There’s an old military saying that goes something like, “No plan survives the first contact with the enemy.” Our initial plan was to replace the right rear quarter on our ’68 and just massage the rear frame rail back into shape. Unfortunately that went out the window once we started removing the quarter panel and saw how messed up the frame and floor of our Camaro really was. With a lot of sweat we could have made what we had work, but we decided that it would be easier to remove the offending rail and replace it with a new piece from National Parts Depot.
On a scale from one to ten, with ten being really difficult, replacing a rear frame rail is about a seven. While it’s not an aesthetic part that will be seen by the world, like a quarter panel, it’s a key component to the structural rigidity and geometry of the car. Having a rear frame rail installed incorrectly will make bolting on rear components, such as suspension and a differential, very difficult. If it’s off enough, alignment will be a major Excedrin headache if possible at all. This is especially true if the car gets a relatively non-adjustable rear suspension such as leaf springs. In short, it doesn’t need to go in pretty, but it’s critical that it goes in right.
For some time now NPD has offered rear frame rail repair sections in 36- and 46-inch lengths, but recently they released just what we needed: a 68-inch-long full frame rail. So follow along as we take a detour from our quarter panel replacement to square up our battered Camaro and graft in one of these new rails from NPD.