RESTO COR­NER WITH AMD: SMITH BROTHERS’ AUTO METAL BA­SICS

KEY STEPS TO RE­PLAC­ING SHEET­METAL ON CLASSIC MOPARS

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - WORDS BY CAM BENTY PHO­TOS BY JAMES SMITH

Key steps to re­plac­ing sheet­metal on classic Mopars

Fact 1:over

Classic Mopar mus­cle cars are 40 years old. Fact 2:sheet­metal,

Since they were all made from they all have some ev­i­dence of rust, re­quir­ing re­pair. With the value of th­ese classic mus­cle cars hav­ing reached strato­spheric heights, the ra­tio­nale to re­pair­ing even rusty hulks back to for­mer glory is well worth the ef­fort.

But the best news about the in­creased in­ter­est in re­pair­ing for­merly dis­carded classic Mopars is that just about ev­ery sheet­metal part can be pur­chased from Auto Metal Di­rect (AMD) and de­liv­ered to your door. The hard part then be­comes re­mov­ing the old metal and in­stalling the new metal prop­erly. For those who think this is a sim­ple op­er­a­tion, we’re cer­tain th­ese im­ages will show you it’s not. The cor­rect tools op­er­ated in an ad­e­quate workspace uti­liz­ing the cor­rect safety

equip­ment are crit­i­cal. Eye pro­tec­tion, gloves, and res­pi­ra­tors (to guard against grind­ing and paint­ing de­bris) are a must.

But the folks at Auto Metal Di­rect are far more than sim­ply the man­u­fac­turer of re­place­ment body com­po­nents. A re­view of their web­site re­veals a lot of stuff, frankly most of the stuff that re­builders look for, from trans­mis­sions to grilles. But for the sake of this dis­cus­sion, we’ll stick with the metal parts. Stamped out in dies that match the fac­tory con­fig­u­ra­tions, Mopar Parts has signed off on th­ese parts repli­cat­ing the orig­i­nals. To­day, AMD is the of­fi­cial sup­plier of fac­tory-style Mopar sheet­metal.

The tech­niques shown here were the hand­i­work of Jamie and Bob Smith, two brothers who have built a lot of Charg­ers over the years up in their Wash­ing­ton state fa­cil­ity. As the go-to guys for Gen­eral Lee/ The Dukes of Haz­zard Charg­ers fans look­ing to live like Bo and Luke, they build a wide va­ri­ety of per­fectly re­stored Mopars for cus­tomers and friends. Note that they’re well versed in not only the tech­niques re­quired to strip out the rusty and in­sert fresh metal depart­ment, but also the in­ti­ma­cies that make th­ese Mopars fac­tory cor­rect. That is key when build­ing th­ese cars, since Mopar did things very dif­fer­ent than other OE man­u­fac­tur­ers. Enlisting a knowl­edge­able builder to help with panel align­ment and the or­der of build is a big help — and re­search­ing the fac­tory tech­niques is equally im­por­tant.

In terms of tools, a high-qual­ity weld­ing sys­tem, like those by Miller or Lin­coln, is im­por­tant, since you’ll be stick­ing a lot of metal to­gether. For those look­ing to repli­cate ev­ery fac­tory weld, a spot welder is needed – one that is re­ally good at pen­e­trat­ing the metal and mak­ing a strong bond. This can be tricky and, again, enlisting an ex­pert is ad­vis­able. So take a look at the in­stal­la­tion of th­ese AMD com­po­nents as we take this “left for dead” 1969 Charger and bring it back to life .

Bring­ing classic iron back from the dead is now pos­si­ble with the parts avail­able from Auto Metal Di­rect. Even rusty hulks like this can be trans­formed into show-win­ning ma­chines.

Make cer­tain that the frame sec­tions are sup­ported in the ex­act op­pos­ing ar­eas in four po­si­tions with only the car’s rest­ing weight. If vast ar­eas will be re­placed, con­sider build­ing/weld­ing in a tem­po­rary “bird cage” to main­tain the body’s over­all di­men­sions. Think of it as a sys­tem to keep an egg shell’s di­men­sions in check while you re­place pieces of it.

A high-speed grinder wheel can be your best friend on projects like this for cut­ting through aged met­als. Be sure to wear pro­tec­tive gloves, a res­pi­ra­tor, and face shield­ing.

Swiss cheese comes to mind when you look over the floors and trunk of this well-worn 1969 Charger R/T. Even a car that ap­pears to be this far gone can be saved if you know how.

Bob Smith re­moves the rear quar­ter of this Charger after cut­ting the orig­i­nal fac­tory welds free. This part will not be reused, in­stead it’s re­placed with an AMD panel.

Make sure all frame and body di­men­sions are fac­tory ac­cu­rate, be­fore re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing any com­po­nents.

After the spot welds have been drilled out, some­times a pry bar is re­quired to spring the parts free. Longer pry bars add lever­age and help make the job eas­ier.

Cut­ting around parts in the trunk like this is all part of the fun. This brace will be re­placed dur­ing the fi­nal in­stal­la­tion.

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