Installing AMD’s new aluminum Camaro parts
Geoff Stunkard - April 04, 2013 10:00 AM
Wizeguy Rod & Custom
Auto Metal Direct
USC Alco Industries, Inc.
Cemetery Gates Creations
1 The pieces from AMD come in black paint; the front valance was stripped down to bare metal and is being fitted to the car.
2 Bob (standing) and Tracy used a rubber mallet and light body hammer tapping to align the parts; obviously, it is important not to use too much force on the aluminum panels. A 2x6 board spreads the pressure across a broader area; Bob is using light force while Tracy uses a straight edge to measure the change.
3 Tape and notes mark places where fitment needs to be adjusted. These are the normal things any fresh bolt-on sheetmetal process would require for proper fitment.
4 This image shows the quality of the AMD stampings; the thick aluminum holds its form well, and AMD is proud of its quality control processes.
5 The moment of truth about how the fenders are aligned; Bob actually ordered two hoods to determine clearance due to the use of a high-rise Edelbrock intake on the engine. This is the stock representation version of the factory ZL2 cowl induction version.
6 This is the raised scoop version for use with the high-rise intake and OEM cowl induction air cleaner, but Bob was not sure if he liked the visual aspect of the high profile.
7 The doors required some maneuvering to get into perfect alignment; Bob and Tracy had to pull a slight twist out of the left door to make it match the body perfectly.
8 Like all bodywork, it is the small details that separate the best from the rest; after the doors had been carefully fitted, a perfectly-spaced gap was created by using filler rod and welding the door edges, before any filler was applied. Due to the extra sharp creases in the Camaro design, it is crucial to prevent points of contact.
9 Bob used USC All-Metal filler to level the AMD doors to the new fenders; this car received some of the first Camaro doors that AMD released.
10 Using the rod and All-Metal filler on the edge of the doors will help ensure that they stay solid and straight for years. This is a much stronger edge than simply using a standard filler or glass-reinforced filler which can chip away easily if bumped when opening the door.
11 With the lower-profile scoop selected and the fitment done, Bob took the car to Cemetery Gates Creations in Telford, Tennessee, for its final prep and paint.
12 Like the rest of the sheetmetal other than the nose, primer was applied over the bare metal. This allows block sanding for careful checks of panel alignment.
Back in the 1960s, when the factories wanted to go fast and the sanctioning bodies gave them room to do so, aluminum sheet stock was fed into the stamping plant body panel dies in very limited amounts to replicate the steel part it was replacing.
Due to the differences in material thickness and stress, this was a time-consuming process that likely resulted in a lot of waste as parts rippled and tore from the stamping job. After the set number of pieces were finished, the factory got them onto the specific vehicles they were intended for and that was it, making them rare and expensive today. Moreover, the thin material meant they really had no street purpose.
When AMD (Auto Metal Direct) began re-creating dies for the first-generation Camaro, they engineered a set of dies made specifically for doing aluminum stampings of the most popular bolt-on replacement panels – the hood, deck lid, front quarter, valances, and bumpers.
Unlike the pieces of old, these would use heavy-gauge aluminum that could stand up to street use, with the bracing and sub-structural components for added strength. In addition to being an exciting addition to their parts line-up, the practical benefit is eliminating about 120 pounds off of the car if all the available parts are used. We went to AMD for a full set of sheetmetal, including the aluminum pieces they offer for this car, a 1969 big-block Camaro.