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OneSickGNX New Reader
6/1/21 8:33 p.m.

So after finally starting my new career the wife unit and I where planning to buy a house but of course the housing market skyrockets.. So why not build a car. I will forewarn you all this may start as a very slow project as I currently can only work on the car outdoors.

Anyways, with the housing market being what it is we decided to get a townhouse for now which does have a decent sized single bay garage, however any vehicle on the property needs to be registered, plated and have a current inspection even if in said garage.... Burk...

Okay so, back story. The car in question is a 1980 regal limited that was well optioned for the time and only really could have benefitted from a better drivetrain choice as it was originally equiped with a Pontiac 301 and a th200 trans. It was my first car and daily driver for my first 2 years of driving. there are a lot of good memories in those years and with the passing of a good friend last year my urge to bring it back to life and enjoy some throttle therapy has grown by the day.


the car has sat in various places over the past 15 years mostly in garages thankfully. The current state of the car is basically a roller with a cleaned and painted frame, with all new suspension and steering components. The body is relatively clean and straight however it needs some patch panels at the bottom of both rear quarter panels and a tiny trunk patch. The rust repair will be my first steps as well as reinstalling glass and weather stripping. Then it will time to either start on wiring or the motor/trans swap. But my hope is that by this fall I can have a running, driving and inspected car. There will be a lot of Freiburger philosophy for that to be achieved. Don't get it right just get it running. Anyways since this week/weekend are currently shot (between rain and other responsibilities) I am trying to come up with a list of wants, needs, and must haves for a running car/PA inspection. 

Here's the current list, please feel free to add anything I might miss. Also I'll try and get photos up this week of the current state.

Patch quarter panels and trunk 

Pressure wash inside (currently fogged with oil and has unwanted guests)

Clean and paint window frames 

Install glass and window seals 

Clean and paint engine bay 

Buy ar5 and fabbot adapter

Install motor and trans

Fabricate transmission crossmember 


Install fuel tank and run lines 

Coolant hoses 

Fabricate fan shroud 

Install headers and exhaust 

Intake plumbing

Power steering system 

Oil cooler 

Install clutch and clutch hydraulics 

All new brakes



Turns signals

High/low beams 

Marker lights 

Brake lights 

License plate lights 

Window motors


Get defrost function working

Install dash 

Make gauge panel

Wire/install gauges 

Thin and wire engine harness 

Tune ECU...  

Wow that's a lot... frown 

NOT A TA SuperDork
6/1/21 8:47 p.m.

Keep your eyes open for a better rear end. Would be good to have before doing brakes, custom driveshaft, etc.

OneSickGNX New Reader
6/1/21 9:02 p.m.

I have a 8.8 to build for it but between time and money constraints it will be getting put off till winter in favor of a Lincoln locker or open 7.5. I'm hoping I can either find a stock to something driveshaft that will fit or make it fit with motor and trans movement. The heater is going to be problematic since it was a climate control  vacuum operated deal. Also, I have never tuned anything efi so hptuners maybe fun to learn. Thankfully since it's a 1980, so the only emissions requirements for me are a visual and a gas cap test.

OneSickGNX New Reader
6/13/21 2:10 p.m.

So small update.

I bought paint for the interior, engine bay and underside. I'm still not quite sure if I will like it or not as I went gloss white. But reflective lighting and leak detection should be awesome.

Tomorrow I'll be stopping for sheet metal for the repairs and hopefully get some odds and ends to make a nice bending brake. Anyone have a suggestion for the hinge on the brake my current thought is either door hinges or some pieces of pipe and some rod. Hopefully I can get the top dye bevel cut at work as I would like to be able to bend to a 45* angle.

Also I took a few photos but can't figure out sizing when I upload them so any pointers would be appreciated.

Scotty Con Queso
Scotty Con Queso SuperDork
6/14/21 8:46 p.m.

Welcome. I'm in Pittsburgh in the south hills. Building a Colorado with an ar5 now. 

GCrites80s HalfDork
6/14/21 8:59 p.m.

