On any classic Chevy, the trunk area has usally suffered quite a bit of abuse. From carrying cargo and rust to any number of modifications, after 40-plus years, a trunk floor can be pretty ragged out.
Our subject '65 Impala is a pretty solid car, with the trunk area being the only major location with rust damage. This most like came from a leaking rear window that dribbled water into the trunk area. Combined with a speaker box made from cheap wood that soaked up and held water like a sponge, the floor didn't stand a chance. Years of constant moisture exposure from above took their toll, and the steel cancer spread.
Seems like every month we're announcing some new body parts being offered from the aftermarket—and we're happy to do so! The more replacement metal we can tell you all about, the more classic Chevys can be saved from the graveyard, and kept on or returned to the road. And as the research into these replacement panels has become so extensive and thorough, the quality of the parts is the same or better than the scarce NOS (New Old Stock for the newbies) parts available, and at a much cheaper price. We've started to think NOS pieces must be made from gold with the prices being charged for them.
Owners of '65-and-up fullsize cars have been languishing for a while when it comes to new body parts. These boats are just not as popular as Camaros, Chevelles, etc., and they've had to wait before new sheetmetals was developed. But in the last few years, the offerings for these cars has grown exponentially, so restoring them is easier than ever, without the need for complicated patching and custom fabrication.
With a rusty trunk floor in front of us, and the Classic Industries' catalog within arm's reach (on the web at www.classicindustries.com), we ordered up a replacement floor coated in weld-through primer (part no. 14774W) and went to work.
1a Years of a leaky back window and a moisture sponge speaker box had taken its toll on the trunk floor. A bad fiberglass repair had been done sometime in the '80s or '90s, further compounding the problem.
2a The first order of business is to start drilling spot welds. We figured there must've been at least 200 hundred of them that needed drilling so we could remove the floor. Not a job for the impatient! We highly recommend Eastwood's skip proof Spot Weld Cutter kit (part no. 11283) to make this task a lot easier. We also recommend ordering extra bits (part no. 11277).
3a The most difficult welds to drill out are the ones on the down brace. Once they're drilled out, you'll need to separate the brace from the trunk floor. We used an air chisel to get the job done, but needed to cut a window (3b) to get full access to splitting it from the panel.
4 On other parts where the trunk panel needed to be separated from other panels, we used a seam buster tool to split the panels apart. Eastwood sells a selection of these as well.
5 Inside the passenger compartment, we used a plasma cutter to cut out the trunk floor and make getting the old metal off the seam with the passenger floor easier. A cutoff wheel can also be used for this. Either way, be careful not to cut anything unnecessary for the trunk floor's removal.
6 Inside the trunk you'll need to be sure to drill out the spot welds securing the decklid latch to the floor.
7 On the back end of the trunk floor in the tail area we cut the floor away from the seam, thinking it would make things easier. It did the opposite. Because the other panel was relatively thin and unsupported, when we used the seam buster it made things more difficult. Lesson learned—leave the floor connected in this area to make splitting the seam easier.
8 With the last seam split, we used some hammering and prying to break the old trunk floor free.
9 At this point, here's where we stood. You can see what we meant by a lot of spot welds to drill. You also get an idea of how big this panel really is.
10a Before installing the new trunk, we needed to clean up all the welding surfaces, plus do a little straightening and hammering on the seams to get ready for our next steps.
11 Here's our new trunk floor, part no. 14774W. It comes completely coated in weld through primer, not only protecting it from corrosion, but also eliminating the need to clean away the standard EDP coating so a clean weld can be made. If this option is available for any replacement metal you order, get it. The time savings is well worth the minimal extra cost.
12 The Classic Industries-sourced floor comes with all the spare tire and jack mounting tabs in place in the correct locations.
13 This panel is very large and unwieldy. Having a couple of extra sets of hands is a must to get it in place. It will take some coaxing and gently prying to get the floor in, so don't be alarmed if it doesn't just slip right in place. We found bending some of the trunk panel's tabs inward some helped with getting it in place. These tabs can easily be tapped back into proper position without damaging them.
14 Here's how the new floor looked once in place. No rust, no holes, and no complicating patch welds to be cleaned up. The extra cost of buying the one piece floor is easily offset by the labor savings if you installed patches, or the floor in sections.
15 To hold the floor in place while welding it in you're going to need several clamps to keep it secured.
16 The new floor fits like a glove, especially here at the front where it meets the passenger compartment floor.
17 With all the clamps in place, the last thing left to do is weld it up. We'll be using a plug welding method to join the panels. Another option is to get a MIG spot welding kit like the one available from Eastwood, part number 13901, that we've used in previous body panel stories.