Dusted grandmas Skylark off. Trying to build a cruiser out of it

Discussion in 'The Bench' started by mbryson, Oct 21, 2021.

  1. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    I’m Marc Bryson and live in Bountiful UT. Long time member and thrilled to finally be in a position to get a car. Been wanting one since I sold my pile of dung ‘68 with swapped in 455 in about ‘92.


    I’ve met some local folks on a Wasatch Buicks Facebook page and we’ve bantered about various cars as they’ve come available. I was about to buy a possible’69 Stage 1 car. We were debating about it’s potential for being a Stager and I’d pretty much decided to go snag it. Went to contact the guy and the ad was down. Hope that car found a good home. Something like that would be a challenge to me as it deserves to be historical. I like to make things my way with some history and maybe a little personal preference. I ended up with this ‘72 Custom (?) and am pretty happy about it.

    So this isn’t my grandmas Skylark but I kind of want to build it like that. With the cam it has, it won’t easily pass as Grandma’s Skylark but I’m going to go with that. I was going to get a personalized plate ONRYGMA but went with the Utah classic plate. I put these pics in my “wet behind the ears” announcement but I’ll redocument here and hope to have a “build” thread.

    I think I bought this thing on Sept 15, 2021. Bought it out of Kanosh UT.


    Car runs solid. Has a big Holley carb, funky homemade cowl induction intake, plumbed but not wired NOS, a swapped 9” with 3.55 gears. A “built” manual shift (on the column) T400 and a pretty ornery cam in a high compression “built” 455 with ported “stage 1” heads (not sure about the stage 1 stuff but whatever).

    Cam specs and “desktop dyno “ graph for the motor from the previous owner/builder.


    Not sure how married to the power curve above I am. I wanted a little more of a driver than a race car but this thing is a bit racy. I hope it’s pretty drivable but we’ll have to see. Likely some Holley Sniper coming after paint work? Time will tell for sure. This car is at least 2-2.5 seconds faster than the ‘68 pictured above. I still haven’t driven this car hard at all.

    Questions for the experienced builders:

    1) My car sits SUPER low in the front and I have headers (Poston units? Kenne Belle? …not sure). What’s a great late 70’s spring setup? Looking for kind of tall but with a forward rake. The headers scrape in the very few miles I’ve driven the car (Should I just buy coil overs?)

    2) Heat/AC: Vintage air or ???. How do I get some heat/AC in the car?

    3) 3.55 gear about right for 75 mph cruising? Should I bump down to 3.08 or thereabouts?

    4) seat belts: Do these cars still have the two buckle seat belts for ‘72? The type that have a lap belt and a separate shoulder belt (had a ‘71 Riviera like that)

    5) How many folks have a manual shift TH400 and shift from the column? How much will I hate this?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
    Waterboy, gs66, FLGS400 and 2 others like this.
  2. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    So here’s the “cowl induction “ air cleaner. I’ll run it for a while and see what I think.

    I’m not to interested in the NOS. It’ll come off at some point and likely get sold/traded for something I need. I need NOS like I need the lumpy cam pictured above. Not at all. The two together would help me wrap this thing around a tree or worse.


    edit: added some cam specs I looked up
    Mine is this beast according to the paper work I've dug up with the car. We don't have a race track any more around but I'd like to know what the car would run. It's a beast.

    Product ID: TA_608-455

    Serious bracket cam, but still streetable with all the good stuff. Ported heads highly recommended. TA roller rockers and valve springs required. This cam makes serious Power. Rough idle. 10.5:1 or more CR.

    Idle Quality:

    Smooth Idle - just like stock
    Good Idle - mild lump, but doesn’t impair driveability
    Moderate Idle - nice performance sound
    Fair Idle - heavy lump
    Rough Idle - very lumpy race type idle


    • STOCK 1.55 RATIO:
      IN: .576”
      EXH: .582”
    • TA ROLLERS 1.60 RATIO:
      IN: .595”
      EXH: .601”
    • AT .050
      IN: 258
      EXH: 272
      IN: 296
      EXH: 310
    • LOBE CENTER: 108
    • POWER RANGE: 3500-7000
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2021
  3. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    here’s the video my 16 year old daughter took of me taking the car off the trailer when we brought it home. You can hear the beast runs. I couldn’t help but break the tires loose a little bit.
  4. Topcat

    Topcat Got TORQUE?

