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Old 06-23-2015, 10:20 PM   #1
rideair
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1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

Well, the rebuild begins.

I picked up this 1988 Suburban two years ago from the local owner who I bugged for over three years to sell it to me. It was the normal stop by every four months or so and ask “You want to sell me that Suburban?” He had purchased it new many years ago and even though it was now over 25 years later, it only had 73,879 miles on the OD of which only 12 miles had been put on it in the last twelve months. You could tell the old guy loved his truck, but with many years behind him and knowing he would never get the chance to drive it again, I got the call while on vacation back in the summer of 2013. Of course his place was the first stop after getting home and the deal was struck. Though low overall miles for a Suburban that old, the time had taken its toll from sitting. First was to get it mechanically sound to drive. So after the normal plugs/wires/intake gasket, valve cover gaskets, radiator re-core, full brake rebuild, battery, clearing up vacuum issues, AC charge (R12) etc… and a new set of whitewall tires it was ready to roll and that we did. It became the daily driver while the Ford Excursion 7.3 sat in the driveway.

This past winter with the snow we had here in VA and the whitewall road tires just not cutting it, I decided to look and found a set of factory rally wheels with tires from a young man parting out a truck to help him pay for the rebuild of another Chevy truck he was doing. I have to admit, though I love my “Old Man Whitewall Tires” the factory rallies have grown on me and it will be a hard decision as to which one will be the wheel of choice after the rebuild. It may come down to whitewalls in the summer and rallies in the winter.

After suffering a major heart attack in December, 2014 and open heart (double by-pass) in March 2015 at the ripe old age of 50 years, my wife looked at me and said “Go ahead, spend the money you can’t take it with you”. Being someone that has a hard time justifying spending money on certain things in life, I needed that push. With that nudge, I contacted a young man I know that helped me finish up a rebuild I was doing back in 2011/2012 with a 1986 Chevy K30 Crewcab that I’ve been using in my hot air balloon business. It was time for Chris to help out again on another Chevy rebuild.
http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=355449

Chris was happy to help since it’s a change of pace for him and the types of cars he’s use to working on daily at his shop. Chris specializes in the Honda/Nissan/Toyota low profile, carbon fiber, fast engine Japanese car crowd of young boys that like to go fast, low and loud.

Needless to say, the credit card took and few hits with getting ready to start the rebuild. Just like the 1986 K30, the Suburban is getting an all new interior from carpet, seats, headliner, dash pad and just about everything in between being cleaned and/or redyed with Shadow Blue from SEM. All new rubber window seals, vent window rebuild, outside emblems, grille, inner front fenders, windshield, front wind deflector and chrome bumpers will finish it off. Got the seats out and sent off for recovering, the truck has been stripped of the bumpers, grill, emblems, etc...and bodywork has begun. Today started with cutting out the old rust and rough fitting the new panels. Since the truck was driven locally around town, it’s turning out to be a partial replacement of both the rear quarters, the dog legs between the rear door and rear tire (on either side) and one outer rocker.

Another choice will be the running boards. I'll be the first to say, I like being able to step onto and then into the Suburban from the running board. But I'm just not 100% sold on the looks. I think with "Old Man Whitewalls" they do look the part, but with the factory rallies, not so sure. I was thinking about a set of Super Hoops for the front/rear thinking they would look great with the rallies, but not sure how they would look with the whitewalls. I guess, you could just go with both! Whitewalls/running boards in the summer, Rallies and Super Hoops in the winter

Oh well, tomorrow more cutting and test fitting. I'll be sure to take a few more pictures of the progress. Can't wait to see how the seats turned out. If there half as good as the ones he did for the K30, they'll be great!

I will say, I did just miss a factory grill on eBay this weekend for the single headlight setup. Would have loved to have the old Bowtie up front. I guess someone in the end wanted it just a little more than I did.

The thought was to maybe either have the after market one wrapped in chrome vinyl or try to find someone that's doing the water based chrome paint. Not sure how a chrome grill would look.

