Welcome back to the third of six total installments chronicling the transformation of our humble "carny" Corvette into the ultimate Timber Wolf C2 street fighter. Last month, the crew at Corvette Restoration AZ was working feverishly on the poorly repaired body panels, necessitating the replacement of the front clip and the rear fenders. In this issue, we will finish the bodywork and panel installations, prime and paint the car, and then install the A/C and all-new wiring harnesses. Before we continue with the build, here are the remaining basic elements of this project:
* 393 Stroker Maxi Mouse engine build, Engine, Transmission, and Radiator Install
* Chassis, Suspension, Brakes, and Rearend Install
* Interior and Stereo Install, Wrap-Up, and Vehicle Drive Experience
We left off last month with the top surround test fitted. Now after a couple of test fits, we trimmed the excess fiberglass as needed, making sure all seams were flat and all gaps were even. We always ensure the hood is flush and the gaps are even, and then-and only then-we will bond the surround. The front fender fit and alignment is very critical. On this job, we are bonding above the stock signal-lamp mounting area so we can retain the stock signal lamp. Doing the job this way gets a little busy in this area, with several curves and angles converging in one square-foot, but the final look is well worth all the effort. We continued to test fit and trim as necessary until we had a good fit. Then we set a few locator pins in place to ensure the same placement when we bond.
When mixing the bonding compound, we are careful to give ourselves enough time so we can find our locators and ensure proper placement. You can't move the panel at all once the bond starts to set. It is safe to say this part of the build process is not a job for rookies.
Sharp-eyed readers will notice very few holes have been drilled for locating pins. How did we do that? The actual process is a trade secret that has been perfected over 30 years and thousands of Corvette restorations. Let's just say we know how to do it right the first time. Note the series of clamps along the bottom edge of the fender in the photos. You must be careful when clamping though, otherwise you can squeeze all the glue out. After cutting around the rear bumper mounting area, we final fitted the rear fender, making sure it was flush. Especially important is the gap from the quarter to the door.
After fitting, trimming, and prepping the underside surfaces to perfection, the rear quarters were bonded in place. Again the panel is bonded in place with only a few locating holes drilled. Of course, all the locating fasteners must be removed and properly filled once the bond has cured. After the proper cure time, the front fenders and the rear quarters were ready to be completely ground down and beveled properly in preparation for the fiberglass work.
Next up, Troy sanded the gaps on the front fender. After a complete and proper grinding, all the seams on all the fenders were glassed, and then ground down again in preparation for the final body plastic skim coating. When grinding and working with fiberglass, always wear the proper protective clothing and safety gear.
A common custom feature back in the "old days" was to add a third taillight to each side. This car previously had a third taillight hole that had been poorly repaired. We didn't want to chance using any of the previous work that was improperly done, so we cut new back-up bonding surfaces, and then reglassed these areas for a permanent repair.
We had other areas of concern on the rear of this car. The number one problem area was the antenna hole. It looks like "Earl" fixed it years ago using his teeth as a grinder and then mixing floor dust with Elmer's Glue for an adhesive. Unbelievable! We had to fix this problem correctly or the car would never look right. Secondly, the old vent holes behind the doors had been poorly filled in, so we did a proper grind and fiberglass application on these areas. We now felt confident about the foundation for this body makeover.
On every Corvette that comes through Corvette Restoration AZ for repair, we always skim coat over all the seams and all the glass work for better holdout (when materials cure, sometimes they will shrink). We always use high-quality body filler. We then hard-block the final application and work through the appropriate sandpapers to the desired grit. After the repair areas are block-sanded, we give the car a complete sanding of all edges, corners, vents, and any hard-to-get areas that are not prepped. At one point, we had five guys prepping all the edges. Any primer that is sprayed on has to be sprayed over prepped areas only. Good adhesion of the applied materials is always critical, and no shiny or unsanded areas are ever allowed.