Bodywork

While it appeared fairly straight, after more than four decades Max had plenty of dings and minor damage in the sheetmetal. Before moving on to body filler, the goal is always to remove as much of the inconsistencies as possible by hand. The key here is patience and the right tools, namely a good set of hammers and dollies, such the Fairmont tools from Eastwood. The idea is quite simple: press an appropriately shaped dolly against one side of the steel while tapping the other side with a body hammer. (You will want to experiment with various techniques, as hammering directly on the dolly versus off the dolly will produce different results.) Stamped metal does have a memory, so hammering is used to coax it back into the original location.

We wanted to de-badge the Cougar and fill the holes left from the factory vinyl roof trim, radio antenna, and external rearview mirror, so we had holes of various sizes to delete. The diameter of the holes dictates what method is used to fill them. For example, the rather small 3/16-inch diameter holes from the pushpins on that factory quarter-panel emblem are the easiest to fill, requiring only a few quick tacks from a MIG welder followed by grinding the welds level. The much larger ⅜-inch diameter holes used for the vinyl top trim, however, require a backing plate for the welds to bridge the gap successfully. For that, Adkins used an Eastwood Magnetic Hole Plug Welding Tool. Featuring a copper head that welding wire will not adhere to, the tool is ideal for holes up to 1 inch in diameter. Using this also keeps material waste and heat to a minimum when filling larger holes. Sometimes, however, there are spots that such a tool simply will not fit behind. To fill in the larger holes left by the factory remote door mirror, Adkins used a magnet to hold a small circle of steel into place as he welds it in.

Door Fit

From the factory, most vintage cars had mediocre door alignment at best, so taking the time to make it perfect makes any car stand out from the crowd. Max's doors were in decent alignment, so before removing them for blasting at PCPC the hinges were pinned, meaning a hole was drilled through them to mark their location on the body. Using this as a starting point, Adkins left the bolts on the body side of the hinge loose and adjusted the rear of the door to match the quarter-panel body lines as much as possible. He then tightened the body side of the hinge and slightly loosened the door side. This allowed him to adjust the forward edge of the door to match the rocker panel. Theoretically, if the door is true, then this should align the rear to the quarter as well. Nevertheless, slight twisting that causes the lower section of the rear to stick further out is extremely common. Adjusting this requires a bit of brute force. Using a wood block placed at the top of the doorjamb, Adkins twisted the rear of the door to push the bottom in and force the top outward. Pushing a little at a time and checking progress eventually yields a door that will line up at the top and bottom.