1957 Pontiac Star Chief

An Extraordinary Restoration by a bunch of Classic Folks.

Project Diary – 2012

June 2012

Pontiac_June2012_2-1Hullo! Remember this project?? The car has been at Wyotech for over a year now.

Pontiac door panels – sorry, that’s all the photos this month. Back in December 2011, David and I met with Vince, the instructor at Wyotech, and picked out the fabric for the car. Yes, that was 6 months ago! Vince has told us from the beginning that he would only let his best students work on the interior. He had also told us that we could expect it to take a while to complete. There were class sessions where he had noone that he deemed ‘worthy’ of working on the project. The student also had to want to work on the car as well. So, the project moved at a snail’s pace.

Now, we’re almost into July (at this writing). On Thursday, June 28th, David and I stopped by there again. This time, things were happening! 3 of the door panels had been installed and were waiting on the chrome and armrests. The one panel had had a mishap and they were working on repairing it. There are some really cool clips used to hold the door panels in place. Instead of the plastic ones that tend to break, Vince had these special clips that remove easily and pop back in so if the panel needs to come off, it does so easily. Nick, one of the guys who was working on the sewing the door panels back in December, is now working on the trunk. Now, what they’re planning on doing in the trunk sounds cool. Nick and another student were framing the inside of the trunk with wood creating channels for the wiring to run unobstructive. After the wooden frame is done, they will create a fiberglass insert that goes into the trunk. The fabric will be put on top of the fiberglass. What this does is create a totally smooth surface without ripples. I can hardly wait to see this!

Next week, the headliner is to be put in over the padding and the back deck behind the backseat is to be done. The progress is still moving forward and seems to be moving a bit quicker now with 4 students working on it. Next week, I will be taking a spare tire down to Wyotech so that they have one for the tire cover. Tire cover…cool, huh? I had originally thought that since I was going to replace the tires, that one of those could be the spare but it’s too big for the wheel well. Luckily, SOB (Bob M.) has one that will work temporarily.

In all the parts and services…this car is turning out better than I ever imagined! I can hardly wait to drive it!!

December 2012

Hey! No time no hear from! The Pontiac Project is alive and reving…read on!

On the soggy, rainy Friday before Christmas, SOB (Bob M.) towing the car trailer and my husband, Dave, and myself caravaned done to Wyotech to pick up the Pontiac. Now, before you get too excited, it’s only home temporarily. The interior hasn’t been completed yet…but it’s close.

IMG_1777The interior is coming along beautifully. It looks even better than I had hoped. When we arrived at Wyotech’s upholstery department, the tension was a bit tight. Vince was very upset with the fact that a group of us had written a letter to the administration about the length of time and progress of the interior. When we met with Vince, he explained further about why it was taking so long. He showed us photos of things that had gone wrong and things that had to be redone. While looking at one particular photo of the seats, he showed us a close up of what looked like chicken scratch/pin marks on the naugahyde. This happened when one seat cover was just about done. The fabric being heavy and bulky got doubled up accidentally. Vince asked me then, “So at this point, do we let it slide to get it done quicker or do we do it right?” Of course, I answered that I want it done right. He then showed us a stack of material that had been done up in pleats. It was a stack about 2 feet high and I’m not sure how deep. Practice pleats that had been done and then redone until the student was comfortable and felt confident enough to work on the real job and even that wasn’t a guarantee that it would go smoothly. The seats are now just about done. The seats are still at Wyotech and will be worked on again in January.

As many of you know, there are no patterns for doing custom upholstery in classic cars so they have to be created depending on what you want designed. The seats in the Pontiac were pretty ratty so they weren’t able to use anything as a template other than the seats themselves after they had been refoamed. The students were also taught how to make the pattern during this whole process. All I can say is that the seats are perfect and gorgeous.

The students who come through the class are given the option of what they want to work on. Some choose their own vehicles. Vince’s challenge is to find someone who (1) wants to work on the Pontiac and (2) they also need be a more advanced student. This last session, luckily, he had several students. Two of the students (Nick and Nick) who did quite a bit of the work on the car have since graduated and are opening their own shop down in San Diego. (Cool, huh?) Currently, there are two students who were working on the seats – Milton and Milton. I joked to Vince that he was working his way down the alphabet. The two Miltons are the students who have been doing the work on the seats and they are returning the next session.

Once we went through everything with Vince, everyone seemed to understand both sides of the story better. We finished loading up the Pontiac and headed back home with a brief stop at the Northridge Inn for a yummy mini-birthday lunch for SOB.

Ok, so, now the Pontiac is temporarily home.

The first part of January, Larry will be putting the engine and transmission together. That will then be taken over to SOB’s garage where it will be put into the engine compartment so that the hoses and wiring can be set up. Once the inner fenders and radiator are on, the car will go over to Darrel Lenox who will install the muffler system. When that is done, the car will come back and have the front fenders and hood reunited and then Larry can do the final ‘tweaks’ on the engine and start it up. (This is so exciting!!)

Once the car is back together, it will take one final journey back down to Wyotech. Once there, the headliner will be completed and the carpet put in and the console done. The seats will then be reinstalled. The final interior part will be finishing off the trunk. Sounds like a piece of cake…stay tuned.

Pontiac Project Progress 2013