1967 Olds Cutlass/442 FAQs:
Body and Interior

The 1967 Olds Cutlass/442 FAQs are still in their infancy. For my own information, I started archiving info discussed in various Olds-related newsgroups and messageboards pertaining to the '67 Cutlass specifically, or Olds Cutlass/442s in general. After receiving many letters from visitors asking questions the could have been answered by info presented here, I've decided to post these 'works-in-progress' and will continue to update these as needed.


How do I restore the dash assembly of my '67?

How do you redo the fake chrome accents on your '67's dash? NOS dash faces are virtually non-existent, so you're basically going to be forced to recondition your existing piece.

There are two ways I'm aware of to do this...three if you count replacing the dashface with a NOS piece. Since you obviously don't have access to one of these or you wouldn't be reading this, you're therefore left with the second best way, and that is to send the parts out to be re-chromed.

Chrome plating on metal is usually a three step process. Copper is electrically deposited on the bare metal as a filler. This is polished to a smooth finish. Nickel is plated on next to provide the reflectivity, and again polished. A thin layer of chrome is plated last for corrosion protection and again polished. However, the "chrome" coating on your '67 Olds plastic dash insert is actually vacuum-deposited aluminum which has been polished. The bare plastic part is placed in a vacuum chamber and aluminum is vaporized and condenses on the cooler plastic. Needless to say, this process requires some expensive specialized equipment, so replating plastic isn't cheap. There are a number of vendors who actually use the three-step copper/nickel/chrome process on plastic. Since plastic naturally doesn't conduct, I can only assume that the copper layer is vacuum deposited first, followed by nickel and chrome applied with the conventional electrochemical dip. I've not had any parts coated this way, but those who have claim that the finish is greatly superior to the aluminum coating in both look and durability, as you might expect. The work is expensive and they will only recoat the entire piece, the plating is very delicate and doesn't seem to last too long....and finally, it's not actually what the factory used, but it's the closest thing around. Some places, like Mr. G's  have a catalog of parts already done, they keep yours as a core and send you a newly rechromed one. This isn't a cheap route to go, but the best rarely is. You can learn a lot from reading the FAQs on Mr. G's website. Mr. G's process is vacuum metalizing. A friend who sent his dashpiece there reported they rechrome it, painted the black and silver, and fix any damage, and said he was pleased with the work, about $300 worth. That also included replating his armrest bases.

The other solution I've seen is to use a paint pen. This is described in the May 2001 issue of Muscle Car Review magazine. They restore a Chevelle SS dash and use the paint pens for the chrome around the gauges, etc.

You can also get a "silver leaf" paint pen from the local craft store. Costs about $3 more than the standard chrome paint pen from a model shop, but it comes out much better (the model paint pen is more silver than chrome). The silverleaf paint pen looks like a fat marker. This is different than an enamel or acrylic paint pen used for models, as it is part silverleaf. It'll cost around $10 for the silverleaf pen. A friend recently painted all of the trim on his dash this way, and while it's not shiny new chrome, it looks pretty darn good and was very easy!

I've seen both methods up close. For a driver or occasional show car the paint pen is pretty good, although a good show judge will notice the difference immediately. I guess it just depends on how much you want to spend and how close to original you want the results to be.

There is no spray paint that will give you the look of chrome. It comes out silver, or at best, like rough aluminum. ....but, spray paint sometimes can be made to work. The hard part is finding the right paint color, as there are a lot out there labeled silver or chrome. In the past I've tried a lot of these colors and found those claiming to be "aluminum" in color are the closest to chrome. Even the spray they sell for redoing the reflective surfaces behind parking and taillight lenses isn't that good. None will look like electroplate, but if you do all the chrome trim in spray paint it probably won't be that noticable. Just make sure the plastic is super clean before you spray, any oil from you fingers will cause it to orange peel bad. Use a number of light coats, with the first one being just a fog coat. You will be able to tell immediately if the surface is clean enough to continue. If you get any fisheyes, stop and remove the fog coat and start over. Also make sure when you mask with tape you put a lot of pressure on the edge of the tape to prevent edge penetration of the paint and mask or cover everything else...you'd be amazed where overspray can get to. Finally remove the masking tape before the paint fully dries and be careful the tape doesn't touch the rest of the piece.

There is a place called Just Dashes who can recover your padded dash inserts. They seem to be the most popular with the Olds crowd. E-Bay  often shows online auction listings for good used dashpads or even complete dash assemblies. I've personally purchased quite a few parts online at E-Bay for my restoration project, and for the most part I'm very pleased.


How do I polish the aluminum trim on my car?

If it's aluminum, it's probably coated and that's why it dulls up. The best way to polish it is to remove the coating with stripper, and then after cleaning buff with a finishing compound and a high RPM buffer. (Naturally, you would remove the trim from the car before using the stripper.) If it's not plastic coated, use a 600-grit wet sand on the trim and then buff them up with polishing compound. Either way, use a good wax on the trim after polishing to keep out the elements.


