1979 Holden VB Commodore rescue - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens - Words & Photos

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Glenn Torrens deals with his Commodore's decades of destitution

Dragged from a paddock and rolled off the trailer into my garage, my 1979 VB Commodore V8 began to reveal more of what it needed to be put it back on the road as a fun patinaed cruiser.

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The first thing I did was clear all the junk from the boot and cabin and give the underside and engine bay a quick pressure-wash. I’ll clean it more thoroughly later but I wanted to remove the spiders’ webs and bigger chunks of mud for now.

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The interior is feature-packed: four-on-the-floor, full instruments, rat poo, red-back spiders, cockroaches and other crawly things… and an ant nest behind the back seat

I’d already sourced replacement interior trim – seats, door trims, carpet etc - so the rotten original green carpet was quickly cut from the cabin to make inspecting and cleaning the floor easier. With the seats removed, too, what greeted me was disappointing… but not unexpected.

| Read next: GT's paddock-find Commodore - part one

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Yes, that really is about 40mm of mud! I will be replacing the entire sill: It’s not a job for the fainthearted but it’s not beyond my DIY skills using proper techniques

Although northern NSW (where I bought the car) has been suffering drought, a broken window has allowed rain in and the passenger rear foot-well is rusty. The area under the rear seat is also rusted… hardly surprising as the seat’s foam would’ve soaked up that rain like a big kitchen sponge and kept things damp for months. In fact, the floor was so crusty I ripped out the seat belt buckles by hand. The passenger front floor has holes in it and lifting the rubber boot revealed holes there, too. And like many – if not most! – Commodores, the spare tyre area is rusty.

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Years of neglect means a mountain of reflooring work is needed

I already knew the left-hand sill was tragic and cutting it open revealed it was half-full of red mud. These Commodores have two plastic plugs in the rear end of the sills (in the rear wheel-arches) and I reckon that two decades of constant pummelling from gravel country roads has blasted them to nothing, allowing dirt to get in.

| Read next: GT's Commodore - part two

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This was a nice surprise: inside these boxes in the boot was a stack of handy parts for this and my other Commodores

Thankfully both front guards’ rear lower edges look good and there’s no rust under the Commodore’s common holey-places of front and rear windscreen bases, wiper plenum and battery tray. But yes, I will be doing plenty of welding!

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This wasn’t such a nice surprise. A rusty boot floor that is marginally better then that of the cabin but still in need of some painstaking resto work

I’ve disassembled the doors: I’ll be pointing the pressure washer into them to rinse the dust before applying plenty of rust-preventive cavity wax. Of course, the doors need new seals and I will clean and re-grease the window winder mechanisms and the door latches before the buckskin-hued interior door trims – bought from a wreck and cleaned and stretched over brand-new door backing cards – are fitted.

| Watch the video: GT's Commodore rescue mission

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The petrol tank was removed in anticipation of cutting out the boot floor for replacement. This tank has been dented by rocks and patched several times so will be replaced

Underneath the car, my plans are to apply new stone-guard compound for a zero-maintenance, factory-look finish. Then, like the doors, I’ll squirt the inside of the sills and chassis box sections with anti-rust products. This Commodore will never rust again!

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I used a scraper and heat gun to remove the sound deadener from the floor to double-check for more rusty surprises. After painting, I will renew the deadener

What of the 4.2-litre V8? I’ve drained the oil, removed the spark plugs, squirted each of the eight cylinders with Inox and confirmed that the engine turns-over by hand without any graunches. So far, I’ve resisted the temptation to fire it up: Instead, I’ve decided that I should first rectify the car’s body blemishes.

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Those bright patches of light shine through holes of rust. As well as a sill, I’ll be sourcing body cuts to fix all this

Later, hearing the burble of the 4.2-litre V8 firing into life for the first time in two decades will be a gift to myself – music to my ears – for completing the rust repairs!

 

 

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