This is how TLB'55 looked in September 2001 when I went to check it out. Richard Ruth and I had already examined a stack of photos of the car and he had comfirmed that the car was the long-lost camera car from Two-Lane Blacktop.
One owner thought the car had been used in American Graffiti, but as we know now it was only used in Two-Lane Blacktop. The Ontario connection played a role when I received a call that the original fiberglass doors off the car were for sale and the ad listed an Ontario phone number.
Remember those bashed-in bumper guards? Also notice the mounts for the camera scaffolding welded to the frame.
Ugly, but beautiful evidence of the car's authenticity and use.
Imagine how pleased I was to flip up the carpet and find the original holes for the dummy fuel filler.
As I was to later find, the original windshield wiper motors installed by Richard Ruth when he built the cars were still there. The wiring was a little scary and was replaced while the car was disaseembled.
Long before I received the photos of TLB'55 in the 1980s, I documented the car's interior during my trip to examine it. The original plexiglass rear quarter windows were still in the car.
The steering column installed by Ruth was still there.
Just before I rolled it into my shop in December 2001 for a return to the correct Two-Lane Blacktop trim.
Somewhere between 1987 and 2001, the car's tube axle frontend and Ruth-built headers had been replaced.
I freshened things up, but the car would only be correct when Ruth could replace the butchered up firewall and replicate the original front end and headers.
Several layers of paint were removed from the interior.
The dash was repainted - notice the rat's nest of wiring I'd pulled out. Look how solid those floor pans are, thanks to the car's California origins and not getting much use in Canada.
TLB'55s interior after much work.
The first layer of primer was applied over the black. A second darker layer of primer was added and then splashed liberally with solvents to get the weathered and streaked look.
By May 2002, the car was back together and rolled out of my shop under its own power. There was still much work to be done at this point. A few months after this, I received a call that the original fiberglass doors were available.
While the car was in Ontario, the fiberglass doors were sold to a guy building a gasser called Plum Wild. This photo was taken by the fellow who knew the origin of the doors and bought the car to save them after the car had sat in an impound/storage lot for several years.
The inner and outer panels had become delaminated and pop-rivited back together.
Here's how I decided to strengthen the doors so that they wouldn't crack and come apart again.
Once the doors were repaired and back together, look what appeared as I was sanding off the race car paint. (see the 1970s photos of the car) I stopped at this point and shot primer over the paint. 50 years from now, someone will be able to authenticate those doors as the originals.
Ready to go back on the car where they belong. I was able to save the metal of the sliders, but replaced the plexiglass because it was too scratched to use.
Finally in 2005 I was able to get the car into Richard Ruth's shop to have him finish the restoration. Here he has peeled back the aluminum firewall someone had pop-rivited on, and we pondered the array of holes in the original firewall.
The Camaro front suspension is now history.
Ruth needed about 16 inches of original frame to graft on, so he located another California one-piece to use as a donor for the section he needed.
Here's the donor front clip going on.
Plug welding the front clip on......
....only to chop most of it off. It was better to add what was needed than to replace the original frame.
Firewall is back to where it should be.
Ruth bends his own axles to get the drop and stance that he wants.
454 ready to go back in.
Starting on the headers.
Back home at last in 2006.
Compare this photo to the one at the top. Five years made a big difference and the car is back to where it should be for future generations to enjoy.
But wait, there's more. In 2009 I fitted the correct vintage Weiand intake and some vintage Firestone racing tires on the car. The car still needs a green flex fan and I have a couple, but 40 year-old fiberglass spinning at 8,000 is scary. This photo is setup day at the 2010 York US 30 Reunion show.