Just like death and taxes are the only two sure things in life, rust and hidden damage are the only two sure things in vintage project cars. No one wants to admit it, and it's a bummer, but we all have to address them at some point in the build. We're at that point now with the Max Effort 1967 Cougar project car.
Luckily Max was originally a Southern California car, black plates and all, so our rust damage should be very limited, right? That's how the theory goes, anyway. Unfortunately, throughout our build progress on Max we uncovered patches of rust in all the usual places for muscle cars: floorboards, cowl vent, trunk floor, rear windshield, door edges, and quarter-panels by the wheels, for example. We were pretty sure there was more in hiding. We knocked out the floorboards with the help of Yannick Sire at Sire Custom Performance, but to flush out all of the body damage we sent Max to Pacific Coast Powder Coating (PCPC) for a full media blast followed by epoxy powdercoat to seal it. (See "Getting Blasted!" Mar. 2014.) The best thing about media blasting is that it uncovers the true condition of sheetmetal. That's also the worst thing about media blasting.
While still a very solid body, PCPC did uncover several spots of rust that needed a true bodyman's touch. We're decent at creating patches for less noticed areas, or grafting in premade patches, but it takes experience, proper equipment, and honestly a bit of artistry to create truly excellent custom body patch panels. Thankfully we found exactly the right guy to help us make Max look like it has never known rust. We've teamed up with renowned custom painter Wes Adkins at Wild Wes Paintworks in Dover, Ohio, to handle the paint and body on project Max Effort, and we'll be bringing the whole process to you in our annual paint and body special, as well as breaking down the good bits into individual tech articles here in PHR, and with exclusives on PopularHotRodding.com. To kick it off, Wild Wes is going to show us exactly how to handle creating and installing patch panels for two very common problem areas: the quarter-panel and the front corner of the door. The key point to success here is making a piece that fits effortlessly. It takes patience and lots of reshaping, but you can learn to do it.