Just finished up with a partial restoration on a ‘70 El Camino that I thought I’d share. It’s only a partial restoration in the sense that our customer is rather mechanically inclined, so he disassembled the vehicle, stripped paint/old body filler, and completed all the drive line and suspension upgrades, and had already powder coated the frame. He’s also handling the post-paint reassembly, save for some awkward chrome installation we did for him. We were just tasked with undoing 46 years of wear, tear, collision damage, and lack of corrosion protection/body sealing technology.

Note the horrendous gap at the rear of the left bedside and tailgate.

Corrosion-wise, this vehicle was in pretty good condition. Our customer had picked it up a few years ago from Arizona, and it’s had a nice, warm, dry spot in his garage since then. There was a bit of rot on the sides of the firewall/cowl, and a handful of minor pinholes, but overall a solid vehicle. The worst bit was a collision it had been involved in 35(?) years ago, that seemingly received the “cave and pave” body filler repair approach.

This probably could’ve been metal finished a bit better, and the fuel door is a bit...off.
Why hello there crushed fuel neck, inner bedside, and wheelhouse.

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Once we cut away the distorted lower left bedside in preparation for a patch panel, we found that we’d be needing more than a patch panel. The inner quarter had been crushed and bent, and was holding the quarter panel in the wrong place. The only way to fix it without a heroic application of body filler to align panels again was to replace the wheelhouse, rear inner panel, and quarter panel (P.S: we have a nice left quarter patch panel for sale for a 1970 El Camino now...)

Removal of trashed metal
Mockup of wheelhouse

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Fin.

Once the metalwork was done, we applied a coat of epoxy primer to the entire vehicle, painted the firewall, undercoated the body, set the body back on the frame, and began the arduous process of applying body filler, and sanding 75% of it back off again.

Don’t touch me, I’m still wet.

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Finally color!
It looks like someone gave a toddler a ball peen hammer and paid $5 for every new dent...

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Hard to tell in a photo, but there’s more on the floor than on the car...

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All to eventually get covered with spray in bedliner...

Once the body was straight, it was time for a field trip to the paint shop (and more primer, and sanding, and more primer...)

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These aftermarket fenders did not want to fit doors, hood, or headlamp doors...
The addition of this picture brought Kinja to a screeching halt for about 10 minutes.

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Once we had everything lined up and reprimed, the front end and doors were again removed, fender/hood/door insides were painted, as well as body jambs and the inside of the bed. Reinstalled doors and front sheet metal for the last time, and were ready for exterior paint.

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A couple solid days of sanding and buffing, and that’s pretty much that. Our customer is supposed to stop by this spring with the car once he’s got it all back together, with promises of burnouts in our parking lot.

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I think I’ve said it before, but it’s 1000x more rewarding to finish something like this than your standard Accord/Camry/Impala/Taurus collision repair. Just getting to see the look our customers face each time he stopped by and saw his dream edging closer to reality.

P.S. Didn’t realize I’d get this long-winded or photo-happy with this post, if you made it this far, thanks for reading, you’re a trooper.