I echo Scrabblegod's sentiments. That is great to get your family out on trips together. We all get so busy sometimes we forget the important things in life that are under our own roofs. My eldest daughter dropped by tonight to say hi and see what was up and only stayed for about a 1/2 hour or so and then was gone again to her place. I am feeling a bit of an empty nest syndrome tonight.....
Thanks for the compliments guys. I have really enjoyed learning how to build a lot of this stuff as I go. I think the next build will be that much faster as I can just do the better way the first time rather than 4 prototypes and 3 mistakes before getting it right. Lots of spare metal and many grinding disks have gone through my garage these past few years.
And yes, I love building stuff. I have two more ideas banging around in my head for after the Pantera build. Ferrari 288 GTO and a Ferrari 250 GTO or maybe just a really worked over Fiero like some of the others have done on this forum. Maybe a complete scratch build frame up. Who knows what the next few years brings.
I think we need to look at the wider suspension build for your kits with the flares David. The wider stance will make a world of difference.
I tried doing some Photoshop on the roof of one of your pics of your car to see how it would look with a couple inches taken off and I think iit really makes all the difference.
With this chop and the flares, this would be one very nice car to put together and very hard to tell it apart from the original.
Don, Here's some food for thought, reguarding a stretch. I'm sure you've given it more thought than I, so far. But I ran across this model, and it helped to visualize a few dimensions.
This is pretty much a dead ringer for the flares & front air dam we've been building up the past 6 months. Sure wish I'd had this model during the sculpting phase.
When you look at the side profile, it looks like the major dimensional difference is the distance between the aft door-edge and the gill/scoop location. Or maybe you'd say between the door-edge and the fore edge of the rear wheel well.
So if you wanted to stretch the chassis to have a longitudinal drivetrain or to arrive at more exact porportional dimensions, think along the lines of making a cut as shown below:
This would allow the entire rear clip to move back, including the top portion where the rear clip matches up to the Fiero roofline. Turns out that this is also a good thing, because it appears that the Pantera roof is somewhat longer, front to back, than the Fiero. So you'd just add in the same amount of roof skin that you had added in for your chassis stretch. No need to actually enlarge the actual cab or roof structures, you are just adding the roof skin. Now the roof and what Fiero people call the sail area is more in porportion as well.
Yepp, that was about what I was thinking for the stretching part. Good catch on the roof lines as well. Cut the rear of the Fiero off at the Firewall and put in a custom tube chassis somthing like Bubbajoexx as been doing to his Fiero.
This does look like the right place to cut but the last thing is to also lose 2" off the roof of the Fiero as that will put it right about the same height as the Pantera.
With the extra length, about 5" I think, there should be enough room to shoe horn a small block in it attached to an Audi trans with the front accessories moved to the sides with one of those kits that reduces front exposure on the V8's.
More food for thought David. Now, I just need to get out into the garage and finish putting my current one together so I can clean out that side and start the next one........
Sorry for the lack of updates. Blackrams and I laid up the first set of wheel flares and the front air dam this weekend. We're letting them cure until thursday morning, when we will pop them out of the molds, and trim the flashing from the edges. We now plan to bring them to the CFOGi meet on friday. I'll try to get a quick photo posted by mid day thursday.
We're also planning to bring the rear body clip which we used as the plug for the rear wheel flares. That way folks can see what a dramatic difference these make in the appearance. We might be able to post pics from the show. If not, Sunday evening for sure.
Once we return from the CFOGi show, all efforts will be focused on completing the choptop Pantero I'm building, and Blackram's roadster Pantero. We hope to have both cars completed for the Carslile kitcar show. We've agreed to continue posting progress on these two cars here, so you will get to see how assembly of the body goes.
For what it is worth, I talked to both David and Ron at the Osage show, and they are both great guys to talk to. The parts are even better in person. Very good quality, fit and finish, and nice weight to them. These are not cheapo parts! Got me to thinking along the lines of a Pantara project too.
Thanks for the kind words, there has been a tremendous amount of work just getting to this point. Dave and I are both working on other things while we try earning a living. We hope to have his chop top and my roadster done for the Carlise, PA show. We'll see.
------------------ Ron Freedom isn't Free, it's always earned. My imagination is the only limiting factor to my Fiero. Ooops forgot about the money issue.
[This message has been edited by blackrams (edited 08-18-2005).]
Any updates on the progress of blackram's wide body or your chopped Pantero David?
