February 27, 2006: Guess what? Actual progress is being made!
Once I took the time to start drilling and riveting, the fender repair ended up far better than I had hoped. There's almost no sign of damage now that the part is back on the car. My aluminum plates are hidden in the dark wheel wells and painted black, and only a couple of rivet heads are visible at the bottom of the leading edge of the fender if you know where to look. In fact, the repaired fender looks better than the "good" one thanks to a new stone shield made of 0.050" aluminum instead of the thin battered one on the other side. The front suspension was set up to an approximate ride height and after a bit of help from a spare battery and a new set of plugs, the car roared into life. Ahh, I've missed driving this little critter.
Since there is an appointment with C&D coming up, I'm trying to decide how much work I should do to make the car look good. Currently it has a high level of patina - Moab mud in every possible crevice, stone chips on the fenders, missing paint on the nose and front fenders. Little problems like a coolant gauge that jumps around at high RPM and a tach that only works sometimes (I rely on the RevLight when driving anyhow) should probably be rectified. A bit of tidying up is definitely in order - but do I go as far as new paint? I certainly need to fix those louvres in the hood, they're a real problem.
Tonight the new muffler will be welded in. Hopefully it'll be the last time I do this. I'm also going to fit the grille which will make a huge difference to the look of the car. Less than two months until I have to be in Texas, time to get to work!