Here are some views of the car before the restoration started. This Camaro is an original RS/SS350 that came equipped with a deluxe interior, air conditioning, and a Powerglide. The rear spoiler was added sometime after Better Off Dead, so it will be left off during the restoration.
The front subframe and the rear differential were separated from the body. The original 350 and Powerglide are long gone. They were replaced with a 400 small block and a Turbo 400 transmission before Better Off Dead, so I’ll stick with that combination. This 400 block would need a .060″ overbore to be rebuilt, so it’s getting replaced with a new Dart “Little M” 400 block.
The empty body shell was placed on a rotisserie to reach all of the surfaces.
Every surface was blasted with coal and primed in black. Coal was chosen over other types of media because it doesn’t hold moisture. The floor pans and the rocker panels turned out to be in perfect shape once they were blasted. Some tiny rust holes turned up near the bottom of the rear window and on the cowl. They were welded up with new sheet metal
All of the body panels were bolted together on a wooden dolly, so that the whole car could be block sanded as a single shape. After the block sanding was finished, the body was disassembled again. Everything went through the paint booth for sealer, color, and clear coats.
The paint was wet sanded with 1000-grit sandpaper before the final buffing. The body was moved over to a lift and wrapped in plastic to keep it clean. The subframe and the suspension components were cleaned up, painted, and reassembled with poly-graphite bushings throughout. The new 400 small block and the rebuilt Turbo 400 arrived at the shop.
After the engine and the transmission were installed in the subframe, the body and the subframe were reunited. New exhaust, brake lines, and fuel lines were added next
January & February 2003
Work began on the interior. New wiring harnesses were added. The glass was reinstalled. Most of the front sheet metal was bolted back together, and the engine was fired up for the first time.