I am almost to the point of paint on my kit so I should be looking for a new project by mid winter. A little later than planned but the back yard got in the way of working on the car.
I think taking 1 or 2" out of the top of the Pantero would really highlight the look a huge amount. The glass and roof just look a bit too high for the rest of the car. I am really interested to see what the chop top version look like.
Hey Don, Don't let Scrabblegod fool you. He is and excellent mechanic and assembler, and an absolute genius when it come to wiring issues. To say nothing about the fact that he's also a walking-talking version of the Hollander Interchange. When he's done with Ron's drivetrain, Ron has a few minor issues to deal with such as installing auto-everything doors. Then we will take a free hand at creating the roadster version. I sent Ron some pics of the latest Ferrari roadster. I was quite inspired by the similarity of the two. That should be a fun project. Ron has also picked up some side scoops that he wants to try and incorporate into the bodywork. Similar to the Type 5 scoops, but not exactly that kind.
I think your right, a 2" choptop might be just the thing for the Pantera. I also think your right about the wider front end mentioned in earlier posts.
Having returned from the CFOG-i Osage Beach show, I too have cleared up the honey-dews, cleaned up the shop a bit, and finally got a weekend in on the Choptop Pantera. I'd like to use this thread to detail the build of that car. And since there have recently been a couple of "how to" choptop threads, I thought that might be a good place to start.
Bear in mind, the donor car for the Choptop Pantera was acquired several years ago for $400. It was an '88 formula "with a rod knock". I never saw it run, or even turn over. I started the choptop process several months before the Pantera project came into existance, but documented most of the critical steps along the way. So if some of the "how to chop" pics are dated, you'll understand.
By now, most of the chop is completed, and the bodywork will be able to start. Various other parts of the recipe have been accumulated and assembled, such as the Corvette rotors & adapters for the brakes, new calipers & stainless brake lines, new radiator, rebuilt ac compressor, new alternator, Ed Park's 4.9 wiring harness, rebuilt 4t60-e transmission, 4.9 crate motor, Allante intake, full poly, etc.. The entire drivetrain gets disassembled one more time, and everything gets sandblasted and either powder coated or por-15'd.
But this is where the choptop really started: This is the '88 formula, up on homemade ramps. Great for under-car work like oil changes.
So the first thing to come out was the fuel tank. Best to clean it out and replace the fuel pump now.
At this stage, other goodies were removed like the coolant tubes and ac lines, and most of the interior was removed. I sat in the car with the seat in my favorite position and measured head clearance, with the stock headliner in place. If your doing a chop, do this, and write down your measurement.
Anyhow, the car was then rolled into the shop, and the cradle removed, along with most of the body panels. I left the roof panel and door skins on. Then I went to great lengths to level the chassis, front to back and side to side. The front end was setting on the wheels & tires, the rear end had the empty cradle reinstalled and was setting up on 4x4 cribbing, and I had a set of jackstands set up about in the middle.
After the chassis was leveled, permanent reference points were established.
The idea of reference points was to be able to accurately locate a part of the car, say the roof for instance, then to be able to remove it....and later to be able to replace it exactly where it came from, in relation to everything else.
So, about 4 eyehooks were set in the ceiling to hang plumb bobs from. The point where a plumb bob touched the roof was etched onto the roof.
The above pic also shows jig blocks that were hotglued to the roof for a carpenters level to set on. This establishes front-to-rear level of the roof section. A similar set of jig blocks set the side to side level.
The rear window glass was removed and a jig board installed. This board stays with the roof section when it is cut loose from the rest of the chassis.
The above pic shows the jig board. It is screwed into the top roof section, and rests on the chassis "shelf" along it's bottom edge. The bubble level is hotglued on and sets level & square in two dimensions. As additional point locating references, the metal angle tabs on either side of the board are clamped onto the chassis.
So now we are set to start chopping the chassis. Working space is created by removing the engine, the chassis is leveled and setting rock steady, and we can take parts off the chassis and accurately put them back in place.
BTW, I'm sure there are many ways to execute a chop. I've never had the chance to examine anyone elses work, or ever seen pics of how they did it. I just tried to think every step thru before doing it, and this is how it was done.
Before any cuts were made, the cabin was braced against folding in upon itself. These brackets were fabricated and bolted to the strut towers. The pipes are thick walled boiler pipe, and are firmly in place up against the front firewall. Note that the way the pipes run and the jig board is made allows total access to cutting & welding operations.
