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rmchrgr

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My name is Greg, I'm from Stamford, CT. I'm a Mopar guy to the bone, have a '71 Duster small block street machine for many years and 383/4 speed/EFI '68 Coronet. I'm a long time member over at FABO and FBBO, some of you might recognize me from there. I joined here because I have been helping an old friend of mine build his '66 Fury. Even though it's not mine I have a lot invested in it time and effort wise with him. I figured it would be best to become a member so I could use the site as needed. Glad to be aboard.

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A little back story. My friend is not real mechanically inclined. He lives in NYC and does not have his own place to work on his junk. He has neither, tools, equipment or know how. Because of that he has relied on me to help him with all his automotive disasters. He tends to like bigger vehicles and thus far in his short time in the car hobby has gravitated towards mid- '60s C bodies. Previous to the Fury, he had a rust bucket '63 Dodge 880 four door with a worn out 361. The thing was a total beater and spent more time in my driveway than actually driving. After getting it back on the road in 2016, he somehow managed to sell it to some other unwitting rat-rod hipster (for money!) and subsequently found his current '66 Fury.

My friend Aaron doing an intake swap on his '63 880, probably around 2015. This was in my driveway at my old house in Long Island, NY.
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Far as I can tell, the Fury is nothing special - small block, column auto with A/C. We presumed it was a Poly from the factory but have never actually verified that. It currently has a wheezy, knocking LA 318 which as stated is coming out for a big block. It did in fact run and drive for a while but has needed a lot of work to keep it on the road. The car was yellow at some point but the P.O. primered over the paint and painted the top black with what looks like roofing tar. He also added the black out hood treatment and Ricky-racer hood pins. Has some rust in the lower quarters and fender skirts and needs a paint job. Interior is "there" but is tattered.

2.26.22
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In the summer of 2020, it started having engine problems. The 318 overheated and someone (not me) determined it had a blown head gasket. He took it to a shop he used in Queens and was told it was going to "be a lot" to fix it. I told him I'd be willing to fix it but he would have to get it towed up to my place here in CT. For whatever reason, that never happened. We began discussing whether he should spend the money to have some random shop fix the overheating or spend the money on the big block of his dreams. Ultimately he decided to do the big block swap but since then it's been sitting in a mall parking garage in Queens, NY.

It wasn't totally wasted time because while the car sat we managed to build a stroked 383 (438"). He'd come up to my place on the weekends and I taught him how to build an engine. He loved filling rings and installing Spiro locks. We had a few hiccups along the way but finally completed it late last year. In Nov. 2021, we took it to a dyno shop to break it in and see what it could do. It made around 450 hp and 470 lbs. ft of torque with a 228/232 hydraulic cam, OOTB Stealth heads, Performer RPM intake, Holley 750 and small tube dyno headers. To compliment it he sprung for a full TTi exhaust system from the headers to the exhaust tips which should only help the overall output. It's really a basic hot rod combo that will be more power than he's ever had under his foot.



Fast forward to now. He's managed to gather almost everything we needed to do the swap. Yesterday, 2.26.22, I went down to Queens with a UHaul trailer to pick the car up and start the job. It was an adventure to say the least. The car died in the street and we ended up pushing it onto the trailer with his van. Unfortunately I ended up rear-ending someone in the process. I was 10 minutes form my house too. Not a great idea to suddenly stop at a cross walk in front of a truck loaded with 6,500 extra lbs but who knows what goes through people's heads. We're OK but the front bumper on my Ram has seen better days. Thankfully no one was hurt and the trailer didn't factor into the accident.

Despite the accident I am able to drive my truck without issue and eventually, we managed to get the car into my garage and onto the lift. We even started disassembly and made some progress but around dinner time we called it a day. While underneath, we were being showered with rust and I really couldn't help but notice how crusty the car was. My friend blames the time in the mall garage but in my mind, it's just an old car in need of a complete restoration. I had to be the bearer of bad tidings and tell him that the chassis was not in good enough shape to throw 450 hp at it. It's unclear whether the frame rails are soft or not but I would have been remiss had I not made it clear what he was up against.

Once he got over his initial shock we discussed having the underside cleaned up so we can asses the situation clearly. I'm not doing the job myself, no way, no how, BTDT. The current idea is to get it to a media blasting service about 30 minutes from my house. They offer a pickup and delivery service so unless it's outrageously expensive were going to get that done ASAP. I'm hoping that the uniboody frame rails are OK because they look borderline to me. The front horns of the stub frame also seem like they could be starting to soften but I'm not sure. I believe the only way to know for sure is to get the surfaces clean.

This is what we're up against.
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Things like this always snowball. I've made that clear to him every step of the way but yesterday was definitely a bummer. We'll figure it out I guess, just time and money that neither of us have.

