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						1957 Chevy F20
Chevy Sheet Metal

Bodywork on a ’57 Chevy

As Told by Bill Sutton

Photos by John Wargo

Project cars are sometimes like falling dominoes. The more you get into it, the more you have to do. About five years ago, I came across this ’57 Chevy in the Detroit area. Now I know why they call it the Rust Belt. The car didn’t look anything like the pictures on the internet. It was running but had lots of corrosion and Bondo on the body. A magnet would hardly stick to it.

I took the car to Derrick Maurer of Maurer Hot Rods in Fairbury, Illinois, who replaced all of the sheet metal, except for the roof and hood. Otherwise everything else — fenders, inner and outer rocker panels, rear quarters, trunk lid — all had to go. He ordered new Goodmark parts through Tamraz’s. 

While the metal panels are fresh, Derrick points out that, “None of them are bolt-on, especially on the shoebox Chevy.” He either added material to the edges, or cut off and rewelded the inner mounts, in order to recontour the panels. 

I didn’t realize the car needed that much work. We just kept going further and further — like dominoes falling over. So I decided to go full bore, and the whole process took about two years. Derrick did a great job with the sheet metal. It takes a pro to make it all fit right.

I later took the car to John Wargo at The Custom Shop for some additional paint work, and other odds and ends. He took it to the next level with some more finish details, including a custom intake and billet hood hinges, plus some mechanical tweaks. He admits that last 10 percent of “shakedown” is the hardest part for any custom car builder.

John has done a number of sheet metal replacements, and uses Goodmark restoration parts as well. He agreed with Derrick’s approach on my ’57, since he’s found that you can’t get rid of every bit of rust on an original panel. But an aftermarket panel is clean, even if it takes some tweaking to fit it on an older car. He notes that it’s better to have a good piece that you can rework than a junk one that you have to rebuild.

Well, now my Chevy’s sheet metal is rust free — and a magnet really sticks to it!

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