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Restoration Tips from the Pros

Look good and go fast with Car Craft's Ultimate Guide to Muscle Car Resto-Mods

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"I like my cars to look as good underneath as they do from above," Angelo says. Check out the body-colored and clear-coated engine, oil pan, bellhousing, and subframe. The floorpans and rear subframe were sprayed with 3M Rubberized Undercoating. This Camaro was built as a driver, not a show car, but Angelo still put this amount of effort into the chassis.

This Charger Angelo built for a friend was fitted with DOT-legal HID headlamps, not the poor-quality HID bulbs you can fit into an existing lens, and certainly not one of those ice blue 9004 headlights you can buy at the corner auto-parts chain store. He also made heated, power side mirrors for the Charger out of two pairs of late-model GM G-body mirrors and a pair of Cadillac mirror motors. He then had to create an internal frame and wiring to fit inside before having glass cut to fit the opening. He's still trying to figure out how to hide a set of LED side-marker lights inside the mirror glass that will blink sequentially with the rear turn signals. "I can do the sequential thing with no problem; I just don't want the bulbs to be seen when the turn signals are off," Angelo says.

"I always look for ways to put my personal touches on a car without making it look gaudy," Angelo tells us. Here he's describing a lower grille treatment he wants to make that matches the upper grille and includes an pair of driving lights. He says he'll sometimes spend hours staring at parts of the car imagining how he could make them better-looking. "I just say I spend a lot of time ass-scratching." He doesn't work from drawings; he'll just make what he sees in his mind. "If it doesn't work, I'll cut it up a little to see if I can make it work better. If not, I'll toss it in the corner and start over."

They may not be noticed at first, but grimy hinges and crusty bolts will eventually draw disdainful looks from would-be adoring fans. Angelo says he notices that stuff right away. "That and bad weatherstripping. If you're going to take a car completely apart, take the time to clean the fasteners."

Angelo says, "It takes twice as long to work around a good paint job." Trust us, you don't want to paint the car twice, either, so pull the engine first.

"I'm completely self-taught. I look at the work I did 15 years ago and realize how far my skills have come," says Angelo. Get good at welding and metalwork. Also learn to fix anything that could break on the car. That way the car is yours and you know it inside and out.

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