1966 Polara 880: The Build So Far, or "Bring Money".

TroyCo

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So, back in January, I purchased this '66 Polara for a modest sum.

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Being a GM guy, this was my first classic Mopar. I have never paid much attention to these mid '60s full size Mopars, but now I'm fond of them. Allow me to also take this time to acknowledge my lack of knowledge of these cars, and the help I've received along the way from countless members and related topics on this forum. Thank you all.

Originally a 318 car, the previous owner told me that it had a 383 installed some time in it's history, it ran well, had new drums all around, and a newer fuel tank, so it was a good foundation to start with.
After getting it home, I got to planning what work it would need to pass a safety. I noticed the horn wasn't working, and the steering column felt pretty sloppy. After discovering the ground for the horn was severed, I was greeted with this mess:

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After getting it apart, It was quite apparent to me how lucky I was not to ignore this problem.

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The easiest solution to this issue was a couple of Dorman rag joints for a mid '70s Lincoln. I also tool this opportunity to fix the horn ground.

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The turn signal return cam was also broken from years of use, so a new piece was sourced from Year One.

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TroyCo

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The next order of business was to find out a little more about this engine. Initially, I had noticed there was an electronic ignition installed at some point on the 383, and after finding the casting numbers, I discovered that this engine was actually a 1973 400. Which explains the updated ignition. At first I was a little bummed, as I was hoping for something that wasn't built during the early malaise era. But after some thought, I saw it as a bonus, as it was more likely to have hardened valve seats and I could run this cruiser on cheap gas. Which it burns through at a blistering pace.

This is also the time I did a little "custom" touch to pass the time during the long Canadian winter. I didn't much care for the lack of a coolant overflow bottle, so I made my own.

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Unfortunately for me, I had to empty it first. Not a fan of Crystal Head Vodka. Don't tell Dan Aykroyd. At least the bottle is cool. And it looks pretty cool under the hood, I think. Helps to make what I think to be a menacing looking car even moreso. Albeit subtly.

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It was also around this time I started picking up parts to improve upon it's performance a little bit, at a later date.

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As nice and understated as the gauges in this car are, I also find them lacking. I prefer to make most mods look as period correct as possible, and this Bosch tach fit the bill.

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It was around this time I also started acquiring parts to update the front brakes. While I don't personally have issues with drum brakes, I live in a particularly hilly area, so I felt discs were needed. A stop at an old defunct auto wreckers was where I was lucky to find most of what I needed.

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Even better, I appeared to land a pair of '73 spindles. Score!

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TroyCo

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Next, I wanted to address something that was eating away at me: the stance.

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The original rolling stock for this car (14x5.5) was dine & dandy for '66, but severely lame today. However, the overall look of steel wheels and dog dishes is my bag. The solution to that was a set of 15x7 and 15x8 staggered steelies. The 15x7s were relatively easy to find, but the 15x8s proved to be difficult, to say the least. But, as is the trend with this car, I persevered.

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The look is there for me. 235/60/15s up front, 275/60/15s out back. Unfortunately, my old caps didn't fit any longer. The solution was a set from a '68 Dart. After a little detail work, here's how they turned out:

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And the last exterior mod, also my favorite, was the addition of these vintage 1966 plates.

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Unix

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Nice , I'm liking the build and mods so far. Neat ride. Has an undercover cop car feel to it.
 

TroyCo

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The next item up for repair was a busted driver's side engine mount. No pics to share, but honestly it's a pretty easy fix and a topic covered quite extensively on this and other forums. The only added insurance to the longevity to the mount was a bolt added to sandwich the two plates together.

So it's at this point things went sideways. The engine harness caught fire, sidelining me for what ended up being the beginning of a chain of problems that have plagued this car ever since. I didn't get a lot of pictures taken during this time, but it is pretty well documented in this thread:

New Wiring Harness Options

I recommend checking it out. There's lots of good info there if an ammeter bypass is in the cards for you. In the end, what ended up causing the fire was the neutral safety switch wire shorted out somehow, causing other wires to melt together. That's why you should always have a fire extinguisher and a way to kill voltage from the battery handy.
 

1970FuryConv

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Nice car. On my 1973 Monaco the blue Park 1 wire from switch to wiper motor burnt up with a previous owner. Was lucky that the wiring harness under the instrument panel or engine wiring harness didn't catch fire.

I like Dan Aykroyd too, but Absolut is my brand of vodka. Could be Swedish ancestry on my mother's side of the family.
 

