Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lights and Strut Kit

I finally got around to installing Amerisport Cat-eye Quad Headlights in my headlight buckets.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Body Filler at the A-pillar

I was observing cracking in so many places on my car, and it seemed to be coming from body filler being too thick.  I knew I'd find filler in places, but I wasn't prepared for what I found.  There is so much of it that it makes me wonder why.  I have a bad feeling that I'm going to find a lot more.

Friday, September 21, 2012

September Utah Pantera Owners Meet & Greet

I have been a Pantera owner for almost two years now, and I always thought that there weren’t many Panteras in Utah.  I was half-right; there aren’t many but there are more than I thought.  As I met and introduced myself to Pantera owners in Utah, it became clear that those who did own cars in Utah didn’t know a lot of other owners.  So, I decided to make some calls, send out an email or two, and see if I couldn’t get some people together for a few hours to talk about their cars.

September 15th seemed like a great date for a “meet & greet”, so I emailed and called people.  Before I knew it, people were telling me about another owner, who would tell me about another.  We soon had about seven owners who said that they could come, and a few of them had running cars to drive.   The owners who came besides myself were Rich Papworth (Pappy), Brooke Pitt, Art Wright, Rex & Debbie Marshall, Evan & Zach Deneris, and Bill Robbins. 

My wife commented on how much she liked the cars, especially Rex & Debbie’s flared ’74 with its white racing stripes.  She suggested that I should put flares and stripes on my ’71, and I definitely think she liked the Pantera in general a lot more.  Instead of being a primer-gray shell taking up space, she could see the classic style that these cars ooze in large quantities.   

We agreed to meet up once again in a few months, hopefully with more cars and less mosquitos.  Until then, the get-together left us a little more enthusiastic for the Pantera!

Rex & Debbie Marshall's '73 supercharged flared custom Pantera GTS 

Evan Deneris' '71 beauty

Rich Papworth's '72 original car, complete with original owner

Four Panteras on my driveway is such a beautiful sight.  Even better that one of them is mine!

Zach Deneris, Art Wright, Evan Deneris, and Rich Papworth (left to right)

Rex Marshall and Brooke Pitt (left to right)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Working on Headlights

I'm working on the Cat-Eye Quad headlight conversion kit that Amerisport (Kirk Evans) makes.  Kirk provides detailed instructions, and I'm just working on it a little each day.

Here's a bucket, taped and ready for cutting.

I cut the buckets as instructed and also included a small cut at the top for the lights to fit in.

Here are the lights in the bucket.  I'll finish grinding and sanding the edge and keep assembling the light.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Known Issues

I was able to bring the car home on a trailer with the help of my brother today.

More below...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Picking up Car, Misc.

I'm going to pick up the Pantera shell and related body parts on Thursday this week, minus any paint or bodywork.  Unfortunately, our trade agreement has hit a snag.  Stay tuned, since I may actually paint the car myself.  I've been talking to Brian Chomicz and Gary Walker about painting, and they seem to think that while it's a lot of work, it isn't too difficult.

I had Mike Drew go through my steering rack.  Everything looked good except an overtightened ball joint.  I need to get some lock nuts on the ball joint ends for sure.  Mike filled it with grease and replaced both rubber boots as well.  It has an official clean bill of health, ready to go into the car.

I also received Kirk Evan's "Cat-eye Quad" headlight system and two used front turn signal assemblies.   I can now install them in the headlight buckets and start the installation of Gary Walker's linear actuator assemblies.

More to come...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Not Much Happening

Not much has happened in a month.  I'm still waiting to see any progress on my car's body work and paint.  It may be a long time before I see any of it, but who knows, it could happen tomorrow.  In the mean time, I received the single-pod dash in trade for my harness and gauges.  Not a bad trade, and I can recover the dash.

There are several threads on the Pantera International forum I've started:

Weber IDF's and Cain Manifold.

I think Weber carbs are classic.  The set of eight stacks on a V8 adds a sense of urgency and rawness.  I think I understand the temperamental nature of these systems, but there are some accounts that the IDF's are much easier to use on the street.