    Cool car.....please don't put Ford in it's nickname ;)

    Peace WildBill
    THOMAS QUIGG and mbryson like this.
  5. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    So the car is really in pretty good shape for a project. I paid a bit for it but when you start adding up parts, I feel like I did pretty well.

    mostly rust free/damage free ‘72 body $2500-5500
    Rebuilt 455 $2500-5000+ (?)
    Swapped 9” $1500-2000 (?)
    Built trans $1500-2000 (?)
    3” exhaust with X pipe $1000 (?)
    Interior is out of the car but appears to be in 7/10 shape at worst. I can’t imagine I have everything but I do have a lot. Seller threw in a a bunch of windows, external trim, couple decent doors and a decklid. It’s not a complete car but I’ve looked at MUCH worse.

    so my initial thoughts were just to do a quick prep/spray, get rid of the front skinnies and get to driving. Like most things I do, the project has grown a bit. I’m trying to build a fun driver out of a “race” car (no cage or anything so not really “race”). Now it’s grown to this color of paint (pardon the first gen pic, please)

    This is reportedly “dusk blue” but I haven’t looked that up to find a color code. This color will require some good/excellent prep and should turn out pretty nice? I’ll take it through a couple coats of primer and have a good friend that’s still in the auto body business go over it with me with a last primer coat. Rent a booth, seal it and spray it in base/clear.


    So, I guess that is a stock Buick color for ‘69? Twilight Blue is something I’ll have to check out.


    So now I’m remembering why I finished college instead of stayed in the auto body business. (I’m an IT guy). Block sanding is a lot like work. Currently I have the roof and the passenger quarter panel ready for first primer. Pass door still has a weird lump where the fender body line peters out. I don’t know if that’s how it’s supposed to be or if I need some filler in there.

    To check out the door, I’ll spray some wet primer on there as it is and see how it looks wet. Decide what to do from there. These 70-72 Skylarks are pretty curvy gals. Makes them look cooler than a Chevelle (at least to me) but a pain to block sand. I had to buy a rounded block.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
  6. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    We’ve moved on from the BuFord name pretty quickly. Everyone calls it all kind of things but it’s our only Buick so that seems to settling as it’s “name”
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2021
  7. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    Tonight’s “fun”. Not sure how much I want to mess with this hood. We’ll see how the cancer grinds out and go from there. You Great Lakes guys are likely poo-pooing me in this? I’m far from a metal worker but I have a wire feed welder so I can do anything, right? I’m a little concerned about structural integrity at that spot in the hood. Maybe the supporting structure will take the brunt of any stresses when opening/closing?


    Maybe this is an omen from above to buy the fiberglass GS hood and have the “look” but not the functionality of the GS scoops? I’ll do a little metal work and see how it turns out.

    I do need a little coaching on matching front trim. Not sure if I have a ‘70 hood with a ‘72 bezel or what’s going on? This group knows their stuff (like I know Jeeps), so I think someone will speak up with what I’ve got going on here?
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
  8. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    I didn’t get a front bumper with the car. A well known Buick guy in Salt Lake had a matching set that needs rechroming. I snagged those from him a couple weeks ago and my daughter and I took a spin with him in his Stage 1

    That car runs WELL and is very complete. He’s also got a ‘72 vert with the Apollo white GSX treatment. Great guy to know. There’s been a couple Utah Buick folks I’ve met already. Seems like a good community for sure.

    I just got my rechroming bid from the local chrome folks for the bumpers…. Holy hell…. Maybe the bumpers will get painted (?). Not my favorite look but I’m not real interested in getting a home equity loan for bumpers
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
  9. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    I still have a few tools from my auto body days. A Sata 1.4 MC-B paint gun (that won’t spray primer or clear I’m sure) and a block or two. I’m having to buy a couple things but that’s part of the gig, right?

    Every project needs a goal. I’m stealing a pic off the internet but this is kind of the look I’m shooting for with the above color (is this car “diplomat blue”?) 95C3926F-6B4F-4780-8E4D-28D7BE14D14F.jpeg

    Just a “basic” looking “Chevelle “ but you heard the car from my video above. Subtle, like a 5 lb hammer.

    I’m hoping to keep the Centerline/Weld/Cragar wheels I have on there but it’ll depend on what I can scrounge up when I get to that point (post paint). Keystone Klassics, Cragar SS, Buick rally wheels or whatever 80’s wheels I can scrounge up (not the directionals, not a fan and hope I don’t offend—just not my speed) are the goal.

    If I ended up with the GS hood, this ‘70 would be a great pattern to work with also? From what I can tell, the ‘70 below is in Diplomat Blue. A color I really do like but I wanted the grayish hue of the “dusk blue” on the above first gen. AA8047DE-5D38-4EF8-8981-B784EE9F1E66.jpeg
    That’s a sexy beast in my book.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
    BowtieGent, FLGS400 and Dano like this.
  10. 71GS455

    71GS455 Best Package Wins!

