When I first bought her back in April, 1990, I didn’t have a lot of money, and just wanted an antique car to drive around in. First I got it running good (with my old man’s help, of course). Put a new water pump, fuel pump, rebuilt the carb, tuned it up and got a set of (used) tires on her. I had a lot of trouble with 6-Volt batteries dieing on me. I had to re-do the brakes too, but by September 1990 it was on the road, and the body work was started. Man, was it a pain. I didn’t have a garage, so everything I did had to be done…and done before I went to sleep. So if I sanded a fender, I had to prime it before nightfall, outside, under oak and pine trees. I think I spent more time picking bugs out of the primer than I did fixing it up!
10 Years in outdoor Jersey Weather took a toll
I didn’t have a garage when I lived in Jersey, and the harsh winters, road salt, salt in the air from the bay (I didn’t live far from the bay) and acid rain took a toll on Stardust for the 10 years I had her in Jersey. By 1998 the paint was starting to peel in places, rust was popping back through, and the shiny gold and brown bumpers/grill weren’t so shiny anymore. At this point in my life I had spread myself thin with my career, my traveling mystery theater company, dating, and owning as many as three vintage cars at one time. My daily driver was a ’56 Buick Wagon and my weekend car was a 1975 Buick Convertible, and they took up a lot of my time. I still drove Stardust, but I didn’t have the time to do the work she needed, to be done right. So in 2000, when we moved to Florida into a house with a two-car garage, I paired down to one driver and the Chevy. That’s when I decided to strip her down to the metal, do the bodywork right, and do the custom mods I had wanted to do for so long.
Between 2000 and 2005, I worked on stripping down the paint to the metal, removing old bondo and fixing rust with metal ( I learned how to weld! Not well, but well enough), and getting small dents and dings straightened out. I did a better job at straightening the door jam that was bent in the collision in the early 90s, and spent a lot of time straightening the body-door separator and getting the doors lined up. Then, in 2005, with an infusion of cash from a home re-fi, I started on the fins…