THE CHEEKY T-shirt says ‘if it has tits or tyres, it’s trouble’ but thankfully my new-tome 1980 VC Commodore SL/E didn’t cause me too much drama when I got it back to my place. Almost straight away I could see it was ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’. Sure, it was less than perfect – aren’t we all? – but there no secrets or dark patches hiding underneath. I knew it was going to cost some time and money but the Commodore was an honest and sincere thirty-something. I was happy, excited, lucky and proud to have it.
As always, the work began with a good look at the parts, panels and processes required to take it back to its original beauty. There was obvious rust in the cowl panel below the windscreen – a common Commodore rust area – and bad corrosion in one front door, but the other three were spotless. The bumpers were damaged and the cute little headlight wipers were missing, as were the headlights. However, I’ve been buying as many ‘as-new’ components – such as bumper overriders, headlights and door handles – so already had replacements for this and my other Commodore projects.
I’d bought the Commodore during a week of rain – and missing its windscreen – so its carpets were soaked. They were dried for a few weeks in my carport before the interior was stripped: seats, carpet, the remaining screen and all door glass, headlining and – to provide working space for replacing the rusty windscreen cowl panel – the dashboard. Underneath the gum leaves and cockroach poo, the condition of the interior was incredible, requiring nothing more than a wipe-down before being stored.
I found a bargain-buy passenger front door to replace the rusty original. The damaged boot lid was also beyond repair – thankfully these early Commodores remain common enough to find good-condition replacement panels. It cost me $50 and after straightening the bent hinges, I had it fitted and gapped to the shell in an hour.
The engine, too, seems to be in good shape. Being a 1980 VC Commodore, it’s powered by a ‘Blue’ 3.3-litre six cylinder tied to Holden’s Trimatic three-speed automatic. However, the hoon-spec Holley carburettor that was fitted when bought is now on Morley’s hill-climb Commodore, swapped for the stock Holden dual-throat.
The right headlight area of the car’s nose has half-heartedly been fixed in the past; a few more hours of work will be required to get the repair to a tradesperson-like standard. The turret – damaged by a falling tree branch – needs some panel work so I’ll continue putting my new TAFE-acquired skills to good use as I work toward a lovely fresh coat of Atlantis Blue paint!