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How To Spot Bad Bodywork

In The Search For Your Latest Muscle Car Adventure, Bondo Can Hide The Ravages Of Decades Of Rust And Abuse, So We'll Show You How To Spot Bad Bodywork

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When It's Time to Cut and Run
The older our coveted Camaros, 'Cudas, and Mustangs become, the less likely it will be to find a near-rust-free project car. We can tell you from personal experience that saving an extremely rusty survivor can be a very expensive proposition. I bought my '66 SS396 Chevelle in Iowa in 1971, and the Chevelle plowed through 13 years worth of nasty Iowa winters before I moved to California in 1979. Another 20 years transpired before I began its restoration, which I thought would only require a new floorpan. I took the car to Sal Perez at American Muscle Cars in San Bernardino, California, to perform the surgery since the company takes the time to install panels replicating the original factory spot welds. By the time Perez's guys were finished, only the original roof, firewall, doors, decklid, front fenders, and some of the inboard reinforcement panels remained. The rest of the car resembled a pin cushion with rampant rust throughout the body. Even the hood suffered from rust perforation. There is still much more to do on the car, and the bill just for the labor topped $15,000. When compared with the price of a brand-new Dynacorn body at roughly $15,000 (they unfortunately don't make a '66 Chevelle body-yet), you can quickly see how it can be an advantage to purchase a new body rather than attempt to restore a rusty original.

To give you an idea of the cost of restoration, we also did a quick accounting of the major sheetmetal parts for a '66 Chevelle of front fenders, door shells, a floorpan kit, quarter- and rocker panels, a trunk floor, and inner and outer wheelhouses. The OPG retail price for just these parts tops $3,300. Add perhaps another $1,000 for miscellaneous support panels and body mounts and the total bill to restore the sheetmetal could easily reach $20,000. If the work is on a Mopar or a Ford, expect to pay more for similar panels due to their smaller sales volume. I went ahead because I wanted to say this was still my original high school car, and it cost me a bunch of money to make that claim.

The rule of thumb for determining how much an entire project will cost is to triple your best estimate. Of course, that's if you really want to know. Most of us don't.

Goodmark Industries
625 Old Norcross Road
Suite E
GA  30045
Dynacorn Classic Bodies
4030 Via Pescador
CA  93012
American Muscle Cars
San Bernardino
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