Texas Trans Am Service & Restoration

Jeff's Black 1979 Trans Am Resurrection
Page 0 - The back story

When Jeff brought the car in on the trailer it didn’t have a front clip, no front sheet metal at all. He claimed that it ran but couldn’t prove it. David wasn’t available when the truck driver pulled up. Roger saw the car and told the driver, “Hey man, David keeps the parts cars in the back.” “No.” Jeff said. “He’s going to restore this one.” 

It had a miniature football sized dent on the roof between the windshield and the t-top opening, the passenger side door had a crease in it as much as 2 inches deep. The passenger side quarter panel was smashed flat from the door jam to half way up the crease in the wheel well. The interior had rats living in it. This car had been wrecked and both front windshield posts were cracked. We realized that the brake booster and master cylinder were angled towards the engine, which meant the firewall was bent. The power steering box was at an awkward angle so that the steering shaft was not parallel with the frame; this indicated to us that the frame was bent. We pulled the radiator support, engine and transmission out of it. One day after lunch David stripped the interior out of it. He disassembled the sub frame, doors and glass but the owner did not want anything done underneath the car. After pulling the sub frame out we realized that the body cross member was twisted. 

The bodywork was next on the quarter panels, roof and trunk lid. First David welded the windshield posts back together. The dent in the driver’s site was knocked out from the inside of the panel. For the rear quarter panel a stud welder was used. Individual studs were welded to the skin and carefully pulled out. After the studs were cut off and ground down, Jeff the owner was called out to the shop to see how little filler would be needed. 
Once the bodywork was complete on the unibody shell the self-etching primer was applied. Secondly three coats of primer/surfacer was applied. Once dry the surface was sanded with 180 grit dry sandpaper on a 14-inch long board to eliminate ripples and waves.
This process exposes high and low spots that were missed. These spots were fixed, and any places sanded down to bare metal were re primed with self-etching primer. Three more coats of primer/surfacer were applied to the body. Once dry and inspected, David was confident that the body was as straight as possible. A guide coat was applied and sanded with a 500-grit wet or dry paper on a 9-inch block. This was used to wet sand the surface completely. Once this was finished, the body was sealed with a non-sanding primer sealer. This seals the bodywork and prevents the primer and bodywork from absorbing the paint unevenly. 

Next 3 coats of black acrylic urethane were applied, allowing it only to dry to the touch between coats. With the body shell done, the next step was to work out the doors and trunk lid. Before addressing the doors, the door hinges were rebuilt with new oversized bushings and new pins. The customer wanted power windows and door locks, so two good power window / power lock doors were located. The same process was used on the doors, except that the top and bottom 4 inches of these doors are notorious for ripples. An air file was used to assure that they were straight, then block sanded like the body. 

With the paint on the doors completely dry, the doors were hung and adjusted to the body. The trunk lid was fastened and adjusted to align with the bodylines. 

The sub frame was dismantled and sandblasted. It was primed and painted with semi flat black. The firewall was straightened and painted with semi flat black. The new suspension components were installed, including new ball joints and bushings, and then re assembled with the sub frame. In the process of detailing the sub frame and components the metal brake and fuel lines were cleaned with a wire brush and carburetor cleaner, then covered with a semi gloss clear coat. The lines were installed with new rubber brake hoses and new brake hardware. The cross member was heated with a torch on the drivers side to return to its normal position. The passenger side floor pan above the cross member was cut for access to tap the member into place. Then the floor pan was stitch welded back into place, welding seams ground down and smoothed out. 

Continued on page 1...

home restoration projects
parts articles links
animated introduction

"Restoring Old Dreams"

Owner and Operator, Mr. David Mars
Serving the community since 1991
Email: david@texastransams.com
4588A Kennedale - New Hope Rd.
Fort Worth, TX  76140

©2000 - 2004 Texas Trans Am Service and Restoration
All rights reserved. Duplication only with prior approval.
design by JGH/
Info Tune-Up