1979 Holden VB Commodore Cut & Paste - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens

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holden vb commodore shell 3 The car was placed onto chassis stands, the left doors removed and the shell braced before the rusty sill was removed holden vb commodore shell 3

GT's crusty paddock-find Commodore

With rust in the boot floor, spare tyre well, passenger floors and sill, there is plenty of work required to get my farm-find 1979 Commodore V8 on the road again after its years dumped in a paddock.

I soon discovered there aren’t as many aftermarket rust repair sections available for Commodores as there are for restorers of 1950s-70s Aussie cars. I guess that’s an indication of the (only slightly!) better production quality of these first-generation Commodores, their younger age and the fact that despite the recent boom in popularity, these Commodores aren’t yet so scarce that we can’t find parts.

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1. I cut the replacement left-hand sill and floors from this VL Commodore

I began the parts-sourcing in my own back yard, spending several hours with a spot-weld drill, a grinder and a reciprocating saw to liberate the boot floor from a VN Commodore. This white wreck (that I bought as a driveline donor for a V8 conversion) had already provided its rear quarter panels for another restoration, so removing the boot floor wasn’t quite as difficult as if the rear of the car remained in place.

| Watch next: GT's VB Commodore - tackling the rust

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2. This 1990 VN Commodore shell donated its boot floor to its older brother

The VN boot floor is exactly the same shape as the VB’s and I didn’t need to be quite so careful removing the old rusty one: Despite being boxed-in by my VB’s two quarter-panels I was able to quickly hack it out after removing the fuel tank.

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3. Old panels are handy: The crescent pieces chopped from this VW door are for the inner edge of the VN tyre well

But the chopped-up VN can’t donate its sills or floors to my VB because – despite the many similarities with VB and VN – they are different shapes. To source the bits I required, I cut left floors and a sill from a wrecker-yard VL Commodore.

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4. These repair strips were made to replace the rusty floor edge against the sill

What I’m attempting in my garage may be routine for a crash-repair/restoration specialist, but it’s a stout task for an at-home DIYer and there’s little room for error. To get a better idea of how the Commodore body is assembled, I chose to remove the sections from the donor car before I removed my car’s rusty sill. Over several afternoons and evenings, I was able to cut-out the rusty parts of my car and prepare the replacements for fitting. Of course, the ‘new’ sections were taken from an also-decades old car so there was minor rust I had to repair, too.

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5. The footwell and firewall need a bit of TLC

My loose plan is to work along the car from the rear to the front – from the boot to the front floor – making sure each donor repair section is perfectly prepped before grafting them into place with my MIG welder.

Carefully fitted, these new sections will ensure my VB Commodore’s bodyshell will be devoid of structural rust, despite the scare-the-neighbours appearance of its crusty, rusty sunburned paint!

 

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6. With the fuel tank removed I was able to cut away the rusty boot floor

 

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7. The rusty driver-side rear quarter was removed. It too will be replaced with a section cut from another car

 

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8. The old sill is out and a replacement sourced, from a VL

 

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9. GT’s solution isn’t hi-tech, but works

 

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10. The boys at the GMH plant would be proud of the cut and paste job to resurrect a classic

 

From Unique Cars #448, January 2021

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