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 can go on, the old ones need to come off. According to Dick
Another handy tool for removing panels is an air chisel. It's fast, and good for areas whe
After using a variety of tools including a plasma cutter, the main portion of the driver's
The rear panel is removed just like the quarter-panel. After large sections are cut away,
One of the harder pieces to remove is the doorjamb area. It's tempting to leave this in pl
The new Goodmark drop off (PN 4020-735-67L, $29.95) fit perfectly in the area occupied by
OEM versus aftermarket is a debate that never stops. We compared an OEM GM panel to the Go
Before final assembly, test fit the Goodmark rear valance panel (PN 4020-850-671, $149.95)
In preparation for welding, all the edges need to be ground down to bare metal. To help pr
Right before our quarter was put back in place, Dick added a bead of FUSOR adhesive to the
Finally, it's time to install the new quarterpanel. An extra set of hands and a stack of v
With the quarter-panel clamped in place, secure it with a few strategically placed sheetme
This is the perfect time to check the fitment of the decklid (Goodmark PN 4020-700-671, $1
Unless you have one hell of a garage, you won't have one of these. This pro pinch welder c
The pinch welder makes quick work of attaching panels to the car, and gives a factory qual
The trunk gutter strip isn't integral to the quarter-panel, and has to be ordered separate
One area a traditional welder will be necessary is where the new quarter meets the roof. H
An assortment of clamps helps hold the gutter strip in place until it can be welded. With
After blocking, sanding, more blocking, and lots of massaging, the '68 is primed and ready