1973 Electra - Future Plans
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Future Plans

Future plans include actually painting the car, some more work on the motor and interior, and installing a new windshield to replace the cracked one in there now. (I have a new windshield safely in storage at the moment.) I want to go with a black on black paint scheme, with red highlights on the engine and in the interior. Tinted windows and blacking out some of the chrome trim will help complete the overall look. Until then, she'd be a good cruiser if the motor was back in shape - just not as good looking one as she could be with some paint and body work. I did see a neat idea in a Car Craft article on using grey sealing primer and tinting it 10%-15% with regular gloss black paint to generate a slight "eggshell sheen" effect in a sweet looking "very dark charcoal" color.



Since I'm going to need to have the bumpers re-chromed in the future anyway, I'm pondering removing some of the extra rubber guards to clean up the looks a little bit. Mainly I want to keep the rubber on the vertical bumper guards, but the other stuff can go away. The horizontal rubber guards strips on the front bumper and the rectangular pieces around the taillights on the rear bumper are ripe for the removing.


Rear Spoiler

I also ran across some pictures of the 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst, which is a Hurst-breathed-on version of Chrysler's large luxury car from this era. I think it's a pretty neat car with some interesting ideas to ponder for large car performance and styling. One thing I saw was that it was equipped with a rear spoiler, and that it has a very similar trunk design to my Electra. That got me thinking about how cool a rear spoiler like this would look on my Electra if I could make all the lines work and get something molded out of fiberglass. The end caps on the "fins" on the Electra are a bolt-on piece that I could easily use as a pattern for the spoiler version and make them out of wood. The center section could be mocked up separately in wood and then molded in fiberglass  I'm not too keen on the idea of a completely fiberglass trunk lid, but you could cast the center piece separately and then blend it into the trunk lid as if it was one solid piece with some clever bodywork. I still need to find a photo or two of the leading edge of the spoiler used on the 300 Hurst to get an idea of how it would mold into the lines on the Electra, but the basic concept is enough to keep around as an interesting idea to keep pondering and looking for details on how to make it a reality.

Hurst300HRearSpoiler1.jpg (1498229 bytes) Hurst300HRearSpoiler2.jpg (79572 bytes) Hurst300HRearSpoiler3.jpg (69574 bytes)


Buckets Seats and Console

I ran across a guy at a local car show with a heavily customized 1971 Riveria and got a ton of great ideas from him. First up is that he put buckets and a console in his car using some pretty readily available bits, and it worked well. The console he used was out of a 1964-1966 Thunderbird and the seats were power operated black leather units out of a 1994 Bonneville.

The seats went in as-is, the power seat controls were on the seat but were the same style as used on the older cars. The leather was even a close match to the 1970's era leather interior they used in the Buicks. He said the seats fit reasonably flat on the floor, but he decided to drill new mounting holes to move the seat back a few inches for his tastes. I would prefer to leave the seat controls mounted on the door panel, so I would have to merge the wiring between the two somehow. Anything is doable, but it could be a pain.

On the subject of later model seats, I did some research on a few online used-car sites, and it seems in about 1999-2000 or so that GM switched many of their cars to a seat-mounted seatbelt system that looks like it would be relatively easy to retrofit into older vehicles - install the seats and you get the seatbelt system basically for free. The various Buick, Pontiac, and Cadillac models could be had with power leather bucket seats that have the seatbelt integrated right into the seat. Some of them even have power lumbar adjustments. Pricey, but it could be an interesting idea because you'd get a modern 3-point seatbelt as part of the bargain.

The console was modified a good bit, but in a pretty straightforward way, and he took the time to explain it to me when I asked questions. He was very nice fellow, so were all of the other folks from the Riveria Owners Association. Back to the console, it slopes up nicely at the front to meet the lower edge of the dash with very little noticeable gap. The overall look was spot on and it fit the car surprisingly well. It was so good that I asked the owner about the "factory console because I had never seen that style before" and he proudly explained that it was a custom installation. Seriously. That's testimony to a job well done. First up on the console mods, he made a new metal inset piece for the top with a complete "engine turned" effect on it. This covered the existing holes for the switches and such on the Thunderbird and left room for a few gauges up at the front/top area where is slopes up to meet the underside of the existing dash. Switches could also be easily mounted in the flat area near the driver. Second, he upholstered the sides with some padding and black leather. The openable lid on the compartment was already smooth vinyl and was simply dyed black to match the rest of the interior. The overall effect was very nice. He had not yet cut a hole for the shifter, but had plans to use a Camaro style "u-shifter" with two simple slots cut in the top piece and the shifter mechanism mounted to the floor underneath. To complete the effect I would need a dash piece from a Riveria with a console that had no shift indicator, and a steering column without the shifter mechanism and collar on it. I wish I had thought ahead to bring a camera to take pictures, but no luck - I forgot it that day. My memories and notes here will have to do.

1964, 1965, and 1966 Thunderbird Center Console:

Here is the 1964 thru 1966 Thunderbird console in it's original application. In order, the pictures are for 1964, 1965, and 1966.

