Hoping for results


New Member
I'm going to start this thread and hope that it will be the catalyst to keep me going. No pictures today, just a back story.
In 1986 I was just out of college, newly married and had a baby to care for and needed a more dependable vehicle. A guy I worked with had a 1985 T type and swore by it, while shopping at a Subaru dealer I came across a "used" 86 GN that a lady had just traded in for who knows why. It had 12.000 miles and I bought it and fell in love. 9 months later my friend with the 85 tells me his buddy at the Buick dealership is paying top dollar on trade-in's on the new 87's. We walked in together, ordered new cars and waited. A few months later I traded in my car with 26,000 miles on it for more than what I paid for it. I was now the owner of the first "new" car I had ever bought. Seven years (1994) and 125,000 miles later I experienced turbo failure with dramatic results that unfortunately were above my budget to repair. I leased a used Mercury Sable (Ugh!) and my sister lent me her beater Mustang (Double Ugh!).
Over the next few years I helped my brother in law swap an engine in his Camaro and some how decided this qualified me to diagnose what my GN needed. In the coming years I got promoted and saved money for about a year to get the GN fixed. then got fired from my job (1998). Then again in 2001 I had another job that allowed me to save some $$ and the company closed and the GN had to wait yet again. Knock on wood but I have been at my job now for 14 years, again have some disposable income, and have a wife who insists that we fix the GN rather than get rid of it or leave it to rot away.
Over the last 22 years the car has been parked in my garage taking up the majority of space (all the other vehicles stay in the driveway in reverence to the Grand National). Now this isn't to say that it is just sitting there. Taking apart a car is free and allows me to feel like it isn't being ignored (admittedly in hindsight not the smartest decision). Now the vehicle is totally apart, The interior is all downstairs along with some other fragile parts, the engine is propped up by the cherry picker in the corner, and the body is currently sitting on four jack stands about two feet above the rolling chassis. Periodically I purchase things that I feel will be used to make the vehicle better, and this is where I stumble.
I have had grand visions of what the rebirth of this vehicle will be, but as I get closer to actually doing something I freeze up (perhaps afraid I will lose my job again?). But enough is enough. So I am looking for guidance on what and how to balance reality with dreams and get my Grand National back on the road. I don't need the best restoration in the world as this vehicle will be driven regularly. It doesn't need to stay stock as I want many upgrades. I would lean more towards pro-touring than drag racing, but not so far that I can't smoke the guy next to me at the light.
I feel like I need to break this up into steps (Chassis first, Body second, Driveline third, Interior last?). I would love input and debate on what is the "right" thing to do. You as a group know way more than me and my pipe dreams. Here is what I have been thinking about. Last year I purchased the GNSperformance frame box in kit, I want to do the frame notch, add additional bracing to the frame (not sure what), and would like to improve the suspension/brakes. I figure I should add the driveshaft loop for safety, not sure about the steering box, the fuel tank/pump/lines or the powermaster brakes let alone all the things I have no idea about. I look forward to your comments and will post some pics in the near future.

Thank you in advance - Mike from Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Sounds like you have a really good idea of what you want your car to be! To avoid being overwhelmed, just do one item at a time. Eg brakes, rear, int. You've waited a long time so don't rush and get frustrated now. It can all get done in due time.
It's very cool that you bought it new and are ready to get back into the car!
Best of luck!
Strip the frame bare, blast it, either paint it, or powder coat. Around here, a blast of the frame, core support, etc, and all suspension parts is about $2-250. Blasted, powdercoated, $600-700.
Then as $ comes available complete the assy.
While the frame is out, it's "nasty time"! Clean the under side of the body, and paint it.
I usually do the body last, as it being bolted down on fresh mounts, makes it easier to transport.
We generally don't paint w/ the car assembled, so you should be in good shape there.**
While the car is being painted, it's TLC time for the engine/trans.
I then install engine, and do everything I can while the fenders, doors are still off.
Installing body panels takes some time to get it right. if you are real picky, U could have the body shop prefit the trunk, doors, fenders, etc, then blow it apart and paint it.

** Only time we do a paint assembled, is with the exotic 3 step paints..A better chance for exact match.

Make a punch list, in some logical order...
I appreciate the input. Here are some photos of the chassis as it sits right now. Trying to determine the next few steps. I need to find someone to weld in the GNS performance frame box in kit I purchased, I am thinking about getting the Gbody frame notch kit and getting that done as well. I am not sure what frame bracing I should add beyond that, but probably should add it before getting the frame finished.I think sandblasting and powder coating is the way to go.

One question I have is - If I want to upgrade the suspension to lets say a ridetech package is there anything I should do now? Do I need to purchase the suspension now or can I wait until the vehicle is reassembled?


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