Disassembly
The first step is to disassemble the vehicle. Along the way you'll run into many seized screws and broken-off or rounded bolt heads, which can be taken care of with an Easy-Out set from Craftsman and a couple cans of Royal Purple Maxfilm penetrating lubricant. Though it's fun to fulfill your destructive side and yank out every part in sight with the speed and vigor of a mad man, there are a couple things you should slow down for to make reassembling easier. First off, take a lot of photos of the car while it's still together. Things like the interior door assembly are pretty complicated, and can be difficult to put back together without references. The second thing that will save you much time and frustration is putting all of the hardware in plastic bags and labeling them. There are hundreds of bolts that look very similar, but will fight you going back on if they aren't exactly right.

Panel Prep
Anyone with experience will tell you good paint preparation is the key. The actual painting part of the process is a very small percent of the work. If the bodywork under the paint isn't right, the paint won't look good, and it won't last. This phase simply can't be rushed, because in the long run, doing it over again will take much longer than taking your time to begin with. While it's not always necessary to get the panels down to the metal, it's often a good idea. Years of age and bad bodywork can become a problem in the future if it's not dealt with at this stage. We found extensive damage to panels that appeared to be fine because of the amount of filler that they had been plastered with. We wanted a fresh start, and opted to have the panels media blasted. Someone looking to save a little bit of time would work with the filler that's already on the panels and go from there.

Bodywork
Once the car is stripped, it's time to get it smooth. The broad, flat panels on Mustangs are easily turned wavy from years of door dings, accidents, and age in general. Without replacing everything, we can bring the highs and lows to a middle ground and restore the factory flatness. There are more specialized tools that are used to shape the metal than we can list, but we'll go over a couple of the major ones we used on this project. The idea behind repair instead of replacing is to try and keep the car as original as possible. There is a point where the cost of repair exceeds that of replacing the panel. If you're lucky, you can get hold of NOS (new old stock) panels that fits like the originals, because they are. Shopping at swap meets for original panels in good (or at least better) condition is a great option too. In our case, the panels we had were all salvageable and just took some working.

First, we get the damaged metal as close to where we want it using tools like hammers, dollies, slide hammers, and sometimes welders. Once it's close, the finish work is done using plastic body filler, commonly (and usually incorrectly) referred to by the trade name of Bondo. We used Evercoat's Rage plastic filler for the work on this car. The more time you have available, the closer you can get the surface how you like using the metalworking tools, then the less filler you need. JCG Restoration's regular customers usually allow them more time, but because we had a deadline and a budget, we limited the amount of time we spent metalworking.