Well, that's the story for now. If you've read this far, thanks. See you on the forum.

- Greg
 

HWYCRZR

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Welcome from ND.

Good on you for helping out. That does look a little crispy though.
 

rmchrgr

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Thanks! Let's hope things are still viable underneath. Hate to think he'd have to send this car down the road.
 

LocuMob

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Hello from a fellow FABO member, nice introduction to your friends car. I hope the underside cleans up nicely, but front stubs are available if need be.
 

rmchrgr

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Unfortunately, this story did not end well. After almost 30 years, the owner of the Fury and I are no longer friends. The car is out of my shop and I'm no longer involved with the project.

Once we got the car here to my house and up on the lift, it became apparent that the car was rustier than we had realized. Even just looking at it caused a shower of rust to rain down on your head. I had mentioned it to him on that Saturday evening that I thought the car was rough and would need a lot of work to get it to a point where putting a new engine in it would be a reasonable thing to do. To my surprise, he was really upset and angry. I told him there were options to move forward but it would take a lot of time, effort and money. After a long discussion, he settled down and seemed to be on board.

Over the next couple days I had the opportunity to look the car over more carefully. The farther into it I looked though, the worse it got. I kept trying to convince myself it was OK but there was just no getting around it - the car was in bad shape. It literally needed metal from the doors back. The firewall had a huge rot hole in it under the master cylinder. The rear floors were rusted bad enough that I put a hammer through it without really even trying. The dutchman panel, roof pillars and rear quarters were all really bad, it was all bondo over completely rusted underneath. The trunk was literally disintegrating but was painted to not look as bad as it was. And on and on. The scope of work had completely changed from an already involved big-block driveline conversion to a full-on restoration requiring serious metal surgery. This was was not something I was willing to get involved with, no way no how.

Besides me not wanting to have this crusty carcass sitting in my shop for eternity, the owner didn't have the money or inclination to take on something as involved as extensive rust repair on a unibody vehicle, especially one that has no aftermarket panel support. Prior to this point, we had casually discussed the cost of paint jobs. I told him that $30K was about the going price if you "want it done right". He was absolutely dumbfounded by that idea. I can't imagine what "fixing" this thing would have added up to should he have decided to take it to a "restoration" shop. Either way, that was not happening.

To me, the worst part of the rust damage was probably the trunk floor under the dutchman panel. The car had clearly sat outside for many years exposed to the elements. Since the rear window channel and dutchman were rotted out, it's safe to presume that water was just pouring in and literally ponding in the trunk. I peeled off long sheets of "paint" from the front of the trunk pan to reveal completely rusted metal. Though I couldn't actually see it, I knew the rear frame rails were rusted out from the inside because of how much water had been allowed to sit there for however many years. Hard to even fathom what someone was thinking pulling this thing out of whatever resting place it was in and "fixing it up". But that's a story for another day.

Though we had come a long way and were all set to move forward, reality set in - I knew it was not in anyone's best interest to put a 450hp/475lb.ft. of torque engine in this particular chassis. It would have been irresponsible of me to go ahead with the exercise because besides the rust issues, everything in the car is literally junk. Some of the half-assery was absolutely mind-boggling and I've seen some pretty rough stuff over the years. Frankly, it would have been completely unsafe for the owner, his wife and potentially other drivers around him when say the rear spring hanger ripped out of the frame at 70 mph or the parts-store brake line that was rubbing on the back of the right-side cylinder head decided it had had enough. Scary stuff but true.

Later that week and after a lot of careful thought, I wrote out a long email letter to the owner. I described the situation honestly and told him I wouldn't go forward with the engine project under any circumstances. I outlined several options for him from fixing the car properly to cutting his losses and finding something more viable. It took me a long time to write it out. My wife even helped me make it less forceful hoping he would be less upset by it. I sent it to him and then texted right after saying that he should read it over, sit with it, digest it and call me when he was ready to discuss things further.

That's where the story takes a turn for the worse. He was out that night at band practice and saw the text. 10 minutes later, I got an angry text back saying "sell the whole thing, I don't care" etc. I texted back saying that I was upset too and reminded him again to sit with the the letter and think it through before making any decisions. That was the last communication that night.

The next day he even had the balls to call another friend of mine behind my back and ask his opinion about the car. Fury guy hardly knows this other dude. They'd met briefly a few times and the other friend was even here when we got the Fury to my house so he saw first-hand what the car looked like.

I'd describe this other friend as having "lower" standards than mine when it comes to his willingness to drive rust buckets. He drove a '69 Satellite wagon around that the rear was rusted so bad the exhaust was gassing him out. The difference between him and Fury guy though is that he does his own wrenching. I go over to his place sometimes and laugh at the absolute hack jobs this guy and his drunken sidekick are willing to let loose on the unsuspecting drivers of NYC. But that's OK because I'm not involved with it on any level, whatever happens to him or someone else is on him. Fury guy had only relied on me to guide him in this project so calling this other guy for a second opinion really pissed me off. The situation was unraveling fast.

