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'97 F355 Spider - Collision Project

Discussion in '348/355' started by thoroughbred_1002, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    Hi,

    To start, an intro into who I am.. My name is Austin and I own/operate a small body shop. We predominately do repairs pertaining to insurance claims. As such, we work on ALL makes and ALL models. We make no claim to be a "Ferrari" shop, though we have an area reputation for being European car specialists. The overwhelming majority of the European cars we service are Porsche and BMW.

    I have limited history and experience with the F355, but I have always thought the F355 to be the most beautifully designed car to ever see the road. When we drafted a logo for our body shop, I elected to include a sketch of a 355 in the aforementioned logo just for its 'eye-catch' value.

    So... An intro into the car. It is a '97 Spider which suffered a moderate to severe impact at the left rear. While the damage is most definitely compromising and subsequent repair efforts will be invasive, I score this as having EXCELLENT potential to be restored to pre-accident with high undetectability.

    For me, it is an exciting prospect as I love the challenge presented by trying to make undetectable repairs to a car of this build quality. There is no greater satisfaction I experience from my work than to meet or exceed customer expectations of finish quality, structural integrity, etc. This is particularly flattering when these compliments are paid by car enthusiasts with exclusive vehicles.

    The rear panel framework, bumper frame support, and left quarter panel are all going to be replaced with parts from a donor rear clip. Additionally, the top was affected by the accident. Looks like it will be a simple fix. Our replacement rear bumper cover is provided by the same car that spared the rear clip. The engine lid will be repaired as it was barely damaged by the impact. The Competition grille is toast, so the original panel will take its place. Tail lights will need to be replaced.

    Also, while the car is here, we will address other needs of the car. The left rocker panel and front bumper will be refinished as they have been roughed up from use. Left fender has some significant shrinkage from prior repair work, so this will also be corrected. One small dent in the right fender and right door. We will sublet the assignment to correct these blemishes to a PDR man.

    Car was received on October 22 and all of the major replacement parts have already landed. It's go time..

    Pictures and updates to come! In process of quarter panel extraction at present.
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  2. tatry68

    tatry68 Karting
    Silver Subscribed

    Oct 27, 2013
    66
    Chicago Suburbs
    Full Name:
    Stan
     
  3. tatry68

    tatry68 Karting
    Silver Subscribed

    Oct 27, 2013
    66
    Chicago Suburbs
    Full Name:
    Stan
    This will be an interesting project. I hope it's worth your time and effort. I have rebuilt a few cars, and it was always more work than I initially thought and I was too chicken to ever buy a wrecked car of this caliber. The bummer is the fact that it's nearly impossible to sell a car like this with a rebuilt title, unless u sell it very cheap. Best bet would be to do a kick ass repair and keep it for yourself. I've had my 355 for almost 6 years now and I love every minute spent driving it. I hope u post your progress going forward. It will be interesting for myself and others to watch. Good luck.
     
  4. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    Thank you!

    I allowed a lot of room for unexpected duties, scope creep, etc..

    Still, I might not have given myself enough swinging room. It really is a pleasure to work on though. I am thoroughly enjoying the closeup exploration of the original construction. It is fascinating!

    Work progress is slow.. That just comes with the territory.
     
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  5. F129b

    F129b Formula Junior
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    Feb 6, 2004
    455
    oc, calif.
    Full Name:
    Robert
    Fun, good for you! I agree-keep for yourself when done.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  6. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    To be clear, I am not the owner. I was only lucky enough to be the guy chosen for repairs. No sarcasm.

    Yes, it's a ton of work. It is also an extraordinary opportunity to get to know a whole lot about 348s and 355s since they share the same construction.

    Maybe, next time around, I'll have enough information to pull the trigger on my own collision prospect.
     
  7. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    Well, I've made some headway..

    Donor clip is now "scrap" status. It took a lot more effort than I expected to remove the quarter panel without creating inadvertent damages. I "rough cut" in many places where I was less confident about controlling unnecessary damage. Now that the quarter is removed from the clip, I should have all of the access I need to properly dress everything.

    The hardest part was probably removing the right quarter from the rear panel framework. There is a gob of silicon bronze that is a chore to contend. I got it removed, and quite cleanly. I made every effort, but I don't make the mistake to discount my luck. It's probably impractical to consider using a used rear panel framework in most cases.

    It's cleanup time as the photos reveal. I cut "long" in many areas.

    Note the photo that reveals the original "lap" joint at the narrow section of the quarter outer skin near the front of the engine lid. I suspect another silicon bronze joint at that site.

    Stay tuned!
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  8. phrogs

    phrogs F1 Veteran
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    Apr 13, 2004
    5,910
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    Johnny
    Where was the gob of bronze at?
     
