Author Topic: 1980 Indy Pace Car  (Read 1363 times)

TA6.6Liter

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1980 Indy Pace Car
« on: May 21, 2017, 06:55:24 PM »
I'm not new to the TAC forum, but I am new to the 1980 Indy Pace Car 301 Turbo.  This weekend I purchased for my wife a 1980 Indy Pace Car.  I already have two, and my wife had wanted an automatic, so this seemed perfect.  I found it about 75 miles from us in Brazil, Indiana.  It had been listed in the Indianapolis Star newspaper for about a week at $19,500.  A week later it dropped to $18,100.  Seemed that the owner was motivated to sell, so on a lark gave him a call.  On May 16, my wife, a fellow TA fan and I made the long trip, arriving about 7:00pm.  First impression was quite good.   

It has just over 45K miles and has only had about 1,300 of those added since 2011.  It looks good other than the ravages of age on the rubber weather-stripping and the lower front grills were pretty much disinigrated and a few scratches and decal cracks.  For some reason, a PO removed the original, onyx colored front seat belts and put in only after-factory, black lap belts; no shoulder belts. So, I'll be searching for a set of originals.  It has been stored in a climate-controlled building, but the interior doesn't look like it has been cleaned since 2011.  The onyx color, being near white, is not easy to keep clean, I'm guessing.  Other than the addition of a dual exhaust, after-factory mini catalytic converter and helper springs on the rear leaf springs for some reason, the car appears to be stock.  Unlike my other thread http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=56714.0, this one is not up for a restoration. 

I called another buddy that is a local expert on Firebirds while we were there to ask his opinion.  He and I went through the VIN and several characteristics of the car, including the asking price.  He said the car was authentic, but seemed over priced.  Though not a big selling point for me, my wife is a big racing fan of Indy and NASCAR, the passenger side visor is signed by Johnny Rutherford, winner of the 1980 Indy 500, so there is that bonus. All electrical seems to work -- lights, radio, horn, then the ultimate test, starting it up.  Nothing.  The starter turned, gas got to the carb, but no spark.  That was nearly a deal breaker, but my friend is a mechanic and he told me he would get it running and not to worry.  He said as he turned the key and oil pressure showed good, so he said it was worth getting.  Still, not starting is a worry and the owner realized that.  I offered $15K, he countered with $16K.  I really didn't want to do that and he said he'd split the difference, so shook hands at $15,500.  I know some might think that is too much and others might think I got a great deal.  At the end we were both happy with the outcome and to me that is what matters.

On Saturday, May 20, 2017, we made the trip again with my friend going with his truck and trailer to load it up for the trip home.  Since the car did not start, pushing and pulling it onto the trailer without a wench, but with a helper strap was a chore.  We were quite exhausted afterwards. First photos are below and I hope we can get it started and make it a good driver for my wife.  She is quite geeked about it and sat in the car in the garage for about 30 minutes.  An so it again begins.














 

 





   

 
« Last Edit: May 21, 2017, 07:07:26 PM by TA6.6Liter »

jonathonar89

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Re: 1980 Indy Pace Car
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2017, 07:53:15 PM »
Love these cars...seems like the turbo cars are getting more and more popular these days.

FormTA

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Re: 1980 Indy Pace Car
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2017, 07:53:33 PM »
Looks great!
79 Trans am 301 (work in progress) LS swap n progress
79 Formula 301 (Work in progress)
67 RS Camaro (Work in progress)
See the recurring theme???

Jack

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Re: 1980 Indy Pace Car
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2017, 09:10:25 PM »
That's a nice looking car, congrats.




Regards, Jack

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1980 Indy Pace Car
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2017, 09:58:40 AM »
After replacing the ignition module, distributor rotor and distributor cap, still could not starting.  Next stop the ESC box and fortunately a local TA buddy had three, but he had pulled these from a junkyard, so wasn't sure if any worked.  I borrowed all three and all worked, so now he knows.

Also, have replaced the lower front grills.  What a job, getting the old double-sided tape off the fascia.  I decided on the new ones to not use the tape.  The bumper is not warped, so seems okay to just use the screws and not the tape.

A another TA buddy had a set of front seat belts from an 81 that match the style of the car and those are now installed.  The belts are black, not oyster, like the originals, but at least I have some.

