'65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

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'65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby cdoyle1966 » Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:42 pm

Hey folks! I am new to the forum and hoping to get some direction from people that are better at this than I am. I've got a 1965 Mercury Comet Caliente convertible. I think it spent most of it's life in Iowa. Currently, have it at a resto shop in TX. I have no reason yet not to trust the owner. I've toured the shop and have seen their work and it is very good.

Had a chat with him today after my car came back from blasting. I knew it was rough, but he is basically telling me the entire undercarriage is bad and if I want to do an off frame restoration, just getting the frame, floor pans, trunk pan, rockers, etc. would cost in the neighborhood of $30K to $50K - apparently very labor intensive. We got to the point in the conversation where he was saying I'd be better off buying another one either already done (which I don't want to do - heck I've already got the 289 rebuilt, the tranny rebuilt, drive shaft rebuilt, etc.) so I am invested at this point. Or buying one in better shape and then dropping my stuff into that one.

I'm really not sure what to do now. Anyone have experience with all the dang rust in these convertibles? Is it even possible to get a completely new frame and floors and drop my body on that? Any direction would be greatly appreciated.

Chris
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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby lavron » Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:54 pm

Welcome on Chris.

First just to get terminology correct your Comet has no frame, it is a unibody car, the floorpans are part of the structure. Not sure, but if those pictures are of the floor blasted it don't look that bad to me but hard to tell from pictures.

There are new floorpans available for around $500 but that does not include the the sub frames etc. and of course labor to install it.

Someone here can inform you more on this than I can.

See Ya,
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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby Jims65cyclone » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:58 pm

Welcome aboard, Chris! As Mike said, Comets are uni-body construction with no separate frame, so you can't repair the body and set it on a new frame. It has to be repaired as a unit. Rusted floor and trunk pans and torque boxes are par for course on most of these cars, whether convertible or not, so it's not unusual yours is stricken. There are a number of guys on here that have dealt with rust as bad or worse than yours (John, Lou, Joe, et al.), and can provide better guidance than me. The cost for materials to repair your damage is probably in the $1K range, but the labor involved is extensive. Most of the guys on here did their own repairs, so they probably have a better idea of the cost in terms of blood, sweat and part-time hours rather than hard dollars. But, looking at the reason-ability of a $30K (low side) estimate: If you have $1K in materials, then $29K is labor. At $100/hr (?) that's over 7 weeks at 40hrs/wk. :shock: Seems excessive to me. John, Lou, Joe...what do you guys think? Time for another estimate?
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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby poboyjo65 » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:29 pm

Welcome on I'll leave that to Lou Jim.he's a professional restorer. I didn't keep up with hours,didnt want to know how many hours or how much money I spent. But shops have to put their name on a job,so they have to turn out a nice job. where as I was just patchin up an old hot rod to beat around in. :lol: & he was probably leaving some room in there for unknown unforeseen problems, But rust repair is time consuming & not a walk in the park! :lol: but I've seen worse thaN that!
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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby Lou's Comet » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:32 pm

cdoyle1966 wrote:Hey folks! I am new to the forum and hoping to get some direction from people that are better at this than I am. I've got a 1965 Mercury Comet Caliente convertible. I think it spent most of it's life in Iowa. Currently, have it at a resto shop in TX. I have no reason yet not to trust the owner. I've toured the shop and have seen their work and it is very good.

Had a chat with him today after my car came back from blasting. I knew it was rough, but he is basically telling me the entire undercarriage is bad and if I want to do an off frame restoration, just getting the frame, floor pans, trunk pan, rockers, etc. would cost in the neighborhood of $30K to $50K - apparently very labor intensive. We got to the point in the conversation where he was saying I'd be better off buying another one either already done (which I don't want to do - heck I've already got the 289 rebuilt, the tranny rebuilt, drive shaft rebuilt, etc.) so I am invested at this point. Or buying one in better shape and then dropping my stuff into that one.

I'm really not sure what to do now. Anyone have experience with all the dang rust in these convertibles? Is it even possible to get a completely new frame and floors and drop my body on that? Any direction would be greatly appreciated.

Chris


Hi Chris,

$30K to $50K just for the floors, frame(uni-body), rockers, trunk floor ? This price does not include body? ( fenders, hood, quarters, etc)?

