The Unwanted 2nd Restoration
Actually, I hadn't wanted to do so much work again, but things don't always turn out the way you think.
I've had the GT Cabrio since 1983. After a little work to get it in good driving condition, I took it to a meet in Ibbenbueren for the first time. Spurred on by the beautiful cars I saw there, I began to take my car apart and repair it. It would have been an exaggeration to even call this a "restoration," considering my skill and ability. This went on until 1993 when I registered the car. Since then, I've driven it almost 100,000 km. In the meantime, I replaced the 1300 motor with a 1700 motor I had freshly rebuilt, since the original documents and vehicle identification number indicated this was actually a 1700 GT.
It came time for the TÜV (Technical Inspection Agency) inspection in 2011 and the car was examined. I passed the inspection again, since only some light bubbles on the A-pillar and a tiny bit of rust on the B-pillar were detected. Actually, the car still looked pretty good. It was only out of curiosity that we opened up a little piece of the rocker panel and found out that rust, or better yet, a horror, was lurking in the shadows.
After a long time spent deliberating, I finally brought myself to begin the work in October 2011. This time I was going to have to do it in an orderly way or this would be the last time for me.
All the chrome pieces, the roof, the seats, and the carpet were removed. The rusted parts were taken out piece by piece. I already had some chrome parts on hand, and obtained the hard to get parts. I had to make the things that weren't available by myself, for example, the entire area behind the B-pillar. First, I had to draw some paper stencils, then cut out some generously-sized pieces from a sheet metal panel, then bend or form them as needed into the correct shape, and then fit them into place. The rear side parts, exterior and interior rocker panels, the reinforcement behind the A-pillar, repair panels for the front fenders, pieces of the floor panels, and the inner rear fenders were already available.
These panels were already available Here are some of the self-made panels too
I approached it in the following way: the door cut-outs and each detached part were measured, then the available or the newly made parts fitted, and then spot welding and welding were completed. After that, the restored sections were coated with rustproof primer. Holes were drilled for later inspections and, in the case of the box sections like the rocker panels, then filled with wax and plugged with rubber. We slowly began the preliminary work from front to back, first on the left side of the car, then on the right.
Door removed Chassis stabilization
All the chrome pieces, the headliner, the seats, and the carpets were taken out. Then the door was removed and the chassis stabilized. This is especially important, otherwise the entire car will warp or buckle. And this is not only the case for a cabrio when you see all the load-bearing parts that had to be replaced.
The A-pillar area
Not much is recognizable at the left A-pillar
At the right, it looks awful in the A-pillar area Left A-pillar with new parts
The first sign of damage was in the inner rocker panels. The entire panel to the frame girder had to be taken out.
All the metal up to the frame girder had to be removed At the right you can see how much metal was removed
The A-pillar was also removed. On the right side, the battery bin had to be rebuilt
Left inner A-pillar welded A-pillar installed, and a piece of the fender panel fitted in
Rocker panel area, floor panel, and interior
The rocker panel area is the second critical location. Several panels run together here. Rust prevention was almost nonexistent in the sixties. Therefore, you'll encounter many a surprise here. The exterior rocker is often intact, but behind it is only rust!
Rust is everywhere Rocker panel from the inside
The way it usually looks! The interior rocker panel is rotted out too
The interior rocker panel is rotted out too
New floor panel installed The reinforcement panel is an available as a reproduced part
The bare reinforcement panel is only on the Cabrio Fitting the external rocker panel
A lot of welding is necessary Finally everything has to be sanded down
Seat rails At the end everything is sealed tight
After the floor panels and rocker panels are welded in, the seat rails can be welded in too. There are two different rails for each seat. One has the upper piece and the bottom piece welded together. These have to be taken out from the car floor and then welded in again. The other rail comes in two parts. The bottom piece can be obtained as a reproduced part and is welded to the floor panel. Two M6 nuts have to be welded on top of this rail. The upper piece gets screwed into those. This way the width of the seat rails can be adjusted.
