1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon - LS1TECH - Camaro and Firebird Forum Discussion



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1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon

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Old 08-21-2013, 10:08 PM   #1
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Default 1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon - It's Alive!!!

Here are some pics from tonight's delivery all the way from Wichita, KS to Ottawa, ON. And believe it or not there isn't an engine or transmission in this car - damn it is low! Overall it is very clean and should make for a great basis for a new project car: a family war wagon.

The plan as of right now:

Aluminum block LS-something, I want light weight. It could be the LS1/4L60E out of Natasha's Camaro if it doesn't sell soon, or I'd prefer a 6.2L/6L80E combo with much lower mileage. The LS1 would need some parts thrown at it to freshen it up (how much I won't know until I open it up) cam, springs, lifters, rocker arm trunnion upgrade, oil pump, and maybe new better flowing heads. Originally I want to build a high-horsepower blown beast, but have since realized that would miss the purpose of the car - so I am going to exercise some restraint... for now.

There is an advantage to using the Camaro for parts as it has everything I need to do a complete swap (less the motor mount brackets and some fuel system parts and fittings). Plus, I can snag the disc brakes (front and rear), cruise control, A/C parts and so on. The disadvantage is that I may end up stuck with a rolling chassis until someone comes to buy it.

Another downside is that I will always be limited to a 4LX0E transmission (or a standalone controller for another tranny = mega $$$) or a 6 speed manual conversion (which I truly want); the latter means Natasha has to learn to drive stick - which isn't a bad thing (at least until something doesn't go her way). This also means that the rearend ratio has to remain conservative as I want good mileage out of this car - it currently has 3.73s in a 7.625" 10-bolt.

Currently the car is riding on what looks like a set of 15x7 and 15x5 set of Weld Rod Lites, and worn 255s and 205s respectively. I think I'd like to keep these wheels for now IF I can fit them over the LS1 brakes. I'd also like to go to at least a 275/60R15 in the back (295s would be cooler, but might bulge too much on the 7" wide wheel) and 195s up front for some pseudo big and little action. However, I can still do a big tire and wheel combo if I want, as I have a set of C6 ZO6 wheels sitting in the garage - it just means more cutting in the rear (not that I am shy about cutting up a car to make an impression/point).

Exhaust is currently an aluminized crush bent dual 2.5" system with some Flowmasters, in relatively good condition - it also has some electric cutouts built into it. I figure this will be fine for now, but I am sure I'll end up building a dual stainless 3" system for it down the road.

Suspension is up in the air, and will probably be dictated by the tire and wheel combo.

Other than that it needs some minor cosmetic work (like tinting the rear hatch), and replacing some seals/weather stripping (although much of it is in great condition).
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:10 PM   #2
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A few more with our 4.5 month old daughter getting into the act - we bought it for her after all.
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1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-6.jpg   1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-7.jpg   1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-8.jpg   1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-9.jpg   1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-10.jpg  

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Old 08-24-2013, 11:48 AM   #3
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A couple of quarts of POR-15, a gallon of both Marine Clean and Metal-Prep are on their way from Eastwood. Along with a 33.75 sq/ft kit of their sound deadener.

Gotta do something while we wait for our drivetrain option to present itself.
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Old 08-24-2013, 12:16 PM   #4
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This rocks. I love the odd builds that most people wouldn't do.
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Old 08-24-2013, 12:26 PM   #5
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Nice project car keep it mild and clean.
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Old 08-24-2013, 02:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by operatorfailure View Post
This rocks. I love the odd builds that most people wouldn't do.
Yeah, we wanted something different to make an impression going down the road.

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Originally Posted by Boostedhatch View Post
Nice project car keep it mild and clean.
Thanks, and that is the plan.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:23 AM   #7
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Got the car up in the air yesterday to start poking around... no major surprises at this time, other than having standard thread lug nuts (I think 80-81 was when they started switching over to the metric system) - time to swap to metric studs/lugs. I started sizing it up for a mini-tub/frame notch which I will probably start this week. Wagons look much easier than coupes/sedans because of the lack of trunk hinges to worry about.

Also started looking into coil-over shocks for the car so we can keep it low and still have good suspension travel/ride comfort. It looks like it is going to cost about $800-1000 for the front and $600+ for the rear. I think we'll be using AFCO when this comes to fruition with moderate spring rates and big swaybars.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:26 AM   #8
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Love the wagons! This should be a great family hauler.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:19 AM   #9
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I've really gotten into this car and tearing it down to make some rust repairs and modifications - the interior is all out (less the dash).

Rust-free cars rarely ever are - the floor pans are acceptable (mostly pinholes) and a portion of one body mount is smoked (before pics attached). I picked up the steel for the frame notch/mini-tub as well. I've also pulled out a significant amount of weight in the form of insulation padding, dried up seam sealer, and that large metal sheet used to cover up the "bed" area in the back (I think an aluminum sheet is a good replacement over top of the spare tire well, no?).

I am dying to get a chance to put an engine in this thing...
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:20 AM   #10
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Wheel fitment ideas...

