If you're going to find rust in a first-gen Camaro, chances are it's going to be in the bottom of the trunk. The reasons for this are twofold. First, as the trunk weatherstrip ages, water tends to leak into the trunk area where it then pools in the low spots. Second, the rubber trunk mats hold the water against the floor and slows down any sort of evaporation. Add in a dose of “out of sight, out of mind,” and it's easy to see why many otherwise clean, early Camaros fall victim to trunk floor rot.
Thankfully, the fix is easy. While replacing a trunk floor doesn't fall into the "bolt-on" category, it's one of the simpler items on a Camaro that requires a welder to rehabilitate. So we headed out to Hot Rods by Dean in Phoenix, Arizona, for the 411 on how it's done on a 1968.
1. The stock trunk in this 1968 has suffered the typical ravages of time: a ton of surface rust and quite a few non-factory holes that have been punched in it over the years.
2. The first step, besides the obvious gas tank removal, was to cut away the hump that accommodates the tank filler tube. This will allow the new trunk floor to fit in place and be used as a template.
3. The new trunk floorpan from National Parts Depot (PN C-12981-1A, $85) is U.S.-made out of 20-gauge steel and measures in at around 47x30.5 inches.
4. We then slid the new pan into the Camaro's trunk.
5. With the NPD trunk pan in place, we were able to draw a line around the perimeter of the new pan.
6. This line showed fabricator Wesley Zeller, of Hot Rods By Dean, the maximum size of the hole he needed to cut. The new floor from NPD had a very large flange, but the damage to the 1968's original pan was mostly in the lower areas so Wesley used only the center of the pan and trimmed away most of the flange.
7. He also decided to notch the rear to keep the factory center “trenches,” since they ran up higher than the new pan's reach. This would be easier than trying to graft them to the lines molded into the pan. Once the old pan was cut away, the new pan was put in place and then a line was drawn on the bottom side as a guide to trim the new pan.
8. With the Camaro's and the NPD pan trimmed and properly fit, Wesley stitch-welded it in place. Once cooled, he finished perimeter-welding it in place. Welding small sections at a time while moving around the perimeter helps keep the panel from warping due to excessive heat buildup.
9. Once all the welds were ground smooth, he hit the trunk with Eastwood's Trunk Paint Kit (PN 10012Z, $48). The kit came with three cans of gray/black trunk spatter paint and two cans of stain diamond clear. The Camaro now has a trunk that looks as fresh as the day it left the factory.