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Another 1st Gen F-Body LS1 Swap; 1968 Firebird

This is a discussion on Another 1st Gen F-Body LS1 Swap; 1968 Firebird within the LSx Retrofit and Swap forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; I've been a long time lurker of this forum, and as I'm approaching the 5th anniversary with my '68 Firebird, ...

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    Junior Member lawless's Avatar
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    Cool Another 1st Gen F-Body LS1 Swap; 1968 Firebird

    I've been a long time lurker of this forum, and as I'm approaching the 5th anniversary with my '68 Firebird, it's finally time I share a build thread. Only this past winter did we actually start building it.

    With that said, a lot has changed for my car in the last 8 months. One of my best friends and I have been spending many hours building my car to be a fun daily driver with performance upgrades that can handle some fun on the backroads. The over all goal is to have a somewhat stock appearance but I did decide to finally bite the bullet and go with an LS1 swap. In March, I procured an '02 z28 with 42k miles. So that's my drivetrain plan. (I am still keeping and storing the YJ code 350 the car was built with). I'll post the plans for motor upgrades once we hit that stage.

    Right now, we're in the body work phases. Here are some pictures of our progress:


    Back in March, on the rollback, the day it left to my buddy's shop!


    Sadly, my subframe is quite a bit bent, and the cost to fix and restore it is about the same price as just buying a new stock style frame. Still trying to decide on my options. I'd love to go fully aftermarket with all upgraded suspension, but right now that's not in the budget.


    Pressure washing the undercarriage. Floor pans need patching, so does my trunk, have all the sheet metal to go in. Doors were a little rough but are fixable (trying to salvage the frames and reskin the passenger side using AMD sheet metal). QPs luckily only need partial skins, and those will be going in once it's back from sand blasting.


    In early October (10/5/2014) we spent time prepping and sanding off the second layer of paint (which seemed honestly like an 80s Macco paint job) to help prepare it for the sand blaster and of course, reduce friction time. A glimpse of the car's original color (Aleutian blue) which is actually the color I'll be choosing for it once we're ready to spray. Going with PPG I believe. We actually were OCD enough to use a razor blade to remove a lot of that white paint, which was oddly cathartic.


    The dutchman's panel was a lot more solid that I was expecting. We'll see come after this Saturday when it returns from the media blaster where we'll be needing to patch. I have several pinholes around both windshield and rear glass that need repair, but knew about that before we started paint stripping.


    Roof shot! (Of course it has a nice dent in it )


    I'm incredibly impressed with how solid the passenger fender was once we had it blasted. Only 1 major spot of rust that we cut out and fixed, and several tiny pin holes that have been closed up. Sadly, the car had been hit at one point in time from the driver's side, so that fender (god I wish I took a picture) had a 2'x9" chunk of filler hiding the obscene dent. We're thinking that same wreck was responsible for the bent frame. Fender wasn't really worth repairing and I had an awesome buddy I know through facebook spot me a brand new unused reproduction fender for the cost of greyhound shipment. Really curious to see how much finagling it'll need to fit right, but was pretty awesome of him to do that.


    RH fender shot in epoxy ready to be body worked! Again, very happy with my RH fender!


    I've already procured a lot of parts. I've got a full brand new Vintage Air unit that will be going in, new brake setup (Right Stuff) master cylinder, booster, stainless lines, etc. Have my brakes that I've already retrofitted and used a set of spare '68 hubs I had that I had turned down on a lathe to fit the rotors off of an '02 Trans Am. Figure those late 4th gen brake components will hold me over until I can get a more beefy brake set up. The wheels may be 17in Year one Rally 2's to accommodate the disk brake and wider wheel/tire setup. Not tubbing the car so only going I believe 8 in the front, 9 in the rear. My buddy has a set on his '70 Judge that I plan to steal for a little and see how I like my car with them.



    And the parts car we scored. Yes, some insurance company totaled it out. Has some front suspension damage (think it slid off the road), and had quarter damage that we have since rednecked the dent out. The car is a solid running car with service records. Almost hate to tear it down but, I want/need the motor.


