'69 LeMans Barn Find Detail

When I received a call from my friend Andy at NAMC asking me to, “come to Greenwich… 69’ LeMans Muscle Car… Convertible…salvage the paint,” I knew I was in for a major project. I hopped in the Macan and went to meet the crew out in Greenwich. Upon arrival, the garage door was open and there the 1969 Pontiac LeMans Convertible sat on drooping tires nonetheless. A woodpile propped up against the passenger side was cause for concern as was the thick layer of dust and spiderwebs on the paint. Still, there’s always hope and while inspecting the paint I was already visualizing bringing this classic muscle car back to life. We cleared out the garage and for the first time in 22 years the LeMans was rolled out of the garage onto the trailer. 

1969 Pontiac LeMans Barn Find

Once the LeMans was safely back at the AMMO Studio, a closer inspection of the paint revealed the full extent of dirt, grime, spiderwebs, mold, and layers of filth from sitting for ages. The inside was also a hot mess. The LeMans is the little brother of the legendary Pontiac GTO and this example featured a 350cc 5.7L V8 (2 barrel) producing about 262 horsepower. I had a feeling some of the horses had left the stable over the years and been replaced by mice…

Larry loading the LeMans onto the tow truck

Step one was to prep my tools prior to giving the LeMans a thorough power wash. I filled the foam gun with AMMO Brute for extra cleaning power, AMMO Foam in the wash bucket, and Brute again in the wheel bucket. I used Titan 12 Degreaser and a stiff brush to scrub the off-white convertible top which once clean, contrasted nicely with the light blue paint. Next, I quickly rinsed the wheels, degreased the rubber, and cleaned the hubcaps with Brute. 

Cleaning filthy convertible top Pontiac Lemans

For the paint, I sprayed on Brute allowing the foam to soak into every seam and crevice dislodging the junk, while scrubbing the interior with Microfiber Towels and small brushes. The LeMans was already looking better having shed 5lbs of dirt onto the Studio floor. There was much more to come as I lifted the LeMans to check out the undercarriage. The muffler had been home to the aforementioned mice, and I pulled out a nest by hand.. The following day, I opened the hood to see about installing a jumper box to lower the convertible top. Instead, I was greeted with more nests littered around the 350 V8. My intuition had been right…the mice (even squirrels?) had invaded the LeMans.

LeMans barn find with AMMO Foam car wash

After the surprises under the hood, I wasn’t taking any chances on the interior, so I put on the bunny suit to avoid burning more clothes. To start, I scooped out all the loose debris and used a scrub pad to lift the grime off the seats. After just a few passes, the scrub pad needed a rinse and the brown goop that came out was gross. I upped my cleaning power for round two hitting the seats with a Steamer and AMMO Lather which proved successful. I repeated the steam and Lather clean on the rest of the interior before using my “sniper” steamer to blow out the seams and crevices. From there I used lather and an interior scrub brush on the floor mats and pedals. Even after cleaning them, a bunch of rocks had collected in the small grooves so I used a mini flat head screw driver to dislodge them. 

Larry Kosilla Cleaning barn find Lemans interior

After using compressed air to dislodge the remaining dirt, I quickly vacuumed up the floor to remove bits of debris before using my shampoo machine. Remember to flush out your machines with clean water before putting them away or they will smell for the next job! Finally I wiped the seats with AMMO Dygest to eliminate the organic matter and residue from all the mouse poop. It was important to have the Lemans safe and hygienic for the NAMC mechanic. With that in mind, I used my Hygiena tester and even the steering wheel (typically dirty area) passed which was gratifying after such a difficult cleaning. Still, the car could be cleaner so while my focus shifted back to the exterior, I installed an Ozone machine to eliminate any remaining contaminants. 

Disinfecting car interior at AMMO NYC

With the interior and exterior cleaned up I removed all the debris from the engine bay so the mechanic could safely access the engine. Hidden in the hood was a stiff mouse carcass that sent shivers down my spine. I’m glad I saved the mechanic or future owner an encounter with that little surprise. After some more vacuuming, a compressed air blowout, and a pressure wash, the engine bay was looking better. 

dead mouse in barn find Pontiac lemans

Next up the was the paint correction which due to the single stage paint meant a challenge with residue. In this case the Meguiar’s Microfiber pad did the trick as it pulled off the heavily caked paint without clogging the pad after a few passes. Trust me, I did have to blow out the pads several times over the course of the correction careful not to spray the residue everywhere. Take note that the base layer of paint itself was starting to crack so even though the top coat looked far better, no method would take out the cracks/swirls underneath. After finishing up the paint, I moved to the nice chrome bumpers which again polished best with the DA/Meguiar’s Microfiber Pad combo. The Rupes DA was the smart move in this case because polishing those large bumpers by hand is a quick road to carpal tunnel.

Rupes DA Bigfoot to polish chrome bumpers

Next, I popped off all 4 hub caps and brought them outside for a quick cleaning with AMMO Plum. I used the wheel brush to clean in between the spokes and rinsed the wheels again. I then finished up the hazy glass with a scrub pad which efficiently removed the caked-on grime. I then used AMMO Obey Glass Cleaner and the squeegee for a no streak windshield. The last step was to hydrate the dried up interior with AMMO Mousse which restored the natural leather and vinyl surfaces. 

pressure washing dirty hubcaps

While waiting for the trailer from NAMC, I remember to check the trunk. Thankfully, it wasn’t bad and seemed like it was just being used as a storage space for some of the car parts. Once Steve arrived, he hooked up the winch and pulled it into the trailer. The LeMans had an appointment with master mechanic Ted but first I needed to power wash my soiled floor. 

69 pontiac lemans convertible barn find in AMMO NYC Studio

When I finally arrived at NAMC, the plan was to start getting the LeMans sorted out mechanically. Ted wanted to get the engine running but a good deal of prep was required. First he replaced the oil adding 5 quarts and a new filter. The next step was to cut the fuel line so it didn’t suck in old fuel during the start up. Then all the spark plugs were removed so the cylinder walls could be lubricated with oil as well as each cylinder. Afterwards, the valve covers were removed probably for the 1st time since 1969! The engine was then primed with oil before he installed a new battery, replaced some parts on the distributor, and installed the new plugs. Finally we added fuel to the carburetor and gave it a go!

Starting LeMans barn find

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