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volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
11/16/18 8:42 a.m.

***FULL DISCLOSURE***

What you are about to see is real, and took place over the course of 16 months between June of 2017 and a few weeks ago.  It all happened at such a frantic pace that I didn't have the time, energy, or mental patience to document it at the time, other than the hastily-scribbled out notes I took on a pad of paper in the garage, emails with teammates, and several hundred crappy camera phone pictures. 

BACKGROUND:

By most accounts, the 24 Hours of leMons April 2017 race at Carolina Motorsports Park was a particularly rough weekend for our team.  The 1975 Ford LTD Landau we'd been campaigning for a number of years has this proclivity towards raising our hopes right before dashing them to the ground.  In this instance, I'd built a brand new engine (based on a low-mile 460 mill grabbed super cheap from a discarded RV) and we spent a lot of time going over the rest of the car in an attempt to make it reliable.  It even got a new paint job and theme.  

The race weekend turned sour on us, though as the oil pressure sank to zero during my time behind the wheel on the first day.  We spent the rest of that race day (and a good part of that evening, until about 2AM) fixing a fallen-off oil pump pickup and replacing the transmission - which was on its last legs. 

The following day didn't go much better; we shattered a transmission output shaft case and had to replace it and, as it turns out, the driveshaft.  Battered and tired, the car limped across the finish line, and we trudged home.   Spirits were low- and the post-race accounting was not particularly kind, either.  We had spent, collectively, about $4000 for the privilege of driving perhaps an hour each, in a not-terribly good car.  I dragged the car home, dumped it off the trailer, and mulled aloud with Mrs. VCH the possibility of me quitting racing.  I was in a really low place- and I suspect the rest of the team was, too.  

After about a month of being depressed about the whole stupid racing business, and consuming more than a couple fermented beverages of an adultish nature, I began developing a plan.  Part of the credit for this has to go to Mrs. VCH.  She's always been supportive of my racing, but she's also always hated the LTD.  Let's face it, _look_ at it.  The 1970's weren't exactly the pinnacle for automotive elegance and styling.  And the LTD is probably about the nadir of what little style there was during the sucky seventies.  And now we had a rusty, dented, and barely-running purple and gold example of this horrendousness plopped smack dab in our yard where God and all the neighbors can see it, and we both have to look at it every single day.  

Clearly, something had to be done...

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
11/16/18 9:02 a.m.

INSPIRATION

A dozen or so years ago, I'd traded a 1974 Plymouth Satellite Sebring (that I'd owned since graduating college) for a 1951 Plymouth Cambridge.  The '74 was in rough shape- I'd robbed the engine out of it (and eventually sold that), and the '51 would make a good parts car for some mechanical bits on a '49 Plymouth I was working on.  The '51 ended up laying about my yard for some time.  When we moved it somehow came with us, and for the past 5 years or so it's sat languishing in one of the dilapidated run ins at our farm.  I liked the car- it was too far gone for any sort of reasonable restoration, but after providing what parts it could for other uses, I couldn't bring myself to scrap out the cool old shell.  

While sharing one of the all-too-few quiet, kid-free evenings in the kitchen with Mrs. VCH, over some cheap red wine and expensive cheese, I remarked to her something along the lines of, "You know, that old Plymouth is pretty cool-looking.  What if I were to stick the body from that onto the LTD?".  

"You mean, so I wouldn't have to look at that hideous race car out there anymore?"

I took that as spousal approval.

As it turns out, the following weekend was Father's Day weekend, so I parlayed what leverage I had into spending a day extracting the '51 from it's hiding hole and taking stock of the project.  

I thought I saw the front bumper....somewhere.

So rusty.

But so much cool.  

Gunchsta
Gunchsta HalfDork
11/16/18 9:02 a.m.

I'm hooked. Ready to hear the rest of the story. 

Edit: I spoke too soon! I follow 24 hours of lemons on instagram and I think I've seen some spoiler pictures of what's to come.


This is great. 

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 MegaDork
11/16/18 9:04 a.m.

Oh god this is gonna be berkeleying AWESOME!

Daylan C
Daylan C SuperDork
11/16/18 9:07 a.m.

Sir, you have my attention. 

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
11/16/18 9:10 a.m.

You have '51 Plymouths stashed around the property?  

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
11/16/18 9:12 a.m.

In reply to Gunchsta :

 wink

 

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
11/16/18 9:57 a.m.

My research (which entailed 5 minutes of Wikipedia-ing "1975 LTD" and "1951 Plymouth") indicated the wheelbases of the cars were pretty close:

  • 1975 Ford LTD WB: 121"
  • 1951 Plymouth WB: 118.5"

However, the LTD was significantly longer overall:

  • 1975 Ford LTD Length: 224.1"
  • 1951 Plymouth Length: 193.9"

Looking at the front and rear overhang of the LTD, it's easy to understand why.  

And looking at the hood of the Plymouth sitting atop the engine compartment of the LTD, it's even easier to visualize the differences...

Undeterred, I fired up MS paint and made a quick artist's rendering of what I thought the finished masterpiece would/should look like:

Somehow cobble the Plymouth body onto the LTD chassis, retaining the floor and roll cage and driver's position, chop the top, and do something with the fenders to fit the racing tires.  