  9. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    Where the quarter panel overlaps the rear framework. I'll capture a picture of this from the car to be repaired.
     
  10. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    A lot of progress over the last few days. What's left of the damaged quarter panel will be removed with the rear framework and bumper support frame as one piece.

    The quarter panel construction is unlike any other that I have ever seen. It is comprised of three pieces. There is an upper section that includes everything above the stripe tape. The lower section goes from the the stripe tape to the bottom. This is the piece that includes the Pininfarina badge and attachment points for the rocker molding. The last piece is the lock pillar section. It includes the striker and VIN decal.

    The original sequence of installation is as follows:

    1. Upper 1/4 section is spot welded to lower 1/4 section.
    2. The lock pillar section is then attached via a bracket and two spot welds.
    3. The assembly is taken to the car.
    4. All of the spot welds are done.
    5. The closeout section (pic #7 of OP) is put in place via a few MIG beads.
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  11. steved033

    steved033 Formula 3
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    Apr 12, 2017
    2,286
    Atlanta, GA
    Full Name:
    Steve D.
    Awesome!!!! I know what car this is... :D

    sjd
     
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  12. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
  13. Qavion

    Qavion F1 Rookie

    Feb 20, 2015
    2,981
    Sydney
    Full Name:
    Ian Riddell
    Don't reinstall the radiator/s before replacing the air intake trunking. On spiders, at least, it's almost impossible to do without an engine out AND with the radiators dropped. With that quarter panel off, it probably gives you good access. I have some trunking for my car, but will have to install it on the next major.
     
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  14. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    You are absolutely right. The duct (trunking) will have to be secured in advance of the radiator being replaced. I agree that it may be impossible in any other sequence.
     
  15. emac

    emac Formula Junior
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    Sep 14, 2014
    642
    upstate SC
    Full Name:
    ernest
    great thread keep posting progress pictures!
     
  16. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    Thank you and I certainly will continue posting with progress reports.

    With regard to the structural work, I am surprised that it is this "easy" to make repairs. Of course there are many more labor ops involved with a car of this quality and construction type. Most of the work isn't all that cumbersome.
     
  17. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
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  18. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    The original black paint on the rear panel framework was a Univer product. It can be electrostatically applied or with a spray gun. The orginal product "OP 777 W" isn't offered, but I think the TDS sheet linked below to a product called "Unitherm" might be very close or the same as original.

    Quarter panel edge is done with the same krinkle paint as the tappet covers and inlet manifolds.
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    Attached Files:

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  19. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
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  20. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    Slowly but surely..

    It's been tough to get uninterrupted time with the Spider lately. Having the holidays smack dab in the middle of the week created a scheduling nightmare, and really inhibited us to keep our slate clean of small local jobs.

    Nevertheless, the quarter panel, rear framework, and bumper support frame have been fully dressed and moved over as one unit onto the car.

    It's test fitment time! Many more pictures to come as well..
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  21. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    UPDATE: Quarter panel is now a permanent fixture! Still, there is a lot of welding left to be done. Lower door skin, engine bonnet, and rear panel are only installed for test fitment purposes. Also, the car is sitting on its suspension to ensure proper fitments.

    Then, the parts were removed for bonding and welding. This is as complete as the car has looked since it arrived. I am thrilled with how this job is turning out thus far! There are lots of skills at work, but I don't hesitate to call it as it is... Lady Luck has shone down on this project. :)
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  22. Carmellini

    Carmellini Karting
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    Jul 16, 2019
    151
    Full Name:
    Leo Johns
    "Lady Luck has shone down on this project."

    ^^^^^^To be crystal clear, while luck is always at play, Austin has talents directly related to the long forgotten artists and craftsman of the great European coachbuilders. Pininfarina would be the lucky ones, to have him on their team. The attention to detail, diligence, passion, and patience with this project
    has been remarkable, along with the faithfulness to the factory assembly techniques are astounding. The results are simply superb. AMHIK...
     
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  23. Jon Von Bon

    Jon Von Bon Formula 3
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    Feb 8, 2015
    1,653
    Toronto / Florida
    Full Name:
    Jeff
    Looks to be nice and fast competent work. Please stuff the intakes with rags and cover the engine with plastic. Its the only thing that has made me cringe
     
  24. thoroughbred_1002

    Nov 5, 2019
    30
    Bowling Green, KY
    Full Name:
    Austin E
    The engine is covered with welding blankets 90% of the time. I opted to leave them removed for the purpose of taking pictures. Also, the whole car lives under plastic sheeting when it is not being serviced.
     
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  25. hacker-pschorr

    hacker-pschorr Formula Junior

    Sep 27, 2006
    582
    Land of Lambeau
    Awesome progress, nice to see this one saved! Cannot wait to see the completed project.
     

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