1971 Chevrolet Camaro - Drawn And Quartered

New Flanks For A Second-Gen Camaro

Barbara Hillick Jul 1, 2005 0 Comment(s)

When most people search for a project car they usually want the best one they can afford. The searchers at Goodmark Industries are a little weird, though. They've passed up many a potential candidate simply because it was too good, it wasn't a rolling pile with rusty quarters, lacy floor pans, dented doors, and a lot more. A car that needs nearly every panel and piece of trim replaced is Goodmark's key find.

Though the '71 Camaro you see here seemed too good at the 20-foot mark, upon closer inspection, those rusty quarters, floor pans, trunk floor, doors, fenders, hood (and all the bad trim parts) made this lump just the right one to feed. Goodmark wanted a Second-Generation Camaro because of the growing interest in these cars and because the company had just come out with full-factory quarter panels for it. Goodmark again turned to Craig and Aaron Hopkins (C. Hopkins Rod & Custom) to rebuild the body and handle the paint. Although C. Hopkins replaced almost everything on the car, we are only going to demonstrate how the quarters were installed.

Here's a very important tech tip before beginning this or any project: Make sure that the door hinges are in good condition. If they are sagging with age, rebuild them or get new ones before you rip tin. Everything from the fender to the rear quarter is lined up with the door, so if you don't get the gaps right at the very beginning, you might as well forget it.

Once you install the doors again, set the gaps on the original fenders, quarters, and hood and trunk lid to make sure that everything fits properly. The door must maintain even gaps along the front and back and along the rocker. The doors always stay on the car as the quarters are installed. Once the gaps are set with the original parts, the trunk lid, fenders, and hood can come off.

For convenience, you are going to put the car on jackstands. Here's a big, serious hint: Position the car on the stands so that the vehicle's springs are loaded. When the back end of the car sags because the jackstands are in the wrong place, you'll never be able to get anything to line up! Now, let's roll.

5

Remove trim, marker lights, bumpers, etc...Take a good look at the car and the replacement parts it will require. You need to know exactly what needs to get cut off and what doesn't. For example, the gutter that holds the trunk weather stripping isn't part of the factory quarter; GM offered this as a separate piece. The Goodmark quarter is manufactured like the original, so keep the gutter. If you whack it off, you're going to have to put it back on. Know what you are doing before you start to save yourself grief.

Use a torch to melt the lead out of the factory seam, but don't burn a hole through the metal; you're just trying to melt the lead away. Please wear the proper safety equipment.

Use a brush to get all the lead out and expose the seam.

You have a couple of choices when you install the quarters. If you do it like the factory did, you must peel away the quarter from under the roof. Or, you can cut the old quarter right below the seam and butt-weld the two quarters together in the gutter area.

You can remove the quarter with a plasma cutter, a cut-off wheel, or a chisel. Craig's considerable experience makes him comfortable using chisels. He uses the V-shaped one to remove metal and the other to...chisel.

Once you have decided where to cut, be careful to not to disturb anything structural underneath. You want to rough-cut the quarter a couple of inches from its outside edge.

Always wear gloves, ear protection, and safety glasses. A piece of metal in the eye isn't fun.

Remember to stay a couple of inches from the edge of the quarter and don't worry about taking out the factory spot welds. You can do that during the fine-cut procedure.

Once again, stay a couple of inches away from the outer edge of the quarter.

Finish the rough cut around the entire panel.

With the side of the car exposed you can see that the trunk floor and the rear tail panel also needs to be replaced. It's better to do all of the needed work at one time.

Before the old quarter comes off, it's nearly impossible to know what parts you will need. To be safe, plan on replacing wheelhouses and trunk extensions before you begin. You don't want to sit around waiting for parts, so you need to plan ahead. You might find that the car is worse than you thought. It may need inner wheelhousings, a rear tail panel, rockers, a trunk lid, a deck filler panel, a trunk floor, and trunk braces. Here, the trunk drop-off will need renewing before the new quarter goes on.

Now that the panel is off, begin to remove the remainder of the quarter.

For easier access, use pliers to pull the excess sheetmetal out.

Chisel away the excess material from the wheelhouse. Always point the chisel away from you.

Use a grinding disc or sandpaper to locate the spot welds. You will find them in the doorjamb area, the roof seam, along the wheel opening, the trunk, and the back glass area.

If you are uncomfortable using a chisel, then drilling out spot welds is the easiest way. You can drill them out with a spot-weld drill or regular drill, but be careful not to perforate the inner structure or you will have to weld the holes in the underlying panel closed before installing the quarter.

Craig prefers a chisel to remove the rest of the quarter.

Next, he begins to chisel the doorjamb area...

...and then chisel some more.

Use the chisel with a delicate touch so you won't cut into structural areas.

When you have the rest of the panel cleaned off around all the spot welds located in the wheelwells, jamb areas, and the rest of the quarter, use a grinding disc to make sure all areas are absolutely clean. A hammer and dolly will straighten any areas that need attention.

Here is the first test-fit of the new quarter. As you can see, the trunk extension has already been installed.

If you don't get the quarter correctly installed at the seam, the entire panel will be off.

Take a close look at the gaps and the spacing around the quarter panel.

Sources

Goodmark Industries Inc.
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
C. Hopkins Rod and Custom
Cleveland, GA 30528
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