21st Aug 2007, 17:21
Have had my "new" '77 Coupe Deville about 10 days now. Bought it from the grandson of the woman who purchased it originally in 1977 in New Jersey.
It is baby blue, with white leather seats. No other options.
All in great condition with the following notations:
1. Crack in the drivers door armrest (repairable).
2. Some surface rust spots on the drivers side, leading edge of trunk lid and lower left (driver's side) corner (by the rear bumper) also.
3. Plastic (rubber?) fillers for the rear bumper, both sides and along the bumper, are severely deteriorated and need replacement. I've seen this on several GM products of the era.
4. Off idle "dead spot" when accelerating from a stop.
Item 1 is easily repairable and to be expected.
Items 2&3 are body work items to be done at some point. In brief Internet searches, I've found new, unpainted trim pieces (About $240.00 for the side bumper extensions and $145.00 for flat piece that runs along the top of the bumper). They have to be painted and the truck lid requires sanding, finishing and painting also. It'll get done soon.
Item 4 seems to be improving as result of fuel system cleaner, top end lubricant (in the gas) and driving. The vacuum secondaries open up pretty reliably now and it runs smoother. Time will tell if carb work is necessary.
The car runs well. I will be taking a 3000 mile trip with it in a few days. A trunk load of cash will be included. Observed gas mileage is around 10 mpg. We'll see how it does on the trip, which is largely highway miles.
The 425 has LOTS of torque. Rated at 180 horsepower and 320 Ft/lbs of torque, it moves the car competently. It can surprise a few cars with it's acceleration, but hardly a drag strip king.
The car handles and brakes well. The tires look small (225R70-15's), but that's the way they made them then.
The factory AM/FM radio and power antenna work. The antenna mast got wiped down with oil and now works MUCH more smoothly. The radio is a bit odd. Apparently not stereo. No markings for "stereo". I noticed that sound only came from the passenger rear. On inspection, there is no left (drivers) side rear speaker, nor any wiring indicating there ever was one. While I see front speaker grilles on the top of the dash, there is no sound. Can't see any speakers there. Could it be the base sound system? Should there be any other speakers? Interesting that the radio has what appears to be a balance or fader control on the right radio stalk. Anyone have an idea? There is no owners manual to check on the radio operation.
Oh, the windshield washer doesn't work. The fluid tank appears to leak. I'm wondering if it simply burned out.
Thankfully, it doesn't have the air suspension. I could always add load lever shocks. Checked and they're available.
The steering has the typical, compared to now, over assisted steering. Read that as no road road feel. Having grown up driving similar, and older, American "tanks", it does have that feeling of going back to 1975.
The rear passenger-side cylinder spark plug is blocked by the A/C unit. Not impossible to change, but a healthy challenge.
The starter initially seems to "hang", as though it might not spin the engine over. It always does.
Think this is enough initially. I will try to post again after the trip and let you know more on it.
8th Jan 2008, 19:49
These comments serve as a partial addendum to my comments above from 21 Aug '07...
The car now has 64,136 miles...
Since that time, I have done significant work on the car as follows:
1. Major engine work consisting of replacing a broken rocker arm stand and four pushrods. The heads were removed and cleaned. The inspection of bottom end of the engine looked good. New oil pump installed. More on all this later.
2. The carburetor was completely rebuilt. Timing reset also.
3. Front end realigned. A nearly $300.00 project, as the shims had fallen out of the passenger side and left about an inch of looseness on the inside, upper control arm. Why??? More on this, too.
In terms of what happened first, the carb was found to be in serious trouble while I had the car in for a complete BG fluid change of all the fluids, except brakes. I also found the fuel pump leaking badly and replaced it. That cured a long standing raw fuel smell.
A few weeks later, the carb was completely rebuilt by a local carb shop, reinstalled with timing reset. BIG improvement in power and gas mileage! Of course, it was $350.00, but well worth it, especially since it was never done.
The car ran well for quite some time, posting fuel mileage in excess of 17 mpg on the highway. It was very strong performer.
In mid-November, the exhaust pipe split, then within hours, developed a loud clatter that seemed like a spun bearing. Having no tools or place to do major engine work, I was faced with trying to find a reputable, and KNOWLEDGEABLE, shop here in the Miami area. I'm still looking, in case anyone knows...However, I did find a marginal one and had them diagnose and repair the problem. $1287.00 dollars later, I had the car back and running pretty well... after I moved the throttle cable from the post for the cruise control (it allowed about 30% throttle travel).
There was a clear difference in the engine idle after the repairs. As though a cylinder had been skipping before. Maybe it had.
As mentioned at the beginning, there was a broken rocker arm. After being removed from the engine, it was clear there was a stress crack that had caused the arm to break essentially in half. It may well have been cracked for a while before, allowing a change in the geometry of the arm movement and a decrease in the opening of the valve.
The car runs exceptionally smooth now. While I did change the cap & rotor, plugs and wires need their change too.
Right after the engine repair, I noticed a "clunk" in the front end, passenger side. Took it back to the shop where I had the engine work done. That's where the missing shims were found. I can't swear to it, but I have strong suspicions that they may have loosened something while trying to do the engine repairs, only to have caused the issue. They looked mighty nervous. So, I took it to the local Goodyear shop where I see the police cars get their work done. They had an exceptionally competent front end / alignment guy with a modern machine. He found that the drivers side was way off too. Now back in spec, it drives like a new car!!!
It is currently my only car. And with such an "investment" up to now, likely to remain so, despite gas prices. Driving in Miami gives you a GREAT sense of safety with this kind of sheet metal around you. Although some of today's SUV's would probably cause severe damage...
In any event, I look forward to some body repair soon as the rear plastic around the bumper continues to fade away...
More thoughts sooner, I hope!