Do it yourself upholstery

I may be a nut for thinking that I can do this myself, but I think I will try it.  It's a skill that, with some practice and dumb luck, can be learned well enough to be adequate.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wiring Harness, Speedhut Gauges, etc.

I officially traded my wiring harness for other parts.  The vendor I traded with has agreed to find a single-pod dash and console for me.

I also visited Speedhut in Orem, Utah the other day while in the area.  Speedhut makes custom electronic gauges for the tuner/custom car aftermarket.  I asked if they could make gauges similar to the Pantera's original gauges, and they said that it would be close but not exact.  Good enough for me.  The benefit is that the gauges have 270 degree sweeps, are fully electronically controlled, and are cheaper than acquiring a speedometer and repairing/retrofitting all of my original gauges.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mike Drew's Email About Early and Late Chassis

This is an email from the POCA Email Forum about chassis stiffness, by Mike Drew.

By and large the quality of the later-model Panteras was a mixed bag.   On the one hand, the quality of the materials used was far superior to those in the early Panteras (particularly the interior, leather vs. naugahyde).   But the switch from complex stampings to relatively simple jig construction also led to some engineering compromises that have bitten more than a few late-model owners in the years since. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I'll do some simple cut-and paste from the Aug 2001 PCNC newsletter, and May 2002 issue.   First, Charlie's experience:

A year and a half ago, I issued a warning about the need to check lower front suspension mounts for potential failure, after discovering a broken lower A-arm mount on Walter Villere’s car.   His car appeared to have suffered a shunt early in its life, and the front suspension may have taken a hit which weakened the mounting structure enough to inspire failure ten or twenty years later. Recently, Charlie McCall suffered a similar sort of failure on the rear suspension of his absolutely rust-free 1985 GT5-S.   During our recent drive across Europe, I had noted what appeared to be noticeable rear camber change on the passenger side of the car, and foolishly urged Charlie to have it looked at soon, instead of just diving down and looking at it NOW. The fact that his motor blew up the following day was perhaps a blessing in disguise, for when the car was towed to a repair shop, the workers there discovered incipient rear suspension failure; had the motor held together much longer, it’s quite possible he could have experienced full suspension separation and consequent loss of control. Although this was the first I’d heard of this sort of thing, I have subsequently heard from several other people who had similar failures; interestingly, they were all confined to late-model cars, i.e. GT5 and GT5-S.  
It’s unclear to me whether the failure can be attributed to the larger wheels and tires fitted to these cars, or to different manufacturing characteristics, but I believe the latter is more likely the cause. Apparently, the early Panteras feature a steel tube sandwiched in between the inner and outer frame rails, through which the lower control arm mounting yoke passes.   This transmits all forces to both the inner and outer frame rail.   In looking at these photos, it appears that this steel tube is not present on this particular car (it’s somewhat difficult to tell for sure.) That would mean that all pulling forces were felt only by the inner rail, and pushing forces by the outer rail. Eventually, the forces were too much for the mild Italian steel, and the washer and mounting nut pulled through the inner rail, and came to rest on the inside edge of the outer rail.   It’s also apparent that they then began to pull their way through the outer rail, and it wouldn’t have been much longer before they pulled through entirely!   The driver’s side of the car showed deformation and a crack along the bottom edge, indicating that failure was underway there as well. This knowledge would seem to demand an immediate inspection of this area on every Pantera.   I feel fairly confident that early cars will be in reasonable shape, but would caution owners of newer cars to be expecting some degree of failure here, and would urge anybody driving a GT5 or GT5-S to spend a few minutes peering underneath before their next drive, spirited or otherwise.
There are several potential solutions, some of which will come with additional benefits which makes them doubly worthwhile. Assuming that these later cars were manufactured without the aforementioned stress-relieving tube between the inner and outer rails, then external reinforcement is in order.   One solution would be to bend a plate of fairly thick steel into an “L” shape, drill an appropriate hole, and weld or screw it to the inside of the frame rail.   The idea here would be that the threaded portion of the yoke would pass not only through the inner and outer chassis rail, but also through this steel plate.   It should be at least three or four inches wide, enough to transmit the various forces over a larger area of the chassis.   Although the failures I’m aware of were concentrated on the rear mounts, I’d feel better having reinforcements on all four mounts. Alternately, the chassis braces sold by Hall Pantera and Precision Pro-Formance utilize all four A-arm mounts to affix the brace to the car (the Pantera Parts Connection brace only utilizes the rear a-arm mounts); purchasing and installing this brace would effectively result in a full-length steel reinforcement for the A-arms, as well as the primary advertised benefit of reduced chassis flex. One area of potential concern would be the parking brake mechanism.   Later Panteras utilized a completely different parking brake scheme, and the parking brake pulley mechanism is located at the rear of the car, between the a-arm mounts, instead of in front of the motor as it is on the early cars. Thus, there could be interference between this mechanism (or at least the mounting bracket) and the chassis brace.   However, the mechanism is thankfully mounted to a removable bracket, which presumably could be massaged to ensure adequate clearance.
In light of this potential problem, it should go without saying that it is important to not over-torque the A-arm mounts when installing them.   While it’s possible that failures of this type are caused by stresses imparted by the road, there’s no doubt that they can be accelerated by over-enthusiasm when tightening the nuts down (remember they have to be loosened and tightened each time the rear wheels are aligned, so one can assume that several hands have touched them since the cars were first put together.) We can never forget that we are driving cars which are approaching 30 years of age, and in most cases, have seen upgrades in terms of horsepower, braking and traction, sometimes dramatic ones.   While one shouldn’t expect these cars to simply fall apart like a soup sandwich, nevertheless we as owners can bear a certain responsibility for helping to induce failures of this type by performing these modifications.   It is only through vigilance that we can safely continue to aggressively drive these cars for the indefinite future.