Last initial work on June 3rd was to clean an interior that had not been cleaned in many years.  The oyster color and interior and glass came out great with help from Mother's, Meguire's, Invisible Glass and lots of microfiber cloths and elbow grease.  Since it was so pretty again, we took it to a local cruise in the same day and it definitely gets attention.

Seems to be running hotter much faster than I'd expect.  Less than a mile at 30-40mph and the gauge is already hovering around 220.  Now, of note is that the 220 is in the middle of the gauge with 280 at the top.  There is no red mark to tell me what is too hot.  The owner's manual doesn't indicate normal operating temperature.  Advice from others was to replace the fan clutch and thermostat.  On the thermostat, OE is a 195, but I was advised to change to a 180, since it was only a summer car.  I've done both fixes and just waiting for time to pass before adding the coolant and checking for leaks.

I'll post the temperature question separately.

Re: 1980 Indy Pace Car
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2017, 09:58:40 AM »

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1980 Indy Pace Car
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2017, 03:47:50 PM »
Just when I think we have gotten the heating issue resolved, the gremlins that hide in 37-year-old cars, wake up from a long sleep. :smile:

Suddenly, on June 19th, with no warning the car again won't start. I was quite concerned that the ESC I had just put in to get it running had also crapped out.  I did the 301 Garage jumper method and the car still did not start.  I thought that was a good thing as that suggested it was not the ESC.  After several failed attempts, I decided it was over my knowledge, so called the tow truck.  A couple of hours at Firestone and the problem was diagnosed as a rogue after-factory alarm.  The PO said it was disabled, which seems to have been limited to cutting the wire to the siren.  Apparently at some point, we accidently set the alarm and after a few times opening the door, it went into theft-mode and shut off the ignition. Pulled the evil thing out entirely.  Got tires balanced/rotated, belts replaced while at it.  Still more, none critical stuff to be fixed later. 

Next job is changing the oil, which I've not done on a car for probably 28-30 years, but I remembered the drill.  Car uses straight 30w with zinc, so after some research and questions here in TAC, went with Valvoline, 30w, high zinc, VR1 Racing Oil and a WIX filter.  Getting the filter out proved to be a PITA.  It is horizontal and requires the removal of a frame brace, plus nearly dislocating my shoulder.  Getting a filter wrench in the location is nearly fruitless.  Had to buy an end cap variety and it didn't fit well, so under some force is slipped around the filter.  Added some duct tape inside the wrench and that was enough to turn off the filter.  Oil leaked out and being now slippery, it promptly flipped around upside down and I got the oil bath hazing.  The oil was thick and very black, so it was time.  Okay, then misread the Chilton and added six quarts (1981 turbo) to the 1980 turbo 5-quart system.  Drain out a quart. Greased all the fittings, which did not look like that had been done since 2008.  After all this and though I took 14 times longer than the professional, some personal satisfaction was felt.

Okay, all is done, radiator flush, oil and grease, let's go get ice cream.  Starts up nice.  Back the car out of the garage.  Wait, there is a wet, 10-inch circle on the floor -- gas :shock:  Back in the garage.  DD goes for ice cream.  Deal with that later.

Under the car watching the fuel pump and start the engine.  I was hoping the gas was leaking from a hose.  Nope, coming down from the top of the pump.  Diaphragm is trashed.  New fuel pump is next.  After another round of frustration at the extremely tight quarters and a gasoline bath hazing, tubes are disconnected.  The bolts holding it on are on the top of the pump with no clearance for any wrenches.  I struggled for too long and finally got one bolt out.  The second bolt was covered by the steering pump's large metal connection from the steering pump to the steering gear rubber hose. 

I was on the verge of giving up.  Then the Calvary arrived.  A good buddy that is a master mechanic pulled up in his 64 Tempest.  He wanted to use the 80 to test his new hood tach, which he felt was reading way to high. 