TroyCo

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I also got lucky, only thing to be damaged other than parts of the engine harness was the bulkhead got melted where the main ammeter wire runs through it. Now it's been bypassed. The old harness was hacked and spliced together to add the wiring for the electronic ignition, so now at least it's all new and I know what I've got.

Also, nothing against Dan as a person, I just didn't like his vodka. Or any other for that matter. He actually lives an hour and a half away in Kingston
 

TroyCo

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So, after that wiring debacle, I got the car to where I thought things were in rather good tune. I tuned the old 2 bbl and got it running really nice, and took it out to shake things down. The entire time I was paranoid of something catching fire again, which was fortunately not the case. I started to ease up and enjoy my drive. People were giving out thumbs ups and "hey, sweet car!" comments all over, and I was giving out finger guns back at them, when the Car Gods decided I was having too much confidence in my 55 year old used car, and that more suffering was to be in store for me.

I was idling at a stop light when it just died. Rather unceremoniously. It wouldn't start, but the sound it was making told me everything I needed to know. Towed it home, got to work taking it apart and here's what greeted me:

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Yep. Timing gear shit the bed. Uncle Tony knew. He even made a shirt that perfectly summed up the situation.

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Ordered a new double roller timing set from Comp Cams to get things back in order. Got everything installed, and noticed a couple of the original lifters had collapsed, and the cam appeared to have seen better days. Comp Cams to the rescue again.

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I went rather mild with this cam, as the car still has a rather steep gear and the stock converter. I chose the XE262 cam, lifters and springs. Anybody that has this cam, let me know your thoughts.

I figured seeing as how I've gone this far, why not install that carb & intake I scored a while back? Since I initially purchased it, I discovered despite it's namesake, the Torker manifold isn't the best intake for low end torque, but I had it, so on it went. I also rebuilt the 3310 Holley that it came with for good measure. I also decided this pig needed a little lipstick, so a rattle can rebuild was in order.

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Early Chrysler Blue wasn't to be found anywhere in my immediate area, so I went with Detroit Diesel Green, which was available. I like it. Not my first choice, but it's good enough for the women I lay with. Now with all that out of the way, all that was left was to...

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Or so I thought.
 

TroyCo

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The cam break-in went fine, however, I've had issues getting the car to run properly. The engine would not make any power over 2000 rpm and it would stumble and miss no matter where I tuned it or set the timing. I checked the compression and performed a leakdown test, the valve guides were a bit worn and it made an average of 120 psi compression. Not great, but not where I feel a rebuild is immediately imminent.

It was at this point I decided to degree the cam, advance it 4 degrees and replace the heads. I found a set of 516 heads in my area that were already rebuilt for cheaper than the cost of rebuilding my 346s.

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The cam degreed within spec, all that's left is to put it all back together. I may be able to get away with honing the cylinders down the road, rather than boring. We'll see. At least this engine is untouched.

Before installing the heads, I needed to acquire some new exhaust shields, as the original units have rotted mostly away. Now a fella could buy some, or if you already spent all your money on more important things, you make them.

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and that brings us up to this past Saturday. I found another defunct auto wreckers even closer to me. It closed in the late '70s or early '80s, and the newest cars in there are from the mid '70s. It's been closed to the public since then, and the owners haven't been letting anyone in. However, I managed to sweet talk my way in. What a sight that was! And even some classic Mopars in there, although nothing really exotic.

About the most exotic thing I found was this '68 VIP Fury.

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Which provided me with this Bendix booster I've been trying to find since I started this project. Hopefully it's not too crusty and can be rebuilt. Time will tell.

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I also yanked the rear end out, hoping to find a Sure Grip, but it was a dud. A 2.76 and an open carrier.
 
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TroyCo

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Thanks Ross. That car still has the old Budd discs, but I don't imagine any one wants any of that.
 

Ross Wooldridge

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Yeah, not likely... however, it would be worthwhile checking to see if the rotors are in spec, and the lower ball joints are tight, because someone may want them. Calipers and the rest, not so much.
 

TroyCo

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Yeah, not likely... however, it would be worthwhile checking to see if the rotors are in spec, and the lower ball joints are tight, because someone may want them. Calipers and the rest, not so much.
I can almost certainly guarantee they are tight. Or seized. Definitely seized. Which is tight.
 

TroyCo

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I live in Kingston too!
BTW Canadian 383's in 66 were Red.
Interesting. Not sure if I like that or not. I've always been partial the Early Chrysler Blue myself. Although this Detroit Green (Alpine Green) looks fairly sharp too. All I know is it's never going to be orange.
 
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