    42k miles, the entire car is super clean.



    For those who are curious about my amateur welding skills, I haven't actually welded on the car. My buddy who has been building old cars for years has been doing all the metal work; though he is giving me welding lessons whenever we've got some extra time. Here's my first attempt at MIG Welding! Don't laugh too hard.



    I'll have more progress shots soon, hopefully door shots! My driver's side door doesn't seem to need as much work as the passenger side. Already had to order the passenger door skin because it was full of rot and just dented right at the crease. The frames we're trying to repair just to avoid the absolute nightmare that is aftermarket doorframes. Also, I'll be needing a new frame because I don't think we'll be giving the frame shop the price he quoted us to straighten my very ****-eyed factory frame.

    Still need to source my rear end and going brand new suspension. I'll share more once I know what we'll be going with.

    Holidays are getting in the way, but hoping after thanksgiving we'll make some headway in the metal repair.

    As for everyone typically my age, this is a build on a budget, but the goal here is to get the body straight, done properly, and slick, then upgrade the drive train, renew the suspension and drive the car for a bit. Eventually, I'd love to do IRS, aftermarket subframe, etc. and the works, but saving for a house and land has been cutting into my build budget so that'll come later. Bleh, priorities..
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    Member sjgreen6's Avatar
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    Great stuff, please keep up the posting!
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    You've Seen The Butcher GoldenFlame's Avatar
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    Junior Member lawless's Avatar
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    Thanks Steve!

    Scored a Nova 8.5 10 bolt rear end today. It'll be gutted, everything going in brand new. More on that once we get started on the tear down.

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    Junior Member lawless's Avatar
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    UPDATE December 1st, 2014:

    We FINALLY were able to pick up the shell from the media blaster. He only blasts on weekends and we had a lot of rain and his compressor had a sensor that ended up going out when he first started shooting the car. Long story short, the shell is finally done, and here are the results and what we found:










    You can see the damage where the radio goes... Someone had a field day whacking it to pieces apparently. Needless to say, I need some replacement metal for it if anyone knows of anyone reproducing it or a parts car of some sort. Ignore the transmission tunnel, that was previous "fixed" by some previous owner, which is currently on the list of un-do and re-do properly.









    Doors are currently being blasted as well as the rear end. I think it was worth the wait for this guy, very pleased with the diligence he took.

    Going to completely rebuild the rear end, thinking 3.73 gears. Need to order all the new parts for that as well.
    Last edited by lawless; 12-01-2014 at 11:28 PM.

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    IMHO you have a very solid body for the yrs that are on it. Tons of body work but if done right will go a long, long ways down the road.

    Can't wait to see finish project.


    When it comes time to under coat it look at Lizard Skin.

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    Junior Member JustinEntropyRad's Avatar
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    not a bad start at all!

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    Member TransAmTerry's Avatar
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    It's good to see a 1st Gen being brought back to life especially with LS1 power..BUT,,,, That Z28 parts car looks ( at least from 1 pic ) too good to tear up !! I guess more is wrong than you can see from the pic. A lot of good parts to go around I suppose. Good luck on your build.
    '02 Black RamAir M6--Kooks LTH, Magnaflo, Lowered Eibach springs and Bilstien shocks, Tuned By Frost, K&N & SLP box, Smooth bellows, polished TB, Spohn perf. suspension, shock tower brace. UMI 3point SFC. Front & side splitters w/ canards.
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    Junior Member lawless's Avatar
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    Cool

    I do agree, the Camaro actually is a bit too nice to cut up, and I've had several people try to buy it off of me, though it came from a salvage auction, so it will always be branded with a rebuilt title if someone were to rebuild it. It was a very, very well kept car. When we originally put a bid on it, we were expecting a wrecked car with a clean drive train, what we got was a pretty clean car with quarter damage and a salvage certificate, and it definitely felt like a good buy. Not to mention the car only has 43k on the odometer. But the sad truth is I got the car for the motor and drive train, and it would be hard to replace the motor with another in that condition.