Until Next Time,

Enjoy,
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Old 06-24-2015, 04:50 PM   #2
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Cutting out the Rust

Found the expected rust that all Suburban owners find at some time in their lives. Unfortunately, the area in behind the quarter panels and the dog legs between the door and rear tire also have rust and I’m unable to find those patch panels out on the web. Spoke to one guy that said “Currently that part is not being made” “You’ll have to find a donor our make something”. Since finding a donor in the this area will be next to impossible, I’ll take the two front inner fenders (wheelhouse) that are being replaced and use the curved metal pieces out of them to weld good metal back into place in behind the replacement panels, unless someone has a better idea (please let me know if you do). The remaining rear quarter panel and rocker will be cut out tomorrow, let’s hope there are no surprises!
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Old 06-28-2015, 07:55 AM   #3
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To swap or not to swap

The “Bow Tie” will be back on the front after all. Found what seems to be a really nice single headlight grille on c-list. Based on the pictures the seller sent looks to be in better shape than the one on eBay that sold for $107.00. At a price of $25.00 appears to be a pretty good deal, the only problem its 2 ˝ hours away and he doesn’t want to ship. In the end, I guess the price works out to be about the same. He also has a dual headlight grille that I plan to pick up as well for the 1986 K30 Crewcab. The good part about driving up, he has a load of other good rust free and interior parts from both trucks and Suburban’s including a dash-pad. I’m pretty the dash-pad will be coming home in the truck as well. The question starts to become, when do you stop? The front drivers fender on the Suburban though “aftermarket” is in good shape and I’ve already purchased new front aftermarket wheelhouses. So the question become, do you swap out the stuff that’s already on the truck or that’s already been purchased (wheelhouses and dash-pad cover included) for used OEM parts?
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Old 07-02-2015, 02:31 PM   #4
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Time to sit down

Got the seats back and much like last time when doing the K30, he did not disappoint me in his work. The gentlemen’s name is “Tutt”. Tutt’s 82 years old and has been doing upholstery work his whole life. I always ask “Tutt, how much longer you going to be doing this?” his answer “Well, my father did it until he was 94 years old, so I guess about 12 more years!” He tells me he feels better Monday mornings when he comes to work, that he’s not much of a TV person and doesn’t like sitting around. The work for the price cannot be beaten anywhere. To recover both front and rear seats, even sewing in carpet on the backside of the rears like from the factory, including materials was $650.00. When I took the seats to him, he looked at me like I was crazy. He says “The rear seat looks brand new, you sure you want to recover that one?” Since I’m personally not much on the velour look/feel of the 80’s era trucks, I decided to go with something I think will look better and last longer, though keeping with the original style pattern overall and color. I had him save the original rear in hopes that someone can put it to good use. The unfortunate thing for my wife, I’m storing them in our extra bedroom/office until they’re ready to go the Suburban.
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Old 07-08-2015, 07:10 AM   #5
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S.E.M products and Time Crunch

With the Suburban sitting in one place for the last couple of years, the sun had taken its toll on the top of the driver’s side door panels. It was not a question of if the door panels would need to be freshened up, but what color? Since the Suburban is getting a full brand new interior, if a color change was going to happen now would be the time. Though I’ll be the first to say I like tan interiors in my vehicles and I thought about changing the color from the original Shadow Blue to a tan had come to my mind, I’m wanting to do more of a refresh to original on this project. It’s funny, even my wife was under the impression it would be changed to tan when we were chatting just last week. Most of the Suburban’s of this era around here in Virginia are either jacked-up, rusted out, parted out, camo’d out, pretty much anything but original. Not that I have a problem with any of the above, because the thought came to mind about a lift/wheels/tires/etc… but that will come with a short-bed 4x4 truck (don’t tell my wife) project at a later date.

In reading all the threads about using the S.E.M. product, everyone said “If you follow their instructions…..” the job would turn out well and last a longtime. Taking other folks advice, the decision was made to use the S.E.M product line and follow the step-by-step instructions on the S.E.M website and video. Since every piece of the interior needs to come out, I’ll take the opportunity to freshen up every piece and not just the door panels. If not, it would be kind of like taking a shower and putting dirty underwear back on. The problem becomes patience, since they recommend several light coats and allowing 5-10 minutes between coats, etc… I don’t have a shop at the house where I can just lay everything out, start at one end, go to the other and get it done in one long swoop. The plan will be to do a couple of door panels a night (weather permitting) and the trim pieces over the weekend. The final step will be to coat each piece with the S.E.M, Tac-Free product to give it a little extra protection.