You didn't say what motor you're using. Are you going to build a 3.8 to GNX-like specs?

Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/14/21 9:06 p.m.

Gloss white gets dirty sooo quick. Did that in the miata ib the engine bay and underneath. 

We used a very light gray (tractor paint. New Ford gray maybe?) In the amc. It reflects light just as good, showed leaks as good, and stayed cleaner appearing longer.

Just my experience with that.


Looking forward to the project!

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/15/21 9:16 a.m.
mdgalv New Reader
6/15/21 8:25 p.m.

Following this project. I owned an 87 Buick GN and an 86 Turbo T back in the 90's. Had a blast with those cars and would love to have another to turn into a Pro Touring car.

I also had the opportunity to ride in the first GNX off the production line. The owner was a customer that owned a auto restoration shop in Houston. The GNX was one of many cars he had in his collection.

OneSickGNX New Reader
6/16/21 11:51 a.m.

So photo drop and small update

The first 2 interior photos are pre pressure wash. 

So yesterday I got the interior pressure washed as it was filled with a combination of oil, penetrol, and mouse droppings... Rather worryingly there was no nest in sight so, I really hope it isn't in the hvac ducting or heater box.

Finally picking up my sheet metal today so hopefully I can get the quarter patches made today. I need to order my weather stripping soon to and start searching for a transmission. I think the local yard should have a couple but haven't searched yet.



OneSickGNX New Reader
6/16/21 9:43 p.m.


Thanks, I'm in Irwin pa. Like the Colorado swap. That sucks about the blue truck and the "good" frame. Also who can I get a knock off ar5 adapter from? I like the fabbot V2 but 425 seems kind of steep for what it is.



The car will be powered by a iron block 6.0 LS motor that will eventually get heads, cam, intake, and a single turbo or M122 supercharger.



I could see it looking dirty often,(although I doubt it would bother me) I would do a silver but the paint I'm using is for agg and implement and doesn't come in metallics. Hopefully this will be an entertaining read. Also, on that note to anyone who has to pressure wash the interior of a vehicle, vacuum first... What a mess..

Also, picked up the sheet metal and the materials to build my bending brake. Should have the brake built tomorrow and hopefully start on the patches.


Scotty Con Queso
Scotty Con Queso SuperDork
6/17/21 7:43 a.m.

In reply to OneSickGNX :


OneSickGNX New Reader
6/20/21 8:43 a.m.

So I built my metal brake.. It has some kinks to work out but will do the job. 

The biggest issue has been the strap I used to lock down the sheet keeps deflecting, I will reinforce it with another piece of 1/4" by 1 1/2" strap sitting on edge. If I where to build it again I would have used a piece of 1" x 2" bar sitting on edge with pipes welded to the end as you could make bends closer to each other with less effort and minimal deflection. But, it does the job, I have one patch built. Sorry no picture of it yet. Hopefully I can get my other patches made early this week. I am also ordering weatherstripping and brake parts this week as well as maybe a oil pan and motor mounts. I was originally hoping to build the motor mounts and modify a truck pan but with no Tig welder on hand and a lack of work space it's not going to happen. Oh well eBay to the rescue... It's only money...

Also thanks for the heads up on the adapter Scotty.

OneSickGNX New Reader
6/20/21 3:32 p.m.

So since dad and I didn't go to the annual car show at the elks club we finished making the patch panels. They aren't exactly like the original sheet metal but the way the quarter panels where bent it created a channel for water/moisture to collect and cause them to rust in the first place, so I'm calling it a upgrade. 

Anyways Happy Father's Day all. Next update will probably be Wednesday or Thursday once the patches are welded in, since it won't be 90* and 85% humidity. 

OneSickGNX New Reader
6/26/21 6:33 p.m.

Well it's a couple days late but I finally have the patch panels in. Wednesday I went to use the mig welder and after running a few beads I realized the line was leaking. It was completely dry rotted.. so ordered a new line off of Amazon. Friday the line finally showed up and I ran out of gas after 5 minutes of weld time... Ok well no gas suppliers are open till Monday and I don't feel like spending several hundred dollars for a new tank at tractor supply so, flux core it is. This sucked... Even with .030 wire and low settings it was a chore to get the panels welded up.. they aren't pretty but they will do for now. 

