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Body on my car needs lots of TLC... Help! (Long post,many pics)

Scott Marencic

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I've owned my '71 Skylark since '97. Back then, the paint on the roof was in poor shape, so I repainted it. Using a drill mounted sanding pad, I took the roof down to bare metal, and used spray can primer, wet sanded, then several coats of automotive spray can white. Here is a picture I took in Feb '98 --

Picture of My 1971 Skylark in Feb 1998

This looked fine for about a year and a half, then I noticed some small specks of rust coming through! I was in college at the time, and didn't really have time or money to do the needed repairs. I was also in an accident with the car in Aug '98, I rear ended a jeep cherokee blush.gif which wiped out my driver's side fender, and tweaked my radiator core support frown.gif

I've been working on the car now the past 3 years since I got out of school, but mainly on the drivetrain and suspension, while leaving the body alone.

Now I really need to get on this, here are some pics of the body in its current state --

Two shots of the roof -




The trunk lid looks similar...


This progressed from a small spot to a large one in just the past 2-3 years -- This is the only spot on the car where the metal seems to be rusted to the point where it is weakened. I think if I pushed on this too hard it would go right through.


Rust around rear window..


Another shot of the rear window


Where the quarter meets the roof


The next set of pictures relates to the bodywork from the accident. The fender was a replacement I got in early '99 from a vendor I found in Hemmings Motor News. I wish internet forums for this kind of stuff were more prevalent then, I probably could have gotten a better fender for my $250! shocked.gif



And here's some shots of the core support after my novice (poor) repair attempt crazy.gif



As you can see, I never got the core support and fender mounted properly. It took alot of "persuasion" to get it this far, as I remember.


Sorry for the extremely long post. I just want to get started on this bodywork, and I'd like to try and get something accomplished soon, before it gets too cold to work on it!

Thanks in advance!

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Howdy, neighbor!

Looks like you've got your work cut-out for you...

The rust that's coming through on your Buick is "typical" of what I remember from GM cars of the '60s & '70s, particularly metallic blues, maroons, grays, bronzes ,etc; the hoods, trunk lids and roofs all seemed to fade and develop "total surface rust" much quicker than the sides of the car.

I think your car is at that point where it would be best to completely strip it down (remove all the trim) and remove all the paint and rust, and re-prime & paint... not something to be attempted on a fall weekend "before the snow flies".

If you're looking for a stop-gap to temporarily halt or slow the rusting until you have time & $$ to strip & re-paint, you might consider getting a 4-1/2" angle grinder and outfitting that with a wire brush and cleaning down the rusty spots, then hitting them with "Extend"(rust convertor), then priming and painting with spray-bombs just to seal against further moisture...

For a more permanent repair, you're going to have to get the body panels down to clean shiny bare metal, removing ALL traces of rust, then using a suitable primer to "etch" and seal the metal...some of the restoration guys might offer a specific suggestion... but any traces of rust that are left behind in pits or corners are going to spread and come back, no matter what you put on top...

Your rear quarter panels are probably rusted-out from the inside...check under the car THOROUGHLY for other body or frame rot...

Keeping the car high & dry is probably the one single thing you can do at this point to slow down the corrosion...

I'm just "scratching the surface" here...you might want to evaluate what it's going to cost to "fix it right", and think about what your ultimate plans for the vehicle are...(unless you REALLY love it, so much that "they'll have to pry it out of your cold, dead hands", it might not be where you want to spend your $$ ?)

Hopefully some of the other guys with more body & fender experience will offer some suggestions !

Good Luck!


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Frank -

Thanks for your input. My question is, what is the best way to remove *ALL* traces of rust? A buddy of mine sandblasted the body panels on his '79 K5 Blazer, and it made the surface of the metal quite rough. What about blasting with a different media type?

The car is parked outside right now, but I'll have it indoors in a few more weeks, and it will be able to stay there all winter.

Thanks again!

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First thing you need is some body tools! Loose the drill and buy a cheep DA sander and a cheep paint gun. Harbor Freight has what you need to get started. Then go talk to the guys at the automotive paint store and get an idea of the type of primer and paint you want to use. You will want to stay away from the spray cans as they are very poor quailty and the paint will lift under the good stuff so remove all spray paint first! As you run into things you don't know how to fix just post a picture here and someone will tell you how to do it.

This is going to be a lot of work but if you take your time and do it right you can have a nice looking car when it gets done.

Good Luck


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