Project Bombadore Body Building - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens - Words & Photos

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holden commodore vb bodywork 4 It looks like crap – and that’s just the way I want it! – but after a few weekends of welding to the boot floor, tyre well, left sill, floors and driver’s rear quarter, the major holden commodore vb bodywork 4

After wielding his magic welding wand, Glenn Torrens' farm-find Commodore body is wholesome again

Two decades of sitting outdoors had taken its toll on my farm-find 1979 VB Commodore V8. The boot floor was crusty, the spare tyre base was pretty-much non-existent and the left sill and floors were goooone!

After sourcing a few parts from other cars, I began the daunting rust repair work: In fact, after transporting it home and with beer-in-hand having a closer look, I’d wondered if the old rusty Commodore was worth the time, the effort and the money….

Hell yeah!

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The sill replacement was the biggest task GT has tried. Aaaand he succeeded

I began the rust work at the rear of my Commodore and moved steadily forward, replacing all the rusty bits with the donated parts. Successfully completing the boot floor and spare tyre well got me in the mood for the biggest job: the left sill. Being part of the skeleton of the car, it was critical that I didn’t allow the body to flex and introduce problems such as uneven panel gaps between the doors and the body. As hinted, this is the biggest single repair task I have ever undertaken as a home-based DIY restorer, but by using traditional trade techniques - such as bracing the body – I installed the replacement sill and re-hung the doors with factory-like accuracy. In fact, with a little tweaking of the Commodore’s four sets of door hinges – and by finessing the fit of the front guards to the front doors and the bases of the A pillars - my car is ‘gapped’ better than original!

| Watch the video: Cutting and shutting a sill

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There was work required under my car’s front and rear windscreens too – although far less than many Commodores of this age!

After the welding, I ground-down the high spots and applied some primer and seam sealer. Before welding, I’d removed most of the Commodore’s factory applied in-cabin sound-deadening material, so it was replaced. A cabin-full of new stick-down sound deadener cost around $400 (ouch!) but it was a necessary spend as despite its tatty appearance, I didn’t want the noise levels in my Commodore to be like a stripped-out race car.

| Read next: Project Bombadore cut & paste

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Commodores are notorious for cracking under the seat mounts. A few minutes’ work with the welder and this is good and strong again

I was keen for my Commodore to be as-new underneath, too. With the car raised as high as possible on chassis stands and with the driveline removed (more about that in a future issue) I invested several hours in wire-brushing years of surface rust and loose factory sound-deadener. After some masking, I applied a fresh coat of under-body schutz to the four wheel arches and much of the undercarriage, including the back-sides of the two front guards, too.

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Installing a replacement sill - sourced from another car – was an essential job for getting my Commodore back on the road

It was a big DIY job that I spread over several weeks of evenings and weekends. But with the major rust repaired and the underbody restored, I’d ensured my VB Commodore V8’s future!

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 You can see the size of the patch panel required to repair the rear footwell

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Rusty bits out and a new floor and tyre carrier welded in

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There was a small rusty section in the driver’s side sill, too. It was an easy fix!

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A fresh boot floor. That’s a big thumbs-up!

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After I’d completed the welding, I applied seam sealer and under-body schutz to replicate a modern factory-type anti-corrosion finish

 

From Unique Cars #450, March 2021

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