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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry I took so long to post my project. But wanted time to write it up nicely. I've been a full sized early Pontiac guy since my first Pontiac in '69. A 2 dr post sedan ex-police Captains car from Brookfield WI police dept. Three on the tree, 389 2 barrel open rear end with the big aluminum finned front brakes and all 15 inch rims/tires. Later a '63 Catalina Ventura ex-stock class car, 421 HO 376 HP, 4 speed, 3:42 rear red beautiful car. And a '57 2 dr hardtop thrown in there for good measure. But growing up in the '60s and starting to read the magazines in the mid '60's, fell in love with gassers. Always wanted to build one. That '63 Ventura I had was on it's way back in '74. I tilted the front end after bolting it into a one piece. I had cut out the firewall and started moving the firewall back for the engine when I bought a house a couple of towns over. Long story short, I had to get rid of the '63 during the move and I regretted that ever since. So now to present day. If you read my introduction, you know that after several cars over the years l ending up with my fully built, turbocharged, 1065 HP 462 '73 trans Am. Loved that car but it was limited on what I could do. And that damn gasser kept gnawing at my innerds. If I still had it the plan was to build it into a more modern version of a gasser. Maybe what gasser would have looked like if the class had been allowed to progress in it's own way. Much like the Malco Gasser Mustangs etc. Tube axle front ends. Lengthened (ala funny cars) front ends. Lower but radiused wheel wells. BUT the gentleman that bought the TA gave me a deal I could not refuse. So I started looking for a car to make a gasser. This was my opportuity to build it from scratch.
This '39 Olds came along and was a great candidate for a gasser so I picked it up.

I had actually bought it just before the gentleman first called me to buy the TA. So I already had it when the TA left. Once I had the sale money from the TA I decided to again look for a full sized Pontiac. But my search was for a '60 Catalina and to make that a gasser. I felt the line of the '60 would have been the best look for a gasser. I built this model for a quick reference to what one would look like.


Not perfect but representative. I almost bought one that would have been a good car to use but the seller had trouble getting a title for it and I wanted one before I threw money into the build then have problems licensing it. Mean while this '63 popped up on craigslist. It was actually advertised as a '62 which was still a good look for a gasser. When I got there it turned out to be this '63. Now coming from rust country, and this '63 being virtually rust free, I could not pass it up. I had the '39 coupe body and an '89 Toyota Supra rolling body that I was trying to sell. This owner collected cars and just so happened to need a Supra body for his son that had smacked his up but had a perfect drivetrain. And he really like the '39 so we swapped both for the '63. So now I had my car. DO I build something that would never have been made into a gasser or sell it off and continue looking. I was hesitant because the '63 was in such nice condition compared to the rust buckets I was used to seeing up north that I was starting to have second thoughts about cutting on it. I asked around on my Pontiac boards and never got a single interested person. SOOOO, let the cutting begin! Mark L
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This is how I started with the '63. I found a guy just a couple of miles away from me that built hot rod chassis and had him build the front axle clip. I had the '57 pick up front axle already and he put that all together. No way I would trust my skills to do that right. For my sake and the sake of others on the road. The rest I can handle. So this is after it came home with the new front clip, and after I installed the Speedway front disc brake conversion kit.



I installed some of the front sheet metal to get a good look a the installation. And how it would appear. I also placed the tire/rim assembly in the wheelwell but it would not drop all the way into the wheelwell. I'd rather have it inside the wheelwell. I love the look of the wheel radiused on tri fives and that type of car but I just do not feel this style of car lends itself well to that look.



So I started narrowing the frame rails to get those meats under the fenders. I built long rails to go from the front frame kickout at the firewall, back to the rear frame kick out where it turns in to mount the rear trailing arms just ahead of the rear end. I wanted to run one single rail all the way from the front kickout thru and over the axle and back to a tie in point after the axle. But I could not get a straight line from the front frame inside point, straight back and over the axle. So I made 2 seperate rails per side. The long rail that goes from the front frame to the rear frame. And the seperate frame over the axle that will run a short distance along the long frame, overlapping it and getting welded to it. And the over axle frame rail then gets tied back into the original frame after the axle.



Once these were in it looked like this.



Mark L
 

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I think the Cataline is a great idea for a gasser!!! I've had a number of Pontiac's over the years, couple of 'birds and goats, one of my "dream builds" for a super cruizer is a '59 Catalina, haven't been able to come up with a likely candidate yet but I'm still looking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
DaveS. I agree that a '59 is in a league of it's own. Love them too.

So I got the rails in and then I started to remove the inner wheelwell for tubing them out.



And lined the foor cut edge with some angle iron to keep it from flexing. I know it's pretty heavy stuff for the build but I had it on hand.



Next I used the cut out wheelwell section to map out a plywood form to copy an inner tub wall from.





Mark L

And
 

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Hey Mark sure looks good. I've always liked the early to mid 60's pontiac's. 65 gto is my favorite, i've about got mine redone. hope to have it going by spring. I also have a 37 coupe i'm working on, be awhile on it.Iwould like to make a straight axle gasser out of the 37, but i have already installed a fatman subframe and mustang type suspension. to much money invested to switch now. oh yea, I have a sister and brother living in kingman az, have been there several times. he's all time calling and telling me about that az weather. Good luck on your build and i'm sure it's gonna be a blast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Placed the form in the wheelwell and trimmed it to a final fit.