If it is just the floors, etc. and not the body IMHO 30K is a little excessive and 50K is borderline outrageous.

Convertables have a unique floor pan - uni-body. With the inner rockers, seat riser and bracing. But even so I would think you should be able to get the floor, uni-body, rockers, trunk, done right/nice for somewhere in the 20-25K range.

Your car doesn't look that bad. The inner rockers would be the biggest expense labor wise and hard to see everything in pictures but they really don't look bad. I did a set of inner rockers and floor pans on a Mustang convert a few years back. The guy had around 9K into labor. This was cutting them out welding in new, grinding and finishing the seams. No paint or coatings. The car had other issues in trunk and couple spots on the rails but the owner was only worried about the floor and rockers.

Didn't see any pictures of the inside of trunk or rear of car. But still think the estimate is high, even at 30K. I would definitely look for another estimate.

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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby Groover » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:14 am

I am merely an amateur, but I do have some experience with this particular Comet restoration problem. Like Poboy, I didn't track the hours, but it was my first so it would have taken way longer than a pro anyway.

In answer to your builder's recommendation of getting another car, yes, I believe you could find a car with far less rust for less than the estimated repair price. Might take a while, but you could. Unless you are attached to this particular car for sentimental reasons, it might be worth a look (at least so you have an option for price comparison). Plus when you go with another car, you get the benefit of a second parts car to finish your project and you can always sell the leftovers.

For example, here's one that looks to have already been restored for a starting price of $11,500. Now granted there are no photos of the underside, so it could be a pig with lipstick, but it might be worth checking something like this out (unless, like I said you are attached -- as many of us are for whatever reason). You'll find more like this if you look around.

https://classics.autotrader.com/classic ... /100828284

My other observation is (without trying to throw shade on your body shop guys) if they looked underneath before the started, I'd be a little miffed that they didn't see this coming. Looking at the photo "Frame before blast 2" it sure looks to me like the passenger side inner rocker has a large hole near the front (looks like a chunk is missing) and all four torque boxes (the corners where the frames and body come together) look like zones of "fun" riddled with rust and holes which means there's likely more fun inside. I don't think they needed to blast it to see that and that tells me there was more work than just floor pans from the start. If they didn't start warning you about the possible upper end price, before the blasting, then I might want shop around.

But then again, I tried to shop my car around for body guys to do this exact work, and it was nearly impossible to get even a sort of firm quote, for good reason. They really can't know all the problems they are going to find until they get in there and see how much hand fabrication they are going to have to do, etc. So don't be surprised if you get quotes like $20-30k or no quote and just "time and materials." They have to be realistic about what they can do.

Hang in there and keep us posted. We're all pullin' for ya.
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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby cdoyle1966 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:39 pm

Wow! Thanks for all of the comments everyone. It is GREATLY appreciated.

So, I agree with everything said. I think I'm going to shop the repairs to at least one more outfit. If anyone has any recommendations I am happy to use it.

I also found a couple of good looking cars for sale in the low $10,000's. Agree with Groover, they also could be pigs with lipstick, but worth the consideration.

My sentiment isn't necessarily for this particular car as much as it is a '65 Comet and I really want to stick with a convertible if I can. We were dirt poor growing up and my mom had this buy here/pay here car lot she would use. She'd buy a $100 car, drive it until it wouldn't go anymore and then go get another. We had a '66 Ford Falcon that was primer gray and had 4 bald tires. Doors worked GREAT though :) When that died we literally pushed it on the lot and the guy sold us a 1965 Mercury Comet hard top for $500, which took my mom about a year to pay off.

But I fell in love with it! It was the soccer mom version, i.e. 3 speed on the tree and I think it had a 179 engine. You can't beat the lines, chrome and stacked headlights though, IMHO.

Anyhow, thank you all. I am going to look and will keep everyone posted. Any other direction is more than welcome!

Chris
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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby bigdan » Sun Aug 06, 2017 5:10 pm

First a disclaimer - I'm not a professional. That being said, I hand - fabbed a complete floor for 64 convertible a few years back, by myself, and had a few months of mornings (I worked 2nd shift at the time) in it, including pretty much making lower quarters from scratch. I had a thread here at one point, might still be here. I would guess 200 hours or so total time.

