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The Jay Leno 7-Litre Restoration

Jay Leno purchased his car from Bruce Jackson of British Colombia, Canada in September of 2008. He had wanted a 4speed Hardtop. The problem was there are only 115 known to still exist. When he saw pictures of the car, he decided to get it. The car had undergone an overhaul in 2000, which included a rebuild of the engine. Jay asked Bruce and some of his friends to deliver the car in person to the Big Dog Garage, and gave them the VIP treatment while they were in LA
(click here for the story)
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Jay had the car awhile, but was in the middle of a Chevrolet Corvair Rampside restoration when the 7-Litre arrived, so the car was put on hold till the other one was complete.


Here is how the car looked when Jay first got it.
 
Here is a shot of the original powerplant for which the car is named.
It is the famed FORD 428 ci (7-Litre) engine.


Around February, Jay and the Big Dog Crew, headed by Bernard Juchli, noticed a strange odor coming from the car. Upon closer inspection, it was found that a family of mice had made their home inside the car. At last count 19 mice were removed from inside the frame, duct work and other various places. The mice also did a job on the wiring haness. Jay wasn't too concerned, as he planned to redo the car anyway, in order to paint it to match the Vintage Burgundy color that his dad had bought in late 1965. Dismantling of the car began in May of 2009. They were met with several surprises as the car started to be taken apart. The cowl was found to be "crinkled" as well as parts of the frame. The car had apparently been in an accident at some point in its life.


The Body is removed from the frame.

Also a major repair was noted to the driver's side quarter. The right quarter had some stress damage due to the amount of torque of the engine. Bruce had sent pictures of the right quarter stress cracks during their presale talks, and told him that work was needed to the driver's quarter, so Jay was aware of the need for that repair. The team got together and decided that the frame would need repairing and a new cowl would need to be acquired. Luckily they located a 1966 LTD, not far from the garage that had an undamaged body. Another plus of the donor car was that it was equipped with factory air and power windows. This is important, because Jay needs air for his cars, while driving on those hot LA days. The cowl on an A/C 7-Litre and a non A/C 7-Litre are quite different, as are the dashes, so this aquisition meant they would be able to create a factory correct A/C car. Jay often uses "Vintage Air" systems in his non A/C cars, but this wouldn't be necessary for this restoration. With the engine and drivetrain removed, the frame was repaired and refinished, and the body was sent out for paint removal. Jay opted for media blasting over chemical stripping,

 

The Frame is redone.
Note the finished Corvair Rampside in the background.


because residual stripper can affect the painting process. Once the paint and rust were removed the body was sent back to the Big Dog Garage, where it was mounted to a Rotisserie. There it underwent some rust repairs to the floors and some body panels and the necessary

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