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83 Coupe DeVille

4875 Views 34 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  zooter86
I keep talking about how I miss forums like this one so it only seemed right if I'm going to wish it'd come back: I've gotta do my part and contribute.

Back in February 2019 I bought this project car by accident while trying to bargain hunt some hydraulic parts. A close friend of mine sent me these pictures asking if I knew if anyone was looking for a project car, I said no but I may be interested in the hydro parts in the trunk, he replied that it was a all or nothing deal and hit me with a price I couldn't resist so I picked it up. Nothing in or on the car worked, it ran and drove technically but that's it, I bought it and drove it to my friend's garage 1 mile away and at no point was I sure I was going to make it until it was in his driveway.

I bought it based on these pics.

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1 - 20 of 35 Posts
I picked it up early March 2019. It'd start and run but not on all cylinders, wouldn't go over 20 mph, backfiring the whole time, leaking gas, no brakes, no power steering, no lights, no windows working, 24's rubbing like crazy the whole time so you couldn't really turn either.

Rims came off first thing and sold those right away, I liked the home made knock off tool though: creative.

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Fix the fuel leaks by making new lines, fix the brakes, replace old brake lines and hoses, freshen up the pads, rotors, wheel cylinders etc. the drums and shoes in the back were brand new though so someone did some work recently. Now it had brakes and wasn't leaking gas.
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a pair of fiberglass quarter fillers came with it in the car so that was a score, wrong color though.
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Interior not in bad shape but that gaudy white spray paint and dirty white headliner isn't doing anyone any favors and there was an old car club etched on the quarter window. I'll have to fix all that later.
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Car came with no battery so new battery for starters, alternator was overcharging, as soon as you'd touch the gas: lights would go super bright, voltage over 16v so new alternator. Climate control was broken, had to replace that before I could start pulling trouble codes once I could pull codes, both temp sensors were bad and the wiring was shorting out.
Iron Machine Metal Circle Nut

Electronic device Technology Electronics Machine Cable
heater return fitting to the radiator was snapped off the radiator, new radiator $260 so I soldered the old fitting back on like sweating house copper pipe, figured if it didn't work then I still gotta buy a radiator so no loss but it came out perfect.
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some minor wiring issues, some vacuum hoses missing/broken, fuel regulator spring broken in the throttle body and not holding fuel pressure, fixed all that, gave it a full tune up, still backfiring and no power, you hit the gas and the engine wouldn't rev, it'd just backfire more.

upper a-arms were hacked to clear the cylinders but no reinforcement so cracks all over. For now I just welded the cracks and replaced the missing bushings, I'll build A-arms later
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no radio but surprisingly the radio harness wasn't chopped.
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94k on it, based on the shape of the car, I doubt it's 194k.
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so I dove further in, pulled the valve covers: found broken rocker shaft in the drivers side cover....
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went and got a not broken set from the junkyard, bolted those on: cool. All looks right now, fire it up.... the engine ran worse, more popping through the intake and stumbling more... so I pulled the valve covers back off as now I had an idea: fired the engine up and watched the rocker arms.... most moving... couple not moving.... okay now I know what I'm chasing and dive further into this HT4100 engine.
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wiped out camshaft! 4 of the lobes were worn completely off and were just round/smooth all the way around.

Installed a new cam, new lifters, new gaskets, water pump and thermostat since I was already in there, fired it up and broke in the camshaft.
While I had the engine open: I also cleaned out the clogged oil return passages from the cylinder heads which were probably why the valve covers leaked so much... or it could've been one of them just didn't have a gasket at all... to clean the passages you gotta pull a couple head bolts out which was nerve-racking but it all went surprisingly smooth.

In case you were wondering why do all this work to a HT4100: I didn't have the time for an engine swap and the parts to fix it only totaled $300 including camshaft, distributor gear, lifters, timing chain, gaskets, fluids, etc.

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Now it was finally running right and smooth. this was Mid-May 2019
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We're up to mid-may here, now the car runs, stops, and isn't hemmoraging fluids but was stuck on jack stands since I sold the 24's so I pulled my daytons off my old Edsel, put stock rims back on that, some fresh rubber for them and now the caddy has new shoes.

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made new mounting tabs for the broken grille that was in the trunk and got it refitted, made a huge visual difference.

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Dusted off my old 14" chain wheel, I just love the old school flavor it gives. Painted the wheel adapter blue to match the interior

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here's the little one trying it out: making sure it was tight
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now before I got to the setup, I had to get those fillers squared away. I got replacement front bumper fillers: the square fillers that fit the fender right behind the bumper, bodyworked those and the rear fillers the car came with.
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One of the front fillers was still good so I took that and got paint "matched" to the car but the car is light blue... paint was straight up teal.... not even close to the car's color.
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So I sanded the fillers back down, repainted them. Now the color is close enough to live with.
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When I went to put them on I realized I had to porta-power the bumper back out as it had been pushed in 2" and that's probably what destroyed the original fillers in the first place. either was rear-ended or backed into something but that's all good now.

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Much better.
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Now onto the setup: the car still had the battery/pump rack in but the springs/cylinders were all pulled out and were in the trunk. Everything else was gone, no switches, switch cord, pumps, batteries, etc.