That being said, if I was doing it for a living, I would've sourced NOS quarters, which are priceless, or used/rust free, which seemed to go around $1000 from what I saw. Now they're even reproducing the entire floor pan, which would help. The problem arises when you say the word "convertible." Inner rockers are different, the extra- heavy cross member, the supports at the top cylinder area, etc are all different than hard tops/ sedans, which would have to be hand made $$$.

AS a hobbyist I'd just dive right on in. If I was paying a shop on the hour to restore it like new, I'd look hard for a rust free driver and go from there. Good luck!

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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby afx1964 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:59 pm

In the body shop business when you run across a job you don't really want to do you usually just price it high enough that a reasonable person wouldn't pay that amount. Maybe that's where this shop is after getting a good look at it. Rust repairs are no fun and there aren't a lot of shops that will do them.
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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby cdoyle1966 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:05 am

afx1964 wrote:In the body shop business when you run across a job you don't really want to do you usually just price it high enough that a reasonable person wouldn't pay that amount. Maybe that's where this shop is after getting a good look at it. Rust repairs are no fun and there aren't a lot of shops that will do them.


I definitely think this is part of it as well. I've got some feelers out for getting a 2nd opinion, including a place in Wayne, IN that actually specializes in frame/unibody repair. I'll keep posted.

Chris
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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby Lip Ripper » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:52 am

30K is prohibitive and well beyond the value of a finished car. $30K would buy you a show winning Cali. There are plenty of super nice classic's in the 20's. They obviously don't want to do the car. And that rocker rot is ugly. I'd say prime the blasted part and see if you can sell it to someone that is willing to put in the blood sweat and beer themselves.

Edit, after a search on ebay, the highest priced Cali sold recently was $18,500. I think it goes back 60 days.

Not a Comet but as a unit of measure. This looks like a lot of car for the money.

https://tampa.craigslist.org/hdo/cto/d/ ... 28963.html

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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby cdoyle1966 » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:12 pm

Lip Ripper wrote:30K is prohibitive and well beyond the value of a finished car. $30K would buy you a show winning Cali. There are plenty of super nice classic's in the 20's. They obviously don't want to do the car. And that rocker rot is ugly. I'd say prime the blasted part and see if you can sell it to someone that is willing to put in the blood sweat and beer themselves.

Edit, after a search on ebay, the highest priced Cali sold recently was $18,500. I think it goes back 60 days.

Not a Comet but as a unit of measure. This looks like a lot of car for the money.

https://tampa.craigslist.org/hdo/cto/d/ ... 28963.html

Stacey


Stacey - totally agree on what you could get for 30K or less. There is actually a real beauty going up for auction of in New England in a couple of weeks. I've already gotten some feedback from a couple of other places and so far everyone is coming back saying it actually doesn't look as bad as they are making it sound. I agree with what's been said here - I think they just really don't want to do it.

Here's a couple more pics with epoxy. At least stopping the rust until I can get it to the right place for the repair.

Chris
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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby Lou's Comet » Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:17 pm

cdoyle1966 wrote:
Stacey - totally agree on what you could get for 30K or less. There is actually a real beauty going up for auction of in New England in a couple of weeks. I've already gotten some feedback from a couple of other places and so far everyone is coming back saying it actually doesn't look as bad as they are making it sound. I agree with what's been said here - I think they just really don't want to do it.

Here's a couple more pics with epoxy. At least stopping the rust until I can get it to the right place for the repair.

Chris


I agree don't think the car is that bad, was showing pictures to my friend I actually rent my shop from, he does old cars too. We figure 200-240 hrs labor and prob somewhere around 12k plus parts/materials.

I agree with the rest about the shop didn't want the job. Up here in SW Pa that would be a good candidate to redo. We see a lot of cars worse than that. I think in a area like here where you grow up with rusted cars it wouldn't be as big of a deal.

Good luck with it and hope someone gives you a reasonable estimate

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Re: '65 Caliente Convertible Undercarriage

Postby Loner » Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:14 pm

From the pictures it doesn't look that bad. I had 187 hours in a 66 Comet. That was cutting it out to undercoating it. Complete floor pan and trunk.

Matt
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