Dash & Firewall Restoration - Part 1 - 02/14/2015

One thing that has always bothered me about this car: body colored firewall. GM didn't do it that way and it looks extremely tacky (in my not so humble opinion) on these cars. After fixing the exhaust I also hear a ton of road noise and engine noise, plus get the occasional fume in the car from that area, so all of the holes in the firewall aren't exactly great to have either. Since the heat doesn't work and the ventilation is botched, I can't really have much fun driving it in any weather that isn't about 65-75F outside. I have decided to strip the firewall and repair the heater core and heater box and undo all of the screwups the previous owner did to this car. It won't be easy or quick, but it will be worth it.

I pulled the inner fender out and got to work on the passenger side to begin getting out the heater box. You can see that fortunately they didn't lose the end of the blower motor but they did rip it from the harness. Fortunately there's enough material to allow for a clean solder splice into the passenger compartment.

Overspray red on the inner fender. Someone went to an awful lot of trouble to get this car red.

Not the best job around, but at least the frame and core support are in nice shape.

Heater box is removed after considerable effort. The screw on the bottom left was not easy to get out. They also used some goop sealer to seal the box up. And notice the overspray on the heater core itself.

The heater box itself has 6 holes drilled into it allowing air and moisture to get in. Don't ask me why or what it was for.

Driver's side inner fender is removed to get out the main harness.

Firewall is stripped of non-essentials. Note all the extra holes.

Windshield wiper motor and all electrical stripped off.

Dash removal started. Pretty straightforward for non-AC cars actually. Warping and cracking of dash is evident at top.

Dash is out! It will get everything stripped and a dash cap applied. I know it's not a JustDashes restoration, but for $75 to make it look decent vs. the $1300 plus shipping that JustDashes charges? Well all I'm going to say is it isn't a RA GTO or Judge so it isn't ever going to be worth a fortune justifying such a spendy piece. A decent dash cap will look fine for a driver.

What the rest of it looks like after the dash has been removed.

The driver's side vent is stuck open.

Passenger side is too.

Heater core box is prepared for removal. I think the pink and blue wires are for rear speakers? I really don't know. They have a plastic tie holding them to the upper orange bracket.

Heater core comes out. Everything inside of it was stiff and rough.

The firewall insulation is falling apart. Might as well replace that too while I'm here.

The vents are freed up without too much effort, but the cables that operate them are all messed up. Maybe some lube and re-positioning will help, but I might end up replacing them. I ordered what I thought was the correct ones, but I got sent the lowers instead.

Removing the driver's side kick panel...

Look at that. No wonder I got the occasional sound of crunching and a leaf or two in my face while driving. There has to have been 5lbs of leaves and dirt stuck back here. Since it hasn't spent any time in the rain it isn't rotten or rusty, but this is something that would have eaten the car alive if it hadn't lived in SoCal all of its life...

Kick panel itself in decent shape. Clip for upper cable is missing which likely isn't helping things out.

Wow. This was inside the kick panel vent. No idea how it got down in there, but it was there for a LONG time. Rusty and crusty, not to mention it wasn't on top, it was WAY down in the bottom under a lot of leaves and trash.

Not bad for a first day's work. Wire-wheeling the firewall will begin and the dash will be restored while the kick panel vents are fixed and then the heater core box is restored and put back together. Oh yeah I also got weatherstripping for the windows and will need to re-align the back passenger window to get it to close all the way. I've got quite a few hours ahead of myself...

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Last updated February 14th, 2015