THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business - Mar. '15

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54 n Performance & Hotrod Business n March 2015 HOTROD N ew bodies for old cars are no longer a new phenomenon. More and more "classic" roadsters, coupes, muscle cars and even popular pickups are being built using reproduction sheet metal. The reasons for this are many, but tend to boil down to supply and demand: The supply of original bodies is shrink- ing, while demand for cool cars continues to grow. "Demand for new steel reproduction bodies has been rising for the last 20 years," notes Joe Whitaker, a partner in Real Deal Steel LLC, of Sanford, Florida, "primarily due to the scarcity of good original cars—as well as the reluctance of the end-user to deal with a rusty original body. The start-to-finish time—the instant gratification time—is dramatically short- ened when the project does not have to spend so much time in metal surgery. Since we launched Real Deal Steel over four years ago, demand has continued to increase exponentially." More Metal for Muscle That said, even Whitaker allows that, "given the choice of a pristine (or nearly so) original body vs. a new Real Deal Steel Body, we would choose the original every time. An original body has had all of the interior and exterior trim already fitted. It's been seam-sealed and primed. But a pristine original body is no longer a reality. So the next best choice is a new steel body." In addition to being all-new and rust- free, a Real Deal Steel body has 25-percent more resistance spot welds to increase the rigidity and durability, he adds. "But the major advantage of a new body over a rusty original is the savings it offers in labor and materials. You don't have to pay your shop $65 (or more) per hour to install patch panels." Real Deal Steel now offers 1967 and '68 Camaro coupes, in addition to the '69 model that debuted in 2013. "We've sold over 20 of the '69 bodies since it was introduced," Whitaker con- tinues. "Then two customers in one day called and asked for a '68. Our fixtures and processes for all three are similar, and our contacts at GM were more than happy to license the new body styles." Prices for all three model years are the same. "Our '55-'57 Chevy and '40 Ford coupe continue to sell, but the Camaros are now our fastest-growing line." Camaro convertibles from '67-'69 are in the works. "We have now produced over 250 bodies," Whitaker added. "Most of those were built as customs, while others have been built as restorations. The best-known example is probably Open Air, the '56 Chevy convertible we helped complete for Classic Industries and Chop Cut Rebuild on MAVTV. Building on its already impressive list of muscle-era staples, Dynacorn Classic Bodies of Camarillo, California, expected to release a 1970-'71 Dodge Challenger early this year, and is working on a '66-'67 Reproduction bodies continue to make new builds easier. by John F. Katz Classic Recreations' 1966 Mustang Fastback Shelby G.T. 350CR. (Photo courtesy Classic Recreations)

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