Couldn't be simpler.  

 

tedroach
tedroach Reader
11/16/18 9:57 a.m.

Following along. This will be awesome!

Agent98
Agent98 Reader
11/16/18 10:05 a.m.

great project, but will it be easier to pick up a totaled dodge Dakota or Chevy S-10, and drop the '51 on those?  1st gen S-10 had a 118" wheelbase...

java230
java230 UltraDork
11/16/18 10:15 a.m.

Following along :D

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 MegaDork
11/16/18 10:21 a.m.
Agent98 said:

great project, but will it be easier to pick up a totaled dodge Dakota or Chevy S-10, and drop the '51 on those?  1st gen S-10 had a 118" wheelbase...

I think its already finished, so probably not at this point. 

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
11/16/18 10:31 a.m.
Agent98 said:

great project, but will it be easier to pick up a totaled dodge Dakota or Chevy S-10, and drop the '51 on those?  1st gen S-10 had a 118" wheelbase...

Part of the goal for the project was to re-use the LTD cage, chassis and running gear, which we'd already developed for leMons racing.  Basically, do this for as cheap as possible, with what I had laying around.  

Plus, a lot of people don't realize this, but the 1975 Ford LTD Landau is a great chassis for road racing.  It's a finely tuned instrument of precision handling.

Robbie
Robbie UltimaDork
11/16/18 12:30 p.m.
volvoclearinghouse said:

Plus, a lot of people don't realize this, but the 1975 Ford LTD Landau is a great chassis for road racing.  It's a finely tuned instrument of precision handling.

QFT

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
11/16/18 12:59 p.m.

From my notebook, dated 6/18/2017:

Issues at front of car:

  • Front of LTD is about a foot longer than front of Plymouth. 
  • Radiator is further forward on LTD- need to relocate backward- but LTD suspension crossmember limits how far back can go.  Also need to take into consideration lower radiator hose connection interference.
  • Possibly lower radiator?  But need to make sure top is above top of engine- OR install a Volvo 240 or W123 type coolant recovery tank w/ radiator cap on that instead of on radiator.
  • Mount radiator so that radiator and mount are removable- this will make engine/ trans swapping easier if don’t need to lift drivetrain over radiator mounting brackets and stuff.  Really, entire front of car should be removable easily.   
  • Need to remount trans coolers, too. 
  • Thinking electric cooling fan- need clearance for that b/t front of engine and radiator.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
11/16/18 1:00 p.m.

From the notebook...date 6/20/2017

Mrs. VCH and I brainstormed names for this project-

Plymoford
Fordmouth
Plyford
Fordymouth
Flymord
Flymouth
Landau Deluxe
Deluxe LTD
Plymord 460

Ok...maybe not so much of a storm...more of a drizzle.

The two cars are exactly 25 years apart. Is that something?

We clearly need more to drink and less kids awake.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
11/16/18 1:03 p.m.

Some email conversations with the rest of the team yielded the following:

"I think the Plymford is by far the classiest sounding of the possible race car names."

And thus, it was cast in stone.  This fine mo-sheen right here...its a Plymford.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
11/16/18 1:11 p.m.

I have some of this car!

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
11/16/18 1:12 p.m.

The "Plymford" folder on my computer contains over 500 pictures.  I won't bombard you with them all, because likely half of them are blurry, out of focus, or just taken to catch some detail that was 1/2" out of the frame of some other, nearly identical picture.  Likewise, I won't belabor this log with every nut, cut, weld, and bend.  If I'm getting too much into the weeds, please let me know.  Conversely, if you want to see something I skipped, tell me and I'll try to find a good picture of it and remember what I did.

Since the whole front of the LTD is nothing more than an assemblage of bolted-on body panels (and spacers, LOTS of spacers), I decided to jump right in and start taking stuff apart.  Working an hour or two every night after the kids were in bed, slowly the front of the LTD began to dissolve away...

Until pretty soon....

Meanwhile, the pile of discarded parts begins to grow...

Agent98
Agent98 Reader
11/16/18 1:33 p.m.

The CamBarge.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
11/16/18 3:12 p.m.

Are you going to do burnouts in front of Justin’s muffler shop?

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
11/16/18 3:13 p.m.
Patrick said:

Are you going to do burnouts in front of Justin’s muffler shop?

That made my day!

Duder
Duder New Reader
11/16/18 3:42 p.m.

Anyone who immediately thinks to use Volvo 240 parts on their Lemons build is A-OK in my book, even before body swap awesomeness.

Moar Plymford, yes pleez!

sleepyhead
sleepyhead Dork
11/16/18 4:18 p.m.

I'm in for all the detail you have the bandwidth to give

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
11/16/18 8:01 p.m.
Duder said:

Anyone who immediately thinks to use Volvo 240 parts on their Lemons build is A-OK in my book, even before body swap awesomeness.

Moar Plymford, yes pleez!

I'm sort of familiar with Volvo 240's, and Mercedes W123, and have parts for both in my shop.  This build will very much be a theme of "what do I have laying around that I don't have to buy?"

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