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 Where to begin?

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paizao99



Posts : 5
Join date : 2013-12-28
Location : Provo, UT

PostSubject: Where to begin?   Sat Dec 28, 2013 4:24 pm

Hello all. I am obviously new to your forum. After perusing around it is obvious that there a good number of people with ’59 Pontiacs who thoroughly enjoy driving a great car.
My great-grandmother purchased her 1959 Pontiac Catalina new in Oklahoma. It has been in my family since. She took great care of her beloved car. Unfortunately, I have not done the same since her passing. I drove it in high school but parked it in 1995 due to brake failure. It has sat idle since then.
A side story: my mom had it in her driveway while I lived away. She took it to her granite countertop business in Grand Junction, CO. This business went under with the Great Recession and before she could move it, her business partner gave the car to someone without permission. I stop short of saying it was stolen because the guy who received it had no idea of what really was happening with the car. After tracking him down and contacting him (we found it because he briefly posted it on ebay) the car came back into my possession.
Okay, that is the short story of my car. To be clear, I love the car. Never did I so thoroughly enjoy driving a car as this one. My wife and I named our daughter after my great-grandmother. She used to drive me to elementary school in this boat. Her name was Bessie Rae Scott, so we call the car Bessie.
I obviously want to do something with this car, but am a bit overwhelmed with it due to having sat for so long. I am not a mechanic nor do I pretend to be. I have threatened to sell it to a good home, but my wife staunchly objects.
My wife has two brothers who are mechanics and her father is the head of an auto mechanic program in Alaska. Whenever the car come up with them they tell me it’s easy to get running and only takes a little attention to be like new. Obviously, I think them daft.
I am inclined to say it needs a frame-off restoration to truly be fixed up. My wife thinks that this is too extreme. She says fix a few things, get it running and voila it will be just fine.
If you’ve read this much of my story then maybe you could opine as to what is best.
Thank you in advance for any and all thoughts, advice or otherwise.

I hope that these images can be viewed. If not then I'll try something else.

http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=7&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=1&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=2&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=6&u=18674263
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Michayos

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Posts : 146
Join date : 2013-08-27
Age : 50
Location : Lockport, NY

PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:32 pm

Welcome to the forum!

Well now, where to start is always a good question. But first I think you need to ask yourself what you want out of it?

Your car looks to be in good shape. I don't see any rust anywhere on the car. You would probably want to replace the carpet, and reupolster the seats, and based on the condition of the seats I'll guess that the headliner might be needing replacement. There are some other things I see that you could replace if you wanted too, but how far you go really depends on you.

What you've shown in your pictures looks to be easily repairable with minor effort... Well minor when compared to what I'm doing to my own 59 anyway! LOL

How is the engine? Is it running?

One thing I'll note, and maybe the experts here can confirm this...

I think you may have some rare options in that car. If I remember right, the air ducts on the sides of the dash are for the factory air conditioning system.

Michael
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paizao99



Posts : 5
Join date : 2013-12-28
Location : Provo, UT

PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:22 am

Thank you for the welcome and response.
I agree with your question as to what is wanted out of the car. Given the family history of the car and the desire to hand it down to my daughter, I would think it should be restored to a higher level.
Indeed, it has the factory air conditioning. I know this well due to the A/C getting in the way of changing two of the spark plugs.
It has a little bit of rust but definitely nothing major. When I parked it there was little to no rust underneath. To my dismay it has grown a little.
My great-grandmother left the original plastic on the back seat until the day she died. I should have left it on there, but decided to take it off and the seats took a beating in the sun.
I saw what you had to do to your trunk and am amazed at the extent you had to go. It looks great.


Here's a few more photos:

http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=8&u=18674263

http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=9&u=18674263
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PontiaCat59

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Posts : 160
Join date : 2008-06-10
Location : Virginia

PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:49 am

Welcome! There are some guys on this forum that are very knowledgeable on the 59 so in that regard you have struck the mother lode!

Agree with Michayos on his question to you. So much enters into your plan of attack: Is the car running? How much time do you have? How much money are you willing to put into it? Do you want a show car? Do you want a recreational vehicle? How soon do you want to drive it? What are your abilities? What is your patience level? Is your spouse on board with the project?