    Okay, so a TON of work has been done since I last posted. Full floors to firewall (went with the heater core delete firewall), partial quarters, inner fender wells repaired, had to source another subframe since mine was bent, new passenger side door skin, both door frames had to be repaired, got a new trunk lid as original was warped, new hood (went with 400 hood), new lower valance, core support, new inner fenders, list goes on haha. I'll just share some pictures.

    So all of this work started January 5th, 2015


    The floors were pretty much entirely full of pinholes. Rather than trying to patch it every where, we opted to just replace the entire floors. My transmission tunnel was also cut to hell by a previous owner, so a new floor fixed that issue as well.




    There was a bit of rot up into the toe boards as well.


    New floors in.


    Since the car is getting vintage air, didn't need the old heater core anymore, so we just ordered a slicked firewall and that fixed the toeboard rust as well.


    There was nearly a baseball sized hole in the corner of this door. My buddy fixed that for me.


    After all holes were welded up, epoxied the inside as well as the backside of the door.


    Passenger side door was waaay worse.


    Epoxied the entire inside of the door. No skin obviously made that simple.


    Old trunk gone


    New trunk in.


    Repaired & epoxied driver's side inner fender well.


    Quarter fitment.

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    Junior Member lawless's Avatar
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    Driver's side quarter welded up.


    Inner fender repair on passenger.








    Epoxied inside the quarter.


    Passenger quarter fitted.


    Got some epoxy up inside the firewall since it was blasted and well, the firewall was out, so why not? haha.


    New firewall in and sealed up.


    Rear window channel was a bit ugly. A buddy made some patches for us to use in the corners.






    Original seat risers back in place.


    New to me '68 Nova subframe. Original was bent, unfortunately.

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    Junior Member lawless's Avatar
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    Cool


    New trunk lid has some gaps as expected, this was fixed later on.


    Passenger door skin installed and door mounted.


    Original passenger fender was luckily not hurt and needed minor metal work where there was some rust.


    Repop fender was absolute junk. Using original fender instead which had some wreck damage, but is fixable.


    Scored these Heidts drop spindles at a swap meet. Barely used, buuuut need the tubular control arms that go with them to make'em work ;)


    Got a sweet deal on a new Goodmark hood and scoops, sooo obviously that had to go on.


    Got some EMS billet hinges for the new hood since my originals were shot.


    Body workin'








    Even had to get a new spoiler. My orginal '68 Camaro spoiler had all but one post broken hah.






    I really am getting antsy. The car is going to come back from the body shop soon for us to fit the motor and trans among another few things... I really need to make a wheel selection. Running WS6 (pretty much standard 4th gen) brakes, so I need a 17in wheel. Not really wanting to go bigger than that. US Mags makes a good looking wheel when painted from black to argent and modified to accept the PMD centercaps... been considering those.

    Sorry for all the posts, photo-limit didn't like me putting everything in one reply.
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    I like turtles GTP231's Avatar
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    Looks damn good. Keep the pics coming.

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    Junior Member lawless's Avatar
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    Thanks guys'n gals! I've got some more updates

    Got some primer on the body:


    HUGE sigh of relief, that re-chromed bumper I ordered from CA finally arrived and fits pretty nicely. Not the best, but definitely am happy with it! Front end fitment is going pretty well. Have new grills to go in, I actually didn't get the 400 grills because I oddly enough like the base/350 model grills haha. Maybe I'll change my mind later.






    S&P motor mount plates also came in last week. Getting closer to fittin' that motor!

    Metal work this week is happening, basically adding a stick of metal to the door skin to extend it a little as the AMD skin was a bit too short.
    Attached Images Attached Images
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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    This is going to be one sweet ass ride.....

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    It sure will be!

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    Junior Member lawless's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone Should be close to leaving the body shop for a little while, so hopefully we'll have a chance to start engine fitment and such started.

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    Junior Member lawless's Avatar
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    AMD door skin was a tad too short, so having to add some metal to each side. Should be done with that little project next week.

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