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Thread: The Yankee Express restomod build thread.
          
   
   

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  1. #1
    Ghostrider 67's Avatar
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    The Yankee Express restomod build thread.

     



    Hello all here.
    I bought this car in October of 2014 from a panicked woman who was divorcing her husband. She posted the car on NY Craig's List and my wife saw the posting 20 minutes after. She showed it to me, knowing I was in the market for one and I called the lady up immediately. I told her, " Hold the car, i'm on my way from Vermont with cash in hand and a trailer." She did, and I did.
    It's a 1967 Dodge Coronet 500 2 door hardtop that was 100% complete and a running & driving car with 69,000 original miles on it and a two owner car. My pal Rick & I trailered it back home to his place to unload and snap pics before I drove it to my place and slipped it into the garage. It stayed there until the fall of 2019 before rolling out on it's own tires. Just a rolling shell, but it saw daylight however briefly.
    To begin the story of this car's transformation I went out to the garage that October day after getting her home and sat on a stool, a Home Depot bucket and a rolling seat at different points around the car, trying to decide what, exactly, I wanted to do with this car.
    Mind you, I had had ample time to dream up different things while serving in far flung locals in the military.
    I settled on a preliminary list of modifications that I felt would achieve two goals.
    First, to make the car a one off creation of my own design that I would be proud to drive and enjoy. Second, to make these changes in such a way that anyone looking at the car would say to themselves, " Hmmm....something is different here...but I cannot put my finger on just what it is." In other words, to look like it might have been a factory design.
    I hope that I have achieved those goals. Time will tell. It has had a great following so far across several forums. Many fans and few detractors.
    36 sedan and wrp like this.

  2. #2
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    Here's a few pictures of the car after I got it home. It didn't appear to have too much structural/body damage but I came to find out that it did have a few spots that would need some attention. Like all old cars it had it's issues with paint condition, interior condition, worn out small block and 727, & worn suspension.
    In addition I found out, after paint removal, that it had had a tree or something similar fall on the right end of the cowl, caving in in a few inches. Both front fender corners had been hit as well as the right bottom of the quarter panel. The floor pans and trunk pan were all good, the glass all good, factory tinted, as this was an A/C car. The trunk lid surface had a good start on surface rust and peeling paint too. The bumpers were okay. The grill and trim were so/so, having been straightened after being hit. All other trim was in good condition. Had the factory wheel covers...
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    The list of what I intended to do to the car is as follows:

    :
    Front to back------ Front bumper sectioned, shortened, turn signal rectangular holes filled, recurved to fit the new fender noses and to hug the sheet metal. Also enlarged the center license plate cut out into a ram airduct.
    1967 Charger grill and revolving headlights. Custom elec motors, mounts and linkages.
    Front fender noses swept back to a 90* angle ( Think 70 Road Runner).
    Front disc brakes swap from a 76 Aspen.
    All rubber bumpers and bearings replaced.
    Inner fender close out smooth panels to hide wiring etc.
    Smooth firewall with relocated wiper motor to under dash as is everything previously on the firewall.
    Battery to box behind passenger seat.
    Wiring pass through tubes running along outside of inner fender just below the fender mounting flanges and into the cab through the firewall.
    Wiring passthrough boots in the door frames.
    2004 Audi A6 Quattro dash/console /steering and center pull E Brake. And everything in/on the dash console too.
    Audi door panel elements fabricated into new panels that align with the Audi dash.
    Puddle lights and rear facing marker light on the rear face of the inner door surface so it can be seen when the door is opened.
    Power everything.
    Custom steering linkages.
    dual M/C and new hoses/lines.
    10 way, power/heated bucket seats leather.
    1967 Plymouth Sport Fury rear seat topper mounted just behind bucket seat tops and close out roadster type panels from there to the back glass. (Think 59 Corvette)
    Audi armrest with 4 analog gauges hidden inside.
    GPS speedo
    spare tire under the roadster panels in what would have been the center of the rear seat. Close out panel between cab and trunk.
    Fabricated shift linkage and lever. Hand made pistol grip and reverse lock out.
    Fake quarter panel side scoops opened up.
    dual motorcycle pop up gas filler caps, one on top of each quarter near the trunk lid front corners.
    fabricate he entire rear face of the car to accept 1966 Thunder Bird tail lights.
    Trunk lid on gas lifts
    17 gallon fuel cell with dual filler necks.
    trunk close out panels
    rear wells tubbed
    leaf springs relocated to under frame.
    center pull E Brake cables
    move spring perches
    remove spare tire well
    1970 Road Runner rear bumper lengthened 4 5/8" and recurved to hug the sheet metal. TTI exhaust to exit through those back up light holes.
    Remote trunk release.
    'shave gas filler door
    ditch the 318 in favor of a built 440 Magnum, and build a 727.

