Restore it or Scrap it

Seventeen years passed and in the summer of 1997, Susan declared, "Restore it or Scrap it". So I pulled the battery out of the Scout, checked the eighteen-year-old antifreeze, checked the oil, cranked it over, pumped the gas. It started! After letting it warm up, it even idled without any misses or spluttering. Well I was impressed until I put it in gear, nothing; it just sat there. Then ever so slowly it started to move. The old girl was just slow to wake up after her long sleep. Considering the gas was 18 years old, it's a wonder she started at all.

The exhaust system had completely rusted out. The sound a muffler-less 440, was to my ear, very sweet music - although my neighbours didn't seem to agree. I moved the Beast into my "modern" car shrimp sized garage and discovered just how large a Fury really is - it fit, but, with about one inch to spare.

The Beast looked rough, it had sat uncovered in a south-facing yard and the sun had done quite a job on the roof, dash pad, steering wheel and driver seat. Even the windshield was cracked in multiple places. Calgary is 3,500 feet above sea level, the UV is harsh year around. The summer is hot while the winters sometimes go to -40. The poor car had been really abused by the climate and general neglect on my part. The driver seat was toast, but the passenger seat was in fairly good shape. The rear seats looked almost new. The floor had 3 inches of water and leaves, the rug was mush and the musty smell was total.

However, the engine ran so I drove it round the block and backed it into my garage to get it out of the weather. That short trip was amazing, back behind the wheel again. It was all I could do to go easy and not stomp it for old times sake!

In general, the body, except where bodywork had been done, was in pretty good shape, a little rust but not too bad. We pulled the interior and hosed out the debris to find the floor was nearly mint, a little surface rust but nothing serious. I should have started taking pictures earlier, a shot of the interior filled with twenty years of leaves, pine needles and swamp water would really show how amazing this rust free interior is. When we pulled the rugs, they literally came out in pieces, not unlike wet newspaper.

Under the hood you can see the wonderful job Bondo Man did with his primer spray - I don't think he even washed off the dirt. You can also see where I cleaned off the Ziebart to expose mint factory paint. The general lack of rust is starting to make us very eager to start restoration. The trunk floor had a few thin spots on the outboard edges.

The front fenders had some rust along the lower parts but the upper parts and the wheel wells were clean. The rocker panels had been buried by Bondo Man so I assumed the worst.

The rear quarter panels, from the side moulding down, were also buried by Bondo Man - in some spots the bondo was over a half inch thick. The hood had some rust along the cowl and the trunk had rust along the lower lip.

The doors had a little rust but the Ziebart seemed to have done it's job well. All in all, I was very surprised that the rust was not much worse and can only credit Ziebart for keeping it under control. The areas rusted were for the most part those which had been cleaned of Ziebart and chopped up by the various repair shops.

So it looked like a complete redo of the quarter panels and rocker panels and a little clean up here and there - no big deal. Believe that and I'll tell you about a bridge I've got for sale.

Decision time, should we try it ourselves, or should we try to find a body shop that hates bondo.

I decided to tackle all the parts that wouldn't show, floors, inside fenders, wheel wells and such. I figured if we screwed it up at least it wouldn't be obvious. We were afraid to touch any outside parts which would end up in body colour, these we decided, needed to be done properly by someone who knew what they were doing.

It was, by this time, around the first week of August 1997 leaving us about three months to play before winter arrived and we needed the garage back. I dug out my original sales brochure to remind myself what the finished product should look like and then we started removing the front fenders.