Considerable time was spent looking at how the windshield and it's support structures would move, when laid back. I decided where the pivot point would be, based on where the cuts would be. Given this, it looked like the bottom edge of the windshield would raise up as the windshield laid back. So, I removed the black windshield adhesive all along the bottom edge, and up to and just past the calculated pivot point.
BTW, the windshield of the donor was cracked when I got it, so it will be replaced. However, it was left in during the entire chop process since it greatly aids in keeping the chassis square, once a few cuts have been made.
And this was the first cut. All of the interior and door seal and supporting parts had been removed by now. I used a Sawzall with a 6" and a 10" blade.
This first cut was eventually opened a bit wider. This cut allows the windshield to lay back & down. Cut was widened using a die grinder cutoff wheel. As in most Fiero structures, the cut is really thru two metal panels, one outside and one inside.
And this was the second cut, where the roof top will actually pivot and rise up, as the windshield lays back.
The third cut is really just an extension of the second cut. It follows a recessed channel in the underside of the roof and connects the two "second cuts". The roof metal is two layers thick, just behind the windshield. This cut is made with the die grinder cut off wheel. A plasma torch would sure be nice, but hey.
And a fourth cut was made. I had planned this car to have no sun roof opening, so I felt free to make this cut here. To me, for this project, it was the right place to do it. Obviously, if you wanted to keep your sun roof, you'd make this cut elsewhere.
What happens is the roof top also moves to the rear, as the windshield is laid back. So, if you want to keep the back window in its stock location, you will have to shorten the roof top a certian amount. Seems like it was about 1" to 1 1/2" overlap, after this cut was made and the widnshield was laid back. It looks like there is room to make this cut either in front of or behind the sun roof opening, but I havent done that. You need to consider attach points of the skins, etc..
As you can see, I used a rope to support the front half of the roof top, after this cut was made. The rear half is still quite sturdy and requires no support yet. But here on the front half, you will need to provide a support that will hold everything steadily, and it should also allow you to move the front half back and down, as you mate things back together, later on.
Next, I went to the aft half of the cab, what amounts to the rollover structure. The roof section is two layers of metal thick, as are the side panels. In addition, the side panels have a corragated, semi-tubular member added inside for strength. And the inside corner of the roof section has a third layer of metal.
All of this can make cutting and bending and welding back together become complicated. Fierst thing I did was drill out the 42+ spotwelds holding in each of the inside corner pieces and removed them. These are later reinstalled.
That makes the inside look something like this:
Next, the cuts were made to chop off the top of the rollover structure.
It was removed with the jig board and level blocks and reference marks all attached.
That left the side panels, or upright portions of the rollover structure exposed. The top was cut off in a single cut, made just below the driprail.
Then the upper 4" of the exposed uprights was cut off.
At this point, a trapeeze was hung to support the front section of the roof and the windshield. Since those cuts were made, it is very esy to move this section around, and support is important. The trapeeze allows for position adjustments, and doesn't get in the way of other work.
This closeup shows where the chop was made. plenty of structure was left on the roof section for reattaching. But the chop was made as high as posable. And you can see the tape on the top of the upright, that's where the bottom of the chopped section was.
This shows the three cuts made to the outside of the upright. The chop cut is on top, and the two lower cuts are to allow inward bending. You might be able to just grab hold of the uprights and bend them in, they don't go too far inwards. But making these slicing cuts in the outer layers allows very precise inward bending.
So now the main thing is to get the pieces back together. From the measurement I had taken earlier of head clearance, I determined how much I wanted the roof to drop. I had cut about that much out of the uprights, but they are on a slight angle, so 4" off the sides doesn't really mean 4" of lowering. Close though.
So I went thru a process of cutting down the height of the jig board which is still attached to the roof section. First, I cut 3.5" off the bottom of the board and tried mouting the roof. But the sides still had room to come lower. I put the seat back in and double checked. Then I cut another 1/2" off the jig board, and things started looking just right.
Considerable time was spent getting the top leveled, and the windshield laid back square. Now's when it pays to have taken several reference point measurements. I wanted the door window frame to match, and the back window to remain in it's stock location. Finally a few tack welds were made, the seat put back in, and all levels and reference points checked again.
All of the numerous cuts or slices were examined for the best way to weld them back together. I cleaned them up for welding and cut patches, or cupons, mostly of 16 gauge steel. I wanted to cover each cut with an oversized patch. In some instances I used 1/8" steel for the patch.