Maybe after honest answers to those questions (and more) you'll have a better grasp on what to do. Or you could just toss aside the over-thinking, pick one thing at a time to tackle and have at it! Like the saying goes, "If it were easy, everyone would do it!"
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Cat SS 59

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Join date : 2010-10-12
Age : 57
Location : Westmoreland, NH

PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:25 am

Welcome to the site paizao. Your story is very similar to mine in that your car has been in the family. My car did not look much different than yours when I got it delivered to Michigan a few years ago. First I had my trusted mechanic go through the car to make it safe to drive. New ignition system, cooling, exhaust, brake system, wheels and bearing, etc. , etc. It sounds like you have a good family mechanic that can do this preliminary work. If your frame and body are in relatively good shape you're way ahead of the project. Like the other guys have stated, it depends on what you want out of it. The interior, IMO is just as important as the mechanical in the end, but not priority. I looked at the money this way. Where can you drive a car like these beauties, for 5,10,15 k investment? As long as you do not go over board, the car will hold it's value and you and your family will have many years of driving pleasure. Jim
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paizao99



Posts : 5
Join date : 2013-12-28
Location : Provo, UT

PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:02 pm

Thank you gentlemen for the encouraging words and advice.
Ironically, it is my wife who is demanding that I not sell the car, so she is on board with restoring it. She even has volunteered to learn how to upholster and willing to work on the interior when the time comes. She is crafty and a good tailor so I think it could look good and save some cash.
I have not attempted to start the car in at least 15 years, if not more. So it does not run at this time. I am adamant that the engine will need to be completely overhauled, due to the age of the car.
I have attached a link that shows the odometer. It has never flipped over 100K miles.

The more I read of your comments, the more I realize that it will probably not need a frame-off, but it will need lots of work all the same.

I am attaching more photos in order to properly introduce my '59. Please feel free to comment, opine and critique.
Thanks for all of the feedback.

http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=10&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=11&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=12&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=14&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=15&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=16&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=17&u=18674263
This is the only cracked glass
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=20&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=21&u=18674263http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=22&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=23&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=24&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=25&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=26&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=27&u=18674263
http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=28&u=18674263
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Michayos

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Posts : 146
Join date : 2013-08-27
Age : 50
Location : Lockport, NY

PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:46 am

paizao, you essentially have the same car as I do with a few different options and different colors.  You car appears to be in very good shape.

For what it's worth, here's my 2 cents...

Start off by making it road worthy again, then go from there.  If you want to turn this into a show car, you certainly could do so afterwards.

My suggestions:

1) A good bath!  Wink
2) Put a battery in it and see if the engine turns over.         
2a) With only 96,000 miles on it, as long as the engine isn't seized up, an overhaul should suffice for the rare pleasure cruize.       
2b) If you plan on driving this regularly after it was sitting for 15 years then a full engine rebuild is probably in order.  I strongly suggest having an expert valve job done on the heads that includes the installation of hardened valve seats.  These engines were meant for leaded gasoline.  Today's unleaded gas will cause pitting and excessive deterioration in the stock valve seats.
3) As I mentioned earlier, reuplolster the seats, and while the seats are out for repairs replace the headliner and carpet.
4) Replace your broken glass
5) Repair any other mechanical issues you may have like the brakes you mentioned
6) Get a good buffer and a lot of rubbing compound and wax and go at that paint.  You should be able to buff it to a nice shine.  Even most of the rust on your bumpers will clean up nicely.  A little touch of rust here or there doesn't matter right now.  Don't paint it yet.  Show cars in their origonal paint have more value.
7) Ride baby ride!  Get out and drive it a bit.  Enjoy it while you can, because if you decide to take it to the next level it might be a while before you drive it again.

Michael
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CATBIRD



Posts : 304
Join date : 2008-07-03
Age : 74
Location : Levittown, Pa

PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:08 am

paizao99…..welcome to the forum. It looks like you have a very interesting car there. From your pictures it appears to be an Arlington Texas built car, in Gulfstream Blue or Vanguard Blue, (hard to tell because of the dust) with Buccaneer Blue interior paint. It has an unusual combination of options and accessories. It's rare to find air conditioning on any 1959 Pontiac, let alone a Catalina. As a matter of fact, it was rare on almost any brand, even Cadillacs back then. At a retail list price of $430 it was well over 15% of the total price of the car.

Strange that it has HydraMatic, the Basic Group options, and the Decor Group, yet no Power steering or brakes. Your Great Grandmother must have been in good shape to muscle around such a big heavy car. When she spoke, I bet you listened!!! At any rate, you seem to have a solid car to work with, and a good basis for whichever direction you choose to take it.

