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Trim and Badges Make the Finishing Touch on this 1968 Camaro

Trim It Up! The devil is in the details when you’re on the homestretch of a restoration

Jim Smart Dec 18, 2017
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Once the bodywork and paint are done and the rubout completed, it’s time for the homestretch of a classic car restoration … trim work. Nearly every imaginable trim part is available for classic Camaros from Auto Metal Direct (AMD), and we’re going to show you how to get there. Trim work includes die-cast emblems, anodized trim, and stainless.

What makes trim installation dicey is the risk of paint damage, which means you must be very careful to protect the paint as you go. It’s a good idea to put down a layer of masking tape around where you’re installing trim to reduce the risk of tool slippage and a gouge in the paint. Take extra time to do this. It is so easy to become overconfident and wind up hating the guy in the mirror. It is expensive to repair paint damage.

We’re working with a big-block 1968 Camaro at Hot Rods by Dean in Phoenix where we get a chance to see how the pros install trim … and do it without damaging the paint. If you’re working with fresh sheetmetal that hasn’t been drilled for emblems and trim work, you will have to find original Camaro sheetmetal and make a template from the holes with a sheet of paper. You will also have to perform exact measurements of where these emblems go. And don’t kid yourself; this is easy to screw up, so take your time. CHP


1. If you are fortunate to be working with original sheetmetal, trim and emblem holes will already be there for installation. The best time to make these holes is before paint. Make a template from a known fender or panel and carefully drill holes of 1/16- to 1/8-inch diameter. You may have to carefully file these holes to get proper pin fit.


2. Most emblems are secured with Tinnerman nuts, as shown here. Other emblems may be secured with barrel sleeves, which fit into the hole to provide an interference fit if you’re not able to get your hand behind the panel.


3. These front fascia emblems are a perfect fit, installed on original Chevrolet sheetmetal.


4.When emblems are a press-fit into barrel sleeves, use the palm of your hand to press these emblems into place. Never use a hammer. If you must, use a mallet and seat the emblems uniformly. A very thin film of white grease can be used on press-on emblem pins to ease installation.


5. The engine displacement emblem goes here, amid the nose stripe.


6. Our driprail molding from AMD came carefully packaged and ready to install. The quality of these pieces will make this restoration look factory fresh.


7. Driprail molding can be very challenging, especially if you’re dealing with body filler or excessive layers of paint at the driprails. Hook the top of the press-on driprail trim first, then pop it into place with the palm of your hand toward the bottom. Take installation in layers as the trim goes on.


8. Door handle installation happens before the interior door panels are installed. Use plenty of white lithium grease on the pushbutton mechanism and door lock before installation.


9. Door handles fasten from the inside of the door using a 3/8-inch shallow socket when you’re installing the door latch mechanism.


10. Made of anodized stamped aluminum, wheelwell moldings are attached with button head sheetmetal screws.


11. Hot Rods by Dean’s Sean Rosic begins wheelwell trim installation at the top and works around one screw at a time. Start the screws loosely just to get them all started, then run them down starting at the top then fanning out to the ends.


12. We advise caution when working with a screwdriver near fresh paint. It is so easy to slip and gouge the paint. Ideally, you will cover painted surfaces with layers of masking tape to prevent the unthinkable.


13. The installed wheelwell molding looks sharp … especially with a set of Coker Tire Red Lines and reproduction Rally wheels as a nice accent.


14. Rocker molding can be very challenging and is best done with a buddy at the other end. If you don’t have help, try using a jack stand to support the other end. Here, rocker molding fitment is checked prior to installation.


15. Before the rocker molding installation, install the rocker molding retention strip, which is secured to the rocker panel with Phillips head screws.


16. Begin securing the rocker molding at the quarter-panel and work your way forward. The buddy system works best because the rocker molding is long and flexible. Having support at the other end is key to success.


17. Because the rocker molding is a pop-on affair there are no screws showing.


18. The rocker molding installation is now complete. These are nice subtle accents that make the ride.

Photos: Brian Brennan


Coker Tire
Chattanooga, TN 37402
Hot Rods By Dean
Phoenix, AZ 85027
Auto Metal Direct
Buford, GA 30518



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