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1972 Avanti II
One of 127 Built

350 GM V-8 w/Automatic
Air Conditioning
Tilt Wheel/Power Steering
Power Disc/Drum Brakes
Cruise Control/Power Windows
Blaupunkt AM/FM Stereo

November 21, 2020 - Finally, some progress on the Avanti!  The crate engine was looking decent when I got the car, and once I got the block stripped down, the inside was very tidy. With the manifolds all done, I cleaned the block and heads thoroughly, did some repainting, and then installed the intake and exhaust manifolds with new FelPro gaskets.  I also loosely installed the new polished aluminum valve covers - it may not run yet, but it looks pretty!  Next come the carburetor and distributor.  I have a new water pump and fuel pump to install as well. 
November 20, 2020 - One of the exhaust manifolds was starting to crack, and I decided to go ahead and buy a new set.  They arrived a few days ago and I finally had warm weather and time to clean and paint them with ceramic manifold coating.  Hopefully they will stay nice. Most everything else is ready to install, at least on the main engine.  I plan to clean out the intake and cylinders, then start putting things together this weekend.
October 21, 2020 - It took nearly three months, but the Avanti is legally mine.  COVID restrictions have made the DMV an appointment-only organization with a two-month backlog.  I did cheat a bit, in that I got an October 9 appointment for the car but used that one for the 1951 Studebaker that I got back at the end of August.  Nice to have the paperwork done!
October 5, 2020 - Still mostly on hold with the Avanti while I get the 1951 Studebaker finished up. I should also get the Morris Minor project completed, as it only needs the master cylinder and one brake line.  However, I made a visit to the prior owner today and bought a pair of NOS Avanti logos that are no longer available. Despite my paying his full asking price, it turned out he held back quite a few parts to sell separately on CraigsList, including three sets of the headlight covers he told me had been lost. This was disappointing, as I had trusted his statement that everything was with the car.  He also threw out the original power steering hoses I had told him I wanted, but retained a new set to sell. Oh, well. I was happy to get the logos, as everything else is available. And it was a lesson in Latin that I've been lucky enough not to need most of of the time - 'Caveat Emptor' - or 'Let the buyer beware'!
September 4, 2020 - A little progress, if still only preparations.  I bead blasted the intake manifold and painted it and the new water pump gloss black.  The engine is already done up in that color, and it should look nice with the few bits of brightwork. In the meantime I have been getting the garage cleaned up so I have space to move around the car and the workbench.  I also need to sort and store my tools, which are scattered all over.
August 19, 2020 - The Avanti was modified both by the factory and the prior owner.   In 1984, the car was updated with square headlights and fiberglass bumpers, and the front-mounted parking and turn signal lights removed. Then the prior owner did some customization of his own, removing the fiberglass bumpers and mounting points.  He also cut the fiberglass front bumper to fit the recess between the front blades, retaining the factory parking/turn signal lamps.  Considering it would cost a good $3000 plus some additional fiberglass work to go back to the original chrome bumpers, I have decided to proceed with the previous owner's vision.  Using an image of a similarly modified Avanti, I  Photoshopped the wheels and color, and added the front center section and blanked out the front parking lights.  The result at left is pretty close to what I am hoping my Avanti will look like when I am done.
August 18, 2020 - Packages are arriving almost daily for the Avanti.  Today's delivery included the polished aluminum valve covers and breathers.  They join a new water pump, fuel pump, gaskets, and a Turner disc brake conversion kit, plus lots of other items.  The parts being reused are getting freshened up - like the fan and manifolds.  My plan is to reassemble the engine and do an oil flush, then see about getting it to start.  It should be fine, which is why I decided to go ahead and build the engine as if I didn't plan on taking it apart again.  At worst, I'll have clean parts to work with, and at best, I'll be done the first time!
August 13, 2020 - Most of the work on the Avanti so far has been disassembly.  With the engine freed up, I am getting things ready to put things back together.  One of my first purchases had nothing to do with practicality - new glass headlight covers to replace those missing on the car.  It just looked wrong without them. I also bought the buckets to convert the car back to its original round headlights, but still need bezels.  You can only tell I installed the cover by the glare in the photo, but it looks so much better to me now. I bead blasted the manifolds and removed the studs from one , but had a stud snap off in the other.  Car buddy Tyler is removing them for me, and also decking the manifolds, which turned out to be warped.  I went ahead and finished up the one with a coat of ceramic flat aluminum header paint - it looks a lot better!  One of the bigger overall issues I have faced with the Avanti is the updating done by the factory in 1984 and then the previous owner.  I found several cars on the internet that also had the bumperless design, but they looked incomplete.  The previous owner did a fantastic job fitting in a section of the later model fiberglass bumper between the front blades, which also has the parking lights built in. That makes the difference to me, so I am going to follow through and keep the smoothed look. Avantis are very personal cars, and it will make my already distinctive car stand out from other Avantis!  Best of all, it can be easily reversed.
