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1978 Fleetwood Brougham
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18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. My 78 has been in the family since its creation. I have finally taken possession of it. Its in bad shape after years of neglect. I'm starting my restoratiin and know and accept the long journey it will be. Is there a good starting place for a guy who's never restored before? It diesnt start...so I was thinking that would be a good starting point. The body, interior, and undercarriage are all in need of a lot of TLC as well. I'm very excited to get my hands dirty and would appreciate any advice on a good stsrting point. Thank you!
 

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2014 ELR
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10,425 Posts
It all depends how much you are willing/capable to do yourself. For some inspiration, check out the various "project" threads in this section. I have one for my 81 coupe, and a bunch of other members post what they have done to their cars.
 

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1977 Coupe (blue), 1977 Coupe (yellow), 1977 Coupe (green)
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1,493 Posts
U will have to make a judment call on how bad the car is and determine how much you want to do and how much you are capable of doing. I have a '79 I "stored". When I got it from storage, It started ( reluctantly ), and I was happy with that. Later I discovered that the rear frame had totally deteriorated. I would be totally disenheartened if I didn't have another frame ready for a full frame off from another Coupe, same year, same color.
 

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1970 Coupe DeVille, 2002 Eldorado Collector Series
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200 Posts
Just start somewhere. If you're going to do it yourself, and you're committed to getting it done, then anything you see or touch is going to need attention at some point, just dig in. I would highly recommend a rolling restoration, versus a complete tear-down. I would bet that 99% of complete teardowns are never completed. I have done a complete tear-down AND a rolling, and the rolling is a lot easier to avoid being overwhelmed. If the car is near-drivable, I would recommend getting it running first, then address all safety issues, then reliability issues, and then aesthetics. For example, when I got mine, it was running, but needed brakes. I did this first, and then did a cooling system overhaul to be safe, and just now am restoring the engine compartment visually. Avoid doing anything unnecessarily that would take more than a day to reassemble in order to drive the car, and as much as possible finish one project before moving on to the next.

There are a lot of things to consider before you start throwing money at a car. For one, is this car REALLY, REALLY worth it to you to restore? Not trying to talk you out of it, but sometimes for $1,000 more, you can trade up to a car that has the equivalent of $10,000 of restoration already done or not required. I sold my '70 Calais for $2,600, bought the '70 DeVille for $3,500, and went from trashed paint, interior, seals and trunk, to near-perfect ones. My suggestion is, start with the absolute best car you can for the money, and THEN begin your restoration. You can put a TON of money into a car and still have it be worth no more than before you started.

Don't ever plan to get your money out of it, and plan to spend a LOT of money. This is why it's gotta be the right car for YOU. It's really pointless to restore a certain aspect of the car, making it look new, and leaving some other aspect trashed. For example, ripped seats and a cracked dashboard. Are you really going to fix one and not the other? The more you do and spend, the more you're forced to do and spend. (If you're trying to do it the right way)

When it's all said and done though, it's the best feeling in the world, to pull up to a show and say "I did this". Good luck.
 

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77 CDV, 06 DTS III, 69 FWB
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10,022 Posts
Just start somewhere. If you're going to do it yourself, and you're committed to getting it done, then anything you see or touch is going to need attention at some point, just dig in. I would highly recommend a rolling restoration, versus a complete tear-down. I would bet that 99% of complete teardowns are never completed. I have done a complete tear-down AND a rolling, and the rolling is a lot easier to avoid being overwhelmed. If the car is near-drivable, I would recommend getting it running first, then address all safety issues, then reliability issues, and then aesthetics. For example, when I got mine, it was running, but needed brakes. I did this first, and then did a cooling system overhaul to be safe, and just now am restoring the engine compartment visually. Avoid doing anything unnecessarily that would take more than a day to reassemble in order to drive the car, and as much as possible finish one project before moving on to the next.

There are a lot of things to consider before you start throwing money at a car. For one, is this car REALLY, REALLY worth it to you to restore? Not trying to talk you out of it, but sometimes for $1,000 more, you can trade up to a car that has the equivalent of $10,000 of restoration already done or not required. I sold my '70 Calais for $2,600, bought the '70 DeVille for $3,500, and went from trashed paint, interior, seals and trunk, to near-perfect ones. My suggestion is, start with the absolute best car you can for the money, and THEN begin your restoration. You can put a TON of money into a car and still have it be worth no more than before you started.

