Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Pace Car Air Dam For My 76 Vette | Part 2


Almost a year ago I purchased a Pace Car air dam for my '76 Stingray, but the lack of garage space and having most of my tools stored in boxes relegated this project to the back burner.

Well, since I now have a new home with a small, yet nicely equipped garage, it was time to tackle this project and get the front spoiler installed.

As far as the front spoiler is concerned, you have two options. Either a one-piece fiberglass unit or the three-piece urethane air dam that I chose for my Corvette.

The reason I chose the urethane option was based on the flexibility of the material, whereas a fiberglass spoiler would simply crack or break if I was to accidentally hit a parking curb or a speed bump, for example.

Since the air dam does not come with installation instructions, I had to wing it and figure things out on my own. I managed to learn a few things along the way and I hope this article will be helpful to you if you decide to get one for your car.

Again, the installation examples shown apply to the 3-piece urethane air dam which—by the way—fits 1973 thru 1979 models.


The first thing I did, was to use the Rhino Ramps to bring the nose of my car to an accessible height. I then removed the small original chin spoiler. I also saved and cleaned the original mounting hardware since it's used to secure the air dam.



The photo above shows the chin spoiler (in front) and the center section of the Pace Car air dam. Again, the mounting holes are in the same location, although I had to file a couple of them in order to enlarge them so they would align with the mounting holes.


You will also need to remove two bolts from the nose tray in order to attach the air dam. This will be self-explanatory as you test-fit the piece.

And that is the easy part.

This project gets a bit more challenging as you get ready to attach the fender extensions, especially since you will need to drill holes into the fenders.

Yes, you will need to DRILL a couple of holes!

It's not a big deal, really, but please DO NOT use my "Measure once, drill three times" approach.

I'm still shaking my head over that episode, so don't drill extra holes.

But in my defense... my air dam came with no instructions whatsoever, so I had to learn as I installed the pieces.

OK... so the first thing is to remove the threaded studs near the tips of the extensions. I did this by threading two nuts and locking them in place. I then unscrewed the stud by turning the bottom nut.

The lower portion of the stud has coarse threads (see photo below), which bite nicely into the urethane so you don't need to overtighten them when reinstalling.


With the studs out of the way, apply masking tape to the fender and carefully draw the extension's outline with a marker to show where it will be located.

You want to make sure the extension you're working on is positioned exactly where you want it both in relation to the fender as well as the middle section of the air dam. That's why you need to install the center section first.


Next, measure the exact distance from the top and fender edges of the extension and make a corresponding mark on the tape based on the outline you drew.


That should give you a very accurate location where you need to drill. At this point cross your fingers, hold your breath, and squeeze the trigger.



Repeat this procedure on the other fender, reinstall the studs and, after drilling the pilot holes to size, test fit the air dam extensions.


It is worth mentioning that it is unlikely that the air dam will follow the contour of your fender lines perfectly. Mine had gaps and the only way to get rid of them was to install a couple of trim screws as far down the extensions as possible while still allowing them to close the gaps. One side worked better than the other, but that's how things are with these older cars.


I also installed another screw at the junction where the center piece meets the extensions. My air dam had a poorly-made tab that was supposed to secure these pieces from behind, but they did not work as intended so I removed it. The small screws do the job a lot better.

Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that the finish of these pieces leaves a lot to be desired, so you may want to do some sanding here and there to ensure a nice fit.

In my case, this was very obvious at the very tip of each extension, so I had to trim some extra material and sand the edges down a bit.

Sanding urethane can be a very slow process, and a sanding sponge or block helps quite a bit.

These pieces also had a few small divots that I will cover with glazing putty when I get them ready for paint.

You may also need to trim the extensions inside the fender wells, as the tires may rub them when the wheels are turned fully to either side.


Lastly, since my car is lowered about an inch on the front, the air dam rubbed a bit as I drove the Vette off the ramps. I will avoid this problem next time by using a couple of pieces of wood in front of the ramps.


So there you have it!

As you can see, installing a Pace Car-style air dam on your 1973-1979 Corvette is not very difficult. Tricky, yes, but hopefully this article will help you get yours installed without (much) anxiety and, especially, mishaps.

I think that the front spoiler—whether you go with the one-piece or the Pace Car 3-piece unit I chose—makes the front of the car look complete and even a bit more aggressive, which fits a muscle car well.






UPDATE | June 2018

I had a local body shop paint the air dam and I'm very pleased with the results. It now looks complete.







Thank you for following my 1976 Corvette blog!


Product Links... (#sponsored)

• 1973-1979 Pace Car Front Spoiler (Urethane Air Dam)
• 1973-1979 C3 Corvette Front Spoiler Mounting Bolt Set
• Wheel Chocks
Rhino Ramps (12,000 pounds)

2 comments:

  1. Muy buen trabajo. Yo tengo esa tarea pendiente. También compré ese tipo de spoiler para mi Stingray ‘74.

    ReplyDelete

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