Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
January 19, 2014
Photos By: Rusty Gillis

Well, there's no turning back now. As you will see from the photos, I've gone past the point of no return, but it had to be done one way or another. Last month, you may have caught the debut of this hands-on SportsRoof project, where I spelled out the general plan going forward. This month, it was time to get my hands dirty and start cutting.

As there was no Johnny Five to oppose being dismantled, it was largely myself that questioned the impending metal surgery. It always gets worse before it gets better, and it was about to get really, really bad once I started opening the SportsRoof up. You start to question whether or not it was the right idea, the right car to start with, and whether or not you can actually see it through to the other side. You also question your finances, your job outlook, and your family and friends may question your sanity. Anyone that knows classic cars, though, knows this is usually the routine. Striking a check and having someone complete the build sounds great, but it is financially impossible for one thing, and I'm not going to learn these techniques without hands-on experience.

That said, let the deliberations begin—I'm going to start tearing it apart and forge ahead.

After dropping the SportsRoof off at Gillis Performance Restorations, GPR proprietor, Rusty Gillis, found some room in his busy shop to allow me to work on the car. In typical Gillis fashion, they just had to get their hands on it, so both Rusty and his son, Brian, helped out a bit for this installment. Brian handled the window trim removal, which can be tricky and requires a bit of patience. My moldings are in nice shape and I'd like them to stay that way. Rusty stayed nearby to help take photos, answer questions, and even help excavate the rodent nest from the cowl.

Most of the exterior components simply unbolt, which is nice. The only tricky part, aside from the window moldings, was the driprail molding and weatherstripping that had hidden screws securing it.

Once I had removed what I could, it was time to tackle the quarter-panels. To aid in their removal, I contacted Eastwood and ordered a number of tools to equip my mobile box and allow me to work without disrupting the shop by using their equipment.

1. Literally getting into my work, I removed the decklid and hinges first, followed by the fuel filler neck, taillights and quarter extensions. The gas tank was missing from the start of the project, and hopping in the trunk was much more comfortable than leaning over and tucking my head inside the quarter-panel.
2. The taillights have several fasteners on the inside of the trunk. Once they are removed, you just push the lights into the trunk.
3. With the quarter extensions removed, it was nice to see that there was no rust beneath them. This would be more helpful if we intended to keep the quarters.
4. The quarter sidescoops are easily removed simply by unbolting it from the inside of the quarter (the bracket at the top of the photo). Astute eyes may catch the silver dots in a line in the lower section of the quarter. While it looked fine form the outside, it’s obvious there was a repair to the area at some point.
5. Brian Gillis lent a hand and removed all of the window trim moldings for me. The process sounds easy enough, but they can fight you and I’d rather not mess up the trim since it’s in good shape. After popping off the moldings, he simply cut away much of the factory sealer and then we lifted the back lite up and out of the car.
7. A dozen or so bolts later and the dash came right out. I also pulled the heater box as well. We’re going to leave the column in for now, as it is easier to push my pile around the shop that way.
10. There was a bit of rodent bedding in the upper cowl panel, and as we started digging in the hole on the driver’s cowl side panel, we were amazed at how much we extracted. Be sure to check out the video at Luckily, the passenger-side panel was hole- and rodent-bedding-free.
8. The window channel molding and weather stripping had a number of hidden screws, but it came off pretty easily. More important is that fact that there is minimal rust in these areas. There are a few spots about half way up that should be easily fixed.
6. With the window channel cleared of the sealer, you can see there was a bit of rust, but it isn’t too bad all things considered. The opposite corner had one small hole as well, which I should be able to patch up.
12. With pretty much everything that I can unbolt unbolted form the car, it was time to cut some metal. Eastwood’s Air Tools Essentials starter kit is a great way to stock your toolbox with the basic tools needed for the job. The cost of the kit is remarkably low considering the quality of tools included. The soft grips and chrome finish are pleasing to the eyes and hands as well.
11. I thought the car was pretty stripped down after my last visit, but this pile of parts shows otherwise. Some of this will be going in the trash, and some of it will be stored for reassembly.
9. Brian Gillis’ preferred method of removing the driprail molding is to use two flat-blade screwdrivers and slowly work your way from front to back. Usually, the molding will pop loose after you get the A-pillar section off.