Bel Air 1963

Here’s a very cool looking 63 Chevy Bel Air. This car looks great from a distance, but it needs some rust repair. There are some bubbles under the paint that are pretty bad in some areas.

The 63 will be getting a make over, the body has rust that needs attention and the engine compartment will get some serious upgrades. This ride is already very cool, just wait til it’s done.

The common areas are showing the rust, lower door edges, front fenders and rear quarter panels. The paint will have to be removed to find all the hidden rust. I see some metal fabrication in this cars future.

The first things to do are always the same, we need to remove chrome and bumpers to get access to the whole body. Then we start removing paint to find the hidden rust.

There are lots of hidden areas  that rust can hide, we need to find them and eliminate the rust. 

The front end is apart, the next step is to start removing paint and finding the rust below. We could sand blast the car, but we have found that it takes a great deal of time to get all the sand out of all the cracks. Sand and paint are a bad combination.

The rear window area looks pretty good, but as soon as we start to sand around the window, we find rust blisters.

The work continues at removing all the chrome, lights and emblems. The next phase is very time consuming, sanding and scraping to remove paint.

Here’s a shot at the hood. The hood did have surface rust and actual rust that went all the way threw the metal. Nothing is too serious, we will have plenty of metal work to get this body perfect.

The Bel Air is still under going the process of having the paint and rust removed. The second photo shows some old bondo found and it’s pretty thick.

The car will get the paint stripped down in sections, each one is done and the rust will be removed. This is a slow process, but next to stripping or sand blasting it’s the only way to do it right.

The front fender is coming along, this is a very big car once you start to strip all the old paint off by hand. You come across rust that has continued to grow behind the body fillers. The rust must be taken care of, otherwise it will continue to come back.

The front fender is almost all the way stripped, we have started to work our way down the door skin. You can see some old repair work that was done on the door at some point.

We got pretty far on this door today, we also found an area that was all bondo filler. The door corner was made of 100% plastic filler, looks like we will be doing some metal fabrication to replace the missing steel section.

The stripping process continues on the Bel Air, the rust is worse down towards the bottom of the car. There will be plenty of metal work in the near future.

It looks like both doors have similar repairs. The metal repairs will be like the paint removal, a little bit at a time.

The passenger quarter has some hidden damage, also the body filler is pretty thick in some of the areas. Removal continues the rest of the way around the car.

There seems to be only a layer of paint and heavy primer on the car, it takes time to remove the paint this way, but it gives you a good idea of the work needed in the next phase.

More heavy filler and rusted lower fenders. The rusted areas will be exposed all the way to solid metal, then the rusted areas will be cut out and replaced with new steel.

The deck lid is next in the process. The easiest method to strip this paint seems to be, first a razor blade to remove the top layer of paint. Second sand the primer down to the bare metal or body filler…Or a big hole.

If you remember what this car looked like when it came in…Good from far, but up close you could see the rusted areas behind the paint. Doing things the right way will make this car look Great at any distance!

The layers of body filler continue. We started on the roof, you can see the razor scraper pulling up the body filler. The roof is going to need some heat to try and shrink the skin.

The Bel Air needs to have an Epoxy Primer sprayed over the outside, we don’t want the body to start rusting after all the hard work of hand striping all that paint.

The Interior needed to come out, we have to paint the interior and door jamb areas. The correct way to do the paint work, is to remove the interior to protect it. 

The interior is in good shape, we will remove all the interior pieces to protect them until the entire car is painted. Even the headliner will need to come out.

The interior will be wrapped up and stored until its ready to re-install.

The 63 Bel Air is in the booth and getting all taped off in order to have the Epoxy sprayed on the car, this will protect the car from rust and anything that mite cause problems down the line.

While spraying any vehicle, even the engine compartment needs to be protected from over spray. we won’t be spraying the engine bay just yet, but we need to keep over spray from getting on valuable parts.

The Epoxy has been sprayed, you can see we still have plenty of bodywork and rust repairs to make. The work can now get started and not have to worry about rust forming. rust can form on bare metal in minutes if caution isn’t taken.

The large dent you see in the roof skin, is the exact reason the headliner was removed. We will need to heat the metal in the roof and try to shrink in before we pull the dents. If we heat it with a flame, the headliner would probably melt and start a fire. Building Hot Rods is never easy!

The 63 Bel Air is getting the metal work started. This will takes hours of relaxing the stressed metal, this involves heating and cooling the metal.

The black spots you see, are dents where the metal has been stretched. We used a torch to heat the metal and start to shrink it. 

The metal work is pretty extensive. We will heat and shrink the panels while doing hammer and Dolly work. There will be rusty metal that needs to be cut out and replaced.

The real bodywork has begun, the pictures you see are a light weight body filler that is spread across the entire panels. It may look a little thick at this point, but most of it is sanded off and only the low spots remain.

The process is pretty much the same for the whole car, it’s almost impossible to see most of the waves in a panel.

Once the body filler is sanded smooth, the panel is smoother and straighter than even the day it rolled off the factory.

If you look close you can see the metal and epoxy starting to show threw the filler. These are the highest points on the body and everything is level.

The Bel Air is a very big car, if these panels aren’t perfect? it will show up! The time needs to be taken, the paint is only as good as the body below!

The deck lid is huge, it takes a lot of filler to cover this area, but in the end 90% of the plastic filler will be on the ground and thrown out.

Again you can see the Bel Air’s trunk lid looks so much better. The work is top notch, Prescott Hot Rods has a New Bodyman (Rick) and he knows his business. Having worked on High End Hot Rods for over 5yrs before coming to Prescott Hot Rods, he’s a great addition to the team!