Here is a schematic for the structure of the rocker panels for the coupe and cabrio. On the cabrio only, this area is reinforced with extra panel. Many of these panels are available as new reproductions so they don't have to be laboriously made by hand. The following parts are available:
Inner rocker panel
Outer rocker panel
Slant mounted perforated plate
Innenschweller: Inner rocker panel
Aussenschweller: Outer rocker panel
Tuergummi: Door molding
Schwellerzierleiste: Rocker panel trim strip
Bodenblech: Floor panel
Rechteckprofil: Rectangular profile
zusaetzliches Versteifungsblech mit Sicken: Additional reinforcement panel with beading
Rotted out beneath the rear seat bench too The panel behind the seats was made by hand
Durchgehende Stehblech 1.5 mm stark: Continuous vertical plate 1.5 mm strong Welded
The B-pillar area is often underestimated during restoration. Most of them don't have any bubbles that would be evidence of rust coming through. But as you can see in the photos, the rust that is accumulating behind the bottom panel can't be ignored.
Unfortunately, there aren't any panel reproductions for this area available. Therefore, you have to draw some paper stencils. cut out some ample-sized panel pieces, bend or shape them into the correct form, and then fit them into place.
The B-pillar is already rebuilt The reproduced step panel needs to be lengthened.
The rear side piece
After we rebuilt the B-pillar, the rear side piece came next. A typical weak point is the wheel housing, where the inner fender and outer fender are welded together. Water tends to collect in there and rust forms quickly. There's hardly a GT that doesn't have this problem.
Since we had gotten a new inner fender and side pieces too, the entire side piece was taken off.
Slightly rusty inner fender. The inner fender is detached here.
New inner and outer fenders The fender goes from the B-pillar to the rear hood panel
Spot welding on the panel The left side is finished.
The front fender
Finally, the front fender was welded back on.
Front fenders are unfortunately not reproduced due to cost considerations. There are various panels available that can be formed into fenders, but that demands handwork with great skill. It's hard to get an exact fit from these parts too. In the case of a fender that is not fully rusted out, you can use one of the readily available A-pillar panels to make panels from, as can be seen in the photo. At the least, the fender part behind the A-pillar should be cut out.
We cut out the rusted parts and replaced them with new panels that we made ourselves. The critical places can be easily seen in the photos. To sum up, old fenders should be salvaged as much as possible.
Left fender with reproduced panel Right fender with reproduced parts already ground down
This repair panel is available.
The front crossbar
Caulked front inner fender Caulked floor
In early February 2012 the auto was shown, in half-finished condition, at the Bornemann Fahrzeugtechnik Company stand at the Bremen Hall. A lot of club members were astounded at the progress of the work.
For example, it could be seen how the overlapping panels were spot welded into pre-perforated holes. and how panels that abutted to one another were layered and welded step by step, all the while ensuring that they remain distanced far apart from one another to reduce the heat and minimize the warping of the parts. Finally, the weld seam was tin coated.
Putty was removed from all areas that showed a thick build-up of it. The surfaces were finely and neatly beaten out, for example, on the front fenders and the hood. This was met with astonishment at the workshop, since nobody does this because it's too expensive and time-intensive. Instead, putty is simply applied and the job finished. Finally, the right side and the front closure under the radiator grill were rebuilt and the car was sent to the paint shop, where only a little new putty had to be applied thanks to my painstaking preparation.
The re-installation of all the parts went relatively fast. Almost all the entire wiring harness was rebuilt. The car was finished in time for the Glas Club meeting in Switzerland and it was actually hard to tell any difference from the way it looked before except for the estimate that I got in fall, which put its value twice as high as before.
Up to now, other than in Switzerland, I've been to the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans, and I'm so happy the car is OK again.
I don't know if I would have done this if I had already known everything that it would involve. But now I'm very happy that I brought myself to do it.
Joachim Bomba, with additional information from Uwe Gusen
Translation in English: David Rives