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1963 PV544 rat rod


PV Abuser
300+ Club
May 10, 2004
St. Louis
PV gets a bumper

The PV has been without a rear bumper for about 7 years, maybe more. Mostly because the stock bumper looks clunky, heavy, bulky, etc.



But it doesn't look quite right without a bumper either. The rear end visually pinches in too far, looks sort of unfinished.

So we're trying to empty out my grand-mother-in-laws house recently, I'm out in the garage poking around, and I see an old bumper. Uncle-in-law John says it's from a '41 Ford he used to have, certainly hasn't the faintest need for it any more, at all, go ahead and take it.

It's not nearly as bulky, has a sort of roughly matching patina (ok, maybe a little too rusty). Just too wide. And it doesn't curve around the corners. But, just maybe, if I chop out a hefty center section? Here it is lined up for pondering on the right side:




Yeah, I can see this working. So take off the bumper brackets from the old bumper (had to angle grind 2 of the bolts, typical for ancient rusted shiz on this old heap). Measure lined up like I like it on both sides, mark the center. Then measure from the bolt holes - not bad - 1/16th of an inch off on the eyeballing. Correct, mark, and cut with an angle grinder. Then eat dinner, and it turned dark. And I'm lazy, so that's where I stopped. It's cut to length, I still need to weld it together, modify the bumper brackets (the part to the outside is way too long now, just chop off and use two bolts on the inside), and bolt it on. Err, and do something with the license plate. With the brackets on it sits a little lower and further back than I was holding it prior, should still look good. Good enough, anyhow.



Tomorrow, a weld, some chopping at the bumper brackets, and some drilling. Voila, a rusty old bumper on the back of a rusty old car.
Only question is - leave the rust on the bumper, or wire wheel it and spray some silver paint on it?

I'm leaning toward leaving the rust on. The car, in general, doesn't need any shiny looking parts on it. They'd look out of place.
I like it!

...and +1 to not leaving the rust on it. While I wouldn't spend the $$ to have it rechromed, I'd probably go for the strip it down and paint it silver look (maybe caliper paint silver?). You do have little shiny bits all over the car still; window trim, side trim, head/tail lamp trim, emblems, door handles, etc. The rusted bumper would look more out of place than a chrome or silver one IMO. Just my :twocents:
Looks like the diamond's getting cut and polished a bit. :lol: Looks good. I also vote to paint it.
I stuck the MSD 6A box I took off the 245 (went to COP's on it) on it Tuesday. It feels... slightly peppier now.
Not likely. I got a fresh look at the underside bolting those bumper brackets back on.

Not a rational restoration candidate.

If anything, I'll eventually find a solid 444 body and put all the fun parts from my 544 onto it.

And then....

...get a rusty Bronco II, take the body off, and make me a Mini-Sugga with the old 544 body!

A couple of packs of angle grinder wheels, a new big spool of MIG wire, some rattle cans of olive drab paint, NO PROBLEM!
OK, welded, ground the outside smooth, then wire-wheeled everything off that wanted to come off. Which was about 80 of the chrome (driveway looks glittery now). And painted it with some 'brushed nickel' rattle can paint that was hanging around in the garage not looking busy enough.




I just used the PV bumper brackets as they were, after cutting loose the outer halves. I might redo it slightly still, to move the bumper up and a little closer to the back of the car. And I need to stick the license plate on it, don't think the police will appreciate the plate hiding behind the bumper.

Friggin old steel bumper was chewing up my cheap HF drill bits drilling the new holes, good grief I hate cheap drill bits. Why do I keep buying them???
Next up on the agenda - front seatbelts for the old rust bucket.

Many years ago, when I first got the car going, I stuck some retractable belts from a 240 sedan in the rear, since it didn't have any belts at all. And if it had them, it would have been lap belts anyhow.

It already had original factory front gray shoulder belts. Manually adjustable (but you really have to get out of the car to do that - the adjuster is bolted to the sill by the rear seat). The clasps were big clunky 'lobster claws' that latched onto a simple metal loop bolted to the tunnel between the seats. They worked well enough that I left them alone for a long time. Then a spring broke in the driver's lobster claw. Time for something new.

I looked around in the PnP for a while. Had to be a vertical mount reel, designed to bolt to a flat surface. 240's were out - their front belts are built into the front sills. Finally found what I needed on a convertible Saab. But the center latches were far too wide for the narrow spot between the seats on the PV, so I looked and found a center latch from a rear-facing Volvo wagon seat - right kind of latch - right kind of buckle. Actually - the Saab reels look exactly like the 240 reels I have in the rear already - probably the same manufacturer?

