited by wolfman1 on Sunday 28th of September 2014 05:03:46 PM

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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fatchuk wrote:

awsume work and project..and you were hesitant about posting this ??? confuse

 


 Thanks Chuck

Yes I was hesitant, it's not a hot rod or even a muscle car



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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I hope I'm not boring people with the history lessons but I've become a little obsessed with these cars and find the history very interesting myself

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NORTH BAY, ONT

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Great post!! Thanks for the neat build pics!!

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St THOMAS, ONT

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There's a guy on Fordbarn that has a 56 MarkII for sale as a parts car for$2200.

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St THOMAS, ONT

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Email: cousinvinny7777@verizon.net

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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parklane wrote:

There's a guy on Fordbarn that has a 56 MarkII for sale as a parts car for$2200.


 Thanks, I'll pass the info on to my Dad



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NIAGARA FALLS, ONT

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Stunning project Howie! You guys are making great progress along with a nice little history lesson.

Thanks for sharing it here with us.

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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invision wrote:

Stunning project Howie! You guys are making great progress along with a nice little history lesson.

Thanks for sharing it here with us.


 Thanks Nick



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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Metal work and body work underway

image.jpg

After blasting the were some pinholes on the end of the rocker.

they were cut out and new metal welded in

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Left quarter straitened out, minor dents etc from nearly 60 years of use

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After blasting the bottom of thr rocker in this area seemed a little weak so it was cut out and new metal was butt welded in

 



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BRANTFORD, ONT

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Your Dads correct on the quarter windows. It will look 'factory'

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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Bob T wrote:

Your Dads correct on the quarter windows. It will look 'factory'


 I agree as well Bob, I've looked at a lot of picture and there are a couple of conversion done with the quarter windows and thy look far better



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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A little more history

image.jpg

Here's the retractable completed

image.jpg

All the Mark Ii's were shipped in special fleece lined covers



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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Thoughts towards interior colours are being tossed around at this time

generally these cars had 2 tone interiors

image.jpg

The car will be painted black, Dad did consider painting it blue but didn't want to copy the Hess & Eisenhart car

not really feeling the black and white interior on a convertible

image.jpg

Then we found this picture

the seats aren't 2 tone

in order to be considered correct at any judged events the colours of the car must have been available from the factory

The interior will not be this tan colour but the areas you see as tan will be done in an ox blood red  leather and the areas you see in black will be black



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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image.jpg

While under the car we noticed this rear panel was weak behind the spare tire well

the best way to assess the repair required was to remove the outer skin, which you can see laying in the trunk

It was decided to replace the entire inner panel and skin

this is a very common problem area for these cars and is one of the first places you should check if buying one



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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sasquatch wrote:

Great post!! Thanks for the neat build pics!!


 Thanks for taking the time to look 



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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After the bodywork was completed the car was put into another coat of the yellow epoxy

than the entire shell was sanded ,the quarter panels blocked out 

We than got the seam sealer out and all the factory seams which originally seam sealed were done again

that's inside outside and underneath ,which was actually pretty time consuming

The shell was then rolled into the booth and sprayed with a black primer / sealer

The firewall , undercarriage and interior were painted black, so we could get it ready to put back on the frame

image.jpg

image.jpg

 



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ST GEORGE, ONT

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At this point ,we want to put the driveline in the frame before the body goes on
Much easier now with this style of frame
So we went to see how the engine is coming, so off to Smax Smith's place to see how things are going.
Smax is who we took the engine to for his opinion of it after I found the head gasket issue
He seemed excited to build it for us ,so we left it in his capable hands
Some of you guys may know him for his Top Fuel car
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He just got things back from the machine shop

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image.jpgimage.jpg

there was an issue with one of the new valve seats on one of the heads ,so he could only get the short block together right now 

 



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DORCHESTER, ONT

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Wow love the car and please keep the progress pics coming.
The car is so unique and rare,just a timeless design. it is a treat to see it come together. The colour combo will work nice.



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ONTARIO

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Wow, what a restoration. Impressive to say the least. I have only seen 2 of them. One here in the photo as we are driving across Florida state line and one at Plunketts show. Rare care indeed. Looking forward to seeing it finished and a happy owner behind the wheelwinkIMG_0498.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 



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TORONTO, ONT

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I always wanted to find one too far gone to restore to make a custom out of. These are beautiful cars.

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ST GEORGE, ONT

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Thank you for the kind words guys
When we started this project Dad was hoping to at least drive it around the block this fall but it's not going to happen so it should see the road in the spring
When my Dad owned his first Mark II back in the early eighties, it was the first one I had ever seen and only the second one he had seen
The guy in Brantford we bought the parts car from has another one that's a driver
RacerRick, I know where there is 3 more of them in a barn

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