305/30R19s would fit nicely on the Vette wheels, and those are 325/45R17s on the 17x9.5s.
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1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-1146739_10151892366488885_346339282_n.jpg   1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-995981_10151889455183885_793936845_n.jpg   1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-1237118_10151889453023885_1320327497_n.jpg  
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:39 PM   #11
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Yesterday's work...
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Old 08-30-2013, 03:28 PM   #12
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Here is yesterday's metal work. The bending jig/metal brake is two sections of 1" square tubing, a couple of flat washers, and some clamps - all stuck in a vice. I used a hammer to help form the ridges.

I am glad to say that I have finally finished fixing the floors of my "rust free" Southern car. Time to mini-tub it!
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1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-1209214_10151898668343885_1260468149_n.jpg   1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-1235253_10151898668158885_1368325203_n.jpg   1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-1175697_10151898667933885_223494502_n.jpg   1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-1175163_10151898667763885_2053722845_n.jpg   1980 Pontiac LeMans Station Wagon-1236019_10151898667503885_579550115_n.jpg  

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Old 08-30-2013, 03:28 PM   #13
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One more...
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:41 PM   #14
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Note to file: Dewalt 14 TPI reciprocating saw blades suck.

Milwaukee's Torch blades are a gift from the Gods.
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:57 PM   #15
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think it needs a to look like a GN....but i love that brown interior...baby's cool to
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:24 AM   #16
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Quote:
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think it needs a to look like a GN....but i love that brown interior...baby's cool to
Thanks! Unfortunately (?) we already have a Turbo Buick in the garage - this is going to be something different.
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Old 09-02-2013, 04:52 PM   #17
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Done notching the frame... and yes a 19x12 rim does fit in there now. Tee hee!
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Old 09-02-2013, 04:52 PM   #18
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Last few...
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:28 PM   #19
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I am beginning to realize that I am an INCREDIBLY difficult person to deal with.

I caught wind that OPG has 3" lowering springs for the back (and front) of a G-body station wagon (along with other G-bodies). This is good news because I plan on installing "NASCAR" style spring jacking bolts/plates in the car to help balance the suspension/ride height in the rear - wagons seem to really suffer from corner lean.

So I call OPG to ask about their springs (http://www.opgi.com/malibu/1980/chas...onents/L201329) and their lb/in ratings.
"Uh duh... we don't have the information..." - they respond
"Okay... who makes them for you?"
"JAMCO." - they say
"Excellent, thank you."

So I call JAMCO (http://www.jamcosuspension.com) and wait to talk to a "tech adviser". Same round of "your question is too complex and I don't want to talk to you, please go away" BS.

Basically it came down to: "Oh they are custom ordered and would be made to that order by the factory which isn't here."

To which I replied: "Great. However, these springs currently exist because they are in OPG's catalog and can be ordered at any time. Now would you please call the factory, ask to talk to engineering and get me the spring rate for the rear 3" lowering springs for a 1980 Pontiac LeMans station wagon?"

End of day they said... I see the same thing developing that I got with Highway Stars and Factory Reproductions: radio silence.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:29 PM   #20
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So onto shocks. After a little research it seems to be beneficial to run a digressive shock vs. a linear unit.

An explanation of the differences: ORW Bilstein Digressive vs. Linear Valving
http://www.circletrack.com/techartic...h/viewall.html

I am a big fan of the Bilstein shocks on both my Buick and TBSS, with the latter have over 100K miles on them. The interesting thing is if you go looking for Bilstein shocks for a G-body you get two choices: HD linear and the standard linear shocks (PNs AK1043 & AK1044). However, if you search for a Chevelle/Malibu (aka an A-Body up to MY 1983) you get a much greater selection: http://cart.bilsteinus.com/pdfs/motorsports.pdf - see pages 8 and 9.

Based on my research it seems that the travel rates sec/in for the AK1043 shocks are 358#/219# (compression over rebound) in the front, and 254#/141# out back; these are designed for an iron block SBC in a typical G-body which has a significant front end weight bias as compared to a wagon which is closer to 50/50 especially with low options and plans for an aluminum small block (like ours here, estimated final weight around 3300lbs). So with that thought in mind I am pretty confident that the AK6565F at 325#/220# and AK5030R at 300#/120# should prove pretty suitable, especially once the back of this wagon is loaded with the family's stuff.

I will need to drop the cantilever mount on the differential about 2-3" to compensate for the suspension drop to keep the shock in the middle of its 7" of travel once the back is lowered. The front end has 2" drop spindles, which I am going to keep despite the errors it introduces into the suspension geometry, in order to run a taller spring and maintain (as close to) the 5" of total suspension travel the shocks are designed for

I figure these, plus some stock style springs (thinking stock GN springs up front and the OPG "OEM rate" 3" lowering springs in the back) and the Hellwig Pro-Touring hollow swaybars should prove a suitable combination. The classic small spring/big bar formula.

Total cost new will be about $1000 taxes in - which is about the cost of just two coil-overs.
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