Restoration tips & tricks - Body

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

body resto 2 body resto 2

Part one of our Restoration Tips & Tricks series. If you fancy a challenge, building your own car can be hugely satisfying.


Restoration tips & tricks - Body

Over recent years the cost of importing cars from the USA has risen substantially, thanks to a mix of higher taxes, a stronger American domestic market that has bumped up the prices and an exchange rate that has swung against us.

That means buying and building locally has become a whole lot more attractive. What are the pros and cons?

For a start buying a really good car that someone else has done is nearly always cheaper than doing it yourself. That said, doing it yourself means you know exactly what you’re getting.

Talk any restorer and there is one stand-out issue when it comes to buying a project car: what’s the body like? Paint can hide some huge sins and body repair is nearly always by far the longest and most expensive aspect. Our GT-HO tribute car from a few years ago had nearly 300 hours put into the labour!

Painting a whole car is a daunting task and anyone will tell you the results depend almost entirely on the surface preparation. Applying the colour is the least of your troubles. There are plenty of step-by-step guides out there and, if you do tackle it yourself, you’ll soon understand why the professionals can easily charge $30k for a high-end job.

If you’re converting a ‘plain Jane’ model to something high-end – like we did with the Falcon 500 transformation to a GT-HO – do your research so you fully understand what that entails. In our case, here’s what the list looks like: exhaust hangers, including the double plates on the chassis; sway bar mounts plus a few other underside mods, including for the fuel line; bracing under the front cross-member; strut kit and bracing in the bonnet; plus the hump in the floor for the double bracing of the seats.

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We’ve put a fair bit of effort into covering an engine rebuild, because that’s where most people’s interest is. However this should turn out to be the easiest part of the project. There is an ever-growing number of very good crate engines out there, while it’s possible the list of options for a one-off version of popular powerplants like the 350 small block we show is huge.

One final piece of advice: don’t skimp on critical components like transmission and brakes, or ancillaries such as wiring, fueling and ignition. Good gear means the car performs right and won’t catch fire!

See all three parts of this story:

Part 2: Restoration tips & tricks - engine

Part 3: Restoration tips & tricks - finishing it off


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