Body Double

Forget fixing that rusted out hulk, with Dynacorn's new body shell , you won't have to.

Jason R. Sakurai Apr 21, 2005 0 Comment(s)

North Carolina is the unlikely locale for one of the best restoration shops in the country. While the surrounding area is somewhat secluded and rural, there's nothing unsophisticated about Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists (CARS). The brainchild of two decidedly forward-thinking engineers/enthusiasts, CARS is where a Corvette convertible that's already a Bloomington Gold contender comes in and doesn't leave until it's a certifiable winner. It's also where magazine's four-door Suburban project vehicle is transformed into a two-door--no small feat even though it simple. Yes, much of what CARS creates appears to be easy, perhaps because they planned it that way.

Jim Barber and Doug Harris, founders and co-owners of CARS, didn't enroll in the busted-knuckle, learn-as-you-go school of car crafting. They went the engineer-with-a-degree, high-technology route, and after years of toiling in a corporate manufacturing and engineering environment, decided they were more ideally suited building the classic cars they owned and lusted after in their youth. Notice the word rather than ? This is the reason why enthusiasts and aficionados of First-Generation Camaros are flocking to this restoration outpost--because CARS is the first company with the necessary jigs to assemble Dynacorn's new all-steel 1969 Camaro body components.

Unlike companies who produce replacement body panels, Dynacorn has created the unibody structure upon which the sheetmetal is hung. But as CARS' Harris related, "We know our cars are going to be driven, so we've engineered them as you would if you were the manufacturer assembling the original vehicle. Knowing most Camaro owners are drivers and not collectors, these cars are destined to see street duty, and for some even as daily drivers." Amidst the restorations and rods being built at CARS is a dedicated area where the buyer's components can be assembled for them at their request.

"Most of the replacement panels available today for the early Camaros were intended to be grafted to the original shell, and to use in making repairs. So when it came to using them to fit Dynacorn's unibody, they "weren't even close," Barber said. "With OE-spec manufacturing tolerances, Dynacorn had no choice but to make their own panels. This is a major reason why their completed cars will be as tight as if they rolled off the assembly line in Van Nuys in '69." It makes sense then that same robot welders used in assembly plants the world over are also found at Barber's shop, to duplicate the thousands of welds needed to solidify the structure and make them one.

Dynacorn's assemblage of components that go into making the restoration shell consist of literally hundreds of parts, which are preassembled at the factory and made into 35 substructures. This forms the basis for Barber's crew, which then, after negotiating assembly charges, will assemble the components on the specialized jigs and ship the tub to the end user. And after watching this process we can only tell you that quality is second to none, in both material design, and the completed product.

"Our emphasis is on quality and details. We pride ourselves on being creative, flexible and understanding," Harris said. "CARS is a group of experienced craftsmen who use proven techniques during the restoration or manufacturing of any vehicle to obtain the desired results." Among the services they provide are body and sheet metal fabrication--from restorations to custom--and literally everything in between.

As Barber described, "Our shop is a professional business, not a hobby. We are experienced craftsmen who use proven techniques to restore each car. Soon, we'll be adding in-house engine building to our repertoire, and at that point we will truly be a one-stop shop fully capable of producing turnkey cars." He added, "That's been our intention from day one, and it appears we're getting closer to making it happen."

Another dimension to CARS is that they are also a warehouse distributor for a virtual who's who of the aftermarket industry. When you add it all up, one thing's for sure: If you've got a rusted-out '69 Camaro convertible hulk sitting their ready to have new life breathed into it, CARS should be your first phone call.

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Arguably the most popular muscle car in history, the 1969 Camaro was built and sold for 18 months while the General launched the then-all-new 1970 model. With thousands of '69s still roaming the streets and car shows, there is definitely a market for replacement body parts. The new replacement shell manufactured by Dynacorn and assembled by CARS, is seen here in two stages: the welded sheetmetal tub, and a completed car that used one to replace the rusted out original hulk.

Currently available only as a convertible replacement, the tub is as strong and well-assembled as those that rolled off the GM assembly line 36 years ago.

From the dash to the structural window frame, the Dynacorn parts are stellar. With literally thousands of parts making up one of the original cars, Dyancorn chose to combine pieces to come up with a group of subcomponents--about 35 of them--that you purchase and then have assembled to complete a tub.

A row of left inner wheelwells sit racked, awaiting assembly. Jim Barber, owner of CARS, is a meticulous car crafter. His approach to assembling a classic is to do it better than it originally was. And with the Dynacorn sheetmetal components there's no problem getting his customers to agree.

With the taillight panel in place, the convertible is easily recognizable.

With the taillight panel in place, the convertible is easily recognizable.

A row of left inner wheelwells sit racked, awaiting assembly. Jim Barber, owner of CARS, is a meticulous car crafter. His approach to assembling a classic is to do it better than it originally was. And with the Dynacorn sheetmetal components there's no problem getting his customers to agree.

Rear bulkheads are one of about 35 subassemblies that Dynacorn produces for the Camaro replacement tub. Each assembly has been pre-welded on a jig and prefit to a car to insure accuracy in fit and finish.

Note the hundreds of precision welds on the cowl--just like workers did on the original assembly line a generation or two ago.

This could be the trunk floor on your restored '69 Camaro. Or maybe we'll find a rusted out hulk and replace the body with one featuring Dynacorn's replacement parts assembled by one of their authorized restorers like Jim Barber's CARS in North Carolina.

Here's a bin full of one-piece floorpans, stacked neatly in a row. The quality of these reproduction stampings is incredible.

Note how nicely the floorpans come together with the transmission tunnel on this jig.

Here's one of many precision jigs specially built to assemble the Camaro.

This jig mates together the rear bulkhead and the floor pan so they can be spot welded in place.

With robot welders in the background, the firewall and floor are shown here together as one piece.

Sources

Dynacorn International
Camarillo, CA 93012
805-987-8818
http://www.dynacorn.com
Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists
Belews Creek, NC 27009
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