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Thread: American V8

  1. #1

    American V8

    Hello all, I'm back!

    My car is the 1975 Sterling in Minnesota, USA with the Buick 215 aluminum V8, IRS and custom jack-shaft system in it. I bought it off of Flea-bay in a moment of stupidity back in April 2006 and worked on it constantly for about a year. In that time I've rebuilt the engine from the long block out, rebuilt the jackshaft system, rebuilt both axles, rebuilt the entire cooling system (about 3 times), brakes, pulled and crated the windshield and dropped the floorpans. Wow...that really doesn't seem like much for an entire YEAR! :roll:

    NOTHING has changed in it since I last posted about it in May on the old site...I finished up dropping the floor pans in my Sterling this spring and then packed it away into a corner of the garage, covered it with a tarp and took the summer off and regain my sanity - after all, I'd been working on it pretty much all of my free time since I bought it and you can barely tell I've done ANYTHING to it!

    But, back to the car...a little background on what's unique, namely the engine and Jackshaft system. I've been told (and have evidence to support it) that this car was raced with the V8 in the SCCA in California. I bought it from a guy in Maryland but the car had a Virginia title and California plates...go figure. :? :?:

    The jackshaft system was pretty worn out so I rebuilt it with new bearings, gears, shafts and installed chain tensioners. I also planed all the seal surfaces, jeweled the cover with a custom Sterling logo covering a timing inspection hole and upgraded the distributor to HEI. The new jackshaft is a 5/8" diameter keyed, hardened shaft to power an AC pump and alternator without flexing. The old jackshaft powered a water pump instead of AC, but now that job is being handled by a race-car intended electric water pump - custom mounts and fittings of course.

    I've recently decided that with summer winding down, it's about time that I should throw some cash at the Sterling. SO...I'm taking the canopy that's been hacked up for a "sunroof" to a fiberglass company next week for repair and making the new rear end this fall now that the humidity is dropping to tolerable levels. Of course, I could just turn on the AC in the garage, but I think I want the door open while I'm working with epoxy resin...

    The next items on the list after the rear end are getting the canopy hinges rebuilt, the front hood hinged and latched, rebuilding the headlight buckets (they're completely hacked out... :x ), installing an electrical system and interior, parting the Red Sea, walking on water...oh wait, those last two are actually MORE likely to happen within the next year!

    When the snow starts flying soon (it IS Minnesota!), I'll be back working on the car in earnest, but until then, I'm still enjoying some of the summer sunshine and regaining the sanity that the car stole from me in my first year of ownership!

    Some pix:

    any specific pix requests? i have tons more...just not online.
    1975 Sterling
    215 ci Buick V8
    Sterling in Garage! Back to work!

  2. #2
    Today was a "busy" day...most progress I've made in months. I took the canopy to a "local" corvette repair shop that does extensive/custom fiberglass work to have the giant "sunroof" (HOLE) filled. I told them to give me a call when the bill hits $500...I just want that to be someone ELSE's headache for a while.

    i also placed an order for Stop/Tail/Turn lights and corner & front turn signals. All LED lights. NOT cheap...

    The back will have three (44LED) red 4" round lights on each side which will be sequenced in a "chase" pattern. Check them out here:

    The four side corners will each have a 2"x6" amber (60LED) oblong light for a Turn/Running light.

    The front grill (nose) will have two 2"x6" amber (60LED) oblong lights for Turn/Running lights behind the grille.

    The corner turn signals and rear brake lights will all be "frenched" into the body. Can't have them just "bolted" onto the side now...

    And the louvers will have a 3rd brake light (20LED) mounted high in them.

    I'm also starting my hunt for new headlights since I've decided the first two sets I picked up aren't going to work. One is round, and I HATE round lights (the big 6" kinds at least). The other set interfered with the hood...
    After spending over an hour looking at ebay ads for commercial trucks, I finally found the lights that I've seen on trucks driving down the road and know which model to look for at the salvage yards.
    These are what I'm looking for now...

    That's all I've done this week...time to mow the lawn now... :roll:
    1975 Sterling
    215 ci Buick V8
    Sterling in Garage! Back to work!

  3. #3
    Not too sure on your choice of front lights and grille, maybe a bit on the big side for a sterling, unless you lay the grille flat on the bonnet/hood. :lol:
    One thought has crossed my mind, and it depends on how tall you are and how well the garage can do glass work, but if you are filling a huge hole in the roof have you thought about forming some "bubbles" one for the driver and one for the passenger, like the hard top Vipers have, subtle but would give you 1 - 2" extra head room. If done well it could look smart and as though it was manufactured like it. Alex, Ben and Lauren will shoot me down in flames for even thinking about it but you have a bit of a blank canvas as far as I can tell with the hole. Just a thought, bin it if you like I won't take offence honest :lol:

  4. #4
    i only plan on using the LIGHTS from the truck...not the grille! :lol: of course, I need to get my hands on a set and measure them to see if they'll work or not. if they're regular sized rectangular headlights, they should - but maybe big rigs have bigger headlights too. i don't know...

    my grille will be in the 4" high by 42" wide area below the radiator inlet is where the spare tire curve is on an aircooled car and the "inlets" that cool the front wheels (what ELSE are they there for?!?) are where I'll mount the flanged turn signals - BEHIND the continuous grille so you'll only see them when they're lit.