I ordered all of my brakes minus front calipers. I also ordered weather stripping.. and I overlooked the sweeps for the quarter windows.... Berkidy berk berk. Also it is supposed to rain all this week yay, I don't expect much progress this week. However, that should give me time to get the sweeps. I also think that I'll order my trans adapter, motor mounts and oil pan this week.

OneSickGNX New Reader
7/10/21 9:52 p.m.

Ok finally project update time so. I sanded the window frames dtm and hit them with some paint. Unfortunately I didn't get many photos as I have been in a rush trying to get work done with the lousy weather we have been getting. Next up was cleaning the door/window weather strip trim, this was massively time consuming. About 6 hours of scraping and rubbing with thinner finally got them clean of the 40 year old adhesive and foam remnants. Goodmark makes replacement seals with the new strip attached for $300-400, so I guess it was worth it... Maybe.


so, with the strips cleaned it was time to start sealing it back up. I started with the quarter windows. Of course neither of the pieces of weather stripping I ordered fit properly so I will be using 3m poly window caulking to finish weather proofing it instead.

Finally I started on the adventure of the front window seals. So the frame has foam backing on one side and the weather strip sits in a channel on the other. This was both easier and harder than expected. It was easier to get the stripping in the channel and stretched to length than I thought however installing it with adhesive was a major pita. Thus the only adhesive used was in the corners. But their in.... Berk yeah. 

I also scrapped and polished the glass as it was covered in overspray. Wow what a difference sealed and cleaned. 

last bit of update. Parts are rolling in for the motor/trans swap. Currently I have my ict motor mount adapters, Amazon (chinesium) Holley 302-1 oil pan knock off and the bigfoot ar5 adapter. The fit and finish of the oil pan leaves a lot to be desired. There's bad casting flash around the bottom of the sealing flange and quiet a bit of pitting and dings in the sealing surfaces. I also think the pickup tube needs some significant bending to make work but at $240 it's not surprising, oh well.

next up is ordering the remaining brake parts as well as the motor mount brackets. I also need to get to my metal supplier for some odds and ends to make the trans crossmember and hit the junkyard for a trans, bell housing, clutch hydraulic assembly, pedal assembly, cooling system components, steering shaft, and gear box. I really hope they have a trans.. I'll find out Monday.

Scotty Con Queso
Scotty Con Queso SuperDork
7/11/21 2:06 p.m.

Link to the oil pan? 

OneSickGNX New Reader
7/11/21 9:45 p.m.


They also make knock offs of the other Holley pans too I think.


wawazat Dork
7/12/21 8:30 a.m.

Following this one as I had a 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix diesel that I converted to 327 Chevy, Turbo400, and 12 bolt in the late 1980's.   

OneSickGNX New Reader
8/2/21 10:22 p.m.

Okay update time finally. Sorry to keep you all waiting. So 2 weeks ago I got the car up to the driveway and engine up to the garage. That Saturday my buddy dropped off the community engine hoist and I got to work stripping and cleaning the engine. I have to say LA awesome from the dollar tree did a surprisingly good job when allowed to soak in and brushed throughly. Although all the nooks and crannies of the accessory bracket and water pump are nearly impossible to reach.

With the engine cleaned and hoisted on the stand, it was then drained of fluid and rotated over to pull the oil pan in order to replace it with the Holley knock off.

The motor was a bit sludgy and the cylinders slightly glazed, But all the cam lobes appeared to be in good shape and it spins freely so I'm satisfied to call it good enough. While the pan was off I pressed out the broken and rusted dipstick tube.(I'd highly recommend replacing them if you have the pan dropped as they are a common failure and much easier to punch out from the inside.) Next I put some playdough between the pickup and the bottom of the sump to get an idea of clearance. 1/4" on one side and 3/4" on the other... I hope it stays in the oil. The only modification I had to do for the pickup tube was cut and bend a small tab on the windage tray where the bracket bolted down. Although I considered resoldering the pickup screen in a more flat position but decided against it.

