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Reproduction body panels

Body panels are never flat

Formula for success


The purpose of this section is to try to communicate to the inexperienced enthusiast just what is involved to complete a true restoration of any body panel. If some of the language seems harsh, it is only done in an attempt to get the point across. As in any endeavor there is "more than one way to skin a cat" but the important part is that you know the difference. In today's world there are very few people capable or willing to do things as shown herein and that is why there are so many cars that get started but never finished or that start falling apart after a very short time. It is your car so you do what you want with it, but just remember that paint and plastic will hide anything ... but not for long. This does not mean that we do not like plastic fillers, to the contrary, you just can't build the car out of it and expect it to last. Unless of course you never drive it and you keep it in a climate controlled garage.

In any case the following is a somewhat rambling dissertation on body work. It begins with two rules which are absolute and must be followed at all times.

Any repair panel, regardless of who makes it or when it was made, must be properly fitted to your car. No panel is perfect as it comes out of the box, even NOS panels. Your car was not perfect when it was made, and it sure isn't now after over forty years of use and in many cases horribly done body repairs. The point is that any panel you install must be trimmed, or altered, to fit your car, and all components that come in contact with it must be considered and fitted together (for example, taillights, bezels, doors, fenders, trunk lid, etc.) before any welding is done. If it does not fit before you weld it, how can you expect it to fit after you weld it?

When you are welding sheetmetal together, any warpage that takes place must be dealt with as it occurs. Never weld an area longer than several inches without cooling and/or hammer and dolly working the metal. Never allow any panel to get out of the desired fit. If you do, you will end up with a mess that cases of plastic filler will not fix.

If you do not abide by the above two rules, you have NO CHANCE of making acceptable, let alone professional, body repairs.