What’s old saying “Take the amount of time/money you think it’s going to take and times it by two”, so far that saying is coming true! What was thought to be a quick project of about a month or so has now passed the two month mark and the little things keep adding up in time and money.

I’m really starting to feel the time crunch part of the project. The money part is easy to understand, people don’t do things for free, places don’t give parts away and the auto body supplier guy doesn’t say “Here these products are on the house!” The date that needs to be met is August 29th at 10:00am. One of the premier auto restoration places in the world is down the road from my house, “White Post Restorations”. White Post Restorations is known for restoring cars for 1% of the 1% from all over the world. Over the past few years one of their projects has been restoring ten 1956 Chrysler Imperial Limo’s for one of the kings over in the middle-east at a cost of $950,000.00 per-car! Billy Thompson the owner said the average price is $250,000.00 to $500,000.00 to have a car restored there. On August 29th, they are having their 75th Anniversary open house and car show. Though I’m sure the 1988 Suburban will be the last vehicle, on the last row in the back, it will be something that most of the folks can identify with who will come to see the cars and since it’s going back original, it will fit right in with the White Post crowd. http://www.whitepost.com
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Old 07-09-2015, 07:54 AM   #6
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

Nice score on the Suburban! Subscribed
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Old 07-09-2015, 10:31 AM   #7
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

Looks good! Lets see some more work!!
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Old 07-09-2015, 05:06 PM   #8
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

Well the vent windows got pulled out and sent off to Greg at “Precision” in Weston, WI. Pretty straight forward on the pull, but the real challenge can be the packing. So when it came to the packing I decided to go green or like the old saying goes “Kill two birds with one stone”. My wife has been on me to clean out my side of the closet and get rid of shirts/sweaters I’m no longer wearing (I think you know where this is going already) so I did just that. Old shirts and sweaters make great packing material along with two window fan boxes just picked up to help stay cool in the hot weather here in Virginia. I emailed Greg and said, “No need to return them! I say cut them up and use them as rags or wear them, some are still in decent shape”. Greg’s response “That is genius on your part about the packing material. I should be able to identify who they came from pretty easily. Look forward to receiving these and helping you out”. So, according to Greg, there’s a copy day turnaround at his end, then shipment back. USP (The Brown Shirt Guys/Gals) said they will be on his doorstep by Monday 7/13/2015. Any luck, Greg will get them sent out by the end of the week and get them by the follow Monday.
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Old 07-09-2015, 05:17 PM   #9
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In with the new

Well starting to rough fit some of the panels into place and cut out a little more rust (part of the outer/inner rocker) Lucky for me it was in the same place to make it a little easier to fix. Also pulled the wheeelhouses and found everything in behind them to be in great shape!
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Old 07-09-2015, 07:31 PM   #10
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Flash Time!!

Well, as you saw in a previous post about the SEM project and what I thought had been a pretty straight forward thing to do. Well, I learned a few things that night about “flash time”. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no painter nor do I really understand all the science behind it but I do know is the next morning I got up and the door panels looked worse than they did before I painted them. I learned that you “DO NOT” try to use the SEM product on a day with a bunch of humidity. The next morning the door panel was almost a cloud white in some area’s but not others. So, like anyone, you try again with the same results! So, I called the SEM Tech Support group and spoke to a person that after explaining to him what happened his reply “You spray them during a humid day, didn’t you?” That’s when I learned about “flash time” and I don’t mean the type with your wife before you go to bed, though I guess they’re about the same because neither worked out the way I wanted it too. He suggest either waiting for a better day, a climate control building or using a hair dryer on low heat setting, blowing warm air across it as it dries. I even learned the Color-Coat and the TAC-Free are different in their flash time as well. I guess the question now becomes would those same three things work for my wife.

