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Bodywork

Bodywork Published: 24th May 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Bodywork
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Without doubt, this area is the hardest thing to tackle at home although much of the work is simply hard graft.

Doing all the labouring yourself means you can save a lot of money by calling in experts that may be required only when needed. How easy or hard a restoration becomes largely depends upon the availability of replacement body and chassis parts where, in the worst cases, you may need to make them from scratch – time consuming work.

If it’s metal then it is going to have be welded, a job that has to be done right or it’s waste of time especially on structural areas.

Sometimes the welding operation is the easy bit – if the body is that bad and stripped to the bone, you may need to rig up a jig to keep the shell in alignment before you can even begin to make good and while it’s definitely not a job for novices, many DIYers have done it quite successfully in the past, thank you.

If you don’t want to haul your classic off to a workshop, consider a mobile welder with their equipment to carry out the necessary at home. Obtain as many quotes as you can as prices vary. While a classic specialist will know their business, ‘general welders’ are more likely to treat the work more on a level playing field as a ‘job’ be it a Ford or a Ferrari and charge less.

A good ploy for simpler work but anything more intricate should be dealt with by a specialist.

How about modern adhesives to ‘weld’ panels like new cars are produced? Non standard, but a lot easier than normal welding. Speak to a body specialist who deals in classics, or product maker first, on what you can and can’t do.

Body solder (better known as lead) was commonplace during manufacturing to seal the joints between body panels for many years. Kits are available so that you can replicate these seams, but ‘lead-loading’ is also skilled art which is difficult to master. Body solder is effective for use on panels which are subjected to ‘shock’ loads and you may need to seek professional help for this job.

Plastic body filler is a lot simpler and who hasn’t used it to bodge a panel or two in our time? Glass fibre is stronger and lasts longer but it’s more difficult to do. Similarly, properly repairing a fibreglass body is more than just filling in a rusty wing or sill and may need a professional to achieve the right repair standards.

Of course, pour all the love and time you can in getting that body beautiful although bear in mind you can ‘over restore’ a classic. By this we mean that, because you are literally hand building it, the panel fit and body finish will be far better than when the vehicle was churned out at the factory. Many demand theirs to be as close to factory fit as possible instead even if it looks inferior but irrespective of whatever stance you adopt, a restored body and chassis, rebuilt using modern materials, should last for decades and far longer than first time around if done right.

Best buys

Crashed


What’s the difference between a wreck and a crashed classic? Not much – so don’t dismiss one. May lead to the V5 document being duly stamped, though

Reshell


A new shell answers all your worries but comes at a cost – easily over £10K once fettling and painting. Old bodies can fall foul of the DVLA regs

Age concern


If you do reshell you might have to allow for subtle differences over the years. For instance, the BMH Mini shell is a hybrid combo of various generations

Top five tips

DIY or pro

Those that do it for a living say you spot a DIY restoration a mile off. That may well be, but we’ve seen some stunning efforts and you’ll devote more time to your classic than any pro can

Quality control

The essential thing is to know, measure and ensure critical alignments remain set and keep checking them as you go, and starting again if it’s not up to your liking. There are many self-taught welders around who do a very good job

The right stuff

There’s the choice of gas or arc (the latter is better for the DIYer) while Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) is ideal for restoration work. Prices start from £250 but you need a kit developing 100 amps of power. Failing this you can hire one

The costs

Professional welding costs £20-£30 per hour (plus VAT). If you don’t want to haul your classic to a workshop, how about a mobile welder

Shot blasting

Removing old paint, and hidden nasties is a horrid job; special bead blasting is the answer but it costs. Speak to likes of Pro-Strip and SPL



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