Bill Dettman's Coupe:

Bill has been working on restoring his Coupe. His website has some more pictures, too.

You can also see the feature article I did on Bill's project - Part 1 and Part 2.

January 2003 - "Right now, the interior is partially disassembled, as I have replaced the carpet, and have already had the driver's seat recovered, and am having the back seat repaired. The console is out, being worked on in my basement. The 401's valve covers will be back in a few weeks as they are getting plated (I like the factory valve covers with good chrome, they look nice). The trunk is about 90% done - There are two custom-made compartments that are fabric covered and have early style Matador emblems on them. Carpeted panels have been added for the sides and back to give a nice clean finished appearance. Side lights inside have been added. I'll send you some photos of that soon. I want to order the stripe kit from Kennedy if they still offer the set. I still need to get a crank for my 401. I also want to find a manual trans flywheel so I can get the engine balanced with both, so I can add the 4-speed once I get all the parts."

Some recent pictures - Fall 2002

Feb. 2002 - "Here are the latest pictures of my Matador X Coupe. No stripe kit yet or X emblems, but coming along. This is a genuine 'X' and had the stripe on before repainting. The 'X' emblems were gone before I rescued this car last spring. I'm looking for a good set now. The 401 for it is under construction. This is AMC F7 Blue and will have the white X stripe kit. Yes, if you look closely at one of the photos of the Matador, you can see the front of our third classic car, a '65 Ford Mustang 289. It is baby blue. The last photo shows the Javelin and Mustang together. I thought I would throw that in."

Some recent pictures - Feb. 2002

Progress as of August, 2001

Progress in October, 2001

Bill's original Coupe - the inspiration for his current project.

Hello Craig

I was looking at the updates to your web site, and wanted to give you a bit of advice from experience from my AMC's. Your Project Dolly is an interesting one, and I like what you are doing. I see you are using the Comp Cams 280, which is the same cam I used in my 401 in my Javelin, which by the way has a 3.54 axle, 2500 stall converter and is now a high 12 second car that acts like it is on ice when you stab the throttle. I used the Edelbrock 750 carb, and after using many Holleys, some out of the box, the Edelbrock is the choice by far. It is by far more tuneable and holds a setting. My Matador is going to see a 401 built for more street oriented use, but as I see what you are doing with your other Coupe, I wanted to give you my two cents. My recommendation for a 12-second Coupe: Edelbrock 800 (new offering from them) Edelbrock Torker ( as long as stall speed on converter is at least 2800 RPM), Or Performer ( if stall speed is closer to 2500 RPM), block the heat off to the intake, use a 160 thermostat, a big tranny cooler (I used a 19,000 lb GVW RV cooler) a MSD blaster coil and an ignition system tailored to the cam. I found that mine does not like vacuum advance too much, and had a low-speed and cruise miss directly related to vacuum advance. I started with an adjustable advance, and finally went with no vacuum advance at all when I changed from points to the Motorcraft system. The 280 does like a significant amount of centrifugal advance, so take a look at that. I noticed a MAJOR difference when giving the engine more centrifugal advance. Initial timing with the 280 is good at about 10 to 12 degrees.

With the Matador's weight at about 3800 lbs, you should be close to my Javelin's weight of 3310 if you are lightening it. My first Coupe was a mid-14 second car with a 360 using the old Crane Cams 'Gripper' cam and 3.15 open gears and a Holley 600. I have learned some things the hard way since then. Oh, by the way, when you install your cam, advance it 4 degrees. It will increase your engine's dynamic compression a bit, and give you a bit more low to mid range torque. I milled my heads .020 and used stock replacement .030 over pistons on a '72 401 giving me just over 8.8 to 1 compression. My 401 runs fine on 89 octane, but kind of complains with the 87 (I tried it once just to see). I usually run a blend of 89 and premium when I have some money. The last thing you will be looking for is a set of drag slicks, as I am in search of a set. The 401 built like this just blows away the tires. At the starting line, I have to be careful, or I go nowhere when the green light comes on. I am using the Performer, but plan on trying the Torker in a couple of months.

When I had my heads milled, I did not have to mill my intake. Everything went together fine. There is enough room to play with as far as that goes with the intake gasket, but I would think that much more than that would make it something you may have to do. I used the material from the old intake valley pan gasket to make the blocker pieces for the heat crossover. I cut them so they just fit inside the opening of the gasket, but fit over the crossover port. I used Permatex Red in that area to assure high temperature sealing there. The material that that valley pan is made up is thin enough and will give enough so there is a good seal, they don't rust or pit out on you, and the material is easy to cut. I tried a piece of thin steel once, and it rusted through in less than a year. There is a lot of corrosive properties in the exhaust, moisture gets in there, and steel just cannot live in that environment. That valley pan material is some type of aluminum alloy that works great there. If you cannot come up with a piece of that material, try to use as thin a piece of aluminum as you can find. Maybe a piece cut from an aluminum pop can will work.

Go for the sleeper look with stock rims and put the bumpers back on! You could probably go the cheap route on the bumpers if they are pitted up and just paint them body color. Use OEM steel wheels, and when you get the slicks, you will have to drill the edges of the rims to screw the beads of the slicks to the rims to prevent the rims from spinning on the beads of the tires. Not that many tire shops mount slicks, so you may have to do a little shopping around. The steel wheels are easier to work with anyway. For even more of a sleeper look, find a set of those dog-dish AMC hub caps and put them on the car! Put 304 emblems on the front! At our local track, someone did that with their car. You have to have a screw to secure the hubcap to keep it from flying off. The guy here did a Chevy Caprice all done as a sleeper and it runs 11's. I want to get this guy! It looks very sedate. Oh, get a set of drag shocks for the front too. They do make them for AMC's. I got a price of about $80 for a set of them. They let the front end rise easier for better weight transfer and traction. You will get that car in the 12's! Get the power to the pavement and you will! You will like that 280 cam! It has a neat idle!

My Coupe is coming along. My web page has a few new pics of the new Coupe as it comes alive! It is now a reliable car and drives great. The 22 years it sat were pretty good to it. I am deep in the body work on my coupe. After 22 years in a garage, the body was spared a lot of damage. There were some dings, scratches and a close call with the frame of a garage door, but all in all, a nice body to work with. It took an afternoon to get the old stripe off the body! I am going to order a new stripe from Kennedy American.

I should be back at the drag strip with the Javelin by the middle to end of July. I want to have the Matador painted by September. I will have a bunch of the original parts under the hood chrome plated over winter. I did that to the Javelin, and it looks good. I had the original valve vovers, the underhood support bars, and several other pieces plated rather than just painted black. It's easier to keep clean too. Next year the car should be ready for the hitch. I love driving my coupe and enjoy it's ride, smoothness and the fact that it is the only one anywhere near here.

Take care and I hope I have not bored you too much with all this! Oh, the trailer hitch you have is going to be the hot tip to a lot of Coupe owners. The photos you sent me a couple of months ago were helpful. I do want to order one in a few months if there is a vendor or part number available.


Bill Dettman