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Old 11-03-15, 20:10   #1
VLTWhite1
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Tuxedo Black SL Turbo Restoration

Hi guys,

After being pestered time and time again to put up a build article about one of my cars I thought I start with the one I'm currently working on while it's all reasonably fresh in my mind.

This is a complete mod-reversal/restoration thread, back to how the old girl would have looked when originally purchased in March 1987...yep, even down to the number plates (not the ones shown below btw).

This car was originally sold by Garry & Warren Smith in Melbourne on 18/3/87. I bought it from the original owner, now in Brisbane, in Feb 2012 (Thanks for the lead Russell). I really wasn't looking for yet another VL, but being a factory black turbo I leapt at it. Having only ever seen the odd Berlina and a few Calais in black I knew the SL's would have been rarer still.

With the advice and much help from a mate of mine in Brisbane it was driven immediately over to MBQ Autobody at Salisbury in Brisbane for a complete freshen up.

Well, here's what we started with...






Sure, that doesn't look too bad...from a distance. A closer look revealed quite a bad early respray, and a lot of dodginess I just couldn't have lived with...







---------- Post added 12-03-15 at 17:55 ----------

Then it just went downhill from there. Apart from the really bad masking job shown above from the previous repaint, pretty much everything else had been painted gloss black, or oversprayed gloss black. And then there was the usual front and rear screen rust which wasn't a surprise.









---------- Post added 12-03-15 at 18:32 ----------




I know this is supposed to be a DIY part of the site, but when it comes to bodywork, external paint and these kids of repairs I'd prefer to leave it to people who know what they're doing...













---------- Post added 12-03-15 at 18:36 ----------

Very happy with the cold air intake repair too. This was later measured, drilled out again and had the metal plug and body sealer added as per the red one shown below...



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Old 12-03-15, 20:13   #2
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Love the history of the car!
Black vlt is my dream, however in Berlina spec.
Very very jealous
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Old 13-03-15, 10:48   #3
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wow it was a bit hacked. i hate those seats. and the single tone is pox!
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Old 13-03-15, 18:43   #4
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wow it was a bit hacked. i hate those seats. and the single tone is pox!
Oh, that was only part of it. Holes were welded up in the boot from a huge tow bar, in the doors from an aftermarket central locking system and in both inner front guards from various alarms, sirens and immobilizers...







The good news was that all of the large panels were in amazing shape proving the car had never been in an accident...











While all this was happening, and as I was stuck in Adelaide, old mate Peter (who was bored and hates anything non-original more than I do), got stuck into the window tint and rather a lot of wiring added over the years...





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Old 13-03-15, 20:59   #5
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Wow! What's it owe you to date Craig? I'll send you up my black Calais to restore
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Old 14-03-15, 17:11   #6
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Well, to get to the stage below and on the truck on the way back to Adelaide there wasn't a lot of change out of 23K. When you consider the work that was done, along with little things that were followed pretty much to the letter I was very happy with it. Things like making sure the door handles, boot, under bonnet and rear door upright frame were done in satin black. The bootlid trim, tail light eyebows and windscreen trims done in a different super gloss black as they were originally. The windscreen properly seated in foam dams as per the original (so nice not to have silicone running everywhere) and the trims applied using all the right clips and gloss side trims (period correct for this car). All that adds up I guess. The only thing that looked off when I got it home was the tail light garnish, which was later better colour matched to the grey on the tail lights.








Factory look orange peel was also specified and I reckon they got it spot on. Last thing I wanted it to look like was glass.




You can just make out the foam dam at the base and sides of the windscreen. No more stuck dash pads, and a much neater look from inside.



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Old 14-03-15, 21:17   #7
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Great to see she is going back to being original.

Cheers Marty
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Old 15-03-15, 09:18   #8
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What colour grey are the bars and door moulds, looks kind of different?

I like what your doing, will you're keeping driveline standard or upping the ante?
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Old 16-03-15, 09:50   #9
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ive never seen or heard of this foam dam. good to see a build like this so everyone knows its an actual option when building a car rather than just going for whatever windscreens obrien does.
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Old 16-03-15, 10:00   #10
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Originally Posted by RB-30-ET View Post
What colour grey are the bars and door moulds, looks kind of different?

I like what your doing, will you're keeping driveline standard or upping the ante?
Don't remind me. One of the problems of getting a car painted by remote control unfortunately. I was trying to go for a slightly aged look on the bumpers, ie lighter, but it went a little too far. When I first saw it I put it down to the car being black, hence it all looking lighter, but comparing it to my red wagon (and the tail light garnish) it needs to be quite a bit darker. It's a ******* of a colour to try and get right. Too blue, too brown, too metallic, and then going a full fresh Dulon MX Grey always looks far too dark.

Somehow a crack just decided to appear in the front bumper so I'll get it all redone as soon as I've had it on the road a while.

Mechanicals are now all back to factory spec. Nothing was ever done to the engine thank goodness, just converted brakes, exhaust, wheels etc back to original. More on that later though.