As you can tell, the weather changed and so did the outcome. I think they are turning out great and adding the new seals makes them look brand new. As you can see the “Shadow Blue” is a little darker than the original color, but I think it’s just enough to give it a little contrast. You can see the difference in the side-by-side photos of just how much of a difference there is. SEM does not have an “off the shelf” color that is an exact match, though I understand you can get custom colors made. When placed up against then new seat covers, the two look great in my opinion. Before the seats go back in, I’ll also refinish the small plastic pieces and the underside metal bottom to match in Shadow Blue.
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Old 07-12-2015, 08:57 PM   #11
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Taking Trim

Got a few minutes this weekend to work on stripping out the final trim pieces in the Suburban and pulling down the headliner. Surprisingly enough the front floor plans appear to be in great shape. Since the vent windows were pulled and sent off for rebuild, I’m having to use plastic to try and keep the weather out as much as possible. I did notice a little dampness in the front floor area so I went ahead and pulled up the vinyl mat that will be replaced with carpet. The one big disappointment was I thought only the headliner fabric was sagging, come to find out so was the headliner board. Of course they make a replacement for the rear A/C model, which I do not have. I could make something up, but since I’ve never liked the board/fabric style anyway, I’m going to replace it with one of the “bow conversion” systems I seen out there. If they have the right color, I’ll go with the vinyl style to give it a higher end look.
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Old 07-12-2015, 09:03 PM   #12
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Smaller Scratches

So today was a day of cleaning trim in prep for refinishing it with the SEM product and I starting to polish up the aluminum door sills. I've learned when cleaning the trim, work in the shade and look it over real well in the sun. You would be amazed how much dirt you can miss by not looking at the part in the direct sun light. As for the door aluminum sill plates, the driver’s door was the worse of them all. I guess it’s the salt from winter that gives aluminum heck.

Lucky for me, I have some vintage Airstream trailers and understand the polishing aspect of things. We joke that when polishing, you just keep making smaller and smaller scratches before buffing the smallest of the small out. Unlike the Airstream, I was able to use sandpaper to get out some of the corrosion, starting with 220 grit and working up to 1000. Again, smaller and smaller scratches. Did not get it out completely, but it was a good first pass today since time had to be taken to hop on the riding lawn mower and put in a few hours.
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Old 08-02-2015, 04:10 PM   #13
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

Wheels and tires are ready to go back on. After sanding down the rims by hand and a very careful tape-off job, I was able to paint the wheels back to the original Argent Silver. After looking around, it seemed most thought the Eastwood acrylic lacquer product was the best and closest to the original color that came from the factory. Will say, there was a learning curve painting with that paint it needs to go on wet and that there’s a very fine line between wet, making it run or drying before it hits the rim. Since I currently don’t have the time/cash to send the original beauty rings out to be restored and wheel centers out for chroming, it was decided to go with the repro’s off eBay. Will say this, the centers are very nice for the money spent, but the beauty rings (2.5 inches, close to original) are a little on the thin side. After beating two of them (and putting a slight kink in them) I took a pair of pliers and closed each of the hold tabs just to get them to go on. Oh well, you get what you pay for. But for something that will be a daily driver, they will work well until the originals can be sent off and redone.
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Old 12-31-2016, 09:24 PM   #14
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A Little Much

Well, a year later and a few more heart attacks, I've had the chance to put some more time into the Suburban. After kicking two body shops to the curb, it appears I'm almost there with the paint. In the end, it will be close to a two year project and many thousands of dollars more than planned to freshen-up a 1988 Suburban which will become a daily driver. The paint is just a few days away from being completed with a few spots that need to be touched up.

What started out to be a quick freshen-up and drive, has become a paint job of glass, anything taken off the Suburban has been polished, painted, replaced, cleaned, etc... etc... even the new parts purchased are taken to the next level with a buffer. The sad part, I live on a dirt road that's about 1/2 mile long and it won't take long for it all to look like crap again!

I've found the polishing, cleaning, painting, etc... is taking the most time and a very steady hand to boot when painting the fine lines around the AC vents, silver line on the shifter and even down to the bright orange area within 4x4 indicator. The sad part is when you find yourself trying to duplicate the silver over-spray on the black paint which is on the backside of the rear-bumper license plate holder that no one will ever see.