    Basically, I want my car to be SEEN. Remember, I live in the land of 3 ton SUVs and 50 ton, 80 foot long tractor-trailer rigs! And I'm only 3 feet high! I figure the more lights I have, the less likely I'll get squashed by some trucker eating a BigMac or a soccermom txtmsging her book club. 8)
    1975 Sterling
    215 ci Buick V8
    Sterling in Garage! Back to work!

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Concord, Ca
    "...the less likely I'll get squashed by some trucker eating a BigMac or a soccermom txtmsging her book club. "

    ^^^ :lol: :lol: :lol:
    Good call....

    CCC Sterling # 416

  6. #6
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** Spacenut's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Hampshire, UK
    Hi Nbb - nice to see progress being made. I like the sequential turn signals thing, its a pity we aren't allowed to do that over here. Are you going to mount the rear lights on a mesh grille stretched across the back? That would let all the heat out of that Buick 215. Your amazing engine turned accessory gearbox cover and the white bodywork remind me of the Howmet TX jet car that was at Goodwood FOS this year, which used the same trick (although the Allison 250 gas turbine puts out a bit more heat than a Buick )

    I've never liked the use of single 7" round headlights on the Sterling, but that was the prevailing US legislation at the time. In the UK Nova's were fitted with single rectangular lamps from a Mk1 Ford Capri (obviously, the US Lincoln-Mercury version has round lamps, albeit of the 5.75" variety), and similar units are available from Cibie which take H4 halogen bulbs. Hella do a lot of rectangular conversion lamps in the US, typically their Vision Plus series, which also take an H4 bulb. They are available with either a 165mm or 200 mm base. I am trying to find a link to a thread I stumbled across which featured a Hella rectangular headlamp for use in Euro-styled Mk1 VW Rabbit/Caddy which had a projector beam built into the rectangular reflector. Looked really neat, but impossible to find over here.

    Some truck units will be using sealed beam technology which was mandatory in the US until fairly recently. I always liked the mean brooding look of the generation-before-last Chevy Camaro, with its four slitty-eyed little rectangular headlights, but I later discovered that they are rather poor performing Sylvania sealed-beams (and obviously have the wrong beam pattern for the UK anyway).

    More marker lights just adds to the Sterling's space-age styling in my book. And at least with LED's you won't be overcooking your alternator!

    My, but that IS a big sunroof aperture! And I thought I had problems!

    Keep them progress reports coming!!!

    only Pythagoras can save me now!

  7. #7
    Alright, I finally have something worth reporting!

    I've been doing a lot of fiberglass work for the last month, concentrating mainly on filling holes and other sins that had been committed against my body by other people in the past (my CAR'S body, that is! ). In addition to filling some keyholes and mystery holes, I also started trying to rebuild the headlight holes. Now, at some point someone had installed (or tried to install) pop up headlights and chopped a helluva lot of body out to do now I've been replacing all that. AND trying to find satisfactory headlights...but I keep coming back to the 7" round lights that I hate...but am probably going to be stuck with using since the only mounting option for rectangular lights (short of totally custom mounts...ANOTHER thing to build!) are FedEx panel van mounts - which won't fit!'s a pic of the headlights so far...

    Stage One of the tail end is complete and proceeding to Stage Two. Stage One was building the mold/plug for the tailights and license plate, actually building the part in fiberglass and getting it out of mold in one piece! Success!! I waxed the hell outta the mold, laid a Duratec primer on it and built up cloth-mat-mat-cloth on top of that. Since I still have to blend this piece into the tail end, I left extra 'glass sticking out the sides to attach it firmly into the rear aluminum subframe. That still has to be molded out of sacrificial foam while on the car, then take the frame off of the car, add the tail/license part and glass the whole thing together - with a final coat of Duratec primer too.

    Oh...since I didn't bother to measure the size of the hole needed for the taillights before laying the FG, I discovered i only needed a tiny lip instead of the huge one I had cast, so I had to route out the hole to exactly 3 7/8" (100mm) diameter so the tailights will fit with no slop. Of course a 3 7/8" hole saw costs $35+ and would make a so-so hole (they always have slop), so I made a jig for my smallest router and used a 1/2" carbide bit instead. COUGH! talk about making FG dust! well, with two vacuums going, I managed to keep the mess down and it was worth it...the holes are PERFECT!

    Ready, steady, GO!

    Duratec setting up (it's a catalyzed primer)

    Routing out the taillight holes...

    My router jig...

    The finished part! (the white lines are just wax scrapings...)

    The mold/plug after pulling

    And the piece with some lights installed! i have to admit I got a little giddy at seeing these together...

    And now on to Stage Two:

    p.s. does anyone have any suggestions on how to get the mold wax off my part now? acetone? laquer thinner? something special for just this purpose??
    1975 Sterling
    215 ci Buick V8
    Sterling in Garage! Back to work!

  8. #8
    Good God! Look at that Foam in a Can go!! Seriously, though, that back panel looks great. Very professionally done - I certainly couldn't have done something that nice! As for the wax removal, start light - alcohol or paint thinners, then progress to the harder stuff like MEK or lacquer thinner. I'd hesitate to use any of the real hard solvents because the fiberglass is so new. Hmmm....maybe try just real hot water and soap, since it's just a wax.....


  9. #9
    Very smart and a nice bit of moulding.

  10. #10
    Senior Member bushboy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Grays Essex
    My hat is off to you, nice job indeed.

    keep at it and wax on wax off with detergent & hot water would be my first guess.

    "Always do what you are afraid to do"
    "I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying"

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