For a little quick tech, we are going to install a set of Eddie Motorsports (EMS) billet trunk hinges into a '66 Chevelle. The hinges start out as a solid chunk of aluminum, and after a little time in a CNC mill, they come out as meaty-looking custom parts. Instead of using the stock-style spring rods, the hinges are paired with a set of gas struts, much like you would find in just about any late-model car.
The installation is pretty straightforward, and can be done with some simple tools every car guy should have. Probably the most critical part of the installation will be removing and replacing the decklid without scratching the paint, but if you can enlist the help of a friend, this should not pose too much of a threat. Let's take a look and what it takes to customize a usually overlooked part on the Chevelle.
1 Here is what you get when you order the trunk hinge kit. The hinges are CNC-machined from high-quality 6061-T6 aluminum and come with a brilliant polished finish (machined and powdercoat are also available). Hinges come complete with mounting hardware, brackets, and gas struts, and at the time of print were $350. EMS has trunk hinges for the Camaro, Nova, Impala, and Tri-Fives as well.
2 This is what everyone's used to seeing when they open a trunk: functional, yet ugly hinges. Step one in the teardown is to carefully remove the decklid.
3 Before the hinges can be removed from the car, the tension rods need to be unloaded. The best way we found to do that is to use a set of locking pliers clamped to the rod. This will allow you to unload the tension by twisting the pliers as you use a screwdriver to pop out the hooked end.
4 With the rods out, the hinge pin can be removed. The factory uses a rivet head–style pin, so a large drill is used to cut off the head. The pin most likely is going to be stuck, so it's probably going to fight you a little bit. Either use a set of pliers to wiggle it out, or drive it out with a hammer and drift. With the pin out, the hinge will simply slip out of the car.
5 The billet hinge, while much beefier, still fits in the stock location. It will simply slip into the car. It's a good idea to apply a little grease on the side of the bushings before slipping the hinge in place.
6 These are the gas strut mounts that get positioned right below the tension rod area. Two 3/8-inch holes will need to be drilled in the sheetmetal to mount them. The mount has threads in it, which makes the process easier. Just make sure the ball stud faces the inside of the car.
7 The gas struts have safety clips at each end. Remove them by rotating and then sliding them out of the socket. Install the gas strut onto the billet hinge by snapping it over the ball. Now repeat the process on the other side, reinstall the decklid, and you are done. The new hinges not only look sweet, but also function more like a new car. The decklid now operates nice and smooth, and it's much more stable when open. The hinges will add a touch of class to a usually overlooked piece of the car.