I think in the end, it will be somewhere between a Daily-Driver and a Original Style refurbished show Suburban. Already have people telling me it will be to nice to drive daily. For me, I just want to relive the "New Car Smell" of a 1988 Chevy Suburban ;-)
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Old 12-31-2016, 09:44 PM   #15
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

dang, the paint looks good and the trim is coming out nice.
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Old 01-14-2017, 08:47 PM   #16
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Good-Bad-Ugly

Replaced body mounts today and found what I call the "Good-Bad and the Ugly".

Most of the mounts in the rear were "Ugly" ones in the Front "Good" and a few "Bad". Interresting thing of note, though the front radiator mounts appeared to be good, the bolts were bad and getting petty thin.
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Old 01-16-2017, 10:11 AM   #17
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

Nice looking burb! Nice work.
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Old 01-16-2017, 12:04 PM   #18
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

You do nice work sir!

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Old 01-16-2017, 01:19 PM   #19
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

Awesome! Did the blue from SEM match up correctly with your interior? I am doing mine this week.
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Old 01-17-2017, 07:27 AM   #20
rideair
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

lt1wrangler,

I would say it matched about as good as it's going to get without spending the money to have a special color mixed by them. I think the factory may have been a tone brighter, but unless you're doing a frame-off total restore, trailer queen, never to be driven that will be judged by the Chevy Truck/Blazer/Suburban officials and burnt to the ground if not 100% correct, I think you'll be fine.

Paul
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Old 01-17-2017, 08:17 AM   #21
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

Quote:
Originally Posted by rideair View Post
lt1wrangler,

I would say it matched about as good as it's going to get without spending the money to have a special color mixed by them. I think the factory may have been a tone brighter, but unless you're doing a frame-off total restore, trailer queen, never to be driven that will be judged by the Chevy Truck/Blazer/Suburban officials and burnt to the ground if not 100% correct, I think you'll be fine.

Paul
Ok thanks! I'm with you, I just want a clean daily driver
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Old 01-17-2017, 08:22 AM   #22
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

It's looking really nice. A lot of detail work that will set it apart!
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Old 01-19-2017, 07:22 AM   #23
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

Do you have a pic of your front seats? Im trying to figure out my options for the velour. When I bought it, the seats looked new but within two weeks, they split everywhere from dry rot I guess.
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Old 01-19-2017, 07:53 PM   #24
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

lt1wrangler,

Here's a couple of pic's.

The pattern on the seat now, is the same as the original velour cover when new. I decided not to go back with the velour fabric, but more of a weave style, I have found it to wear better in the long run, won't stain as much and be easier to clean plus cooler on the skin. I used the same style type some years ago when I redid a 1987 K30 Crewcab, SRW and it has held up well.

Enjoy,
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Old 05-31-2017, 08:58 PM   #25
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Re: 1988 Suburban Scottsdale 4x4

Been on the road a bunch with my job which has slow rolled the project more than I would like, but, a man's got to pay his bills and feed the family. Can only complain so much, having to hangout in Melbourne FL during the winter and early Spring.

Over the past few months, "zero rate" from ORD has been installed, got all the doors, windows and tailgate rebuilt with all new seals, channels etc... even tack welded in a few bucket brackets so I could install some from seats for some test rides. Amazing how much better body mounts can make on the ride.

Figured since it was all torn down, now was the time if it was even to be done, put in sound deadener. Decided to go the path that SDS recommends with sound deadening, do not do a full cover mat, add the different layers, etc... everyone is really surprise in the difference and how long it takes. If you own one of the girls, highly suggest putting in sound deadening.

Found the time to start the process of rough wiring and placement for the stereo equipment that is going in. Decided to go with a more original look on the head unit with just a simple USA-230 Custom Audio Sound with Bluetooth (I know they are not the best, but...), I've found when it's married up with a new set of 3.5" speakers in the dash (running off the head unit), new coax 4"x10" speakers in the rear, 6.5" Alpine SPR-60 in the kick panel of which are powered by a Alpine MRV-F300 amp with "two" powered Alpine PWE-S8 8" inch Subwoofers (will be under the seat and takes the feed off the rear speaker connections off the head unit), it was really surprising how clear, enough bass, high-end, etc... Tried it out playing "Take Me Home" by Phil Collins live a few years ago.

The carpet has been taken out of the box and starting to take shape.

Figured should be no more than about one more month or so before completion!

Enjoy,
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