1976 Dodge Aspen - New Project Car

Projects & Restorations

  1. Alex_M

    Alex_M Member

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    Hey folks! I'm new to the forum, so I hope this is the right subforum. I'm a regular over on Ramcharger Central as well as Land Rover Forums, though not as regular as I used to be on the latter.

    Last Saturday I picked up this new-to-me project car. I've had trucks, but I've been on the look out for a project car for years. This one came across my marketplace feed as a non-runner for $550. The owner said it was last ran in 2013 but had seen fairly regular driver duty up until that point. It had service receipts back to 1986 and there were about 10k miles on the rebuild a904 trans. I went and looked at the car and struck up a deal, buying the car for $450.

    I brought the car home, blew the fuel lines out backwards with some compressed air, added 5 gallons of gas to the half a tank of varnish, and she fired up. Just in time, too, as I blew up the rear end in my '07 Silverado 500 miles from home Sunday night. That's another story.

    So the car is a '76 model with a slant 6 and an a904, backed by a 7-1/4" rear end. Short term plans are to patch up some body work, throw on a 2 barrel carb off a w150, and throw an 8-1/4" under the thing. I've got one that's been sitting behind the house out of a truck, but it's only about 3" wider which I think will actually bring the wheels out a nice amount. About 1.5"/side.

    Long term I plan to build up a turbocharged 318 and I've got a 727 that I'll throw a shift kit in to back that motor. Fret not... the slant and 904 will live on in a... well the title says '85 w250, but essentially a w150 with a drastically shortened wheelbase and lifted. Off road toy/loaner truck.

    All in all I'm liking the little car. It needs some wheels and tires, but it drives pretty nice. It's taken me to work the last three days while I've been working on the Silverado. She's not much to look at right now with the rusted body and the mismatched wheels (I do have all the original wheels with hubcaps, but I had those two Mustang wheels that had tires in decent shape), but I plan to get it there.

    Let me know your all's input on the car, things I should check out or look out for, advice on a direction to go as far as swapping the 318. I've read that conversion motor mounts are available. I'll also say that structurally the car is great. All the rust is superficial except the rear floorboards. Fronts look great. I am thinking I will also weld in some 2" square tube to connect the front and rear subframes and reinforce the structure of the car.

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    I would also love some input on making/getting a piece to patch this bit of rust. The rest on the car is well within my skill set, however this spot under both tail lights is a bit of a special case. This is the one spot I would probably be willing to buy small patch panels if any were available.

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  2. Aspen500

    Aspen500 Well-Known Member

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    Slant 6 to small block and big block conversion mounts can be had from Schumacher Creative Service so you don't need to swap k-frames.
    '73 & UP A,B,F,M, J-Body Products

    As for rust repair pieces, check with F-body Deconstructor Jim. He's a member here and also has a web site. Nothing like desert south west parts at darn reasonable prices!:cool: He's got fenders, full 1/4 sections, doors, inner panels, trim, glass, etc, etc.

    Jim's Az Parts

    One thing to check for on F-body is front subframe rail rot, especially the drivers side. Also inspect the k-frame for rust around the rear mounting insulators and where the upper control arm "towers" are welded on.
     
  3. Alex_M

    Alex_M Member

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    Wonderful! Thank you.
     
  4. Alex_M

    Alex_M Member

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    I've been playing around with the Aspen a little more the last few days. I changed the thermostat out for on I had kicking around since it appeared to be sticking, and I traded the fan out for a clutch fan off a truck. I'm going to have to trim the blades up a little to use the fan shroud. I've also played with the distributor some. I popped the heavy spring out of the distributor leaving the lighter one and welded the slots quite a bit shorter. I set it around 22* initial and 32-35* total timing. I need to put better marks on the balancer to know for sure. It's definitely a little peppier than it was with 2* initial and 38-41* total.

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  5. Mikes5thAve

    Mikes5thAve Well-Known Member

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    Looks like a fun project. There's not much available for patch panels. Schumacher also doesn't have the mounts anymore and word out there is they're winding down business throwing in the towel. Some mounts you can get from other suppliers.
     
  6. Alex_M

    Alex_M Member

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    Yeah, I noticed they all said out of stock on the site. I might just make my own. Be a lot cheaper that way. I've probably got the steel to do it with.