After some playful ribbing as to why it was taking me so long to pull and replace a fuel pump, he took some pity on me.  He had my wife turn the ignition key to unlock the steering wheel.  Grabbed the driver's side tire and turned the wheel to full left.  He pointed to the opening in the wheel well that the control arm came through to a perfect view of the top of the fuel pump in all its grimy glory.  Yep, this newbie got schooled.  I pointed out the metal connector that set directly in front of the remaining bolt.  He ask if I had a crowbar.  Sure.  Well, bring it to me, he said.  Okay, I'm getting a bit hesitant.  He put the crowbar through the opening in the wheel well.  I asked what he was going to do.  He then said, something like, "you know I do this for a living, right? and laughed.  A slight tweak and the metal tubing gave way just enough to expose the second bolt head. He assembled nearly every socket wrench extension I had to reach the bolt, but it came out easily.  Pump was out in mere minutes. I'd never have gotten it without his help.

New pump is ready to install, some gasket sealant in the flange.  I asked how the bolt would even stay in the socket and not fall out.  He asked for a paper towel.  Tore off a corner, laid it on the socket and pushed the bolt head in.  The thickness of the paper towel was just enough to lock the bolt into the socket.  Clever.  Schooled again and it was great learning.  Pump was in, hoses hooked up and ready.  Started the car and ran for several minutes with no leaks.  Success.




   

Okay, he pulled the tach wire from my distributor, hooked up his tach and yep, it was defective; reading easily 2+ times higher.  Well, beer time, so we sat down in the garage, next to the now repaired 1980.  I looked over to the car and a fluid was pouring out of the engine area.  I jumped up and said, it's leaking gas!!!   :shock:  My buddy from his chair after a sip of beer, said, "No, that is coolant."  He checked around a bit and said, "You have a hole in your radiator."   :-o  I'm done for now, I told him.  Let's sit back down, have another beer and deal with this tomorrow :lol:   

If this is why we love old cars? Well, if it is, I'm in for a treat.           

« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 04:04:16 PM by TA6.6Liter »

TA6.6Liter

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Re: 1980 Indy Pace Car
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2017, 03:59:17 PM »
Radiator repair begins.  My wife and I decided to not make this a marathon event that burns up our evening, so doing a bit of it each day.  Yesterday, we removed the fan clutch.  Learned the wrong way when the over-heating event occurred, so experienced as we now are, it was out on a couple of minutes.  Called it a day. 

Today, is removing the coolant day.  Again, learned the wrong way earlier, so this time I'll not drain it slowly and inefficiently from the stopcock and instead plan to pull the lower hose. It has potential to be way messier, so I'll prepare for that and anyway, it will be way faster.  Assuming I do this, I will call it a day.

Tomorrow is removing the transmission lines and overflow tank.  The nuts on the transmission lines have been rounded over by a PO, so those will be replaced as part of the effort.

Two days from now will be removing the radiator and shroud.  Taking it to be repaired is the easy step, which might be a week of more from now. 

Install and refill are last and then we wait for the next item to break  :lol: 

kevinw

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Re: 1980 Indy Pace Car
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2017, 02:47:39 PM »
wow OP. you are very patient!.  that is a great looking car. hang in there, you are making progress. you way more mechanical than I am, I end up taking my car to shops to get fixed. I don't have the patience, time, or knowledge when it comes to all that stuff.
hang in there. those 1980 pace cars are really really nice looking!  I have a 79 TATA which I got last year. yes, these cars take all your money. I am in process of putting in new starter. but, I had issues after I got my car last year, but it ran , but needed stuff like tires, new paint, alignment, some electrical, new air cond compressor and drier, exhaust leak repairs, and basic oil change, tranny fluid change, etc.  just got my car repainted a month ago, and in procsss of putting new decals on it.
paint job, and tires and all the other stuff all add up.
but in the end, you will have a totally awesome car.
it helps to have peeps who are mechanics who can help too.
but, I was laughing at your story, with oil getting all over you, etc.
again, you are persistant and patient, and you will come out fine
also, I am in Kansas city now, but I am originally from Indiana, and I went to school in Terre Haute,
Go Hoosiers!

take care

1979 Black and Tan

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Re: 1980 Indy Pace Car
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2017, 03:27:59 PM »
GREAT BUY

45K mile Turbo Pace Car for $15,500 is a STEAL..and anyone who tells you otherwise is insane
1979 Trans Am
100% California Car, originally Atlantis Blue/ Black...All Original Unmolested 403, TH350, 2.41
63,300 orig. miles
1971 Chevy K20 4x4

Re: 1980 Indy Pace Car
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2017, 03:27:59 PM »
You can help support TAC!