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I put together a 6-switch panel, mounted it on the left side of the dash.
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Put together 3 pumps out of spare parts I've collected over the years and had 8 used batteries hanging around, put all that in on the old racking which I wasn't crazy about but would work for this season at least as it was nearly june and cruising time, same with the missing chunk of trunk floor over the chain bridge, I'll fix that later.

it had a chain bridge in the rear but they had put stock springs all around and added shocks in the back so I took the springs and shocks out, welded powerballs back on the axle and donuts in the front spring pockets.
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Really not liking the solenoid positioning but this'll work for now:
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gave the trans a service, added a drain plug to the pan to make it cleaner next time, there was a lot of sludge in the bottom of the pan.... I feel like this trans won't be long for this world. Trans mount was in pieces, replaced that too.

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Trans mount was a little worn out too...
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These cars: the gas pedal hinges off the floor, all that was rusted away on this car, the gas pedal was in the back seat when I bought it. I made a new pivot plate and welded it to the floor after I patched the holes up from the original pivot. Now my car has a gas pedal again
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Looking better every day.
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while I had the seats and carpet out: fixed these bogus seat mounts someone had "welded" in this car. I think these seats are out of a FWD caddy cause they don't fit the mounts at all.... So I made new mounts so they fit right and sit nice and level and welded them in.

Also the driver seat does not match the car at all wiring-wise, there's 7 wires coming from the car and the seat is only taking in 4 wires so I made an adapter harness with a pack of relays to make it right and working.


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now a few shots, we're up to july and just clocking miles.


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in August: me, the family, my brother and his family took a trip to St. Louis. Halfway there the trans started acting up but the car got me there and back... barely. Then the trans came out for rebuild. Every rotating part in the trans had to be replaced. My rebuilder commented that he could tell it had been rebuilt recently and parts were re-used that shouldn't have been contributing to the catastrophic failure. Fresh rebuild back in and we're rollin with all 4 gears again

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Couple weeks later I began to notice sometimes when I'd go to start the car: the fuel pump fuse would pop and no start. Replace the fuse and it'd fire up: run great. Couple weeks later: same thing. Figured out it was the oil pressure sensor wiring was shorting out as the coating cooked off and the sensor was leaking.
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Whenever I have the chance I like to upgrade so for this I used AcDelco D1843 and connector PT121 so now it had a nice weather tight connector that'd lock together rather than just 3 wires pushed on terminals that'd fall off.
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got some junkyard a-arms to redo while I'm enjoying the summer.

did a 1" extension and reinforced the uppers, I also did the OUTHOPU HD ball joint upgrade on the uppers, reinforced the lowers.


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I'm too cheap for chrome but didn't just want some rattle can black paint either so I tried some of the Rustoleum glitter paint from menards and taped off a bit just for contrast.

If you want to try this: before you put down the glitter paint: paint a base coat of whatever color glitter you're going to use and it'll work much better cause the glitter paint doesn't cover very well, took countless coats to get even color coverage.

on top of the glitter I sprayed automotive grade clear coat and then wet-sanded and buffed them to try and get that nice deep shine and hopefully last longer.


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This car came with the 8.625" rear axle that was bent by the time I got it and was howling like crazy. I lucked out and came up with a 8.5" rear axle from a 94 caprice 9C1 police car from the junkyard. Disc brake upgrade.
I tore down the rear axle and everything that rotated needed replacement...


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Got a new posi unit, changed the gear ratio from 3.08 to a 3.42 which is what the caddy had originally, put in a timken bearing kit, set up the gears for the right lash, reinforced the housing with c-channel across the top and a 3/16" plate on the bottom, redid all the brake hardware as all that was shot and painted the axle to match the a-arms I did. We're into winter 2019-2020 now


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I tried buffing the car club logo off the window, it got lighter but still was there so in december 2019 I decided to pull the window out and take it to a glass shop to have it buffed out professionally... about an hour into trying to remove the window, had it fairly loose, 2/3 of the sealant cut and the glass moving.....


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so I got a replacement used window, installed it and just moved on.. I didn't take any pics of the new window in.
I did pick up a 90 header panel though, had to buy different parts from a few people but got it all together, looks like the header had been painted more than once in the past too.

I wanted to do a partial 90 job: keep the 80 bumper and trim but a 90 clip.
Filled the 90 hood trim holes on the header and then drilled for the 80 hood ornament.
Modified the 80 filler pieces between the headlights and bumper to fit the 90 header but everything else

Primed, painted, cleared the header to match the car.


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now we're jumping around a bit timeline wise but this was March 2020: fitted the 90 clip with 80 grille, 80 trim, 80 bumper. modified the wiring to make everything on the 90 clip work properly. I didn't want to do the full 90 body cladding all down the side, I like the minimal 80 trim better, plus I saw it done like this while watching Raps n Lowriders one night and that sold me on it, I thought that combo looked sharp.


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same time frame: March 2020: tore the old racks out of the trunk and started re-working. the pump rack was a piece of lentil for concrete, the solenoid rack was some kind of shelving, the solenoids at the back always made me worry if I put anything in the trunk and it was all no go for me.

I re-used the battery rack bases after I redid the welds but that's it, scrapped the rest. I built solenoid racks that'd tuck them up in front of the batteries, pumps I put as far forward as I could to try and have a little useable trunk space.

I smoothed it out and painted all the racking to match the car.


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1 - 20 of 35 Posts
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