Let’s face it; Camaro owners have it easy in terms to turning rusty hulks into pristine examples of automotive art. When they have a cancer-riddled part, a high-quality replacement piece is just a mouse click or phone call away. We can remember back when replacing the roof on a first-gen Camaro meant rummaging around salvage yards looking for a decent donor. But today that’s not the case. This time our subject is a solid ’67 Camaro RS with a roof that was rusted out due to it being a vinyl top car. Sure, we could have patched it up, but frankly, it’s easier and almost as inexpensive to replace the roof with fresh steel and call it a day.
In addition to the cost of the roof, you’ll have to factor in additional supplies as well. To do it right, you’ll need some air tools, a welder, an assortment of cutting and grinding wheels, and a variety of locking pliers; nothing too exotic with the exception of the pliers, which can get pretty specialized. If you’re going to pay a shop to do it, expect the labor to run between 9-12 hours, depending on the car. With a new roof from Auto Metal Direct, we headed over to Best of Show Coach Works in Escondido, California, to show what’s involved in grafting a new roof onto an old Chevy.
01. This was our starting point for the project. The ’67 had a vinyl top, and while the rest of the car was pretty much rust-free, the area under the top was riddled with rust, pinholes, and bad previously done repairs. Here you can see where the roof panel joins the quarter-panel at the C-pillar. If the panels are original GM, this area will be filled with lead, which would have to be cautiously melted out (Warning, wear a respirator).
02. Here you can see where the roof meets the A-pillar. If stock, this area will also have lead.
03. The roof was attached to the flange above the front and rear windows with spot welds. To remove these, we drilled each one out with a small bit and then used a specialized spot-weld bit.
04. And here’s what it looked like after using the bit. As you can see, the key is to only cut through the roof flange and not the lower piece.
05. We found that it’s easier to get the main roof section off then remove the small bits as a separate operation. Again, don’t cut too deep since the metal beneath needs to be kept intact.
06. Moving to the driprail channel, we cut the roof free all along the upper edge. These are just rough cuts to get the main roof section off the car. Later we will trim off the pieces left behind.
07. Using a hammer and small chisel, we separated the roof flange from the upper window flange. This was repeated along the top of the rear window. We then carefully cut the roof free from the A-pillar.
08. And just like that the old roof was off the car.
09. Here you can see the support frame that is under the roof. If any of these parts need repair or replacement, this is the time to do it. Ours was in great shape aside from some light surface rust.
10. We were out of Eastwood rust encapsulator, so we broke out a can of their internal frame coating, which does essentially the same thing, but it’s a lovely olive green color.
11. We then went about cleaning up the edges. First, we used a chisel to chip away all of the old factory seam sealer.
12. A wire wheel worked best for cleaning out gunk from the driprail channels.
13. Using a green 3M grinding disc, we ground down all the rough edges left behind from the spot-weld cutting bit.
14. The last bit of old roof was then carefully removed from the C-pillar area.
15. Next up was prepping our new roof (PN 600-3567, $260) from Auto Metal Direct (AMD). Our project got delayed and the roof sat outside for about two weeks, which is why the black coating is a bit oxidized. We used a hole punch to put weld holes along the window flange (you can use a drill bit in a pinch) and we took the areas to be welded down to bare metal.
16. To secure the area where the roof meets the driprail we laid down a bead of Lord Fusor 108B metal bonding adhesive. Once this stuff sets up, it’s stronger than welding and it’s a great way to secure panels that are problematic to attach.
17. The AMD roof was then set in place. We were very happy with the fitment, as the panel required very little trimming.
18. Here’s how the new roof fit to the Camaro’s A-pillar—like a glove.
19. And here’s how it fit in the C-pillar area. Again, just about as good as it gets.
20. Specialized locking pliers were then used all along the edge of the new roof panel to hold it place prior to welding. The pliers along the driprails were left in place until the Fusor fully set up.
21. We then used a huge assortment of locking pliers to hold the roof panel in place for welding. This is also where any adjustments were made to how the new roof mated to the old Chevy.
22. The Miller 211 MIG welder was then busted out, and we started welding the roof to the car. The first pass was made along the front and rear window flanges.
23. And here’s how the flange and A-pillar area looked when we were done.
24. The roof was then tacked to the quarter-panel in the C-pillar area.
25. With that done, we then stitch-welded all the tacks together. The big challenge here was to not get so much heat in the metal that it warps. To help keep things cool, we stopped every couple of inches and used an air nozzle to blow some heat out of the metal.
26. Lastly, we ran a bead of Lord Fusor 123EZ along the driprail to seal the roof seam. And with that, our roof was done. Total time to remove the old and install the new was about 10 hours. Later, we ground down all the welds on the A- and C-pillars and laid down a few thin coats of polyester body filler.