If you consider yourself a "bodyman," some things just stand out on a car more than others. Call it a "pet peeve" or whatever you want, there is no denying the fact that when the fenders don't line up with the hood and doors (or visa versa), the entire car can appear out of shape. It's usually very frustrating (and a lot of work) to get a perfect gap between two body panels that have been smashed and reworked. If you have played with more than one car of the same body style, you may also have noticed that many components (especially body parts) have a tendency to bolt on in slightly different positions.
Even a very small variance between mounting hole placement can throw off the entire alignment of a particular panel. All of this can-and usually does-equate to spending countless hours fitting then refitting, turning round holes into slotted ones, turning washers into shims, and so on and so forth. All of this type of trial and error is necessary before any paint is applied in order to achieve that show-quality fit and finish.
It may be deceiving in the photos, but our '67 Chevelle wagon has had some serious run-ins in its life, giving us reason to replace the fender and hood. It also gives us a chance to join a mix of aftermarket sheetmetal, some clean junkyard parts, and the factory originals, to see just how well they all fit together. Even though the adjusting points for body panels vary in different ways (between makes and models), the tools, hardware, and reasoning will apply to all other body types, as well. This is a project almost anyone can tackle with basic hand tools and a slight dose of patience. (Note: It would also be helpful if you could grow a third hand or find a friend with at least one good one.)
On our donor car the front passenger fender and hood have both seen more than a few body shops, so we started off by replacing them with parts from The Paddock. With its guaranty of satisfaction and reputation for making quality replacement parts, The Paddock was up to being put to the test. The Paddock also supplied us with a new grille and splash pan to round out the fresh new front end. The only part that could not be replaced new was the front bumper. However, even as bent-up as this bumper was, any reputable chrome shop can massage the heavy metal back into perfect shape. Nevertheless, we found a super-straight front bumper in a local wrecking yard for the "right price," so we chose to simply replace it. The only items left to gather for this job were body shims and whatever necessary nuts, bolts, and washers were needed to bolt the new front end together.
We found a good assortment of body shims at the local parts store with Totally Stainless supplying a complete full-body hardware kit. Not only were we able to gather up have every nut, bolt, screw, and washer needed to put the entire car together, but it's all beautiful stainless steel. Now that we have collected all the necessary parts, let's take a look at what it takes for everything to bolt in and line up.
Here is one last look at our wagon's assembled and aligned front end. There is a pinch of rust to deal with and some shoddy bodywork to redo, but overall this is a great start on the way to a beautiful paint job. We're thinking black.