From here you can see how it fit in the trunk area and against the angle for support.



Next I built the inner tub from the plywood form and dropped it in place.



You can also see the tire I'm using tucked up in place in the wheelwell.


Mark L
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
And then with the tire tucked up in place in the wheelwell I can see how it will look now instead of the tire sticking out of the wheelwell. I like it better tucked in but out as much as possible.



And from the side.



So that is where I am for now. I still need to cut out the drivers side, get that tire in and the final measurement for the width of the rearend. Then take it to get widened. The Ford 9 inch has an offset pinion center line compared to the axle (most cases). With widening, I can specify the widening done so the pinion will come out centered in the whole axle. That will get more stress off of the drive train if everything is centered.
Next I'm going to explain the engine build.

Mark L
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
OK, motor and drive train.
For those that are not that familiar with the Pontiac engines and blocks, they have a good side and a bad side. I'm using a 1960 389 block. The reason is, thankfully in the early/old days they really built stuff from solid strong thick materials. 1961 Pontiac started scrimping on the thickness of the blocks. The early V8s had a strength rib cast into the thrust side of the crankcase to stiffen the block, they used much more nickel in the blocks and they cast in thicker overall walls and bulkheads. I have a friend here in Phoenix with a nostalgic nitro burning, 40 psi blown Pontiac front engine dragster making over 3000 HP. Using the same block I have, a 1960 389. The only block breakage he has had was a tuning error that blew out the entire side of the block. One overall bad thing, and even with the early blocks, the lifter valleys are cast open. Only a couple of cross ribs at the cam journals to help hold the two sides of the block together. Pontiac did cast some special blocks for racing over the years, but they are hard to come by and usually cost both of your BLEEPs. This open valley leaves the lifter bores kind of flapping in the wind and with a very aggressive fast lift cam lobe they can actually pop the lifter bore casting right out of the block. We now have great aftermarket blocks that cast these solid among other things that make them almost bullet proof, something Pontiac enthusiasts have needed for years. But you need big bucks just for the block, then all the rest of the parts come after that. My 389, bored to 406 specs, align bored/honed, 4 bolt splayed caps, partially filled, decks reinforced for boost etc etc etc. Still cost less than the new block. And there is still final things that need doing on the ftermarket blocks before you can used them, adding even more to the cost of the engine. If I had a litte more money I would have been ahead getting the block. But I have complete faith in this '60 block with the prep done to it. OK, ready for the tour?

This is the block as I received it from Texas.



The block getting all the dowels done for the new caps.



And the splayed caps. If you look the passenger side of the blocks crankcase, you can just make out the strengthening rib that runs the length of the inner crankcase at the outside bottom of the bores.
Later blocks do not have that. Even the stock main caps are thicker and bigger than later blocks.



To strengthen the block decks from flexing under boost. We drilled the decks to accept steel rods on either side of the center deck head bolt holes. These rods go down into the bottom of the water jacket and butt up against the bottom of the jacket to give more support to the decks in the middle. You can see where the rods are inserted right where the coolant hole is and the coolant hole redrilled.



Tomorrow I'll start the fun part. All the great pieces that will go into the engine to hopefull get to the 1500 HP I'm aiming for. Mark L

Mark L
 

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thanks for the great pics and update mark. so very cool.
 

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I for one love the the 63 Pontiac much more than the earlier Pontiacs. The vertical headlights and clean lines always appealed to me more. The build looks great! Can't wait to see what the engine looks like complete!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I really wanted to build a '60 Catalina. I felt the lines of the '60 Cat with the horizonatal headlights and the flat trunk lended itself better to the gasser look. But I had a '63 Catalina Ventura ex-race car way back when I really love it. When this '63 virtually rust fee Catlina came along I figured. Why the heck not. Do something really different. Everyone was doing the old Super Stock/Super Duty look to these. And if you know me, I'm into being different. So it's the big old aircraft carrier Catalina. Might even name it the USS Ronald Reagan, LOL!!! Actually I want to try to name it an Indian name, but a respectful one. Since it will be turbocharged. I was hoping to find an Indian name for the wind or good wind?? I was close to using a Tempest like pic in Johnny Rottens post, but the small Pontiacs are all over the place also. I'll also have plenty of room to sneak 15 people into the drive in show with the trunk on this thing. Even with the rollbar tubes and the fuel cell. Heck, they can have a party back there and I can charge 'em for transportation, heh. Mark L
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Update. I got the drivers side wheelwell cut out and the final measurement for the axle width. I took the 9 inch to be widened. Will check on it tomorrow, saturday. These are the final pics with the wheels and tires inside the wheelwell.





Mark L
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yeah the fabricator laughed his butt off. BUT. The rear end is all modified for use in a high powered car, back brace, ladder bar mounts, wheelie bar mounts, and shock mounts.





You can see all the mods, but it had been narrowed 1 1/2 per side to fit bigger tires under a Camaro. But I have to go out 2 1/2 on each side to make it all work. If I could afford custom back spaced rims I could have made up that difference that way. My rims are 15 wide with 7 inch back spacing. Mark L
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sorry that I posted double pics above. Got too excited I guess, LOL! Forgot I had already attached them. Mark L
 
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