Anyone who has been around bodywork and painting for any length of time knows all too well that paint not only won't hide bodywork imperfections, it will mercilessly reveal and enhance them-thus, the saying that paint is only as good as the bodywork underneath it. It could be said that a great paintjob is as much defined by what isn't seen as by what is seen.
But perfectly smooth, flawless paint by itself isn't enough to win awards. Have you ever seen a car with great looking paint, but with body panels that just didn't seem to fit right? The gap around the hood might be inconsistent. A door doesn't close completely flush with the quarter. Maybe the trunk lid is even with the quarter on one side but not the other. Perhaps the most noticeable flaws are bodylines that run the length of the car that change from one panel to the next. Unfortunately, our eyes are all too often drawn to imperfections and inconsistencies, and soon we can't see the forest for the trees. In other words, we don't tend to notice how well body panels fit together unless there's something inconsistent or out of place.
Aligning "hinge-able" panels like the trunk lid needs to be done with the weatherstripping
Of course it's no surprise that 30-40 years of use-and all too often abuse-have just torqued these cars out of shape. Not to mention what can happen with careless collision repairs or hacked-up backyard rust repair. Never mind the fact that, dare I say it, a lot of them came out of the factory that way.
Perhaps where owners get tripped up with this issue is that most don't realize just how much a car body can flex during use. Some Hemi-powered race cars would twist so much that they would break the windshield and, after a while, the door would become hard to open. OK, that's an extreme example, but it would be smart not to assume that your car is perfectly square, and even smarter not to wait until the car is painted to align everything.
Just like great paint can only follow great bodywork, perfect panel alignment can only follow expert metal work, which means assembling and checking the sheetmetal on the car before it's too late to do anything about ill-fitting parts. The guys at Muscle Car Restorations in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, take the time to mock up each panel on a given car after the major metal work is finished but before the body is ready for paint. That way, the panel fit and alignment can be fine tuned. Once everything fits correctly, the car can come apart for the rest of the restoration and finish work, knowing that it will go back together fitting perfectly.
The seal should be a little long, so expect to trim it as needed.
Install everything just like you will when the car is finished. Don't skip installing the
Start by adjusting the hinge bolts. They provide fore and aft adjustment and some up and d
These shots clearly show the difference between the left and right side seam gaps.
There's no factory provision for side-to-side adjustment so you'll need to gently tweak th
Notice how the gap spreads just as it reaches the end of the quarter. This is not uncommon