Don't ever plan to get your money out of it, and plan to spend a LOT of money. This is why it's gotta be the right car for YOU. It's really pointless to restore a certain aspect of the car, making it look new, and leaving some other aspect trashed. For example, ripped seats and a cracked dashboard. Are you really going to fix one and not the other? The more you do and spend, the more you're forced to do and spend. (If you're trying to do it the right way)

When it's all said and done though, it's the best feeling in the world, to pull up to a show and say "I did this". Good luck.
Truth.
 

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87 Brougham, 1969 Calais, 95 FWB, 07 SRX, 07 ESV
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4,246 Posts
You can check out my 1969 calais restoration thread for some inspiration...It's not a perfect restoration just a fun project that I wanted to do my self. :)
 

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Cadillac 86 f/wood brougham 307, 77 f/wood
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155 Posts
x2
But if you wish to learn The best way is to dig in ,get stuck, ask questions,dig in again.I would recommend getting the vehicle going, visit a sand blasting co., do the underneath and spray/paint the underbody with a rust preventive.Go from there.I am similarly doing my first resto. It`s a big but very satisfying learning curve. Buy the chassis service manual AND the body service manual for your year (ebay usually has em )
When you remove trim or dismantle anything ---label the items .I bought 4 plastic boxes for the 4 doors ,labelled the bits and placed them in their correct box.ALSO take pics b4 you dismantle .

I have attached just a few pics of where I have been with my car.

good luck
 

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1978 Fleetwood Brougham
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18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The body is in generally good condition. Exhaust is rusted out, but that's not too bad of a fix I'm assuming. There are only a few spots of rust around door panels and the back bumper, but generally it doesn't seem too bad. To answer your question, it doesn't start. The battery is too low, but even when charged I dont think it will start. In terms of restoration, I want to get it running and then work-over the whole car. Is that too general and ambitious?
 

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1978 Fleetwood Brougham
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18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
All very good points. My '78 has been in the family since, so it's more about sentimental value then monitary value. I have no intention on getting rid of the car or selling it, so a long restoration doesn't bother me. The rolling restoration seems the best option. My uncle is doing a tear-down on a '77 Stingray. It will be sick when he's done with it but his goals are different. My ideas of process seem to make sense then...get it running, and then start working through various systems and aesthetics. I think the hardest part for me will be getting all the electrical systems back to working order...and finding a new sideview mirror with the thermometer!
 

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1978 Fleetwood Brougham
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18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
We got her running today. With a little carbeurator cleaner, starter fluid, and a new battery she fired right up after not running for six years. It was a fruitful day. Since my exhaust system is completely rusted out, I think I will replace that next. What a great today that she started! i even backed her out of storage to fix a fuel leak with my uncle. break light indicator came on today too. the master cylinder was replaced in 2006 so i think they could b blead and end up alright.
 

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1977 Coupe (blue), 1977 Coupe (yellow), 1977 Coupe (green)
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1,493 Posts
Check Your brake lines, look for leaks. It is common to find problems with these lines after this length of time. The two lines from the master to the proportioning valve have a tendency to rot out under the brace that holds them to the frame. The lines to the rear brakes can rot at the clips that hold them to the frame rail and at the bends where the lines go up toward the tank.
 

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07 Escalade, 77 CDV, 13 CTS-V Wagon, 06 911, 87 928S4
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189 Posts
Go for it, I certainly understand the sentimental angle--my 77 has been in the family since new as well. One other piece of advice; never, EVER total up your receipts and don't leave them where your wife can find them (if you are married). Personally, I shred them after I know the part works/fits or unless there is a warranty.
 

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1978 Fleetwood Brougham
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18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I will check for break leaks next work session - thanks for the two starting points. I also need to figure out what to buy to replace the exhaust system. The catalytic converter seems tight, but the pipe from the CC to the muffler, the muffler, and the section of pipe down to the the end tip of the exhaust pipe are completely rusted out. Are there any suggestions on getting exact replacements for the exhaust pipe? I have Cadillac manuals but haven't seen a spec on the muffler or pipe.
 

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1978 Fleetwood Brougham
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18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the advice; I'm lucky so far, my wife is supportive of restoring the caddy to her original beauty....except for the paint color - that she wants changed but that's a hard sell for me. Has your 77 been restored, or well maintained since birth?
 
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