LeMons Ranchero: Stripero y Swapero

The day’s work is over, but I find myself circling the subject, simultaneously admiring its new condition and brainstorming the next billion steps in the project. If my neighbors weren’t already familiar with my project car antics they might’ve called the cops to report a grimy weirdo with a beer just standing there in the driveway staring.

Finally. Finally I’m tearing into both the new and old Rancheros. I ended last Saturday with a sore back and hands full of cuts and bruises and couldn’t have been happier. When your dopamine levels scale with how much change you can effect in a day, low-end project cars at the best.
Case in point: interior out, floors scraped, two yellowjacket nests removed, front end pulled to less-crumpled and entire front steering and suspension removed came from one full afternoon with just one guy (this guy (thumbs)) working. Hit the jump for amusing details.

The new Ranchero stank, literally. Sometime in the last decade it had passed into the “house carpet” phase of hooptiedom. Not only was the floor covered in the stuff (admittedly not badly installed), but it was sandwiched between layers of extra foam and cheap covers on the degraded bucket seats. The seals are bad and the windows are down and out, so a combination of mildew and cat piss has kept trespassers out of my driveway for the last three months.

All that crap came out, most directly to the can. Maybe someone wants the cores of these buckets, so they go in the “sell” pile. While the previous ranchero netted me a few useful tools, leftover antidepressants, a bong and a kickass laser/LED flashlight, this one’s interior held no such treasures.

Unless you count intricate paper mache sculptures. The local wildlife decided the nook between the passenger side door and the body would make a well protected home. Alas, some jerk with a broom and a can of carburetor cleaner thought otherwise. There’s no video of me jabbing at it like a frightened neanderthal from the hood of the car, then fleeing in terror, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. As I pulled more interior bits out, the yellowjackets still seemed too numerous. Poking around a bit, under the passenger side visor I found the Minneapolis to the door’s St Paul. Again: more broom poking, spraying and running.

With the bewinged bastards out of the picture, I took to scraping off the various floor coatings to see the true condition of the floorboards. Classic car work PSA: in the 60s, concepts like “occupational exposure to carcinogens” weren’t really well established, so wear a mask, gloves and eye protection when aerosolizing 50-something-year-old polymer goo. Luckily, it looks like the floors only need a few 12 x 18″ patches to be nontransparent. In contrast, only the tranny tunnel and lateral ribs were worth keeping on the last car.

Speaking of the last car…it’s got a few donations to make to our cause. I spent more time than I should’ve hammering, cutting and even pulling with my wife’s minivan on the front end in an attempt to get the engine free. Nothing came of it, save the realization that that’s a multi-person job involving more cutting, vehicular pulling, winches or bigger hammers.

don't try this at home, kids (even though that's literally what I did)

While poorly engineered on the whole, there are some pretty nice (coughcheatycough) parts on that Ranchero’s front suspension, so we’d like to transfer it over. Honestly, it’s crazy easy to move those pieces around. The springs are short enough that I don’t need a compressor and everything just unbolts. So I unbolted it. There’s only a slight bend in the strut rod on the passenger side; miraculously, everything else’s still straight.

Lastly, I swapped the steelies and Azenises (rhymes with male anatomy, btw) on in favor of the leaky unilugs. The 8-inch in this car fits better than the one we swapped into the old Ranchero, but it still took some hammering to get the 205-series tires to fit. The swap was mainly for ease of driveway rolling, the visual transformation is striking. We’ve gone from Hopeless Pile of Crap to Ugly Project Car.
Next few things up on the To-Do list:

  • Remove motor & trans
  • Remove steering and suspension
  • Finish stripping interior (floors, wiring, misc stuff)
  • Start floor patches
  • Start trans rebuild
  • Start any engine work

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  1. boxdin Avatar

    Godspeed Men!!

  2. CruisinTime Avatar

    As a guy that has dragged a few out of the junkyard , Good luck it looks like a fun project.

  3. HuntRhymesWith Avatar

    Maximum respeck for doin it all up in the driveway

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker


  4. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    You’re making great progress there.

  5. Texlenin Avatar

    But using the carb cleaner as a flamethrower would have solved the wasp, cat pee smell , and loosening
    the undercoat problems all at the same time!!!!!

  6. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    “a grimy weirdo with a beer just standing there in the driveway staring.”
    Ah, grimy weirdo Tim is fun Tim

  7. dukeisduke Avatar

    Ah, wasp nests. About 20 years ago, when I owned my ’66 Monza 4-door, I was having it towed from my house over to a friend’s house, where it was going to have a head replaced, due to a dropped valve seat. This was a tow truck driver recommended by another friend. This driver normally towed supercars (he told me he would pick up Jose Canseco’s Lamborghini any time it needed service or a state inspection, and then take it back when the service was done). So towing a non-running Corvair was a little different.
    He opens the driver’s door to move the wheel so we can maneuver the car into the car into the alley, to winch it up on the rollback. He disturbs a huge wasp nest in the hinge pillar, and a wasp flies out and stings him in the left eyebrow. He was pretty cool about it, with me apologizing profusely.
    Since then I’ve figured out that the best wasp and hornet killer is B-12 Chemtool.

  8. dukeisduke Avatar

    Just about the most enjoyable times I’ve had are taking cars apart, for parts.

  9. dukeisduke Avatar

    An automatic transmission, and backup lights? The new Ranchero is pretty fancy. Those unilugs are E-T Wheels. They might be worth something to somebody.

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