Around this time I bought what has turned out to be one of my favorite toys-a Miller 135 wire fed MIG welder. I dry assembled the panels with sheetmetal screws. I'm a little thick about some things, sometimes, and I had a few lessons to learn the hard way because of it. The first was that I was convinced I wanted flux core wire, so I wouldn't have to go to the expense and hassle of buying and constantly refilling an argon bottle. So these first few patch panels were welded on that way. They are fine and solid, they do not creak or crackle, and no one can see my chunky-looking inexperienced welds.
I cut away the outer edges of the wheelhouses, and parts of the inner wheelhouses. I had ordered repro inner wheelhouse patches, but the fit was so terrible, I sent them back and made my own panels from one of the quarters I cut off. I'm a little nuts that way, but I didn't want to go buy new metal. I think the used OEM stuff is metallurgically different than the raw steel sold new at most suppliers, or maybe I'm just too lazy to go buy it.
Here are a couple of shots that show why this car needed quarterpanels so bad, and another of what it looked like with everything cut away. I was more careful cutting the quarterpanels than with the trunk floor and braces. For the quarters, I started the ends with a fibre wheel die grinder, and carefully, slowly used the air chisel.
I had done lots of patch panels on cars in the past, but they were much smaller, usually homemade from wrecked hoods I found. This was going to be my most ambitious project yet, so I sprung for Goodmark repro quarterpanels, and the complete trunk floor, tank mount and floor brace set. Right away I went after the rust with the air chisel, and cut away nearly everything. I was optimistic. When I was finished this day, I certainly was not ready to go cruising, even though I had a half a jug-tank of gas left.....
I had also ordered inner wheelhouse patch panels, but the fit was so incredibly awful, I sent them back and made my own from the old quarterpanels.
What I thought would be different about this project, was the greater parts availability, and the fact that I was now old enough to actually be able to afford to buy them! Even though I've restored a number of cars before, at this point I still believed some patch panels, seat covers and plenty of my good old fashioned elbow grease would make me a nice driver convertible in a summer or two. So I started spending money, and piling up the parts. Shown here on the driveway are:
2 used original fenders and doors.
used original trunk lid from '72 sedan, bright yellow.
2 reproduction Goodmark quarterpanels.
4 used original painted wheels, 2 actually came on this car.
Reproduction 7 peice trunk floor. 3 floor sections, 2 stiffener rails and 2 rails which the gas tank mounts against.
2 rear inner quarterpanel to trunk floor panels.
2 outer rear wheelhouses.
2 front fender patches (which I ended up not using)
4 piece reproduction interior floors.
The blue fenders and doors came from a '72 Cutlass in Greenville, South Carolina. I bought them from an advertiser on an Oldsmobile message board. I got a good deal on these nice straight used panels and paid to ship them home.
Rust free stuff is about impossible to find in St. Louis. The SC doors are excellent, but the front fenders are rusty at the bottom. They are very nice and straight otherwise, so are worth fixing. Both doors and fenders all came from the same car, and have a funny paint history. That car was originally white, someone painted it dark green. Later, both the green and white were stripped from the exterior (but not the jambs) and that car was then painted light metallic blue.