As far as suggestions, Michael seems to have it pretty well summed up.
1. Clean it up so you can see what you have
2. Inspect it all including the frame to be sure you have a solid foundation
3. Get it mechanically sound…Engine, brakes, suspension, wheels and tires
4. Then decide what direction you take it…Driver, survivor, full restoration, or God forbid a hot rod

John
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paizao99



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Join date : 2013-12-28
Location : Provo, UT

PostSubject: Convinced   Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:25 am

Thank you all for replying to my inquiry.
After poking around this forum, I am amazed at how well you fellas know these automobiles. It has been extremely illuminating. My step-father is a pessimist and upon hearing about my desire to fix up the car stated that I would not be able to find out information on these cars, let alone where to buy parts. He could not have been farther from reality.

From what everyone has said I am convinced to follow through with fixing it up in the order prescribed. I have looked up some rough estimates of what it would cost to do so for the parts that I know will need to be replaced and am looking at 5-6K. This is a bit steep for me at this point. I will be saving up though.
Attached is a table of stuff I put together.

Item Cost Price source
Wiring Harness $584.00 wiringharness.com
Voltage Regulator $60.00 Kanter
Spark Plug Wires $32.00 autopartswarehouse
Spark Plugs         $35.00 autopartswarehouse
Ignition Coil         $32.00 Kanter
Battery         $110.00 Walmart
Fuel Pump         $44.00 NAPA
Air Filter $15.00 autopartswarehouse
Engine rebuild (hardened valve seats) $1,200.00 estimate
Replace Points $150.00 Pertronix
Fuel Tank Repair Kit $75.00 Kanter
Carburetor Overhaul $25.00 NAPA
Deluxe Brake Overhaul Kit $425.00 Kanter
Universal Joints $55.00 Kanter
Shocks $120.00 autopartswarehouse
Tires $400.00
Transmission Overhaul 1500-500 estimate
$4807-$5807 in parts

I'm always open to better, less expensive sources for these parts. It was just a starting point to get an idea of how much and perhaps where to purchase.

Brett
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Michayos

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Age : 50
Location : Lockport, NY

PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:36 pm

Good luck Brett. If you need help just ask and be sure to keep us updated as you go!

Michael
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don_weston

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Posts : 70
Join date : 2012-09-08

PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:41 pm

I agree with most of the comments except for the need for hardened valve seats.  I had my 59 Bonneville engine rebuilt and was advised at the time that it was a waste of money unless I planned to run the car at the drag strip on a regular basis.  Numerous other people have also told me the same thing.  I have put several thousand miles on the engine now with no problems.  

Also if you have the lower compression 420E engine the valves are a different size and if you need to replace any valves make sure you get the correct valves.   I found this out the hard way on another engine rebuild many years ago. Also not sure why you need a new wiring harness? Was there a fire?

By the way since your paint code is KK that means your paint color is Gulfsteam Blue on both the body and top.  Best wishes.
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paizao99



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Join date : 2013-12-28
Location : Provo, UT

PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:23 pm

Thank you all for the input. I am now actively saving money to begin working on it. Unfortunately, it may be a while before the car sees any action, but I will definitely hang onto it and get it running. Perhaps it is just exasperation from seeing a cool car sit for so many years that I am frustrated and looking at some extreme options. The input from here has convinced me to take my time.
Thank you for that.
Thank you for the input about the hardened valve seats. When it comes time to work on it, I will look further into the various possibilities.
Anyone know Utah very well for a shop to rebuild the 389 engine? Is there a member of the forum who lives in Utah?

Brett
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don_weston

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PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:02 am

Good luck on your restoration.   Take things one step at a time and do it in phases as money permits.    Trust me and don't waste your money on hardened valve seats.      Also I see no reason to replace the wiring harness unless you had a fire.   One area you didn't even list is the repair of your factory AC, so save your money for that.
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Michayos

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PostSubject: Re: Where to begin?   Mon Jan 13, 2014 8:32 am

I worked in a pro speed shop for a number of years and I stand by the recommendation for hardened valve seats on a daily driver or anything that see's more than the rare weekend cruise around town.  If you plan on running unleaded without occasionally using a lead additive, sooner or later it will catch up to you.  If you do any towing or plan on building a high performance engine then they are a must.

If you plan on replacing the valves with new ones, new valves are made out of a harder material than what our cars came with and you may be able to skip the hardened valve seats.

There are pros and cons to installing hardened valve seats and you have to weigh them against how you plan to use the car.

A professional valve job will include having the seats and valves CUT not ground.  It costs more to have them cut but its worth it in the long run.  Valve grinding can be done cheaply but you get what you pay for.

Personally, since you plan on giving this car to your daughter at some point I'd go the extra mile to make sure it lasts for her.

Michael
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