    I think it was the LeSabre that had the "CUSTOM 455" emblems. When I had a Skylark Custom, I wanted to put some of these emblems on it as the only thing indicating what was under the hood. Sort of like if Buick built a non-GS 455s strip car.
    mbryson likes this.
  11. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    Oh! That’d be a nice touch! I’ve been looking for something Buicky to put on the car. I was thinking of forming a 69 GS type hood bubble with some 69ish Electra fender vents on the side. Your idea is mucho better and WAY easier to pull off.

    Was also trying play off the GSX theme and make a “Custom X” or “X custom” using the X font from a quarter panel graphic (thinking vinyl lettering) and a “Custom” emblem. Put those below the belt line on the fender. They’d be there for someone wanting to see it but not at all the focal part of the car.

    The car is far removed from original, why not have some fun with it and not have it be a “clone” but still something cool. The “cool” part is the trick. I’m thinking kind of along the Buick line of a “Heavy Chevy”. Lower buck version (of a car that never existed to my knowledge in a Buick of this era—that was maybe a GS 350?) of a GS but without the cool hood/air cleaner of the GS models. Not sure I’ll go there, but it’s crossed my mind more than once. (Kind of a T-Type model to a GN or GNX)

    I’ll likely just pant it and keep it debadged (maybe just a simple 455 emblem is plenty and more “Buicky”—leave the GS to the GS cars) ?
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
    71GS455 likes this.
  12. sean Buick 76

    sean Buick 76 Buick Nut

    Great project keep the pics coming
    bostoncat68 likes this.
  13. 1969RIVI

    1969RIVI Well-Known Member

    I love the blue colour you picked, it's a breath of fresh air so to speak as most fellas tend to stick to the same stock colour schemes. I'll throw my 2 cents in here for shitz and giggles. Go with your dark blue colour, black out or body colour all the trim, grill and bumpers, tint the windows dark, keep the sweet azz rims/tires, leave the engine as is other than the air cleaner and tear up the streets:cool::cool:. Your ride sounds gnarly man, I love it!
    Waterboy and mbryson like this.
  14. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    Bought the Summit Racing Devilbiss 2 gun package and their 2k primer today. $190 for a couple of paint guns with good reviews? We’ll see how that goes.

    I think I might vinyl wrap the front bumper (it’s the worst of my bumpers) . Sounds like a couple hundred vs a couple thousand for chrome. Worth trying out, especially for a “driver” car
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021
    1969RIVI likes this.
  15. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    My Summit stuff came today. Primer/activator and the DeVilbiss guns. Guns seem “ok”. Maybe a little nicer than a parts store unit but not a lot. For professional use, I’d likely pass. I’m not a professional so they’ll paint this car and be good for other projects around the house. I’ll have to hold judgement until I can see a pattern from the guns.

    There’s a LOT of paint on this car. I’m knocking a good chunk of it off quickly with 80 grit on a DA (yes, I’m holding it flat—at least as much as one can on these curvy gals) . This is the dust from the white cheap paint job with good primer (wth?) and a likely nice looking burgundy paint job that was prepped quite well from the drivers fender and door. That’s lots o dust.



    I do find it odd that this little tooling mark on the drivers door has never been “fixed” over the past 4 paint jobs. It will be in this one.


    cleaning out those weird little wheel lips was an exercise in determination and patience. This area will be 90% covered (maybe 100%?) with the stainless fender trim but paint will certainly stick to my sanding work. Some of the white paint in areas like this just flakes off if you threaten it with sandpaper. Other areas you have to dig it out of the gaps. Fender edges and marker light areas being great examples. Primer will be my friend prepping this car.

    Does anyone have a close up of this area with trim on/around the area? I’d kind of like to weld/blend this area (I have a “Custom “ Skylark) but maybe it’s more work than it’s worth? I intend for this to be driven as much as possible. Kind of a 5-10’ paint job if you will. Definitely not a show car.

