We’ve already covered 12 questions to ask yourself before tearing down your first project car. Now, once you head down that path (or if you’re already there), here are some additional tips for reassembling the object of your admiration once the paint and bodywork have been completed, and the powertrain and other individual parts have been restored. It’s an exhaustive list, because a full restoration is no small task. As always, the more planning and care you take, the better the results will be.
Whether you choose to do much of the work yourself or have the pros perform some, most, or all of the restoration tasks, your ride still requires careful reassembly. And that process can prove satisfying for first timers and repeat restorers alike.
For the teardown article, we spoke with Jamie Cooper and Joe Griffith of Super Car Restoration in Clymer, Pennsylvania, but for this one, we consulted with Brian Henderson and Joe Swezey of Super Car Workshop in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to learn more about efficient reassembly processes and to acquire some additional time- and aggravation-saving tips.Coincidentally, both shops have “Super Car” in their names and both have partners named “Joe” in their respective ownerships, but are separate entities. They are friendly with each other, and Super Car Restoration does the body and paintwork for Super Car Workshop.
Brian and Joe have been restoring award-winning first-generation Camaros and other models for nearly three decades, and though the order of assembly provided here may require slight revisions in a few areas for differently designed and/or full-frame cars, the rest of the information will still help you with your project.
Budget, Parts, and Supplies
Consult that budget, which has likely increased several times since you first developed it prior to and during teardown. Also check your parts and supplies lists to see where you’re at and what you’ll still need. Before you begin reassembly, make sure that you have everything on hand to complete at least one of the specific segments in an order that provides the fewest slowdowns or repeat work. For instance, if you are doing a body-off restoration, before rejoining the body and subframe (or full frame), depending upon your situation, you may be able to break the project down into a few large assemblies that can be built separately from one another, such as:
Front chassis: Bolt the suspension, brakes, wheels and tires, and engine and transmission onto the subframe (or full frame).
Rear chassis: Install the rear end, suspension, and wheels and tires on the frame of full-frame models. These components can be added to the underside of unitized- or semi-unitized-construction cars, but only do this if the body will be mated to the front subframe while the rear tires are on the floor and the front of the shell is held up with jack stands or another safe method. Don’t install the rear suspension and rear end on a unitized car at this point if a lift will be used later to lower the body onto the front subframe, because adding the rear end will increase the rearward weight bias of the body and will likely make it unstable on the lift.
Body shell: Install the firewall items, glass, wiring, and interior, etc. Keep in mind, however, that Brian and Joe typically load the shell with these parts before mating it with the subframe because they have the benefit of a lift for raising and lowering the body easily. If you’re trying the rejoin the body and subframe (or full frame) using jacks and jack stands, or by another approach that doesn’t include a lift, adding the weight of these items to the body can make it more cumbersome to work with, so you may choose to reinstall them after the body and subframe are bolted back together.
Members, model year tech advisors, and the research library of the same club you joined and consulted when buying and/or tearing down your car can also provide assistance when you’re reassembling it. Don’t underestimate the value of the knowledge base available from this resource. Also discussed in the teardown article, if you used a restoration shop to do any of the previous work, you should be able to request some reassembly advice