In the past finding replacement body panels for a classic or antique car was very challenging, usually they would have to be taken off of a broken down or wrecked car. If you could find one it was great because its sure to fit as long as its not damaged. Present day those old cars are becoming harder and harder to find and the junk yards are filling with late model imports.
Companies like Auto Metal Direct (AMD) and Classic Industries have opened up a new market by offering brand new stamped panels for hundreds of cars all the way back into the 1930's. These two are by far the leaders in the business because their parts have been fine tuned to have the best fitment and their higher prices reflect the quality.
Are There Other Options?
Budget builders have found some relief because there are a few companies that offer the same parts but at a much lower cost, the only issue with these is that they have a reputation of not fitting the way they should.
If you're on a budget and have some metal fab and bodywork experience, the cheaper route may be the way to go. You are still getting brand new metal that is meant for your vehicle. These panels will be very close but may not have the exact body lines, missing mounting holes, and sometimes be slightly too long or too short.
Camaro Freak, on the Hotrodders.com forum, had these same issues with a new driver side door for his 69' Camaro.
After aligning the body lines with the front fender and rear quarter, the fitment was completely off.
Along the front fender the door gap was tight at the top and grew wider as it got closer to the center body line. Towards the bottom the door sits slightly inside the rocker and fender. If you look closely the peak of the center body line is also a slightly different shape.
There were similar problems where the door met the rear quarter panel. The door edge above the handle mount looks like it is a different shape causing a larger gap along the top edge.
Whats the Best Solution?
Deciding which route to go can be difficult because there will be a trade off with both options. It really depends on how much body work you want to put into the car, and how much you are looking to spend on the project.
Depending on the part and how complex it is, the more expensive parts will be worth it in the long run. For example, if you need an entire fender or door skin the big name brands are the way to go because they will be the closest match to your car. But if you just need a patch panel for a smaller area that does not intersect any body lines, the cheaper metal will save you a lot of money because you will need to do some fabrication anyways.
If you run into any of these issues Eastwood has everything you need to fabricate and modify those patch panels to have the perfect fit.
Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects. If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.
- James R/EW