Time to install them. I did the passenger side first. I put a wrench on the belt that holds the bottom end of the belt to the sill. Turned it. Grunch, pop, crunch. Oh dear, that's not right. Did I mention it's a rust bucket? Well apparently it had *almost* rusted the passenger belt mount off. Good thing I'm doing this. That was srsly unsafe. Well, there are lots of aspects to the car that are unsafe (no crumple zones, single circuit brakes, already light (2200 lbs) structure weakened by plenty of rust...), but at least the belts should work.

A little closer:

Hey look, all sorts of pavement/sunlight where it shouldn't be!!! Narf.

A quick look at the rear sway bar reinforcements. I put IPD sways front and rear about 10 years ago. They bolt through the rear pans under the rear seat. One side ripped out in about a week. I patched it. The other side ripped out about a week after that. I patched that too. I used some fairly solid shallow channel iron pieces, cut them to length, then tacked them in with the MIG. then drilled a hole for the sway bar mount. Crappy welding, but they're still holding strong after 10 years of abuse:

On with the seatbelt project. The missing bolt didn't really change my plans. I already needed to bolt 2 things to the sill, not one (the reel, and the far end of the belt). Plan was vaguely similar to the sway bar patch (and similar to the front sway bar patches I'd had to do to both sides in the intervening 10 years - the bars are strong, the car isn't, anymore). Take a solid chunk of metal, bolt the seatbelts to it, then tack it along a wider area of PV body, hopefully encountering enough solid metal along the way.

Got a chunk of scrap steel about 12 X 3 X 3/16ths. Cut it in half. Set it in place, held the various parts up where they needed to be, and marked where the two bolts needed to be. Drilled. Then a little hammering to both the sill (it had a bump poking out) and the bar (needed a slight curve to match the sill).

I decided to stick bolts through the holes, and weld the heads to the bar on the backside.

Yes my MIG welding is crappy. But hopefully solid enough to work.

Tacked it into the sill. I sort of stitch it in, little welds every 1/2 or so. The metal further forward is solid. I also welded the end to the solid(ish) rear seat support/crossmember. If I was a perfectionist, this car would have hit the junkyard a long time ago. I just keep working to find solid metal and attaching it to the bar. After it's all welded in (pause to see if anything catches fire) it seems very solid.

With the seatbelt components bolted in:

The wagon jumper seat latches between the front seats:

Carpet and rear seat back in:

Drivers side done too - you can see the sort of flipped rear seat belts there. I put the latches outboard, and the reels in the center. Seemed to work better with the existing mounts, and really, if you get hit on the side, the belts will hold your upper body better crossing over the inner shoulder.

That's it for now. I have a limited slip diff that's been waiting to go in the PV for years, but I keep putting it off...
Haven't taken too many pics of the current little project - a cam swap. Seems like lifters and cam lobes have a short, hard life in this motor. Double valve springs, aggressive cam (Isky VV181), lots of revs. This time the #1 lifter (exhaust on cyl 1) was going flat. Just sounded a tiny bit off at full throttle, and was popping on deccel a lot more than normal. Took off the valve cover, unplug the coil, and crank it round and round, and yes, there's definitely a flat lobe.

Swapping cams on a pushrod motor involves pulling the head, so you can fish the old lifters out of the little slots. Here you can see the dished B21FT pistons I used in this build to suit the very shaved down (small combustion chambers) R-Sport head. And the old crusty rusty cracked/patched/cracked/patched/cracked again header.

A few days later. New cam is in, new lifters (Isky VV181 again, and a half set of Isky SBC solid lifters, no, you can't see any of that from here). I'm trying to use a copper HG as the 2.1L sized regular HG's are hard to find. I'm half thinking I'll be pulling the head in a week or two and ordering a Cometic? But for now, fingers crossed.

I'm also test fitting the new $64 header I got on Amazon. Ridiculously cheap, and seems to be about as good as the last cheap crappy header was. I was talking to John Parker (V-Perf) about one of his 4:2:1 headers, and a Targa cam, but he sort of dropped out of communication after a while, and I sort of remembered his track record of shipping parts.

The new header has longer tubes, placing the collector further back, next order of business is to chop the exhaust pipe, chop the 3-bolt collector off the header, and weld on some V-band clamps. I've not had good luck with those damn 3-bolt flanges in the past. I've had great luck with V-band clamps.
Yes. That's the plan. It will be a little more 'interesting' driving that old thing that far.