August 6, 2020 - Now that the engine is freed up, I want to paint it and put it together with new gaskets and accessories.  That way I only have to take it back apart of the engine is bad, which I don't think it is. And that's just as well, because nothing seems to be attached properly!  Three bolts and no gaskets for either exhaust manifold, one bolt missing from the fan assembly and none of the water pump bolts tight.  Also, the suspension A-arm bushing bolts and cup washers are missing!  I'll need to check everything on the car to make sure the job is finished.  Still, the fasteners should all be standard and I wanted to replace most of them anyway.  The fuel pump wasn't on tight, but at least had both bolts snug.  All the parts are very cheap and available - I'll keep the old stuff as emergency spares.  Looks like the replacement 350 was black - I will probably repaint it Chevy orange as it would have been in 1972.
August 5, 2020 - Car Buddy Dan suggested using Kroil (a super penetrating oil) to free up the Avanti's engine, and provided some for me today.  However, when my neighbor John heard the plan, he produced his own can of Kroil for me to try on Monday.  I put a small amount in each cylinder, and was going to put another dose using Dan's supply tonight.  I had stopped off at Northern Tools to pick up a good strap wrench this morning, and decided to give it a try.  The engine turned with the first pull!  Now it's time to rotate the engine and put clean oil in, then start putting it back together! I have friends with a 1967 that I can get photos of, which will be a lot more helpful than trying to follow the factory manual.
August 1, 2020 - As I had pretty much expected, the Avanti's engine is stuck from sitting for what turned out to be about 17 years.  The prior owner sealed off the engine intake valley with newspaper from October 11, 2003.  It looks pretty clean inside, so I filled the intake ports on the heads with ATF and will do the same with the cylinders through the spark plug holes.  Once it has time to soak I'll work the engine until it frees up.  Expectations (or hopes) are high that I can get the engine back together and running.
July 31, 2020 - Weather reports for the weekend looked iffy at best, so I scrambled to make room in the garage and got the Avanti delivered today.  The seller got the car down off the jack stands for the first time in 20 years, and was very pleased by the results of his suspension work. He had lowered the front end slightly with new springs to restore the Studbaker Avanti 'rake' that the Avanti II folks had evened out.  The trip was made without incident, and I also brought home the boxes of removed parts.  The Avanti got the 'Kitty Seal of Approval' in the form of 'I'll punch you in the nose if you ever get rid of this car.'  Garage space is a little tight, but I can get in and out of both cars and have room to get around them and to my toolbox in the back.  Car skates are coming for both the Avanti and Morris that will let me move them around easily for better access.
July 29, 2020 - The Avanti seems to have been meant to be - Car club buddy Richard presented me with a major treasure trove today - the original 4-barrel manifold, carter 4-barrel carb, factory air cleaner assembly, and Delco distributor from a late 1960s Chevelle, all correct for the Avanti. Of all the parts, I am happiest about the original air cleaner, which can be very hard to find for a 4-barrel.  Best of all, the parts are in excellent shape, nearly new in condition.  I think a restored car was modified with aftermarket components.  This all means I can restore the Avanti to original specs, which makes me very happy!
July 28, 2020 - After watching the listing in Craigslist for many months, I finally had to go look at this 1972 Avanti. The car has been sitting for 20 years, and there was a good chance it was rotten underneath. But close inspection turned up a perfect chassis, nice interior, and crack-free body. The owner had done a lot of work to it in 1999 and 2000, then other things gradually took his interest and the car sat. At this point, the engine bay is down to the radiator and long bock, with all accessories and the manifold/carb to be attached. Wiring is loose, but undamaged, and the engine bay itself is cleaned and painted like new. The car started life green with velour seats and shag carpet (1972 chic), but the second owner took it back to the factory in 1984 to get updated as a replica of the factory black and white rally cars. The original special-order 400 ci engine was replaced with a more standard GM 350 crate engine, which is still plenty (pre-emissions) for the fiberglass sports coupe.  The main work will be reassembling the engine bay and the front brakes.  Most everything else is done. A bit of a scary project, but friends in my car club have Avantis I can look at for reference. And of course, I bought it. After all, I need another project!

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