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Replacing the quarter-panels on your early Chevy II or Nova

Rehabilitation Program—Part III: Our 1963 Nova takes a big leap toward being a car again with the addition of new quarter-panels

Oct 23, 2017
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Time is hard on our old Chevys. Sure, when they were made the factory gave them a certain amount of rust protection but, trust us, nobody at GM expected these cars to still be on the road 50 years later. Over time the factory rust protection fades away and Mother Nature works her way into the cracks and crevices; namely in the form of rust. Add in five decades of dents, dings, and accidents and many of our Chevys are in pretty rough shape.

Our 1963 Chevy II was like this. Tons of rust and blunt force trauma made for a Chevy that, for most people, was just not worth the effort. Which is how we were able to get the starter shell for almost nothing. In part one of this series, we made a plan and mediablasted the ’63 to see what we were working with. In part two, we sliced away a good chunk of the rotten quarters and welded in a sweet set of Detroit Speed Inc. (DSE) mini-tubs. Now it’s time to finish removing the old quarters and get some new panels from Golden Star Classic Auto Parts in place. To do the heavy lifting we drafted the guys over at Superstition Restorations in Mesa, Arizona. Once we get these new quarters in place we can try to save the Chevy II’s roof, which is a good plan since nobody makes an aftermarket replacement. Once back in sunny Southern California we can see how well the Chevy fits onto our shiny new Schwartz Performance chassis. But for now, we have some quarters to stitch in place.

002 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 2/32

Before Justin Smith and Mike Rossi of Superstition Restorations sent the battered Chevy II over to get mediablasted they removed the main areas of the quarter-panels to give the blaster better access to the inner structures.

003 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 3/32

Once back from mediablasting, we could start removing the rest of the battered and rusty quarters. Using a cutoff wheel, the seam between doorjamb and the inner structure was cut and we started drilling out the numerous spot welds.

004 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 4/32

We were then able to use a hammer and a small, flat-tipped chisel to separate the two pieces.

005 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 5/32

We were then able to use a hammer and a small, flat-tipped chisel to separate the two pieces.

006 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 6/32

After a bit of work we were able pull the old doorjamb area free of the inner structure.

007 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 7/32

To access the spot welds near the C-pillar we first cut away a section of the outer quarter.

008 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 8/32

Using a spot-weld drill bit, the welds were removed.

009 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 9/32

This allowed us to remove the forward section of the quarter-panel. Remember, it’s better to go slow and remove small sections at a time than to try to do it all in one shot, only to find out you’ve removed too much, creating a lot more work.

010 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 10/32

Next up was where the quarter met the trunk. Like the rest, we “snuck up on it” by removing the main portion before attacking the seam.

011 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 11/32

Getting the large sections out of the way makes it easier to concentrate on getting the edges cleaned up nicely and ready for the new Golden Star Classic Auto Parts quarters.

012 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 12/32

So, how were the lower quarter extensions attached? You guessed it, more spot welds. This time, Smith, broke out his specialized spot weld drill.

013 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 13/32

So, how were the lower quarter extensions attached? You guessed it, more spot welds. This time, Smith, broke out his specialized spot weld drill.

014 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 14/32

More spot welds held the rear cross rail to the back of the Chevy II. In addition to the ones along the top, there were also four spot welds securing it to each framerail.

015 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 15/32

With so much of the Nova removed, we decided it would be a good idea to brace what was left to keep the structural integrity of the Chevy in check.

016 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 16/32

With the bracing in place, we went ahead and removed the driver-side quarter.

017 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 17/32

With all the bad parts in the scrap bin we could start putting the new panels in place, starting with the driver-side quarter-panel from Golden Star Classic Auto Parts.

018 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 18/32

With both quarter-panels clamped in place, it was time to test-fit the new rear cross rail.

019 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 19/32

The fit was good but we needed to massage the original flange a bit since it got tweaked a bit when we removed the rotten cross rail.

020 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 20/32

The new quarter butted up nicely to the outer wheeltub we installed when we did the Detroit Speed mini-tubs.

021 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 21/32

We marked the new quarter-panel in the striker area where we would need to drill for the spot welds.

022 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 22/32

A small amount of trimming and bodywork was needed where the new quarter met the C-pillar. Or, as the writing says, just a “hair more.”

023 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 23/32

The key here was to test-fit, tweak if needed, and make sure everything lined up as good as possible before starting to weld.

024 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 24/32

The original trunk lid was then installed so that any adjustments could be made to the new panels.

025 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 25/32

Once the gaps looked acceptable we started securing the panels with self-tapping screws and locking pliers.

026 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 26/32

It was then time to start making dozens of spot welds.

027 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 27/32

The gap between the trunk lid and the new quarter was a bit tight on the passenger-side, but the quarter fit the rest of the Chevy perfectly. Rather than fight the quarter we opted to modify the trunk lid a bit. First up was taking down the passenger-side edge of the trunk lid with a grinder.

028 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 28/32

Of course, that left a gap between the top and bottom of the trunk lid so we busted out the Miller 211 MIG welder to fill it in.

029 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 29/32

More spot welds secured the various panels.

030 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 30/32

A little more welding and a bit more grinding and the area around the taillight was ready for bodywork.

031 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 31/32

We opted to stitch the C-pillar to the quarter. Once bodyworked, this will look a lot cleaner than having a seam.

032 1963 Chevy II Nova Quarter Panel Golden Star 32/32

We have plans for a different style fuel tank so to clean things up we welded up the factory gas fill hole. And with that, the Chevy II was looking a lot better. Next up, is fixing the Swiss-cheese roof with some artful patch panels.

Photography by Jason Scudellari

Sources

Miller Electric
Appleton, WI 54912
920-734-9821
www.millerwelds.com
Schwartz Performance
812-206-2230
www.SchwartzPerformance.com
Detroit Speed
Mooresville, NC 28115
704-662-3272
www.detroitspeed.com
Golden Star Auto
972-315-3758
www.goldenstarauto.com
Superstition Restoration
309-236-3992
www.facebook.com/Superstition-Restoration-214333032372546

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