Chinesium pan on.

Next I prepped the block for paint. Unfortunately I was in a rush and the painters tape didn't want to stick to the cast aluminum surfaces, so I have some touch up to do. Also I will NEVER buy dupli color paint ever again. I've had major adhesion issues with it in the past even on blasted substrate. but I had the engine paint laying around so... It changed colors mid-spray from almost black to sky blue regardless of how well it is shaken.

Kitten in a basket break...

Last week I finally managed to track down an AR5 that wasn't a fortune or a trans only. A yard out in saxonburg pa (Saxonburg Bolivard auto wreckers) sold me a 125k mile Ar5 with the shifter, pedal and hydraulics for $370 pulled. Prices have went way up on these transmissions in the last couple of years. Most of the ones quoted to me where over $500 and over 100k miles. 


Next up pull the bellhousing and put on the adapter and 4l60 bell. There is some grinding and cutting required to clear the bolts for the front cover of the trans as well as one of the adapter bolts and the hydraulic lines. but this was all accomplished with a copping saw, uni-bits, and a good half round file.

That brings us to last Saturday with trips all over the county to 2 different dealerships, 2 advanced autos, home Depot and Ace hardware. All in search of hardware and a missing bellhousing dowel pin... But by Saturday night the clutch assembly was mounted and torqued to the motor and the trans was ready minus hydraulic holes and the slave bleeder line.

Hopefully my next post will have pictures of the powertrain in the car. Also I think I'll post and try and keep a run budget starting next post if it isn't too depressing.. ​​​​​

OneSickGNX New Reader
8/6/21 10:13 p.m.

So finding a slave bleeder line has turned into a total disaster. 2 separate calls and orders from summit and I finally am getting the right one from speedway. While on the topic of clutch hydraulics I went to look at packaging for a clutch master and the pedal assembly and I will definitely be rewiring the car as the fuse block and main firewall plug are directly in the way.. If anyone has input as to where to mount the clutch master that doesn't involve an immediate rewire it would be greatly appreciated.

OneSickGNX New Reader
8/8/21 9:05 a.m.

Ok so I found a solution for the clutch master cylinder on gbodyforum.com that uses an fbody clutch master. Big thanks to Built6speedMCSS for the write up. I refuse to spend 500 for a pedal assembly and clutch master.

Unfortunately with the location of the the master cylinder/booster, fuse block, and the lack of flat surfaces on the firewall options are extremely limited. So, Built6speedMCSS's solution is to use the factory hole for the cruise control wires/hose and a hammer and dolly to flatten that area. Ending up with this.

As you can see this positions the master cylinder directly under the brake booster and means that a remote reservoir must be used. thankfully 4th gen fbodies used a remote reservoir. Another issue here is the factory metal is thin in this area(causing cracking) so I will be sandwiching the firewall between a couple pieces of 3/16" plate. 


On to the inside.

Built6speedMCSS modified a early S10 pedal/arm and simply used a longer bolt through the brake pedal assembly. ( I may reinforce the pedal box depending.)  I will be using a Colorado pedal as I already have it. So bend, cut and weld to fit. I also will be cutting down the factory brake pedal pad and potentially the clutch pad to use a standard dorman pedal pad. 

OneSickGNX New Reader
8/8/21 10:52 a.m.

Although this is not and will never be a high end parts build; I also don't have time to track down/pull everything from a junkyard. Nor do I want to in some cases. so most parts are and will be new from rockauto, Amazon and ebay. With a small spattering of "performance parts" from Summit, Jegs, speedway, etc. (When good money or time savings make it worthwhile.)

So sticking to the promise of showing the budget and keeping track. Here it is so far. 

