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pplace 04-05-2018 09:36 PM

1958 Ramber American
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This week I started on a brand new build in the shop.....a 1958 Rambler American! I'd say hands down, this is one of the best looking cars ever produced!:lol: Well, maybe not....but I hope to change that!!

For those that followed my '49 Mercury thread, you've already seen a preview of this project. I had also mentioned at the start of that thread, that I wanted to be up front so everyone was aware of the fact that it was known and planned that the '49 Mercury build would go on the backburner during the duration of this Rambler build.

The difference between this build thread and my previous build threads posted on this forum: This will be "live time" as I'm just getting started on it in the shop. However, with that said, the customer did bring me the Rambler over a year ago so I could do the initial measuring needed for the full custom chassis that he had build by a chassis fabricator. After the measurements and such were figured out, the car left the shop until our scheduled start date.....the first week of April 2018!

One interesting / challenging thing about this car and build is the fact that it is a uni-body. With what we have planned for chassis, stance, wheels, engine, etc. I will basically be gutting all of the floor, cowl, engine bay, etc. and re-building it to fit the new chassis and'll be big undertaking for sure.

This first grouping of photos is of the car as it came to me last year in preparation to measure for the custom chassis. The customer asked my opinion of what we could do to improve the looks of the car and make it "turn some heads" I've attached a factory ad that I started with and the initial concept I came up with. (I'll explain a bit more "rough" plans beneath the posted picture)

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View from the left front

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View from the left rear

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View from the rear. These are pretty small cars. Length is one thing but they are so narrow!

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View from right side

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View from right front

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View from front

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View of the engine and engine bay.

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A factory ad drawing that I based my initial concept off of.

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A rough idea of where we are headed with this project.

The biggest visual change is the roof line. The rear half of the factory roof in all honesty is just plain goofy looking!! I've shortened the roof up, slid the rear glass forward and slightly laid it down. Removed the B-post and turned it into a hardtop.

The second big visual change that needed attention was the rear wheel opening. Again....odd! It seems as if designer "A" designed the front wheel opening and designer "B" designed the rear wheel opening and they didn't compare notes until too late!ha I've changed the rear opening to mesh with the front, but dropped the opening a bit lower in order to help give the car a slightly more "slammed" stance by tucking the rear wheels deeper.

We have plans for custom bumpers, headlights, taillights, etc. but for the initial concept we just focused on the above items to get a good visual for our goals.

Turbo57 04-05-2018 10:34 PM

Customized it is looking good, if you make it that way it will be super:p

Gojeep 04-06-2018 04:20 AM

Be interesting for sure. :)

Fordor 04-06-2018 08:13 AM

I'm going to be following this one. This is going to be another neat project by a very talented individual. Love your concepts.

John Buchtenkirch 04-06-2018 03:53 PM

Style wise a challenge for sure. To me the car is begging to be sectioned. If you look at photo #5 there seems to be way too much metal above the front wheel opening. The roof already seems low compared to the height of the body below the belt line. Definitely agree with your thoughts on the different wheel openings. I tip my hat to you for taking on this car…….. one that many people said looked like an up-side-down bath tub :lol:. ~ John Buchtenkirch <O:p</O:p

pplace 04-06-2018 06:03 PM


Originally Posted by John Buchtenkirch (Post 145166)
Style wise a challenge for sure. To me the car is begging to be sectioned. If you look at photo #5 there seems to be way too much metal above the front wheel opening. The roof already seems low compared to the height of the body below the belt line. Definitely agree with your thoughts on the different wheel openings. I tip my hat to you for taking on this car…….. one that many people said looked like an up-side-down bath tub :lol:. ~ John Buchtenkirch <O:p</O:p

I can see where you are coming from with that observation. I've always personally liked a bit of the quirkiness of the early Rambler and Nash styling. The unique upside down tub as you say is almost a trademark. I also think the lowered front wheel opening is something that screams Rambler or Nash also. If anything, slightly raising the front wheel opening could a be compromise without really changing the overall look / feel of the car.

The ugly roof profile in the rear and the rear wheel opening were just too far out there not to correct. As the customer and I agree...We are both after a vehicle that when finished, people will walk around and know it's changed, but what exactly?! (As far as body mods)

Also I'm not 100% certain how much room I'll end up with yet in relation to the top of the engine / hood clearance?! We may need every bit of height to keep the engine under the stock hood.