So back to the letter I had sent. I found out later that he didn't read the letter all the way through but at the time I didn't know it. I knew he'd be upset - heck, I was too but I wasn't presenting him with something that I hadn't told him to his face already. He sent a couple more dismissive texts that day, several of which consisted of him exaggerating his costs to that point which kind of pissed me off. Later that day, I took the time to write another letter, this one showing him exactly what he had paid out and where his money had gone ( I had all the receipts). It was almost exactly what I told him him things would cost before we even started the project. I did it because I knew his claims of being $15K into the engine were nonsense - they were not even half of that. It made me feel better to present facts in a straightforward manner and hoped it would do the same for him. He didn't read that letter either.

The next day he texted and asked to talk and we did. It seemed like he had already made up his mind about what he was going to say and spent 15 minutes trying to convince me that it was OK to put the engine in the car because his dad used to cobble things together with baling wire and chewing gum and he was the same way. That's fine I said but I'm not going to put my name on it. He became increasingly irate and irrational but I wouldn't budge. I had asked him if he had read the letter and he didn't even know I sent it to him. That's when he hung up on me.

A few minutes later he began a barrage of unhinged text messages, the first of which said "F*ck you, if you were standing next to me I'd punch you in the face." The rest were all equally nutty - he had lost it. In between texts, he went back and skimmed the cost letter I sent and promptly accused me of "invoicing him" which I never would have done. He also said I left things out of it even though every single thing he paid for was on the list. Some of the parts he claimed I left out were listed within the first three lines. Clearly this dude has a problem with reading things because this whole situation could likely have been avoided by doing so. He didn't though and that's on him.

I have no idea what was going on in his life at that time but whatever it was he was clearly being stretched too thin and it was all coming out onto my head. He accused me of being a rich guy because I prioritize my car stuff ( I'm not) having a huge ego because I said I wouldn't put my "business card" on his rust bucket ( I am basically ego-less, almost to a fault) and ripping off a friend for thousands of dollars by invoicing him for parts he bought (really?) This is despite donating (yes, free) over $1,200 worth of MY parts to HIS engine project to help keep his costs down.

I showed my wife the texts and it brought her to tears. I mean, this was one of my oldest friends - a guy that had participated in our wedding ceremony. It was crazy how unglued he became, there was no explanation for it. Of course I understand how upsetting it was to be presented with this situation after however long but hey, sometimes you gotta cut your losses and move on.

For whatever reason though, he chose to take it all out on me and attack me on a personal level. This is despite the fact I spent two years helping him with his engine, giving him free parts and advice, free storage for his parts, the use of my tools and garage and not to mention my time spent resarching and writing out extensive, detailed parts lists for him which he also never read. I was a great guy when I was helping him but as soon as I told him something he didn't want to hear, he threw me under the bus without even thinking about it. See ya later, a$$hole, no going back from that.

A few days later he called me back in tears and apologized. We spoke for a while and it all came out but I held firm. I told him that things would never again be the same between us and that there would be no help going forward. He was also going to have to get his POS car out of my garage immediately without any help or guidance from me. I knew he wouldn't know what to do with the new engine and transmission so I actually took it upon myself to set them in the chassis to ensure it all went out the door. It was worth doing because when I asked him what he had planned on doing with the engine, he had no answer other than he thought it would stay in my garage. Nope.

During that last conversation I offered to let the guy store it in one of the garages where I work and amazingly, he took me up on it. So now he pays me to store his junk. It can sit there forever for all I care. He lives about 40 minutes away so I won't see him and it's completely out of my hair. Funny how things work out sometimes. Pays to take the high road.

Sorry to lay this all out here but if you've got to this point, thanks for reading.

Greg
 

1970FuryConv

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Hi Greg,
I can understand your anger. However, I have learned in business that it is a bad idea to handle conflicts through emails or texts. You may be right, but it won't go well. Best to do the shocking/bad news face to face.

You'll have to decide whether he is worth having as a friend. Sounds like, after your wife's tears, he is not. Very hard to judge without meeting your buddy. I can only say, I'm surprised he hasn't learned more from working with you. Wish I had a friend like you close by. Ben
 

Polara-Star

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i read through all your story. i'm sorry to hear you lost a friend, but i appreciate the level of honesty and reality check one has to have. i have been through something similar and lost a 1977 Plymouth Gran Fury NY State police model because of it. Not to mention my former best friend who worked with me to restore it. All the best.... Jeremy
 
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