1964FordThunderbirdCenterConsole.jpg (1242833 bytes) 1965FordThunderbirdCenterConsole.jpg (277216 bytes) 1966FordThunderbirdCenterConsole.jpg (386053 bytes)

Here is the "bare" 1964 Thunderbird center console I purchased off eBay for $26 plus $30 shipping.

1964FordThunderbirdCenterConsole-Purchased01.jpg (798768 bytes) 1964FordThunderbirdCenterConsole-Purchased02.jpg (835200 bytes) 1964FordThunderbirdCenterConsole-Purchased03.jpg (805413 bytes)



Dash Pad

Another idea I had was to use the Riveria dash pad in the Electra, after stripping the Riveria badges off and replacing them with Electra badges, of course! The Riveria dash in 1971 has a very pronounced inward curve on the passengers side where the Electra dash is largely flat straight across from the middle of the car to the passengers side. The 1972 Riveria dash is almost the same, and the 1973 Riveria dash is completely different and much less interesting - see the pics below for a visual comparison. The effect of the 1971 Riveria dash and the Thunderbird console I saw was not unlike the effect in a early Mustang with the console and buckets. Each side appears to be in it's own "pod" and it's quite racy looking - this was the same interior look they tried to hard to replicate in the new Mustang's. I'm 99% sure the Riveria and the Electra share interior width, because they share the same windshield. The lower metal dash piece might have to be swapped across as well to make things fit, but I'm suspecting the two cars shared the same basic firewall and cowl stampings because they have so many similarities. If that's true, many parts should be a direct bolt-in from a Riveria donor car. I should probably get one and part it out so I have some bits to mess around with. Maybe I'll get incredibly lucky and find one with a console and buckets...

1971 Riveria Dash:

1971BuickRiveriaDash1.jpg (68361 bytes) 1971BuickRiveriaDash2.jpg (31789 bytes)

1972 Riveria Dash:

1972BuickRiveriaDash1.jpg (22180 bytes) 1972BuickRiveriaDash2.jpg (6266 bytes)

1973 Riveria Dash:

1973BuickRiveriaDash1.jpg (9509 bytes)


Manual/Automatic Shifter

Another neat idea I've seen is an extension of the popular idea of swapping in a modern overdrive automatic transmission. I had been toying around with the idea of swapping in a TH700R4/4L60 (requires an adaptor plate for the Chevy trans mounting pattern) or perhaps a TH200R4 (they had a dual-pattern case) for some time. I had considered the more modern "electronic" transmissions the 4L60E and the super-beefy 4L80E, but had decided against them because of the cost issues (all those cool electronics cost a lot more), but a few recent articles in Popular Hot Rodding got me to rethink my vision here. Why? They showed off a really sweet product call the Shrifter that ties into the transmission computer and gives you a real honest-to-God paddle shifter mounted on the steering column. You just stretch out your fingers at about the 3 and 9 o'clock positions on the steering wheel and pull the paddles to upshift or downshift at will - just like an F1 race car. It's wild, and the billet paddle assembly looks downright cool on it's own. Check out http://popularhotrodding.com/tech/0507phr_twst/ for the article and http://www.twistmachine.com/ for the company who makes this sweet little piece of hardware.


Heated and Cooled Seats

Heated seats are nothing new. For about $100 a seat, you can add seat heaters from various sources. I even found a a place that offers systems that heat and cool (actually, ventilate) the seats, plus add an optional massager, though it's considerably more expensive that a basic $100 resistor wire type seat heater is. Check out http://www.webastoshowroom.com/seatcomfort/ for more details.



I've now had three cars with sunroofs - one was a metal manual retractable roof in a 1980 Volvo 240, the other two were power retractable and pop-up sunroofs on the family haulers - a 2003 Saturn L200 and a 2005 Dodge Magnum. I sometimes like to drive with it open - mainly it depends on the wind noise it makes - but more than that I really like the extra light a glass sunroof brings into the car interior. It really brightens up the entire car. It's also nice on hot days - open the windows and the sunroof as soon as you get into the car and the hot air rises out naturally. http://www.webasto-us.com/press/en/am_auto_sunroofs_3641.html shows some of them.

I especially like the Hollandia 524 GrandView Panoramic Sunroof. It has two glass panels that are 30" wide by 27" deep - that's a full 2' 6" wide by 4" 10" long. The front panel retracts over top of the rear panel to get a very nice 18"  (1' 6") long opening. The size is huge (advertised as the largest on the market with 4.5 square feet of glass) and is very appropriate for a large car such as my Electra.

I also saw an article that mentions the 5 panel folding glass sunroof Webasto makes for the Pontiac G6. It's very cool, and not available aftermarket. That's sad - it looks really cool and it's a way to get a large amount of open space into a very small package.

Comments? Kudos? Got some parts you'd like to buy/sell/barter/swap? Nasty comments about my web page so far? You can email Mike or Debbie.

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Page last updated 01/02/2009 01:51:39 PM