Project Update! Body work complete

So it’s been quite a while since the last update. Since I last posted, all of the body work has been finished, and assembly has started. For this post I am going to focus on updating the status of the body work itself and everything we did to get it as close to perfect as possible.

Last post Image Auto Body had finished up welding all of the assorted holes shut (side markers, old mirror mounting holes, various holes in the engine bay), started pulling dents out, and fit the new fiberglass trunk.

After that was the continued work on refining the body and fixing all of the visible defects and issues. The side of the 510 features 3 prominent body lines, 2 very visible. The 3rd called a “ghost line” is about 2 inches below the main body line and is very easy to remove when prepping the body. I wanted to make this line was preserved since the removal of it really makes the sides look off. So I made sure to stress to the team at Image that they keep that line intact. You can see in the progress photos below the two distinct body lines and the prep work to keep the body as smooth as possible.

Along with preserving the original lines, removing 45 years of dents, dings, and general abuse was key. If the car was to match all of the modern updates, the body needed to look as new as possible. This means replacing panels, cutting out rust, and making sure everything lined up properly. Eventually all of the work was finished and we ended up with a fairly yellow patched body (all of the finishing putty/etc. No bondo was used to fill holes made by rust.

After all of the final prep was done, it was time to prime and paint. After bouncing around between about 5 different colors, I settled on Jeep Anvil Grey that first came on the Rubicon and Wrangler. While being a modern color it still fit the old school still being a non-metallic color.

Patches, Welds, and Fixes – Bodywork Update!

As mentioned in my earlier general update post, the 510 is currently sitting snugly at Image Auto Body in South San Francisco. The same team that did the wide body install and full repaint on my STI, Image is hard at work bringing the 44 year old chassis back to life.

My goal with the body is to clean up and remove all of the dents, shave/fill the front and rear side markers, replace/patch the passenger side quarter, weld rear wheel wells shut and smooth out to accomodate much wider wheels/tires, and then shave/smooth the entire engine bay of all un-necessary holes.

Along with all of the above, the team at Image will also be fitting my new fiberglass trunk, rear bumper, and fender mirrors.

Stopping into the shop last week, I was pleasantly surprised with the progress they have made in the past 5 weeks. The majority of the holes in the engine bay have all be welded closed and ground smooth, the rear quarters were welded closed where we had cut for the fender flares, and the trunk was fit. Along with those some of the other exterior areas had been filled and smoothed such as the side markers and lower trim holes.

Next up will be fitting the tail lights to make sure all of the rear body lines are proper, pulling some of the larger dents out, smoothing the engine bay further, and prepping for paint.

Check back soon for more updates! I’ll be writing about my interior plans and the brake setup next entry.

Headlight restoration and update

One of the first things I began to tackle this year was updating the headlights for the 510. The old sealed beam units just wouldn’t cut it and I wanted something a bit more modern in both function and look. As I dug around the web looking for ideas I came across a fairly common conversion that utilized BMW E30 projectors.

I ordered a set online and once they arrived began working on getting them to fit. Thankfully they are the same diameter as the stock 510 headlights, so no problems there. What needed a bunch of work is making them fit the 510 buckets.

First task was to take apart the original headlight assemblies. This was a fairly simple task, few screws, some adjustment springs, etc. and everything was apart. The main area that needed work was the outside bucket/light mount for the low beam light. The projector housing from the E30 is substantially different in size and depth and involves cutting of the bucket to get it to fit.

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Quick test fit of the parts after trimming. New on the right, old 510 lights on the left.

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Once the bucket was cut and everything fit I had the entire assembly powder coated gloss black to finish.

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Here you can see the difference in buckets in order to fit the new E30 projectors. The bucket on the bottom right is for the low beam housing and had to be cut quite a bit to fit.

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Final completed headlights with E30 projectors:

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Chassis/Body Part 1

A near 44 year old car is bound to bring it’s fair share of “issues” along with it when beginning a project like this. I fortunately was able to find a car that had very few of these “issues”accompanying it into my possesion. The normal wear and tear was present, very minimal body damage outside of a few dents here and there, and a very tiny amount of visible rust here and there.

The very first thing I wanted to do was make sure the chassis was able to handle all of the new found power and grip. So the car headed off to visit 510 master builder and famed racer Troy Ermish. We loaded it up on the trailer on a warm August night and sent it off for a few months worth of work. First task was stripping the car down to a bare shell.

Once the car was stripped bare, Troy and team loaded it up for a quick journey out to Lodi for a full media blast. The car was taken down to bare metal to look for any bondo, hidden rust, or anything else we needed to know. Along with finding out more about the car, the car needed to be bare metal in order to complete the next bit of work.

With the bare metal shell returned, Troy and team began the next stage of work. The front half of the car was fully seam welded and reinforced to help support the new found power in the SR20. Once the seam welding was done, Troy began building my full cage. The cage was spec’d to SCCA/NASA specs with a slight modification to the door bars. Most likely not legal for full competition, they were adjusted to allow easier entry and exit for street use. The rear of the car was tied together with full supports from the cage, adding much needed rigidity to the little car.

With the cage completed the car was loaded up again for a trip out to Lodi. Next up was a full body/chassis powder coat sealer to protect the bare metal body. After completing the full body coat, the cage was given it’s final finished coat in a fantastic satin black.

Sadly in doing the final prep for the powder coat it was found that the front floor boards were really rotted from rust and needed to be replaced. One of the previous owners had coated the floor boards in a layer of fiberglass and resin and we hadn’t noticed it in the early prep. It simply looked like a layer of weather sealer that the media blast wouldn’t take up. So new floor boards were ordered and after a few days they were welded in place. Looking like new the majority of the rust all taken care of.

The last bit of major work that has been done so far was replacing the rear tail light panel with a new piece from FutoFab. At some point the drivers side of the panel was pushed in or hit and was noticeably out of alignment. The stamped steel panel is a direct weld-in replacement for the exisiting panel and looks fantastic. First step is to cut out the old piece, and remove the old spot welds that connect to the quarter panels.

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Stay tuned for more updates as the work on the body continues with the finished up rear panel, new dash, and modifications to fit the SR20 and transmission in the car.