After the outside was patched, I cut a big closeout panel of 16 gauge. Here it is shown half way installed. There is still a whole second half to go in.
The cuts made under the top of the windshield, and the cuts to the sunroof rail were reinforced with 1/8" steel on the inside, and 16 gauge on the outside.
This is the section removed from the uprights. It now measures 3.6" , the cut lines I laid out were 3.75" apart.
This is the 16 gauge steel patch welded onto the top of the #2 cut. Sorry for the pic quality. The 16 gauge steel shapes easily to follow contours. And it measures as thick as or actually thicker than most of the sheet metal of the Fiero chassis. I've been using .030 wire and argon/co2 gas and found in most instances you can weld right on with it. If you happen to have gotten to agressive with the grinder removing paint or scale, the base metal may thin a bit. In those cases, .025 wire does nicely.
And this is another set of 16 gauge patches, over the sunroof cut. With most of the oversized patches, you can weld the patch on from one side, and the weld the edges of the actual cut from the other side.
This is the underside of the #2 cut. Here I used several patches made of 1/8" steel, from an abundance of caution. The big hole is to access the roof skin bolt, and the small hole is a pilot to locate the center of the sunshade cutout. Also, you can see the 1/8" strap steel welded into the channel where the cross-cab cut is which connects the #2 cuts. The 1/8" steel welds very easily onto the Fiero chassis. I use a weaving side stitch sort of welding pattern, maintaining penetration and the puddle on the 1/8" side, and fanning into the chassis side. Works well. Where necessary, the heavier beads can be smoothed out with a 4" grinder.
And this is the same thing going on with the underside of the sunroof cut.
Originally posted by scrabblegod: Rons widebody is just waiting for the slow slow slow mechanic to get the engine back in. If they can get him off his butt, you may see some body panels installed soon. Gene
What can I say?
------------------ Ron Freedom isn't Free, it's always earned. My imagination is the only limiting factor to my Fiero. Ooops forgot about the money issue.
Who needs the front end... Just the rear clip looks sexy on a fiero.. haha Why not have a hybird. How much do you think the whole kit is going to cost the consumer? I don't know if its been asked even though I am sure it has. Just a tad curious.... As I do happen to love pantera's...
This is the backside of that section taken out of the uprights. You can see the W or UU shaped channels that run top to bottom thru the uprights. The hole in the right hand channel is where the shoulder strap bolts in.
This shows how 1/8" patches are used to rebuild the channels. And I used a piece of 1/4" with a nut tacked to the outside to replace the now removed seatbelt hole. Look closely and you can see the nut, just before it gets totally closed in.
The above also shows part of an L shaped 16 gauge patch which covers an inside cut on the upright, and laps onto the backwindow shelf for additional bracing.
It takes lots of clamps to hold the inner panel in while you weld it back. Strips of 16 gauge metal about 1" wide are inserted all along the edge, where the spotwelds were drilled out. The first pic above shows a strip, and a cardboard pattern used to fit a corner.
These strips inserted around the edge let you use the holes from the spotwelds as places to rosette weld the panel back in place. And in a few places along the outside edges, it gives you more "meat" to weld.
Once the bulk of the welding back is done, I tacked a few L brackets around the windshield perimeter, to locate the new windshield.
With these in place, I made an ink mark on each where the glass crosses. On the top & two sides, the glass will lay flush, but it's position has changed along the bottom. Glass guy should have no problems.
Then the windshield was removed. If you have to pull a windshield, use one of these. Best $20 I ever spent.
With the windshield out, the inside of the #1 cuts will easily be patched. Good chance to clean up the ol' VIN # plate too :>
Hey Don, Well, the welding work dealing with the choptop is finished. Time to clean up and chassis paint a substancial part of the chassis.
I found tht prices for new front windshields, installed at my shop, run between $150 and $350 . So, I've invested some time into finding out what the differences are. Since I'm neck deep in Homecoming preparation activities at the University, I've scheduled the new windshield for the second week of October.
I've been working on the door windows.....the bane of all choptops. If you look closely at http://wildpantera.com/images/lagt4-02.jpg you may get an idea of what I'm building. I decided to try window frames, built into the door.
That's the way the Pantera door glass is contained, so what the heck? I cut & fit all the parts for the driver's door last weekend, and after Blackram's BBQ today, I'll be putting the door together tomorrow.
