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Tour Car Bodywork

Tour Car Bodywork Continues

Randy Fish Mar 17, 2005

Just imagine the sounds from a body shop--hammers hammering, welders welding, grinders grinding, and air chisels chiseling. It's kind of a symphony of steel, where chips of metal fly and welding odors permeate the air. If you've ever spent time in a production body shop, you know why lots of body technicians wear ear protection. The whacking and clattering of steel meeting steel can get to you, and get your head banging just as loudly.

In this installment, you'll see some of the installation of Goodmark sheet metal panels. While most of the cutting, stripping, and evaluation was covered last month, here we'll see the fresh stuff being fitted into place. And though not many of you would try and tackle a body restoration of these proportions, we think you'll still find it interesting to see just what's happening behind all those exterior panels. Seeing the inner construction of a car can be just as interesting as seeing its engine.

Please keep in mind, that while this project is decidedly meant to demonstrate Goodmark's full line of replacement body panels, it also serves another important purpose along the way. You can consider this as a visual reference for what it takes to properly restore a musclecar--using an example that may be very similar to the one in your driveway. Ground-up projects are certainly not for the faint of heart (or wallet), but a professionally restored musclecar will only increase in value as the pages fall off your calendar every month.


Though we showed the trunk floor mostly in place last month, you'll find another critical area located on either side of the actual floor area. The left and right trunk floor extensions seal (or finish off) the inner wheel housings and lower rear quarter panels, so that no moisture can enter the trunk area from the rear wheels.

Proper fitment and grinding (or cleaning) of the mating surfaces is extremely important here.

No matter what kind of part you're installing, trial fitment will make the overall job much closer to perfect. With the trunk floor extensions, your front (to-wheel-housing area) fit and alignment needs to be just right... does the inner, lower, and rear-most mating surfaces of the new extension panel.

Not to beat a dead horse here, but your front flanges need the most careful evaluation, as that's where your trunk floor extension meets the inner wheel house.

The trunk floor itself received a nice continuous bead. These welds will be ground smooth for cosmetic purposes. However, grinding (or dressing) your welds will also help you locate any gaps, which can be fixed easily with a few more zaps of the welder.

The inner construction for your back panel helps tie everything together on the tail end of things. Alignment is really critical here, as are good sturdy welds.

In another part of the shop, work was beginning on the new Goodmark front sheetmetal panels. Here, the new front wheelhousing is being bolted to the fender, prior to trial fitting on the car.

A while later, the DA (dual-action) sander came to life, spinning an adhesive-backed sandpaper disc to remove the factory primer. Like with many orbital tools, DAs are used with quick strokes across the surface, to reduce the amount of heat build-up in the panel.

Though more DA sanding remains, the front sheetmetal was trial fitted, checking for alignment, proper gaps, etc. You'll note that even the grille and lower valance panel are bolted up. This is better done before paint, in case shimming, and/or fitment issues arise.

The steady buzz of the DA continued filling the shop. While this factory primer is used basically for panel protection before you purchase it, scuffing can be done with either 220- or 320-grit paper.

With door skin installations, your first critical steps come in removing the old panels. Special tools are available that "peel" the outer skin from its inner construction. The entire perimeter of the skin itself is merely "folded" around the inner construction's mating flange, then, hammer and dollied flush. The dolly is worked on the outside of the panel, while your hammer strokes land on the inner frame.


Dale Etheredge Auto & Performance
Covington, GA 30016
METAL FINISH U.S.A. (Division of H&H Autobody, Inc.)
Cleveland, GA

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