Then, some destructive testing done on a 1971 Pantera to compare it with a

Several months ago, I wrote a short article detailing the failure of Charlie McCall’s GT5-S lower rear a-arm mounts and cautioned that this appeared to be a fundamental design flaw in the later, hand-built Panteras.   While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting the contention that late-model chassis is dramatically under-engineered, particularly in the rear lower control arm mounts, some owners of later cars are especially sensitive to the criticisms heaped upon these cars by the Pantera vendors who work on them every day.   They cite an overall improvement in development, comfort, and build quality and have big problems with people levelling accusations of structural inferiority upon their cars without any proof. So I decided to fly to Detroit and drive down to Kirk Evans' shop, do some destructive testing on early and late Pantera chassis rails and determine once and for all if there is a significant design problem. Well, here is your proof. Gary Roys' GT5-S (recently sold) was up on jackstands in Kirk's shop, minus any suspension, so it was a simple matter to bust out the Tool of Justice and ziz some sheetmetal away to peer inside and see what is going on.   Kirk happened to have a pair of 1971 chassis frame rails literally lying around which provided an excellent side-by-side comparison. A peek inside the absolutely rust-free GT5-S chassis was somewhat horrifying.   Kirk has spent more time than just about anybody dismantling and reassembling early Pantera chassis, but I believe that he hasn't really done too much with the late cars other than import them and sell them under the aegis of Amerisport during the late 1990’s.   He expressed considerable surprise at the comparative lack of spot welds on the chassis rail, and the hokey tack welds used to join the two halves together at the bottom.   Upon opening the rail up, there was no visible reinforcement except the tube, which he was able to move around by hand.   He agreed that this was grossly inadequate for the task at hand. A comparison with the 1971 chassis rail showed that somebody was on the ball back then—a second layer of sheet metal encompasses the inside of the frame rail and has a good 20 or so spot welds to keep it in place.   Inside the frame rail is an extremely complex reinforcement structure formed from sheet metal bent into an M shape and placed on end. Bottom line—in this area, early cars are relatively strong, and late cars are weak to the point of being potentially dangerous.   Evans plans to engineer a simple bolt-on or weld-on sheetmetal cover (similar to that used on the early cars) which he will sell at cost to any owner of a post-Ford Pantera. One side note—both structures feature internal reinforcement of one type or another that would be virtually impossible to deform simply by over-tightening the nuts which secure the yokes to the chassis rails.   There has long been speculation that the several failures reported on the GT5-era cars were caused by over-tightening, but that no longer seems to be a valid theory. Thanks to Kirk and Gary for helping settle this issue and hopefully solving this problem.