---------- Post added 16-03-15 at 10:59 ----------

Quote:
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ive never seen or heard of this foam dam. good to see a build like this so everyone knows its an actual option when building a car rather than just going for whatever windscreens obrien does.
If you check the 'long method' windscreen installation guide in the VL Service Manual it gives dimensions of the foam. I'll see if I can post it up sometime. You can also see a similar arrangement on VE's and others with original screens.
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Old 16-03-15, 16:32   #11
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Top notch work there VLTWhite1
Really great to see a resto to factory condition, you don't really see that anymore!

All the little details you've covered are amazing and I've picked up a bit reading through this too!

What is the type of paint for the mx Greg bumpers? Like satin? Doesn't seem glossy. I got stuck with this problem when I had my VL resprayed
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Old 17-03-15, 10:00   #12
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Top notch work there VLTWhite1
Really great to see a resto to factory condition, you don't really see that anymore!

All the little details you've covered are amazing and I've picked up a bit reading through this too!

What is the type of paint for the mx Greg bumpers? Like satin? Doesn't seem glossy. I got stuck with this problem when I had my VL resprayed
You're right, they're far too flat. I was going to try and polish them a little to give them a sheen, which hopefully might make it look a little darker too, but I think I'm going to have to do them again.

General rule of thumb that we came up with was that you want to be able to see a cloudy reflection in them like in the wagon below. Just a matter of sitting down with the guy in the paint shop and experimenting I think.



---------- Post added 17-03-15 at 19:14 ----------

Next up, the mechanicals. Larger front brakes and different front springs had been fitted previously, as well as a large, rather thrummy, exhaust. It all had to go. Something was alive in the fuel tank so new fuel pumps were also on the list, as were original radiator hose flanges and might as well change the thermostat as well. I love how all that gear is still available off the shelf at your friendly Nissan dealer, as is their coolant. Adelaide water in VL's also corrodes everything it touches over time so in with some distilled water too.

My last new tailpipe was also fitted by a local exhaust place who had to make up a stock looking exhaust centre section and flanges to take the original cat I pinched off one of my turbo parts wagons. Front pipe also came from there.

Front sway bar was a strange one. Initially I thought I had no chance of finding an original FE2 front bar, then Peter noticed that very late 1988 FE2 cars had the same bar as some early VN's, confirmed by the broadcast code on the tag and on a build sheet. A quick trip to the wreckers found one straight away and I had the one pictured painted up and ready to go in. Unfortunately the arm shape was quite different and the holes for the rubbers so large it pretty much swallowed the standard ones. It's all correct so it looks like very late FE2 equipped VL's had quite a different set up there. What to do next? Quite by accident I checked a regular old 6 cylinder VK, and bugger me it has the exact same diameter bar as FE2 VL's. Gotta get lucky sometimes...

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Old 18-03-15, 09:33   #13
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that kick up exhaust LOOKS spot on.

interesting about the swaybar. i threw mine out as scrap but while mine is a turbo wags like yours its non fe2. its jacked up ride height .
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Old 18-03-15, 10:06   #14
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Loving everything about this thread well besides the 23k lol I'm obsessed with vls but instead of spending that coin id rather a ve gts lol keep the info and pics coming mate!
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Old 18-03-15, 10:30   #15
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that kick up exhaust LOOKS spot on.
interesting about the swaybar. i threw mine out as scrap but while mine is a turbo wags like yours its non fe2. its jacked up ride height .
Tailpipe was one of the last Berklee ones with the bolted on bracket before they went to the hook type arrangement. Hanger bracket is original and fits perfectly.

This car does have FE2, just the earlier bar arrangement, which is the same as non-FE2 VK's. Very, very late VL's with FE2 must have been switching over to a VN type set up. See below. Normal VL FE2 bar (on right) and the very late VL/VN FE2 bar. Just different enough to be a pain.

Yes, none of the wagons came with FE2, but the turbo and V8 wagons have the same front springs as the early non-FE2 turbo sedans (Jul/Aug '86), which are different again from the n/a springs.



---------- Post added 18-03-15 at 11:04 ----------

Quote:
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Loving everything about this thread well besides the 23k lol I'm obsessed with vls but instead of spending that coin id rather a ve gts lol keep the info and pics coming mate!
Will do. Thanks.
My 6 litre VE wagon is just the parts getter for the VL's.
Doesn't have quite the same personality as the old girls.
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Old 18-03-15, 11:42   #16
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double bummer. i only sold my original springs 6 months ago after having held onto them for 6 years!

didn't know they were special.
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Old 18-03-15, 16:07   #17
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As others have already said, your work is amazing Craig...Bringing these cars back to their former glory no matter the cost.



Quote:
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My 6 litre VE wagon is just the parts getter for the VL's.
Doesn't have quite the same personality as the old girls.


^ that pretty much sums up VL's for me
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turbocharging interferes with the exhaust note
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Old 18-03-15, 18:42   #18
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As others have already said, your work is amazing Craig...Bringing these cars back to their former glory no matter the cost.
Thanks Dan. Cost is becoming a bit of an issue, and I really wasn't looking for another car, but being as rare as it was I couldn't pass it up. And having bought it I couldn't have put up with it the way it was.

