Restoration is a drawn out process. The process may take years depending on the financial might you have to throw at it.

Like any project my starting point was the drive train. Setting the vehicle on jack stands, pulling all wheels, motor, transmission and rear-end. Keeping the major components together until such time for overhaul.

It seems without storage or a 2 1/2 car garage all to yourself you will need to have strategy.

It is easier to store components than the whole vehicle. A lot of us started out in small apartments with limited parking and restrictive ordinances.

Knowing what you want to end up with dictates what path to follow.


The method I use restoring or rebuilding resembles multi-tasking. While items were in the machine shop I cleaned, polished and painted various parts and assemblies.

I had more time than money and in the earlier days I used more elbow grease than technology but, a can of paint did not cost that much.

With the internet and google search the options you have to follow seem endless.

Engine short block

You have an engine block. You got it at a salvage yard or off-line. Off-line you can order the bore size (0.030″over).

You found a machine shop not far from home. Do a little research, ask questions, try to be fundamentally knowledgeable. As soon, as you can order a rotary kit. If you want a stroker this is the time to decide.

It is also a good time to decide on pop-up pistons or not. Research piston types, connecting rods, crankshaft options sometimes a modification for power is not much more.

Once your machine shop has everything you want. I always let them put the piston on the connecting rod. After that it depended on time and money. Make sure to follow torque procedures, ring spacing, bearing alignments and piston direction everything should be fine. *Note- I always liked brass freeze-out plugs.

long block

The long block is the cylinder heads are on the short block with your cam, lifters and push-rods and rockers all attached.

This point in your rebuild determine the cam first. That will dictate value springs and lifters and perhaps push-rods and rockers. Somewhere in this time period you might chose to have a roller motor.

Talk to your machine shop for guidance and suggestions. They will most likely be working on your heads give them something to work with.

While your heads are off it would be a good time to port match your intake and exhaust. This increases flow. More air more power.

The problem is if you do one you need to do all. Aluminum cuts quicker and is a little higher in price over stock heads.

* Note- Remember the type of fuel supply when ordering heads. Aspirated or injected. You may want to upgrade your valves.


This is where the major split in performance takes place. Fuel injection is by far more efficient and controllable than carburetor engines. The downside is fuel-injection motors are more expensive and would require more technical savvy.

Preparing for an intake choice one would think am I going to have a blower or go turbo-charged? Both require an approach of their own.

Pans and Covers

I like aluminum the gasket surfaces are on the same plane and they look good polished. You have to be more patient with chrome and stock covers if not already aluminum. And if memory serves they require more maintenance (cleaning).

I suppose a good question is what to do with the motor while trying to start on the trans.


No matter what type of transmission you have a front-wheel-drive trans axle or a rear-wheel-drive automatic or manual transmission.


trans cross-section

Transmissions require a whole different tool set and literature. Try it, I taught myself. Keep in mind self teaching has its own type of expense. Trial and error gets in your pocket but, it is something that will pay for itself over time.

Front Wheel-drive Trans-axle

ATSG automatic transmission service group will be handy for manuals. Parts and tools can be bought off-line as well as on-line. I have noticed on-line is cheaper if you look for bargains and have time to wait a little.

*Note drive train changes require speed sensor or gear changes as well to maintain proper accuracy.

Shift Kits


Here again we have the what do you want to do? Quick take-off or high top-end speed or a happy medium?

Ring and Pinion

Setting a ring and pinion requires a few special tools and is not hard, tricky yes but, a bearing-spliter and that paint they send with the kit. Mark it, shem it and go. Some descriptions require a dial indicator. First time by yourself it is probably a good idea.

Once you figure out the tires and brakes and shocks you want the drive-train is complete.

That is taking for granted that all seals, bushings and fluids are complete as well.

Cooling Systems

Radiator, water pump, hoses, belts and cooling fan make up the cooling system( or electric water pump). This comes to is it performance (4 core radiator) or stock. I like sensor controlled electric fans. Do your research and decide earlier the better, for planning’s sake.

Cooling Components


Any questions or comments? Please leave below.



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