    Some other changes were discussed, and implemented or discarded, along the way as well.
    This photo shows the initial mock up of the 1970 Road Runner rear bumper so I could measure how much it needed to be lengthened for the ends of the bumper to match the upward sweep of the Coronet tail extensions outer edges. Turns out it was 4 5/8" in the center. Plus some rebending of the end profiles to hug the quarter sides.
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  4. #4
    NTFDAY's Avatar
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    Have you considered 68 Chrysler Corp. side marker lights? They are unique and only available in 68.
    Ken Thomas
    NoT FaDe AwaY and the music didn't die
    The simplest road is usually the last one sought
    Wild Willie & AA/FA's The greatest show in drag racing

  5. #5
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    I had noticed that the Road Runner rear bumper from 1970 had the same outer end curve as the tail extensions on the Coronet and that they would flow together. The proposed changes to the rear face to install the T Bird lights would change the vertical proportions and the addition of the vertically wide RR bumper would even out the proportional appearance. Also I saw, during that time, a 70 Runner from Road Kill Custom Cars that had the exhaust exiting out of the bumper back up light holes and liked the look. So THAT mod went on the list. To facilitate that, the spare tire well had to go. So THAT went on the list. Doing that meant the fuel tank had no protection around it hanging under there so THAT had to go as well. This meant a fuel cell was in order, so....you guessed it....
    Then the manner of putting fuel into the cell inside the trunk cropped up. At that time I had just watched Kindig's boys hide a pop up filler cap behind the medallion on 1953 Pontiac rear fender. Very trick and so it to went on the list. Later in the project timeline I decided that having a single pop up on one side of the trunk lid, atop the quarter panel looked wrong, and a second one was added on the other side for symmetry and a second filler neck installed in the fuel cell. A fuel cell meant a barrier between cab and trunk had to be made.
    I removed the 500 side trim & grill elements and sold them. I wanted a 67 Charger rotating headlights and grill instead. This meant different wiring and trim and a lower grill support bar.
    The beat up dented front fender corners allowed me to feel okay about sweeping the nose angles back to 90* with the front of the car. Much like a 70 Road Runner front end. This cut out the majority of the damaged metal. Bonus. I had always disliked the way they angled forward with the hood lines on a 45* angle anyway.
    The tired 318 V8 came out and was sold off. The 727 was also sold off. The V8 K frame was kept for later when a 440 big block would rest on it.
    Here's a photo showing the amount that the nose was cut back to reduce the angle. The gas filler door shaved off. The 67 Charger front end. The rear bumper end rebent to hug the quarter and the quarter cutout modified to match the bumper end curvature where they meet.
    Last edited by Ghostrider 67; 09-22-2021 at 09:47 AM.

  6. #6
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    Many, if not all of the mods meant that many other smaller changes needed to be made in order for them to work out. So, the actual list of mods is more than twice as long as the one posted.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghostrider 67 View Post
    Many, if not all of the mods meant that many other smaller changes needed to be made in order for them to work out. So, the actual list of mods is more than twice as long as the one posted.
    The question of what to do with the interior was answered by deciding that I would emulate the Imposter Impala built by Chip Foose. A late model dash and custom interior in a mid sixties sedan seemed doable, I only had to locate a dash and interior that I both liked and that would fit in the 67 Coronet dimensions. No small task. I pulled the entire Dodge interior and sold it off.
    I got out my trusty tape measure and wrote down the particulars of the Coronet and set out on the hunt through several salvage yards, and online, looking up car dimension stats to weed out the models that were too wide.
    Back in 1986 I bought a brand new Audi 5000 Quattro luxury sedan at a West German dealership, off the showroom floor. I had been stationed there for two 3 year tours and spoke the lingo pretty well. Anyway, I have been an Audi fan ever since then, Great cars. So, It occurred to me to look at those for inspiration. Oddly enough Audi and Dodge had the same ideas about cab width. It was a match. So, I remembered that there was an Audi wagon, mid 2000's in my local yard just a few miles from me. I returned to check it out.
    It was there, a 2004 Audi A6 Quattro Cross country wagon. The windows were up and the inside dry. It had not had any parts removed either. The interior was in good nick as well. I spoke to the owner of the yard and asked what he thought he might want for the whole shebang? $ 150 bucks.....yowza! Sold American. I came back the next day with tools and began taking it apart.
    I took it all. Gutted the inside front portion and took the rear door panels as well. I did not take the seats, too small.
    Now came the business of fitting that dash and console to the Coronet cab. This engendered a whole host of new problems.
    Among them;
    The dash leading edge next to the windshield didn't match the curvature of the 67 windshield base. Fortunately the Audi dash is deep, front to back, and could be trimmed to match without losing anything important except real estate covered in vinyl. Next the dash has an aluminum skeleton that attached on either end to the car frame pillars. While the dash itself was the right length the frame in the dash was shorter by about 5 inches. Bummer. This took some thought. I mocked up the dash shell without anything in it, just the frame and shell with the console tower shell attached, into place where I thought it needed to be. Moved it around a little to get the spacing even and then brainstormed ideas of how to bolt it in there. The only safe bet was the welding in of mounting plates to meet the mounting pads on the ends of the skeleton. Welding them to the A Pillars of the 67. I bought some 3/16 plate steel and got busy. Several iterations later it was bolted up securely in place. Looked good in there too!
    Next came the base/platform to hold the bottom of the console at the correct height and position so that the console to dash mounting points lined up right with no strain or gaps between the two elements. Then, the issue of installing a 1967 floor shift mechanism and base under that console in such a way as to not interfere with any Audi stuff and still work right. The console sets way, way back from where the stock Dodge shift base would mount. Like, 13" back. Remember the dash is deep. So, I would need to craft a shift linkage arm out of two stock arms split in half with some material added to the center. I managed to incorporate the shift base into the Audi console body pretty neatly. I ditched the fake chrome shift lever bezel and replaced it with a rubber 4 speed shift boot. It's an automatic with a hand fabricated pistol grip shift lever handle, lever, and reverse lockout release. I bought a set of 10 way power heated leather bucket seats from a Volvo. Also having to be sorted was a center pull E Brake lever and mechanism. NOT something 67 Dodges came with. Lots of trial and error later I had a working prototype.
    Here's some pic of these areas...including one of a complete Audi interior with everything in place.
    Last edited by Ghostrider 67; 09-22-2021 at 12:43 PM.
    Bob Parmenter, 36 sedan and wrp like this.

