Part 2 Sometimes you need to jump right into the deep end of the pool instead of gradually wading in from the shallow side. Having touched on the rebirth of Tony Rose's '68 Karma Camaro in our last issue, it was obvious we'd be back with much more to tell. The deeper Peter Newell and his team at Competition Specialties in Walpole, Massachusetts, dug into the car, the more shoddy bodywork they found. Almost like a headline from a supermarket tabloid exposing dirty little secrets, every body panel brought out uglier truths to the table. You'll recall from the last issue, the team spent a good amount of time removing poorly-applied seam sealer where the rear quarter and upper rear outer body panels met. Well, acting on a hunch and feeling that there was more evil lurking beneath the paint surface of the car, Newell stripped the entire body and came across a number of additional issues -all bad.
When the rear quarters of the car were originally replaced, reproduction skins were used, however, their installation left a lot to be desired. If not properly fitted, the panels can create more trouble than expected. And in the case of Rose's car, the ill-fitting panels resulted in the previous shop using an over abundance of plastic body filler to make up for the difference, creating a mess in the meantime. Hearing from Newell regarding the car's latest woes, Tony wasted no time in contacting Classic Industries (www.classicindustries.com) to order a pair of their complete reproduction rear quarter-panels. The beauty of the Classic Industries panels is that they are exact replacements for the original factory sheetmetal, including the full doorjamb area and sail panel. Knowing that there were additional issues with the remaining sheetmetal on the rear of the car, Rose also ordered a pair of outer wheelhouse panels, an upper rear outer body panel, and rear body panel. Once the new panels arrived, it was time for team member Brian Jordan to get busy working his magic.
A veteran of countless body restorations, Jordan mapped out his path and readied the car for a serious sheetmetal makeover. This process takes a good amount of time and requires close attention to detail, but it will be worth it as the finished product will give Rose's '68 new life and a solid foundation that will last for years to come.
So, follow along as Jordan demonstrates how to remove some poorly-installed body panels and unwanted amounts of body filler in exchange for properly-installed sheetmetal and bodywork done the right way.
Once again, a special thanks goes out to the team at Competition Specialties as they wrapped it all up using top-notch skills and great products-a winning combination that will make the car stand out among the rest.
In the next issue we'll dive into some more sheetmetal work and show you how to install a new aftermarket, performance front subframe.
Things change, especially when Peter Newell of Competition Specialties is seeking perfection. Since we last left off, the team suspected certain evil lurking under the gloss of the remainder of Rose's Camaro, so they decided to strip the entire car. They were horrified with what was found.
Closer inspection proved that, although the rear quarter-panels had previously been replaced, they were cut short at the sail panel and doorjamb area, making the replacement a mess and something that needed correcting.
Team member Brian Jordan prepares the quarter-panel for removal. Using a portable torch, he gradually heated up the seam that connects the roof to the sail panel in order to remove the original factory lead. He carefully heated the area while also cooling the panel with a wet cloth to avoid warping the steel. Using a wire brush, he removed the lead as it began to melt.
Here is a shot of the seam with the original 40-plus-year-old factory lead removed. By taking his time, Jordan avoided warping any of the panels due to the dissipated heat.
Jordan then removed the rear wheel to properly anchor the car on a jackstand for unlimited access to the quarter-panel. With an air chisel, he began to remove the panel starting with the top-most plane and moving forward.
With the majority of the panel gone, it was time to remove all the welds to the inner body structure.
Once all of the factory spot welds were identified, Jordan proceeded using an air-driven drill with a spot-weld bit attached to separate the welds in the doorjamb area.
Once the spot welds were broken through, Jordan carefully proceeded with an air chisel to separate the remainder of the quarter-panel from the inner body structure.
Having the balance of the quarter-panel removed from the doorjamb area, Jordan proceeded using a mini belt sander to clean up the seam where the panel met the rocker.
This image lets you see just how far Jordan has gotten with everything now removed except the sail panel portion of the quarter.
There’s no better time to replace the outer wheelhouse than with the quarter-panel removed. Jordan marked the seam area to be addressed, then drilled out all of the factory spot welds. He followed up by using an air chisel to separate the panel from the body.
Using a small disc grinder topped with an 80-grit disc, Jordan cleaned up and deburred all of the newly-exposed areas in the wheelhouse to prepare them for the next step.
Once the area was ground clean, Jordan proceeded with a hammer and dolly to readjust any contours that may have changed during the removal process. It’s very important the alignment of the inner body structure mirrors that of the new panels.
Here you can see just how picked clean Tony’s ’68 is. Notice the initial test-fitting of the outer wheelhouse.
Proper alignment of the new outer wheelhouse to the inner body structure is critical. To ensure positioning, Jordan used a variety of Vise-Grip-type clamps to hold it in place. The panel was then ready to be welded into place.
Working with a Lincoln MIG welder, Jordan secures the outer wheelhouse to the inner body structure.
Once the welding was completed, all of the seams were treated to a nice even coating of seam sealer
Jordan test-fitted the rear quarter-panel into place a few times before finally securing it with Vise-Grips in preparation for welding. The panels from Classic Industries are perfect factory replicas in every way, so placement was a snap.
With everything ready, Jordan fired up his MIG welder and proceeded to weld the Classic Industries quarter-panel into place using plug welds where each original factory spot weld was.
The new quarter-panel incorporates the factory doorjamb as well. Here you can see the completed installation up close with all of the original factory spot welds replicated.
Once all of the welding was completed, Jordan broke out his disc grinder topped with an 80-grit disc and began the task of smoothing out all of the welds in preparation for the upcoming bodywork stage. The finished product is as smooth as glass and as nice as they come.
What a difference! Thanks to the team at Competition Specialties and replacement panels from Classic Industries, the back of Rose’s ’68 has taken a major step toward completion. In the next issue of Camaro Performers we’ll head up front to hang new sheetmetal and dive into a front clip installation.