Don't know if anybody's interested, but the first step in doing this choptop was to lower the seat rails & perches. You gain almost a full inch in headroom by doing this, making a chop more feasable for those of us in the "tall guy" category.
[This message has been edited by opm2000 (edited 10-01-2005).]
Driver's side window frame installed. White thing is a plastic panel used during the fabrication. Entire frame is bolted in for easy removal, and will remain that way during the quest for glass or plexiglass. Bolt in bracing was made with final welding-in in mind. It is suprizingly stout as it is.
Rolled down to dew strip level...and it can go further. Original Fiero door seals were used and the frame fits tightly up against them. The front triangle window was made with a 1/2" inner lip to hold a stationary window pane. Although I did consider installing a typical vent window there, and I think the lip will work with that, if I ever change it.
Frame follows the upper cab contours and fits flush with all trim. Roll-up portion of frame contains typical felt channel which window rides in.
Things are coming along. I had to make a side trip and fix my son's Eclipse ( I know, I know ). Seems it had an intermittant short somewhere that would just shut the car down at random times. I don't mind telling you that I worked on tracing this down for over a year. Finally, Scrabblegod produced a reliable wiring schematic to study, and we got the beast to run again. Working on this car has really made me appreciate GM products.
So where are we with the Pantera ? The chassis got rolled inside the shop and the 4.9/Allante was test fitted. Everything fit like a glove. While I had it in, I tried several throttle cable ombinations, and I could really use your input, Bubbajoe. The '88 v6 throttle cable has enough travel to fully operate the throttlebody, stop to stop. But the cable housing isn't long enough to suit me. I'm referring to the cable sleeve length, going from the firewall to the mounting point at the end of the cable sleeve. There is a bracket on top of the Allante intake tubes, and the v6 housing will reach to there, but with a heck of a bend & stretch.
So I tried a 4 cyln throttle cable of unknown vintage. It has lots of extra sleeve length to fill the bill. However, it is a bit shy in actual travel of the cable, limiting the full stop to stop travel of the throttlebody. Any idea how to free up some extra travel length? I can hear something hitting and causing the stop, inside the cable housings, but I can't tell what or where.
here is a pic of the housing bracket I'm wanting to use:
Other news: I cut the dogbone bracket and the battery tray out of the engine compartment just to make some elbow room.
Then the engine/cradle was removed and the chassis rolled outside for a good degreasing and pressure washing. Then rolled back inside and leveled up. I got a good start on preping for the chassis paint, using a wire brush, etc anywhere I could reach. I found a product at the Carquest paint specialty shop. It is generic POR-15, just a lot less expensive. Seems the company owner used to work for POR.
Then I started fitting the front clip onto the chassis, with Blackram's help. We've been reverse engineering how to assemble one of these kits, and along the way trying to improve on things like mounting brackets, etc. I'm real happy with what we've come up with for the front. Simple to make from prints, and simple for me to jig and make a set for you, if that's what you want.
And along the way in this front end process, we were able to really nail how to relocate the headlight buckets. All pretty straightforward stuff, and based on chassis reference points.
I think I have redesigned the rear clip mount to be much simpler. The original was simplicity in itself, but I didn't like the big mouting bolts being visible along the bottom edge of the rear clip. I think I have eleminated those and developed another bracket that once again can be duplicated from prints, or easily jigged and fabricated by myself. The rear clip begins December 21st, when I have a couple of weeks off.
We've been working on a few molds for parts Blackrams has come up with for his ride. One of these would be very exciting for Don, or anyone contemplating a stretch. We think this will make a stretch easy, and the looks of it really flow. But that will have to wait for another day :>
After closely looking at Scrabblegod's 4.9 Fiero with Supertrapps, I measured and compared, and decided the Supertrapps would be a perfect fit on the Pantera. They are really too long for a Fiero rear clip, part sticks out and can burn you leg. But the Pantera rear clip is different, and they fit just fine. So I managed to pick up a set for next to nothing. I'll try to get a pic out in the next few days to show you.
[This message has been edited by opm2000 (edited 11-22-2005).]
Building a Pantero is one of the most fun projects I have ever taken on. But it's one hell of a weekend project. If I could only win that darn lottery, I could quit working for someone else and work on this full time. This is going be a very cool ride when completed. But, that's just my opinion.
------------------ Ron Freedom isn't Free, it's always earned. My imagination is the only limiting factor to my Fiero. Well, there is that money issue.
[This message has been edited by blackrams (edited 11-22-2005).]