Turning Rust Into Gold

Rusty Ragtop Finds a Friend--Part 1

Tony Kelly Feb 10, 2003 0 Comment(s)

Project cars have an energy and life of their own. Readers know this but possibly believe that magazine editors don't have to worry about getting a car back on the road. Believe it; we worry! Even with help from the best minds and products in the industry, things get delayed. Don't forget our number-one goal is to publish magazines that appeal to the varied interest of SUPER CHEVY fans around the world. Usually this means that projects are put on the back burner whenever new parts, technology, or cars come on the scene. We can't ignore technical articles that help readers complete their own cars. Sometimes, actually finishing the cars can take longer for magazine folks than for our faithful SUPER CHEVY fans.

So along comes our hero, Ronney Kissinger, who has a history of turning out Super Chevy Show Gold Class winners from his shop in Arkansas. Ronney knew the old Rusty Ragtop wasn't quite on schedule but would be a great car when finished, so he said "ship me that basket of parts and I'll put it together." Of course, "put it together" means more than just that at R&R Motorsports. That's why the unassembled car and lots of parts got trailered to Siloam Springs, and that's why there will soon be a rolling version of the Rusty Ragtop at Super Chevy Shows across the country. Follow along as you get an inside look at what it takes to not only build a great Nova but to make it Gold Class, as well. Each month, we'll give a look at what Ronney and his talented crew accomplished in their shop. Not everyone gets this kind of view, so pay attention, please.

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This is a typical garage of a car project, only this one's a little neater because Editor Terry Cole...

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...has many parts in tote boxes, ready to ship to Ronney Kissinger's Arkansas shop.

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Quickly skipping east many miles, we see it can be lonely at the top. Occupying a solitary position, in what is known as the "Gold Room," Kissinger and crew have arranged the major components in neat and clean order. Isn't this the way all shops look?

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Now to the nitty-gritty...once off the lift, the body is set on jacks that will be under it for much of its restoration.

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A look underneath shows what needs to be done. Until you poke, prod, and grind a bit, you don't know how much rust you'll find. On the Rusty Ragtop, nothing was left to chance. A lot more work needed to be done than first imagined.

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The floorpan and underside of the body is scraped and ground on, then filled to the same smoothness and finish as when it was new (maybe better).

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This sort of work can't be done without everything disassembled and cleaned.

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The rear frame sections are particularly susceptible to corrosion and rust. Here we see how nicely they clean up after substantial grinding.

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A light at the end of the tunnel (driveshaft tunnel, that is) can only be accomplished by hours of scraping and grinding to find out "what's underneath." In many cases this is where a restorer finds out how much of the original floor can be used again.

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Soon after parts are taken down to bare metal, there should be primer (at least a light coat) put on so we don't have to scrape any more rust later.

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The bottom of the car seems to get as much pounding, scraping, filling, and painting as the top.

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It's worth it, though, when this is what you wind up with. For those looking to do a quality restoration, the parts you seldom see have to look as good as the parts you often see.

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Not everything's going on in the Gold Room. While the body is being restored, there are other people very interested in making sure the old car runs right.

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Fortunately, the engine had been rebuilt recently, but it didn't look it. Next time, we'll take a look at what distinguishes a Gold Class engine from the average show car

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