Rear Quarter-Panel - Quarter Pounded
We Show You How To Replace A Rear Quarter-Panel With New Parts From Goodmark Industries.
From the April, 2008 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Steven Rupp
Photography by Steven Rupp
Any way you cut it, this is an expensive hobby. Many of us don't have the long green to buy a cherry starting point for a dream car, so we're left with finding as good a starting point as our wallets will allow. Buying a rougher project generally means the body isn't in prime shape. Usually a few panels have succumbed to the ravages of time, namely rust and dents. Some areas, like the front fenders and the door skins, are straightforward to replace, but rear quarter-panels require quite a bit more time, and more importantly, a fair bit of skill.
In the case of our Bad Penny '68 Camaro project, the problem wasn't rust, but damage caused by blunt-force trauma. The driver's quarter-panel, rear panel, and trunk lid were all mangled when a truck slammed into the back of the Camaro (see "Worst Case Scenario," September '07). Nonetheless, the process for replacing a quarter-panel is just about the same whether Mother Nature or a random bad driver causes the damage. And while it's certainly not an easy task, having high-quality parts from a supplier like Goodmark Industries really helps.
Whether you're going to tackle a project like this yourself, or farm it out to the professionals, you need to know what's involved. Follow along as we rehab the back of our battered F-body with some new sheetmetal.
Where The Money Went
Maybe you've decided that tossing on some quarters is a bit outside your comfort zone and you want a pro to do it. Here's what it cost in labor and material (not including parts) to get the panels on our car. Labor rates will vary based on area, and materials will vary depending on the car, but this will give you a ballpark figure. Labor rates also include removal of damaged parts. If you need the outer wheelhouse replaced, add five hours of labor.
|Replace left 1/4 panel ||16 hours |
|Replace left drop off ||3 hours |
|Replace rear panel ||8 hours |
|Fit trunk ||1.5 hours |
|Total labor ||28.5 hours |
|Labor cost at $75 per hour: ||$2,137.50 |
|3M cut-off wheels #1989 ||$40.75 |
|3M grinding wheels #1991 ||$35.35 |
|3M clean & strip wheels (3) ||$24.75 |
|Welding supplies ||$50.00 |
|POR-15 ||$49.97 |
|Total materials: ||$200.82 |
|Total (not including parts): ||$2,338.32 |
Getting It Straight
When our '68 was wrecked, the body was a mess and certainly "dimensionally challenged." Replacing the panels with the car in this condition would have led to the parts not fitting right, and a good chance the Camaro wouldn't end up square. To ensure that the Camaro would be in the right shape to accept the new parts, it was sent to a computerized frame rack. Original dimensional specifications for a '68 Camaro were entered into a computer, and the car was "pulled" until the numbers matched up. The time on the rack cost just over $2,000, but when we went to do the repairs, we found it was worth every penny. Later, when the car was aligned, it was found to be perfectly square, thanks to the time it spent on this rig.
Before the new Goodmark panels...
Before the new Goodmark panels can go on, the old ones need to come off. According to Dick Kvamme of Best of Show Coach Works (BOS), the best way is to "sneak up" on it by getting rid of the big pieces, and then carefully trimming off the rest. If you take off too much, you'll just end up costing yourself more work. Here, Dick starts slicing free the damaged quarter-panel with a cut-off wheel.
Another handy tool for removing...
Another handy tool for removing panels is an air chisel. It's fast, and good for areas where you don't want to damage an inner panel, and when you don't care if the cut looks pretty. It's loud enough to wake the dead, so make sure you wear hearing protection.
After using a variety of tools...
After using a variety of tools including a plasma cutter, the main portion of the driver's quarter-panel is off the car. While it will feel like you've done a lot, the truth is, getting to this point is pretty easy.
The rear panel is removed...
The rear panel is removed just like the quarter-panel. After large sections are cut away, the area where the panel meets the passenger-side quarter-panel needs to be carefully trimmed.
One of the harder pieces to...
One of the harder pieces to remove is the doorjamb area. It's tempting to leave this in place and make the new quarter fit to it, but don't do it. Take the time and do it right. The extra time spent here will be saved when you have to do the bodywork down the line.
The new Goodmark drop off...
The new Goodmark drop off (PN 4020-735-67L, $29.95) fit perfectly in the area occupied by the factory panel. The part was fit, and clamped in place, but not welded yet. This was also a great time to seal the inner areas with paint specifically made to stop rust.
OEM versus aftermarket is...
OEM versus aftermarket is a debate that never stops. We compared an OEM GM panel to the Goodmark panel (PN 4020-601-68L, $399.95), and after lots of measuring, we found the Goodmark was extremely close to the OEM. Here's the kicker: the Goodmark panel costs $400 and the OEM was $1,100.
Before final assembly, test...
Before final assembly, test fit the Goodmark rear valance panel (PN 4020-850-671, $149.95) with the replacement quarter. The rear panel has been recently retooled by Goodmark, and fits very well. Once you're satisfied that everything looks like it's going to line up, the panels need to come off for prep.
In preparation for welding,...
In preparation for welding, all the edges need to be ground down to bare metal. To help prevent rust, it's a good idea to use a weld-through primer. To make welding easy and provide a better bond, you'll need to add holes every few inches in all the areas to be welded. A metal punch makes things easier, but a drill works, too.
Right before our quarter was...
Right before our quarter was put back in place, Dick added a bead of FUSOR adhesive to the quarter-panel and to the wheelhouse lip. This will help fuse the metal together and ensure a solid bond.
Finally, it's time to install...
Finally, it's time to install the new quarterpanel. An extra set of hands and a stack of various clamps will come in handy. Here, Chris Gordziel helps Dick place and align the new panel.
With the quarter-panel clamped...
With the quarter-panel clamped in place, secure it with a few strategically placed sheetmetal screws. Once everything is aligned, start welding.
This is the perfect time to...
This is the perfect time to check the fitment of the decklid (Goodmark PN 4020-700-671, $169.95). If there are fitment issues, you can adjust the other panels. In our case, the decklid fit great, so it was time to weld the other panels in place.
Unless you have one hell of...
Unless you have one hell of a garage, you won't have one of these. This pro pinch welder can knock lots of time off a quarter-panel install. Using this machine means you won't have to drill all the holes in the seams, and you won't have any of the resulting welds to grind down when you start on final bodywork.
The pinch welder makes quick...
The pinch welder makes quick work of attaching panels to the car, and gives a factory quality finish. By using different heads, the pinch welder can get in many, but not all, of the areas. You will still need to use a traditional welder in some places.
The trunk gutter strip isn't...
The trunk gutter strip isn't integral to the quarter-panel, and has to be ordered separately (Goodmark PN 4020714-67S, $40 for the three-piece set), so make sure you have it on hand.
One area a traditional welder...
One area a traditional welder will be necessary is where the new quarter meets the roof. Here, the quality of weld will save time on bodywork down the line. Be careful not to overheat and warp the new panel by trying to go too fast. One trick is to use an air hose to cool the panel down between welds.
An assortment of clamps helps...
An assortment of clamps helps hold the gutter strip in place until it can be welded. With the welding done, the paint prep work can now begin. For those keeping count, the time to remove the old junk and install the new panels was 28.5 hours.
After blocking, sanding, more...
After blocking, sanding, more blocking, and lots of massaging, the '68 is primed and ready for a fresh coat of Prowler Orange paint. Soon the carnage of the accident will just be a not-so-fond memory.
Best of Show Coach Works
625-E Old Norcross Rd.