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‘68 Convertible Restoration Guidance

1237 Views 13 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  frankthetank
Hello everybody and takes in advance. Since I’m new to the forum so I’ll mention a little about me and my project, sorry in advance for the long read. I have a 1968 Camaro Convertible in the garage that’s been disassembled for over 20 years. It’s a factory 327 automatic car. Originally the car was my dads back in the day. My dad was a mechanic but not much of a fan for body work so he hired a body man to restore the car back before I was born (I’m 26). I can’t find any original pictures but I do know the car was heavily rusted. It was my understanding that rust was all taken care of with all new sheet metal. The car is even cut in, ready for final paint and assembly. So the story goes, the guy my dad hired to do the work was doing a sloppy job and progressing very slowly making my dad ultimately fire the guy in the hopes of finishing the car himself. Twenty something years later the car remains the same as when he put it in the garage, that was until yesterday.
Yesterday I finally started working on it myself. Im in an ok position now that I graduated college and have a steady job with a bit of money to throw at this project. Unfortunately my dad passed away three years ago so there is a little bit sentimental value playing into this and motivating me too. Since my dad isn’t here to help me I really am missing a big resource to assist me and answer my questions. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and am looking for some guidance to get me started in the right direction.
So I disassembled what was left of the car and got it down to just the shell. I quickly realized the car isn’t ready for paint like I thought. To my untrained eye this is turning into quite the project. The body guy did some really shoddy work. New quarters over the old rusted out one, undercoating over rusted panels, rusted out inner rockers, rotted out floors, rusted subframe, etc. There doesn’t appear to be any part of the car this guy didn’t butcher.
I’ve already resigned to the fact that the floor pan is going to need replacing and the quarters need to come off for refinement. Just to be clear, I HAVE ZERO BODY WORK EXPERIENCE lol so you can why I’m feeling a little intimidated. I am mechanically inclined and can weld but I have never had to fit a body panel. My concern is that since all the panels appear to be butchered, how can I refit the quarters and not have issues with body lines, glass figment, and symmetry without any OEM reference. I have no measurements to go off of. You can see on the rear quarter how the right ride is a 1/2” out from the left with the gap filled with seam sealer. Are there standard measurements I can use or gauges I can buy to get the proper fitment?
For the floor replacement, especially being a convertible, what’s the best way to ensure the car is square and remains square? Is it better to replace the entire pan or use patch panels? The real problem with the floors is perimeter rot where the panels meet the inner rockers. Im just wondering if I’m over reacting with an entire pan replacement.
I think I could benefit from having somebody experienced in these cars take a look, give me some guidance, and point me in the right direction. Does anybody know of any shop ideally in the Hudson Valley/tri state NY area that I could hire just to look at the car, assess it, and help me out?
If you made it to this point then thanks for reading this essay lol. I know I’m in over my head so please no you should sell it type comments. I’m attached to the car plus there is a lot invested into it already. I have new fenders, doors, hood, inner fenders, and rebuilt engine/trans (although they have been sitting for 20+ years so might need fresh overhauls).
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But anyways, thanks for any tips and tricks you may have.
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Also if nobody has any recommendations for where I can get the shell chemically dipped and stripped so I can see exactly what I’m working with id appreciate it. Northeast would be preferred.
If it was me I would bring body to AMD. They replace any needed panel and have all jigs.
I would replace floor in one piece. Firewall to rear bumper with frame rails already in place, The piece is expensive somewhat, but nice when done with whole new underside.
Is that AMD as in Auto Metal Direct? Sorry, not too familiar with the resources yet.
Ok, that was kind of my thought with the floor, I just picked up a bunch of 1” square stock to brace the car up before I touch anything.
All right let us review what you got.
1. You have a highly desirable 1968 Camaro convertible.
2. The car has sentimental value to you.
3. You probably have mechanical aptitude because of your gene pool.
4. You have a garage with lots of space. It is insulated, it has a floor, and maybe a heater is in the corner.
5. You are 26 years old, so you are not all stoved up like the other geezers on this website.
6. You have a job that provides you with a disposable income.

Please excuse my north Louisiana colloquialism but "Dammm son, you good to go!"

Now this is what you need:
1. Clear title. Not one in your daddy's name. Your name has to be on that piece of paper.
2. Storage area for the fenders, doors, hood and everything else that you bought for the front end of the car. You are not going to be using that stuff for a while.
3. Make a spreadsheet of where all the parts are located whether they are new or used.
4. Make a list of all the sheet metal that you want to replace. Make notes if it is rusted or just put on wrong.
5. Buy yourself some real books on how to do body work. I know you are young, but You Tube will steer you wrong. Facebook is not your friend.
6. There is a book for Camaros called something like AIM factory assembly manual. It will provide some of the reference points you need.
7. What is your final goal for your Camaro? What do you want from your car when you are finished?
Thanks for the encouragement, when I tell most people they say I’m over my head and try to buy it. Good eye, I insulted and heated the garage a few years ago for these nice NY winters. You make a lot of good points which is what I definitely needed to hear. I’ve always been the type to dive headfirst into a project and figure things out as I go but I think that slowing down a little bit with some planning and organization will make all the difference here. I started chipping away at the undercoating to see what I’m working with. Just debating now if I should buy a vacuum sandblaster myself or send it out.
Thanks for the tip on that assembly manual, definitely have been burned by YouTube before. I’m looking for some resources on body work too to point me on my way.
As for what I want out of the car, well my dad always told me he didn’t want a show car, rather something he could daily drive if he wanted and have fun doing it. Above all I want it to be functional, reliable, and a blast to drive. All the modern upgrades, disc brakes, fuel injection, A/C…. With that said, I think I’m more inclined on “going over the top” than my father was especially since I am seeing how much work I’m going to have to put in to do it right. So I am envisioning custom paint/interior, wider tires, and full suspension, stuff like that too
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Why would you insult the garage?
Sorry, INSULATED lol must have been typing too fast
Just the fact you are asking all of the right questions and have made all of the observations of the scope of the project suggests you have good common sense. I sold projects in the past due to being overwhelmed (and broke) at times and regret it. Best way not to get discouraged is to get organized and do your research. 90% of what I learned about Camaro's is from this site. The supporters and information is available to guide you technically. Take it one bite at a time. Document your progress for both reference later and motivation when you’re discouraged. Do it right the first time. I personally took my build to the skeleton and sandblasted every inch of it and then epoxy primed it. It was a ton of work and made a huge mess but cost very little. You already know you can do far better than the hack that was doing the bodywork before.

Make your old man proud and take a deep breath and build it! Good luck and keep us posted.
Thanks! After searching this forum for a bit and doing some research I feel a bit more at ease seeing what other users were able to turn their rust bucket projects into. I think to my untrained eye I had a moment of panic but now I’m seeing, like everybody is saying, nothing can’t be fixed.
Hopefully going to pick up a sand blaster in the next few days but for now the needle scaler is taking the under coat and bondo off the wheel wells just fine (yes, they put bondo in the wheel wells to cover rust and hacked up replacement patches). At least now I can see why the inner wheel wells do not line up with the quarter panels.
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Automotive tire Wood Tread Road surface Tints and shades

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One of the best build threads for a convertible is the following:

Nothing special 68

Don't let Mr. Tim's modesty fool you. He knows what he is doing. He lives in Manorville, New York.

Another one:

Too rough to save? I'm gonna try on this 67 RS...

I wish I knew what Mr. Mike has forgotten.

Here is a link to the AIM manual I mentioned. This will be about the last free thing you will get for your project.

Downloadable AIM's and some service manuals
I’ll check them all out! Appreciate the help!
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