Sorry I missed the dialogue but I've been away from the computer and the garage for a while( grandkids ).
1. To answer Brian's questions, yes the trunk seal is installed. It's made by A&M Sof-Seal, I think they're a quality product but I'll let others on the Forum add their opinion. The seal is installed correctly; I know this because it took me an hour to figure out which way it went, both ways looked right so I checked the shop manual.
2. I've learned my lesson about not painting the car until all the panels are fitted. Actually when this car was in primer I laid the trunk lid in the opening just to check that the lid fit OK between the quarters and was satisfied with the gaps. I realize now I should have installed the hinges and bolted the lid to them for the fit-check. I've done several frame-off restorations( 60's GM A-bodies) and this is the first one I've had so much trouble with. I guess I got lucky on the previous ones.
3. What kind of shims are we talking about? I have been using washers and didn't realize it mattered until Shine mentioned it.
I realize there are some conflicting opinions on this thread but I really appreciate the responses and take each one very seriously. As a hobbyist I depend on info from the Forum plus what I've learned from my mistakes( expensive!)
again thanks for all responses