  8. #8
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    Also it has a 160 mph speedo.....lol..
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    The doors were an even larger issue. Audi doors are small, Coronet doors are huge flat things.
    I needed the dash contour lines to flow through the door elements as well. But, the Audi door panels made that impossible. So, thinking outside the box I removed or deconstructed the Audi panel elements from the unusable panel/card. Laying a door down inside face up i laid the elements on it and had another thinking session. It lasted for weeks. What a puzzle.
    I finally had an idea of how to go about it and decided it was best to hang the door in place on the car and proceed from there. I closed the door and hold up the main matching piece that carried the lines through from the dash. This showed me what need to be done to have it there permanently. The problem was I didn't know HOW to make it happen. I had never done this sort of work before.
    Much research and video watching, and question asking later, I had a plan.
    To my dismay I had cut away some of the supporting plastic bits that I now needed to make this work. So, I ended up buying a set of door cards on line and deconstructed THOSE cards as well.
    I mocked up where I wanted the section to set and clamped it up. Out came the heavy duty spray foam cans. The pieces being clamped up stopped the swelling foam from moving them as it expanded and caused it to expand INTO all cavities. I let it dry for a few days and then trimmed the excess and sanded. Good so far. But, it needed to be stronger. I popped out the fake wood grain inserts and sunk screws into the door panel in several places to bolster it up. Some filler and sanding later and it looks like it belongs there. Next came the pull handle/armrest base combo. This had mounted to the Audi card with a curving platform. The Dodge door is dead flat. I made a base for the short end of the arm out of a hardwood piece and found spots in the base of the piece to sink mounting screws through the door card. I watched a video of a kid building door panel speaker mounts using cloth saturated in resin. It worked perfectly to mold around the base of the armrest. The upper piece also holds a speaker and the door release pull handle. This placed the handle on the opposite corner of the door from stock. Now I would need to fabricate a linkage to tie them together that would not intersect the window glass or mechanisms. The arm rest also holds the electric window switches and power lock buttons. These all had to be worked into the panel as well. On the Audi doors there's a 'cubby' along the bottom that tips out and also has the seat memory buttons on it. Incorporating that into the Dodge door was a treat. But I figured it out.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NTFDAY View Post
    Have you considered 68 Chrysler Corp. side marker lights? They are unique and only available in 68.
    No. I had not. I will look at them and consider it. Thank You! I did consider 69 Pontiac lever pull door handles though... very trick one year item.