Can I chrome or polish the pot metal trim on my car?

If there is still original chrome on it and it is not pitted, you can usually polish it out and get it to look decent. Rechroming pot metal is a risky affair. If you can find a reproduction part available, you will come out ahead to buy it. I had to get some of the pot metal trim rechromed on my '67. If the piece is not badly pitted it will rechrome nicely. However, I noticed that the metal posts that attach the piece to the car often deteriorate or break off somewhere in the process. This makes it nearly impossible to attach the hat nuts on all of the posts. What often looks like a small bump in the metal will be a large hole by the time they strip the piece down bare. Few rechroming places will take the time necessary to repair the piece properly before chroming it. So if you send them a badly pitted piece, you will probably get back a pitted piece of metal with lots of pretty chrome on it. The moral of the story is to A: get a new piece if available, and B: get the best piece you can find if you have to have it rechromed. Trying to get an old tired piece of metal properly repaired is going to cost a fortune.

However, another option is to simply do it yourself. Go to www.caswellplating.com and read up on the home plating kits they offer. If you are handy in the garage and can follow directions, you can re-plate ALL your small pot-metal parts yourself with fantastic results. Practice makes perfect, and you quickly will learn how important the prep stages really are. The plating kits (while some are expensive) will easily pay for themselves after you plate just a few pieces. (One "specialized" pot metal plater wanted $200 just to re-do the short fender spears on my '67 Cutlass which are IMPOSSIBLE to find new). These kits are only for small items; bumpers and "big stuff" still must go to the local platers. While there is still lots of resistance to "home plating" in the auto restoration hobby, if you take all the necessary safety precautions, its no more dangerous than filling a can of gas for the lawn mower. Check out their website and look at the "customers pictures" section. You will be amazed. They have special "pot metal" mixes that do not react and eat at the pot metal... and keep the mounting posts intact. Check it out!!!!!


How can I correctly position the emblems on my clone project?

I know from experience from my own personal clone project that on a '67, the Cutlass emblems share the same stud location as those on the back of the 442 emblems, making this a no-brainer. However, I SHOULD note that I've heard that although the 442 emblems will physically fit into the Cutlass emblem holes, the location is incorrect. So...I'll do more research and post the results.

However, if you're attempting to locate emblems on another year, here's an idea you might try-- get your hands on some old pitted 442 emblems with studs in the same location as your good versions. To check this, you'll probably want to stick one in a piece of cardboard, mark a line around the edge of the emblem, and then stick the other emblem in the same holes to see if it lines up perfectly.  Grind the studs off the back (leave just enough so you can see where there were). Using a drill press, drill a hole through the emblem where each of the studs were. Spray some sticky stuff on the backside (like an upholstery adhesive-- but whatever you use, make sure it doesn't damage paint, and that it is strong enough to hold the emblem in place, but doesn't dry or harden very quickly). Stick the emblem on the fender. Get it just right (you'll want to take some reference measurements off a real car, if you can't get the info any other way-- that way you will know exactly where the emblem goes). Mark the fender for each hole you will drill for the studs (see why I had you drill holes through the emblem?). Remove and drill for the studs.

The reason I gave this suggestion is just so you can start thinking of other ways to do it. Yeah, you might get the info on where to drill each hole, but have you ever tried to measure exactly where each and every hole is supposed to go? Chances are, you'll be off by just a tiny little bit in relation to each other. And that is one reason the clone cars you see often have crooked emblems. They tried to measure each hole location separately. This way you just need to measure where the edges of the emblem are, and that it is straight.


What is the difference between different years of Olds bucket seats?

The seat frames are all the same. The '69-'72 frames have the additional tubes into which the headrest posts fit, though this was also optionally available on the 1968 cars. The big difference is the location of the seatback release button, which was side-mounted on the '67-'68 cars and in the middle of the seatback on the later cars.


Is there a way of lowering the riding height of the stock bucket seats?

The power bucket option would definitely lower the seat for you.. The power bucket was a much heavier seat design and used a heavy-duty floor bracket that had a different stud location than a non-power seat so that one could not mistakenly interchange the seats. You could probably modify your existing seat to lower it...however, you must be very careful.

The strength of these seat designs in a crash is marginal at best. If you modify a seat poorly there is no telling what might happen...God forbid you are involved in a crash and put the seat through a lot of stress. As such, never use a used seat out of a totaled car!

Because the seat track bolts onto the seat you may be able to fabricate a lower bracket to take the place of the existing track. If you made a fixed position bracket, it would be stronger than the track, but you would have to experiment with seat position or design it so that you could have multiple position settings on the bracket.

 

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