    Overall the prep work is going pretty well. I’m WAY out of practice with my filler spreading skills but it’ll come back about the time I don’t need them any more? I have a high spot on the passenger quarter where something in the trunk slid pretty hard in the panel, left about a 1/4-3/8” high spot. That has been a challenge for my 2+ decade rusty prep skillz. We’ll see how that turns out as we put some wet primer on it. Whatever hit the 1/4 panel took was heavy and moving at a high velocity
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021
  16. hugger

    hugger Well-Known Member

    71 hood trim,..72 headlight doors
    mbryson likes this.
  17. hugger

    hugger Well-Known Member

    Check out my thread in the body and paint section,...should help you
    mbryson likes this.
  18. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    Dano likes this.
  19. boe

    boe Platinum Level Contributor

    Sweet project and best of luck. I love Utah. One of my fishing buddies works at Scheels in SLC. Fly fishing in Utah can be phenomenal.
    I'll offer my opinion for whatever that's worth on a couple of your questions.
    I do not roadtrip for long rides in my car. Mines's for pleasure driving locally. Utah's 80 MPH speed limit on 15 does raise the bar in terms of picking the "right" ratio.
    I'd pick 3.0 ratio for the 9" (if I understand your set-up correctly) or even 2.75. If you're switching to a 12 bolt, then yes 3.08 3-series or like mine, 2.73 2-series.

    Regarding ride height looks and header clearance, I'd go with new variable rate aftermarket front springs and cut or add spacers to dial in height. That's what I did.
    A/C springs on a non A/C car will automatically lower height as an example for thought process and ordering. AC springs cut down on a non-AC car will make the front end stiffer as another example of thinking through the problem. I apologize if this is already so obvious.

    And best of luck with the rust. Western cars amaze me in a good way. Much better than mid-west. In my experience rust pits can lead to a pandoras box of additional repairs. When I found pitted areas, I just assumed the area around the pits were also really thin so I cut margins, replaced sections. It's worked out for me after 25 yrs.
    mbryson likes this.
  20. mbryson

    mbryson Owner of Ornery grandma Buick

    I’m a HUGE fan of Utah. Super unique place and close to all kinds of fun things. I bet most areas are similar if you know where to go and what to do? The more I travel, the more I think I’ll stay here. There are cool things to do and interesting things to research wherever I’ve traveled though.

    The car has VERY little rust. I have a single small hole in the passenger fender underneath the rocker trim to fix. Other areas are awesome. Even taking off the bumpers wasn’t a chore. You break loose the nuts with a wrench/ratchet and twist them off with your fingers. It’s like working on a 1-2 year old car. This gal is pushing 50. The only rust I have other than the fender is the UT sourced hood on the drivers side pictured above.

    Re springs: I’m really starting to lean to the coil overs but had a fellow Wasatch Buick member swap me some front springs. I’ll give those a try and see if I get 1-2” of height there. If that works, I’ll likely try some wagon springs or similar in the rear. I have NO IDEA how the Ford 9” was setup for brackets and spring perches. I bet I’ll try a few stock coil packs (this is where the coil over thing would be super convenient, cost a bit more) before finding one I like?

    I do plan to drive the car a bit. We’ll see how that goes with a darker color and Utah summer temps along the Wasatch front(Salt Lake area). Most of my “car friends” from my youth live north about an hour. I’d hope I can make that drive at the very least. I’d like to be comfortable in the car for 2-3 hours and then trailer it for rides longer than that if needed? That leads to a couple of things to make adjustments on vs how the car is equipped right now.

    I like your idea of the high 2.75 gear but I think the lowest a 9” goes (after some quick lookups) is 3.00. Not that different but a decrease of likely 350-400 rpm on the tach at freeway speeds from the 3.55. I would like to think I’ll cruise the car at my “normal” 70-78 mph range but it’s hard to say? The beauty of the 9” is I can have a few differentials set up and change them pretty quickly (maybe 30-45 min tops) for whatever I will be planning to do. The 3.55 set in the car pulls HARD but I imagine the 600+ ft lb of torque has a strong part of that as well. Did you see a 9” 2.75 somewhere? That’d give the car some long legs? I’d be surprised if there’s nothing lower than 3.00 for a VERY common and heavily used 9” but I’m far from a 9” expert (let’s talk D60 or 14 bolt and I’d know a bit ;) ).

    I currently have a 275 60 15 which calculates to 28” high. I’d assume 2500 cruising RPM is ideal? At 75 mph, I guess I want a 2.78 ratio according to the Summit gear calculator.

    I haven’t fished for years. WAY crowded on the streams these days. It is quite fun and I did enjoy that at a different time in my life. Maybe I’ll pick it up again as we become empty nesters?
    I’ve raised my kids in that well worn silver Jeep on 39” tires in some of my pics. It’s been a great way to be a gearhead and have kids with me while they grow up. 2 of my 3 kids are “Jeepers” so I do think I’ll still get out and enjoy UT backcountry a few times a year.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2021

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