  11. #11
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    On the Audi doors there are clear ' puddle' lights along the bottom, facing down, and 'marker lights'
    in red on the rear edge facing rearward. I made a template of the holes for these and cut places for them on the Dodge doors. The Audi also had wiring pass through boots in the doors to the cab. I did the same for these.
    Among the other mods up front were a smooth firewall and inner fender close out panels. Smoothing the firewall meant moving the wiper motor from it's indented perch atop the wall to under the dash. Also it meant filling in that indent. The close outs are to smooth the area and to hide wiring behind.
    The next challenge was to mate the Audi steering wheel to the 67 steering gear while missing starter and headers on the big block 440 engine. It took a Borgeson knuckle and a Flaming River D shaft to do it. I added a dual chamber master cylinder for the front disc brakes I swapped in. The deep dash means the seats needed to be mounted that same 13" rearward from the stock mounting pads. Good thing i have long legs!
    One of my mods is the addition of roadster type panels behind the bucket seat tops. To accomplish this I bought a used 1967 Plymouth Sport Fury rear seat 'topper' panel. It's shaped like a set of wings that hug the seat backs. It's the right width because they are both Chrysler B Bodies. I jus mounted it behind the front buckets instead of the rear seat buckets. lol.
    I fabricated steel panels that are hand formed to match the 'wings' and a trough panel to go down the center.
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    Absolutely spectacular build opportunity. best of luck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrp View Post
    Absolutely spectacular build opportunity. best of luck.
    Thank you! It's needing one more coat of primer on the shell and then it will get color.
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    So, getting back to the narrative....

    The roadster panels will be covered in medium brown 'pleather'. I recently thought about hiding 4 two inch analog gauges in the center arm rest. The reasoning is that the Audi gauge package is 'pulse' operated and controlled by computers. They are notorious for being difficult to keep operating right. I don't want the hassles so analog gauges and a GPS speedo seem the way to go.
    The front bumper was another issue that required some thought. I wanted it to look differently and using the Charger grill means the turn signals are up on either end of the grill and no longer in the bumper. THOSE had to be shaved. OR, a different bumper. I also didn't like the Charger bumper shape. Since i changed the fender noses the bumper ends stood out from them like 5 inches. No Go. So, I sectioned the bumper into three pieces. I cut out the two curves which rotated the ends back towards the fender reveals. A few adjustments and shaved signal holes later and Bob's yer Uncle. I took the grinder to the rear edge of each end and trimmed carefully so they matched the fender reveal outlines perfectly. All of the parts formerly on the firewall are now under the dash.
    The spare tire resides in the center of where the rear seat used to be. Sold that too. battery is in a racing box behind the passenger front bucket.
    That leaves the big mod to talk about.
    1966 Thunder Bird tail lights.
    To begin with, I thought about 67 Charger tail lights. Too short, left to right. Then considered several other cars, discarding all.
    While prowling around a new, to me, salvage yard with my pal Rick one afternoon we came upon a 1966 T Bird. I stood there, he stood there, and stared at the ass end. We looked at each other and said, at the same time, " I wonder how wide that bastard is?" lol! Great minds.
    I pulled put the tape and low and behold. It would fit with minor shaping of the quarter extensions. PLUS, it the blink, blink, blink type of sequential lights when using the turn signals. The back up light is in the center of the light panel, good because I lost my back ups when I changed the bumper and opted for exhaust coming out of those holes!
    Match made in heaven.
    The sequential controller was intact and like new still inside the fibrous pocket they come in to keep them clean and dry. I pulled the out bezel trim too. I needed the trim around the outside to go all of the way across the light bar but the 66 stock trim is not like that. So I ended up buying two more trim pieces and cutting them to get straight pieces to enclose the whole bar.
    Now the fun part;
    Figuring out how to completely redesign the rear face of the car.
    A 67 Coronet has the trunk lid flowing down vertically to the top of the rear bumper. I now needed it to stop just over the brink of the slope downwards. That means I needed the trunk seal rail to be at that level too, and not down next to the bumper. The lock/latch needed to be up there. I was constrained by the shape of the quarter extension tail light cutouts as to height position from either top or bottom. This took a lot of thought and several tries.
    Not to mention slicing the vertical face of the trunk lid completely off. Then having to create from nothing the entire bottom side of the trunk lid end to match the trunk seal rail I just moved up. Did I mention I have moderately severe TBI brain damage? Complex stuff eludes me. I cannot remember complex operations long enough to complete them? Yeah...so there is that.
    It was a fun thing to complete and it took me two years. JUST THAT ONE THING. Two. Years. But it's done and it works. lol.
    Next there had to be a close out panel behind the light panel inside the trunk for appearance. That took a lot of trial and error. I decided to install close out panels with material on them, just like in a newer car trunk. As if this was not hard enough i kept adding to it.
    Rick told me one day, to stop adding stuff. lol.
    So after all of that time the bumper, trunk, lights and quarter extensions all work together. yes.
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  15. #15
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    So here's some more photos. The car is finished as far as fabrication goes. Bodywork is done but for two small areas I'm working right now. The third coat of primer, the first in all grey, is on the shell. As soon as I finish these two small areas i'll hit it with a final heavy coat of light grey primer. After that it's on to the Chestnut Brown Metallic and clear coat.
    I sprayed the front clip already in color and now will finish the rest of the shell in the same.
    Attached Images
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