RESTO CORNER WITH AMD: SMITH BROTHERS’ AUTO METAL BASICS
KEY STEPS TO REPLACING SHEETMETAL ON CLASSIC MOPARS
Key steps to replacing sheetmetal on classic Mopars
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.