Even the smallest areas need attention to detail. To the trained eye, everything shows up if not done right. This may not be a  perfect show car when done, but it could be entered into any show and the Owner be proud.

This is the roof skin of the Bel Air, the center section had a huge dent and the metal was too stretched to be hammered out. When flattening the metal, the excess steel has to have somewhere to go. In most cases you can shrink the metal, but this spot needed some relief cuts to let the metal shrink properly.

The metal work on the Bel Air is getting started pretty soon, the lower half of the door skins need to be replaced with new sheet metal. You can see the rusty missing edges of the doors.

Here’s a look from the backside of the doors, you can see the rust is pretty extensive. We will cut out and replace the inner and outer skins with new metal.

The roof of the 63 Bel Air is coming along. The metal was shrunk and flattened best it could be, the filler was applied to build any low spots. We like to coat the entire section and work it flat, then we know your going to get a great finish.

The rusted out holes on the hood need to be welded up. These little spots everywhere are holes where the hood was rusted threw and needed welded.

The Bel Air has rust in some odd places, it looks as though water was sitting under the paint for long periods of time. These rusted threw holes on the top of the hood are not very common. The moisture must have been trapped under the paint in these places.

The Bel Air has rust repair all over the place, we will cut out the metal were its completely rusted threw. 

We have welded the new sheet metal in place and ground down the weld. This piece will be almost impossible to see that there has been a repair made.

There’s plenty of metal work to be done on this car, making it solid and safe is key to building on a budget.

This area looked pretty bad, but it didn’t take long to fix it right and make it look good again. The bumpers are really heavy, so we need to make sure the repairs are correct and strong.

This area of the 63 Bel Air will look factory correct when finished. Just because a car has some rust, doesn’t mean you have to replace everything.

If you do a good repair, stop the rust and make things right, the piece should last for the life of the car. Every car has rust somewhere, cars are exposed to air and moisture, that’s all is required around steel.

The front fender support is rusted all the way threw, there is no bottom support. This looks really bad, but the repair is pretty straight forward. Cut out the rust and replace with new sheet metal.

In some cases you can clean up the metal and have enough left to weld on. This support brace is there just to hold the bottom of the fender in place, a little welding and grinding and its ready to support the fender again.

Cut out a new sheet metal piece for the outside, and your ready to fix the fender hole. The fender  will be strong as ever and look original when completed.

The drivers side of the Bel Air is the same way, the support was a little further gone. We just made a new piece and welded it in place, now the fender has the support and needed adjustment to get the body gaps correct.

Once the inside is done, the outside sheet metal is fitted, welded in place and ground smooth. A light coat of body filler and this section is done.

The doors are the next item we need to do metal work on. The bottoms are all rusted out and need the sheet metal cut out. The inner door skins are a little rusty as well. We had to replace some of the inner sheet metal as well.

With the new section tacked in place, we checked the fit. After a few adjustments, the skin is welded in place. Next everything will be ground done, then hammered to smooth any shrinkage.

Here’s a look at the finished door during the fitting stage. Looks pretty good, the rust is all gone so now its on to bodywork. The second door is being skinned next.

You can see all the metal work that had to be done to the inner skin. The outside is fitted, tacked, welded, hammered and smoothed. Its ready to go back on the car as well. We made this look easy, there was a ton of time involved.

The drivers side drip rail, above the quarter panel has some rust going on. We needed to cut this area out to see just what was going on here. It looks worse than it really is, the sheet metal will be replaced. The drip rail is still solid.

The rear lower quarter panels in the 63 Bel Air are just full of rust. We will cut back to clean steel and take out the entire panels, you can see that the inside panels are just full of rust, dirt and all kinds of little parts.

Looking at the drivers side, you can see the amount of trash and dirt inside these panels. When the water gets inside these panels, the dirt just turns to mud and holds in all that moisture. This is why we see so much rust in the lower areas.

 The rear lower quarters are just about finished. The rust was cut out and new sheet metal welded in place. The pieces will get hammered flat and then thin layers of filler applied until the panels look factory again.


The rust repair has been done on the lower quarter panels, the light weight filler has been applied and sanded smooth. The Bel Air has come a long way, im sure there are plenty of shops that would not have been willing to take on such a huge project, doing it right takes a lot of work.

Looking at the rear window channel areas, its simple to see why most people would have scrapped a car like this. The damage is extensive, and its in areas that are very difficult to work in. Building a window channel from a big hole takes skill and patients.

The best way to tackle a big hole like this, is a little piece at a time. Re-building it in sections is the only way to keep the proportions right. The side section is looking good!

Here’s a shot of the section after it has been welded and ground smooth, afterwards body filler is applied and smoothed down. Its hard to tell that this area was really this bad.

The front is coming apart, there is rust repair to do on the upper cowl area. The only way to get at it, was to take the front clip off the car. We will reassemble the front clip before we primer seal the entire car. We are getting closer and closer!

The Bel Air is about ready to get its first coat of primmer, once they have a couple heavy coats of primmer we can start to block things out. The pieces look pretty good, but we want them as straight as possible.

We can tape off most of the Bel Air before we push it in the booth. It’s been a pretty big job to get all the rust removed, the metal work was extensive. This is a solid ride now. These cars are getting pretty rare, so spending the money to do it right just makes sense.

The Bel Air looks great with the first coat of primmer applied. There’s still a lot of detail work to be done. Each piece will need to be hand blocked to see any imperfections in the final stage.













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