<VV> original sheet metal

Mark Corbin airvair at earthlink.net
Thu Jan 1 09:58:22 EST 2015


As I have begun work on the body and paint stage in the restoration of my Arizona ’67 Corvair Monza 4 door, the thought struck me that people in the collector car hobby should be keeping track of what percentage of a car’s sheet metal is original to the car. This is especially important in a car like the Corvair, with its highly unitized body. 

Bolt-on panels can be easily replaced. Not so panels that are welded together at the factory, using specific jigs to locate each panel. Often times when welding them into place, the factory used seam sealer or other materials in places and applications that would be difficult if not impossible to duplicate after the fact. I know this to be the case, as I worked for 30 years in a GM sheet metal fab plant. It is for that reason that I abhor dip-stripping body assemblies, and have a distaste for any panel replacement that compromises the original attachment methods. Such things as half-fendering a quarter panel or lap-joining two sheets instead of butt-welding them together are repairs that I find to be questionable restoration methods. Yet such repairs are incredibly commonplace, even in car restorations. 

For these reasons, I prize original body sheet metal. I have been blessed over the years in my collection with four cars that all have had a high degree of original sheet metal. My convertible and Texas 4 door both have 100% all original sheet metal, while the worst was my late lamented ’69 Corsa coupe, which had only a rear quarter half-fendered and the rear floor pan foot wells patch-replaced. 

I have been referring to the car I’m presently working on as my “project car”, because I had originally intended to fabricate a wagon greenhouse on it. It is only needing minor sheet metal replacement and a quarter panel straightened, but is otherwise 100% original metal. I say “minor” because it has several small spots of rust-through that I attribute to storage damage, having sat in and out of barn storage for almost 18 years. These areas will require a sum total of replacement metal that will account for nothing larger than what could all be easily stuffed in an attaché case. Needless to say, I’m going to replace these spots properly, so that the integrity of each affected panel is not compromised.

Anyway, maybe one or more people in CORSA, preferably with considerable body work experience, could come up with a percentage table containing each common type of replacement possible, and an assigned percentage of what each is worth. Of course, the higher the percentage of original metal a car contained, the more valuable the car would be. That way, a hobbyist could say just how much original metalwork their car contained. I’d be willing to compound any such information from several sources into one chart. Anyone who would want to contribute to this little project can privately contact me.

-Mark Corbin

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