It's certainly no secret that one of the ways to go faster is to reduce the weight of whatever you want to move. Racers have been looking for ways to shave pounds since the very beginning of speed contests, and clearly, there are only two ways to reduce weight-remove superfluous parts or make them lighter. We hung out with the crew at Muscle Car Restorations in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, as they installed a set of Auto Metal Direct's (AMD) all-new and recently released aluminum body panels on a '69 Camaro. AMD is the first company to manufacture aluminum parts for this car, including the hood, fenders with extensions, upper and lower valances, both bumpers, and trunk lid. The total weight savings is more than 100 pounds. AMD stresses that these panels are made from modern aluminum that is similar to that being used on some new cars today. It is stronger and more dent resistant than the factory panels of the '60s and even tougher than some of the ultrathin, lightweight steel panels used by some of the foreign manufacturers. Once the panels were installed, we found we could lean on the fenders without fear of damage. They're tough, but they are still aluminum, so they need some special attention as they are fitted to the car; you can't work aluminum like you can a steel panel. No heating/shrinking, heavy hammering, or cutting and welding are allowed. They can be worked, but you must be much gentler than one would imagine. The panels all come e-coated. You can check them for straightness and/or shipping damage by checking them out under fluorescent shop lights. Any irregularity in the panel will show up as a distortion of the light's reflection. This is a similar method to that used with paintless dent repair and will reveal imperfections not readily apparent otherwise. If you prefer not to work on top of e-coat, you can sand it off with 180- to 220-grit paper, clean with PPG DX394 water-based low VOC wax and grease remover, and prep the bare aluminum by mixing PPG DX533 aluminum cleaner 1:3 with water and rubbing it into the surface with a gray Scotch-Brite pad. Let the DX533 stand for 2 to 3 minutes, rinse well with water, then blow and towel dry. The panels all come e-coated. You can check them for straightness and/or shipping damage b As soon as possible (no more than eight hours), apply one light coat of DX1791 etching primer. Let that air dry for at least 30 minutes but no more than 24 hours (or you will have to lightly sand it prior to the next coat). As soon as possible (no more than eight hours), apply one light coat of DX1791 etching pri Next, tack off and apply a medium coat of DP90. Let that sit overnight and then lightly scuff it with a red Scotch-Brite. Clean with DX394 again and apply a couple of medium coats of your preferred primer, then proceed with your usual panel preparation methods. Next, tack off and apply a medium coat of DP90. Let that sit overnight and then lightly sc Because new inner fenders from AMD are also being used and since the whole front clip is going onto a Detroit Speed front frame assembly, it was better to assemble the inner and outer fenders first before fitting them to the car, as the inner strengthens the outer and helps prevent the outer from being damaged. Because new inner fenders from AMD are also being used and since the whole front clip is g Don't try to draw together any parts with bolts. Aluminum may not tolerate the stress over time like steel does. You may have to fuss around a little more than you are used to to get everything to come together cleanly. MCR found that it was best to loosely assemble all the front clip parts before beginning to tighten up everything as one unit. Don't try to draw together any parts with bolts. Aluminum may not tolerate the stress over The weight savings becomes quickly apparent when you install the 23-pound hood. The underside of the hood and the trunk lid are virtually indistinguishable from original factory parts. Once painted, no one will ever know. The weight savings becomes quickly apparent when you install the 23-pound hood. The unders The hood comes with the necessary lighter-weight hood springs. Softer torsion springs are also included with the trunk lid. The hood comes with the necessary lighter-weight hood springs. Softer torsion springs are Like the rest of the parts, the aluminum bumpers come e-coated and can be easily painted or polished to a chrome-like appearance, then anodized, if desired. These will be chrome plated to make them indistinguishable from factory originals. Like the rest of the parts, the aluminum bumpers come e-coated and can be easily painted o If you are replacing the door skins, whether or not you are also replacing the door shell, don't weld the skin to the door until you have the front fender in place. That way if the leading edge of the door doesn't quite line up with the fender, the door can be twisted slightly to match the fender without altering the door-to-quarter alignment. If you are replacing the door skins, whether or not you are also replacing the door shell, 1 | 2 | » | View Full Article By Mark Ehlen Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!