Photos from the destructive testing can be found here: Poca Gallery
Click the 'full size' link for a better view. While the problem is not terminal, it definitely needs to be addressed if it hasn't been already!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Coyote in Pantera Spotted!

Yes, it's true!  I'm excited to see this progress.  I would love to put a Coyote 5.0 or a new Boss Coyote in #1998.

See it here:

Check out the second page for 180 degree headers.

I'm going to attempt to contact the guy doing it and get the scoop.  I just didn't want to be the first one if I did do it.  The Cleveland will make more power under the curve, but won't be as reliable as this motor will be for sure.  Not to mention the power adders that could be employed easily...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Light Bar Removal

I received a headlight bar removal kit from Gary Walker the other day.  The old adage of "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" is definitely relevant to the Pantera's headlight-raising steel tube and gearbox system.  However, I needed a solution that required a little more adjustability and the stock headlight-raising system was not going to work without serious modifications.  A little background:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More Blue Car and Music Video link

Here are a couple pictures of the "preferred" color on Ron's Pantera:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ron McCall's Blue #1889

I have been debating on several car colors lately.  I have finally narrowed by choices down, but I'm going to think about it for a while.  Here's a car color I like on the Pantera, and may choose:

Ron McCall's Blue #1889

I wanted a red car originally but have since changed my mind.  Several Pantera parts vendors have said that red is the most common color by far, with yellow close behind.  I don't want to be one more in the crowd.  Ron's car color is "Arrival Blue", common on GM cars.  I saw a paint chip at TK Customs and loved it, but realized that it's a metallic color with pearl and aluminum flake.  I'm normally not a blue fan, but I appreciate a nice solid blue, which this is nearly 99%.  There is less than one percent violet in it, but I'm told that the violet helps prevent it from having a greenish tint.

Ron's car has some really classy Halibrand-style wheels, probably with lugnut covers and spinners.  I like the wheels for sure, but I'll probably go for a 5 or 7-spoke gray center/polished rim wheel.  Notice that the car has 180 degree exhaust tips coming through the AC condenser opening under the rear license plate.  I won't be using 180 degree headers since I'd prefer to keep the AC where it is supposed to be.

Pictures courtesy the Provamo Registry with permission from Ron McCall.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

#1998 at TK Customs

Yes, I decided to just take the car to the body shop.  I wasn't going to take it right now, but everything worked out flawlessly.  A good friend (Robert) came over with his truck and trailer to take the car down to Salt Lake City, which is only 20 minutes away.

Car on trailer.  I followed so that Robert could just go home afterward.

Car at TK Customs, a local body shop specializing in custom paint and airbrushed graphic arts.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Engine Page

I have a new engine page, documenting parts, places, etc.

See it here:  Engine Page

Check back often, and I'll also mention it in the course of this blog for part lists and contacts for various parts in case someone wants to use this information.  Technical info will also be updated so that everyone can learn from what I've done, especially if I make a mistake.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Four-Bolt Mains

I have the cash to work on the engine a little (ironically from the engine parts I have sold as a result of having the block cleaned) so I'm pushing ahead to bore the block now. 

Here's the block being machined for four-bolt main caps:

Here's the tapped holes:

Monday, January 2, 2012

Test-fit of Decklid Latches

I test-fit the decklid latches today.  Everything looked and went flawless. I love the fit and perfect match of the lower latch.  The upper latch is the heavy-gauge sheet metal variety that has tabs on each side to center the latch assembly.

I also bought some metal epoxy for the side cast aluminum gills.  The epoxy has aluminum and silica as a supplemental binder as opposed to the common steel particles.  I don't want a steel-filled epoxy since the steel could rust, expand, and loosen the gills on the mounts.  I have some 10-24 stainless steel rod to fit the threads in the gills, and I just need to cut the rod, make up some epoxy, install the rods, and test fit the assembly.