---------- Post added 18-03-15 at 20:02 ----------

Time to get stuck into the interior next. The previous owner had applied some kind of bitumen sound deadening in an attempt to keep the exhaust drone down. It didn't work too well, BUT it did have a habit of becoming liquid when the car got warm and it ended up everywhere. On the seats, the seatbelts, the carpet, sills, wiring and glued the carpet insulation to the floor. I was faced with this when I removed the carpet...



Days later, and with the help of a lot of petrol and rags later, I gave up. Realising that even if I got down to the floor I'd probably destroy the original bitumen sheets with the petrol anyway. What to do? I finally decided to coat what was left in an acrylic floor sealer, the kind of stuff you used to put on lino to bring it up. At least now it's reasonably well sealed...I hope.



Other destroyed insulation was also replaced...







And a new inner gear stick boot and ties, courtesy of Nissan again.



I'm sure it's the little things like this that make all the difference if you want that new car experience. A crack in a boot here, missing foam or insulation there, it all adds up. You can lay down all the Dynamat you like but if you don't fix the stuff that Holden identified as a problem when they built the things then it'd be mostly a waste of time...







---------- Post added 18-03-15 at 20:12 ----------

And more insulation...







---------- Post added 18-03-15 at 20:18 ----------

Original carpet had to be scrapped due to the bitumen all over and cuts in it here and there. Ol' mate Pete came to the rescue again. He knew I was looking for a carpet and happened to be in Sydney doing a bit of a wrecker run, just hours before he was due to catch a flight home. I get a frantic phone call about a pristine, dry, but very dirty carpet he'd just found in a car. How badly did I want it? Umm, badly. Can't thank him enough for getting it removed in record time, and to Mick for storing it for a year or so before shipping it over...



After a vacuum, a beating, more vacuuming, a scrub over with Nifti, trimming off the furry bits with some scissors, and another vacuum, I reckon it came up ok

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Old 18-03-15, 21:15   #19
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That's fantastic Craig! How did you find out the car was 2 tone and not single solid tuxedo?

---------- Post added 18-03-15 at 20:46 ----------

Plus your going full original, any reason why you went 2pack then and not orig acrylic?
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Old 18-03-15, 21:54   #20
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That last pic looks like it's on a Gm assembly line getting its interior for the first time lol!!

^deano 2pack is just better and more durable as far as I'm aware, you're lashing this much coin you might as well get paint that'll hold up real well
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Old 18-03-15, 22:03   #21
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Yeah I know all that dude but it's going all back to orig besides orig paint! Still absolutely love it
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Old 18-03-15, 23:19   #22
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Fair point!
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Old 18-03-15, 23:48   #23
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That's fantastic Craig! How did you find out the car was 2 tone and not single solid tuxedo?

---------- Post added 18-03-15 at 20:46 ----------

Plus your going full original, any reason why you went 2pack then and not orig acrylic?
I'm still in touch with the original owner and he only had the bumpers done in black when the car was repainted in 1991 or so. He's still looking for a photo for me of when he bought it new.

Trying to find good people spraying acrylic these days is next to impossible, most seem to have made the move to 2 pack. It's come up glossy, but with that hint of orange peel left in it almost looks right. Doesn't quite have that soft acrylic lacquer look to it but I'm happy to trade that off for the durability. I'm more worried about the bumpers.

One car that did stand out is that Walky #001 in the latest Unique Cars mag. It has the most ridiculous shine to it after it's resto. Very glad I didn't go that way.
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Old 19-03-15, 08:59   #24
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Ah ok sweet mate, that's bloody lucky that you can date the car back to 91, my tuxedo calais is solid black and im trying to find out how to know if it was single or solid! Guess I gotta pull carpet too like you did but mines been tampered with aswell! Don't stress about bumpers that's a easy fix! Pm me if you want any of this thread cleaned up! Keep on pumping pics and info out dude!
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Old 19-03-15, 09:55   #25
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Ah ok sweet mate, that's bloody lucky that you can date the car back to 91, my tuxedo calais is solid black and im trying to find out how to know if it was single or solid! Guess I gotta pull carpet too like you did but mines been tampered with aswell! Don't stress about bumpers that's a easy fix! Pm me if you want any of this thread cleaned up! Keep on pumping pics and info out dude!
Shall do. Thanks.

I'm hoping the photo will be from March 1987 when Greg first bought the car. I asked him how he came to pick up a black one. He said he was really looking for a blue VL but walked into the showroom and the salesman showed him this one saying that it was a special order that was cancelled and now they were stuck with it. The guy that originally ordered it gave up waiting for Holden to make it.

Being a special order colour your bumpers may have been done at the factory, but most look to have been done at dealer level. I've got about 350 build sheets here, spread pretty evenly over all three years of production, and the only time factory painted body coloured bumpers appear on the sheets was very early in 1986. All the others after that just show AST for Asteroid Trim on the Calais.

As all Calais were built in Adelaide there should be a good chance of your build sheet being under the carpet. That'll only tell you what it left the factory with though, not what it was sold with. Never easy is it.
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