Car $1,800 (back in 2004)

LQ4 w/accessory brackets, ecm, and harness $1,600 (back in 2011-2012)

foxbody 8.8 $150 (back in 2014)

frame boxing, cross bracing, and garbage dupli paint $400 (including welding supplies/consumables) (back in 2017)

All new Moog ball joints, bushings, springs, shocks, steering system minus box and shaft. $500 (back in 2017)

all purchases from this point forward are from this year.

paint and weather stripping $120

brake system parts(including big bore metric calipers) $440

Billet adapter plates, Holley knockoff pan, reproduction motor mount brackets and clamshell mounts. $350

Ar5, adapter and 4L60e bellhousing $730

Clutch, flywheel and hydraulics $415

Rad hoses, heater core, heater hoses, rad cap, and tbird fan setup $155

Fuel tank, sender and fuel lines(thankfully I have a walboro 255lph laying in my toolbox from a previous build.) $300 

Summit exhaust manifolds $170

Misc, gaskets, sensors, accessory components, hardware and paint $450


So total budget thus far just shy of $7,600.. 

OneSickGNX New Reader
8/15/21 7:43 p.m.

Weekly update time.

So this week I pulled my brake booster and brake pedal assembly. I made a new pedal pad for the clutch pedal and also modified the brake pedal pad. I then bent the rest of the clutch of the pedal. I'm not quite sure weather the clutch pedal will fit yet or not, as I started making a trans crossmember instead.

The correct hydraulic lines finally came in on Thursday. I cleaned the garage up got the slave cylinder ready and made my first attempt at joining the motor and trans... 6 attempts and grease pressing out 2 pilot bushings later and I found that the new dowel pin was to tight and unsurprisingly the plastic clutch alignment tool sucked. But here it finally is.

With the engine and trans married it was time for them to take the plunge. It was a bit bumpy and I have some ventilation in my heater box but here it is. (This is the first time in 12 years this bay had an engine in it... That was a tremendous sight.)

I hoped to be able to get the engine set back a little further to the firewall but at least there is plenty of room for service/repairs. Although unexpectedly the hood doesn't close with the truck intake and the shifter position is a little farther forward than I was hoping. 

My next step was finalizing the trans crossmember as the trans was just sitting on a 2" ratchet strap so here it is.

Next up will be cleaning and painting the trans crossmember, making a shifter box to close the hole in the trans tunnel, mounting clutch hydraulics and finish pedal assembly modifications. I did get a driveshaft length of 49.5" and I'm hoping to find a factory driveshaft for that and get the ecm sent out for vats delete and basic tuning. The hood clearance is within an inch so hopefully cutting some hood structure and shaving the intake will get me there; if not I guess it's time to cut a hole. (which will later be replaced by a functional cowl hood.)

OneSickGNX New Reader
10/5/21 10:16 p.m.

No I haven't forgotten or abandoned you all. Sorry I haven't updated more but I've honestly been running myself ragged trying to get this car on the road. Basically Tues & Thurs I work on it for about  4-5 hrs each day, Fri about 5-6 hrs, and Sat about 8-10 hrs so it's getting close but I'm also getting very burnt out. Anyways here is a budget update with a full update to follow.

Previous total $7600

New parts:

LS3 card style maf sensor $53 (didn't get one with the engine)

Locking gas cap $10

New starter $100 (contactor post was broken on old one)

Intake gasket set $65

Throttle cable $21

Misc hose clamps $20 (could not even get them locally)

1/4" female hiem joint $5

Clutch bleeder & feed lines & master to an -3 fitting $73

Jegs 6 gauge set $314

Aem wideband and rubber insulated clamps $195

8 t-bolt clamps and a 3" MAF tube $50

Steel smaller power steering pump pulley $33

Led check engine light, high beam & turn signal indicators $35

Power steering cooler $23

Radiator mounting bushings $24

Serpentine belt $28

Heat shrink and wire loom $50

25' Nicop brake line $17

Fan and fuel pump pigtails $20

4" to 3" silicone reducer hose $15

MAF pigtail $10

2 cherry bomb extreme mufflers and 2 pipes with 180 & 90 degree bends $120

Base tune to remove vats, trans, etc. $75

Add $1356

So running total is now $8956......

Im glad the only major purchases left for a good while are a universal dual exhaust kit and the driveshaft...

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