Big Red was completely stripped of everything except the body panels. The chassis was welded into the floorpans. This means the body shell, chassis, and rollcage are all one unit. The only parts left bolted on are the doors, fenders, header panel, and lower valance. One of the visible signs that it was time for a rebuild is the chipped body filler on the roof. After tearing the car apart, further than it had ever been torn apart, it was revealed that the rear section of the body was not well supported. This lack of structure caused the rear body to sag enough so that the roof was contacting the top of the rollcage, where there should have been a quarter-inch gap. Tim and Dave made new support tubing between the body and rollcage, and also some new bolt-in brackets to secure the rear bumper and body to the frame. Dave added braces from the main hoop onto the cage to the sail panel. These new supports increased the body’s rigidity to keep it from sagging in the future.

The door lock holes already had been filled, but the area got a little hammer and

dolly work. The dash was hammered out and sanded. Notice that the VIN plate is covered with tape? When media blasting a car, the VIN tag needs to be protected. The plate is easily damaged by the media. And if you’re going to spray any filler-primers on the body, you want to tape over the tag until you’re shooting you last prime coat before paint. The filler primer loads up the numbers and can make them unreadable. Since Big Red is driven on public streets for some events, the VIN tag needs to be intact.

Check out Big Red’s original factory rocker panels. The inner and outer wheelwells have been removed and were going to be replaced with aftermarket wheel tubs, but the rockers have stayed intact. Before going to get media blasted, they’ll need to plug up those holes to keep the media and debris out of the rockers. The wheel openings in the quarter panels have been strengthened by welding a metal flange all the way around. This helps add rigidity to the quarter panel and removes sharp edges that might cut a tire.

The guys know that they need to get the body panels aligned properly before removing them for the duration of the build. That way they know it will all go back together smoothly when they get all the parts back from the body shop. Big Red is a race car, but Dan and RJ care about how it looks, since Big Red is as much a brand as a race car. Welding the wheel tub flanges to the quarter panels created a distinct mark in the panel. Some hammer and dolly work was required to get it back in shape. More hammer and dolly work also was required to save the passenger-side fender.