I'll know a lot more about body proportions and looks once I get the body ready to set over the chassis eventually. Thanks

pplace 04-06-2018 06:20 PM

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This grouping of photos is from the disassembly and tire / stance mock up and planning while I was measuring the Rambler project for the custom chassis to be built. This was roughly a year or so ago.

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Out with the old drivetrain.....we certainly won't be needing this again!

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Here I've removed the engine, transmission, front and rear suspension and any misc. mechanical components leaving just the uni-body left on jack stands. (Sorry for the blurry pic)

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A view from the rear once all the suspension and mechanicals were removed.

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Here I've just temporarily set the body off the stands and basically onto the rack until I can do some determining for future parked and ride heights.

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This picture helps illustrate the upside down bathtub shape that John had mentioned above. The bottom of the vehicle is wider than the top of the fenders / quarter panels. This does make tucking some larger tires way up inside difficult as you loose a lot of clearance VERY Quick with the narrowing shape of the body sides the higher up you go.

Determining tire size is a compromise between size and height vs. how far back the tires are set from the opening. Choosing a happy medium is about all you can do really.

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I attached this picture just to show how small the car really is. This is an employee at the shop (he's not a short guy like me...but I'm not certain on his height 6'3" maybe) The car is just a bit lower than I've calculated "parked" height to be.

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If I remember correctly this picture should roughly indicate driving height. Here I was tried several sets of tires front and rear in order to achieve the look and proportions we were satisfied with.

Also note I did a quick paper mock up of the general shape of the planned rear wheel opening. This was necessary so we could visually see how the test tires looked in the opening.

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While I was away on a snowmobiling trip my father and son decided to do a fun little project for me and made a set of cardboard wheels!ha

Here the car is roughly placed at the calculated parked height.

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Here is a photo of the dash

pplace 04-06-2018 07:04 PM

8 Attachment(s)
I'm going to do a couple more posts tonight so I can actually just get caught up to actual time for this project.

The above post was the preparation, planning, measuring and mock-up for the chassis that was to be custom built.

Attached are a few photos of the built chassis. The first four are pictures the chassis shop sent the customer (the wheels and tires in those pics are just temporary rollers for them and don't represent actual finished size or backspacing, etc.) The remaining four pictures are actually from today when the customer delivered the chassis to me.

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pplace 04-06-2018 07:25 PM

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The next big piece of the puzzle for this build is the drive line. Recently delivered was a new crate engine from GM Performance.

This is an aluminum supercharged 6.2 Liter delivering 556 horsepower as it sits. The transmission is a new 4l80e. This package is basically a "plug and play" and comes with all the necessary wiring and computers needed to get it running. However, making this all look clean and presentable in a custom vehicle is where the real challenge starts.

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A sample of the wiring harness (not including the computer) to get this all up and running.

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pplace 04-06-2018 08:51 PM

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Okay this will be the last update for tonight and it actually has something to do with metal shaping finally!! After this the rest of the build and updates will be "real time" as I'm now caught up on what I've done so far.

Earlier this week I disassembled the vehicle a bit further, however the customer was coming today for an official "start" of the project so I wanted to leave the exterior of the body together so we could hash out some more thoughts and ideas.

Without having too much to do before "officially" starting I at least wanted to get the damaged left quarter panel straightened out. I'm not quite sure what caused the damage...almost seemed like a skidsteer bucket, or something strong and sharp that left a very deep and stretched "groove" in the quarter panel.

I know I'm going to have to modify this quarter panel with the fabrication of a new wheel opening shape as well as shaving the gas filler opening. However, I obviously wanted and needed to start with a straight panel for that future work.

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Here's a closer view of the damage to start. As I mentioned it was a deep gash with a very sharp crease that stretched the metal.

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This view from the rear helps show how far in the quarter panel was pushed as well.

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I haven't done any straightening yet in this picture, instead I've just cleaned away all the paint to bare metal in the area that I need to repair. This also helps show how deep and sharp the gash was.

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After a lot of hammer and dolly work as well as plenty of shrinking I have the quarter panel to about 95% good. It didn't pay to get it 100% at this time as I mentioned I need to eventually cut this wheel opening and gas filler out and replace with a new wheel opening fabricated and shaped to the new design.

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