Body Build or Buy a Better One?

BlakeO

Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2004
I picked up my 86 TD for $500 at an auction knowing it needed work but it ran and drove so... why not?

I'm now into it over $3000 which I don't mind. Mechanically it's getting better. Good suspension up front, replaced steering rack, tie rod assemblies, ball joints, replaced tranny, clutch cable, rear shocks, rear axle bushings rear brakes, front pads are good, the engine was recently rebuilt, glow plugs and relay are 6 mnths old. New winter tires, new summer tires.

The bad part is that the body is [censored]. The doors are ok but only 2 handles work properly. One is screwed to the door with wood scres and barely works, one is iffy. Door rust is minimal but the inner cards are mostly thrashed. The driver's power window works but the other 3 windows are held up by wood. /images/graemlins/blush.gif

The rockers have holes everywhere. They've been patched and coated well so they look ok but they wont last more than another year or two. The floor is in the same condition. Frame is rusty but seems ok.

Am I better off doing a half decent body job to tie this beater over for a few years or do you think I should be spending that money and more on a fresher body and transplant the goods? Neither is a really cheap option. Also consider I don't have a shop to do work in. I have to do what I can in the driveway and a motor swap is out of the question. It has to be done elsewhere and its not really cheap.

Have any of you done anything like replace or perform major surgery on these old unibodies? Body work is not my forte so I have no idea what it would cost to have holes cut out of the floor, new sheet metal welded in. Same with the rockers. The floor actually isn't bad at all. It's mostly all there and solid. Just the rockers and the first 8 inches in under the car needs most of the work.

I know without seeing it you can't be very precise. Just looking for opinions and any been-there done-that experience. I've got a $2000 budget if I go with getting a fresher body and swapping mechanicals. I'd want to stay under $1000 if I keep this body.

Thanks for your thoughts,
Blake
 

aburchell44

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Location
Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia
TDI
2003 TDI Wagon For Sale
It sounds like a good parts car. And I dont mean to offend you cause thats not the intention. If you find a good donor body (I have a jetta you may be interested in... Pretty solid. It was gas though) all your parts sound mint to swap over. Once the framerails, rockers and floor goes its hopeless unless you weld in an entire floor pan, put new doors and glass, window regulators etc. You sound handy enough to do a swap, but no-body can beat the inevitible 'rust bug' /images/graemlins/mad.gif /images/graemlins/mad.gif /images/graemlins/mad.gif
Anyway, I hope this helps a bit. But its really up to you. You also have to consider how close you are to your VW!!!
 

BlakeO

Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2004
No attachment at all. Do you have pics of your Jetta?

I've been wanting to avoid a gasser body because of the extra work for the swap. Are the motor mounts even the same? Plus I'd have to swap dash etc... probably too much work. I swap would have to go quickly for the motor (as in a weekend) and the rest of the parts reasonably quickly but the car must remain driveable during the week. Therein lies the challenge. Second challenge = finding somewhere to hold a parts car for a month or two.

My friend has an awesome massive 2 car garage with a 2 post lift in Salisbury. Well his Dad has the shop. Wonder if I could do a weekend miracle swap. Hmmm...

If anyone knows of a good diesel shell, let me know. /images/graemlins/crazy.gif
 

BlakeO

Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2004
I may have this wrong but on a unibody car, you can't simply swap out rocker panels. They have to be cut out and new ones welded in place. Some panels could be changed but a lot of the upper body panels are decent because it had a paint job not too many years ago. It's the frame, floor and especially rockers that are on their last legs.

If I have a misunderstanding and you can simply bolt on most of the body replacements, please let me know.
 

aburchell44

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Location
Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia
TDI
2003 TDI Wagon For Sale
[ QUOTE ]
I may have this wrong but on a unibody car, you can't simply swap out rocker panels. They have to be cut out and new ones welded in place. Some panels could be changed but a lot of the upper body panels are decent because it had a paint job not too many years ago. It's the frame, floor and especially rockers that are on their last legs.

If I have a misunderstanding and you can simply bolt on most of the body replacements, please let me know.

[/ QUOTE ]

You got it right on there. Once those framerails go on the unibody its frigged. I have had a few guys have new floorpans welded in but then what do you have: A hack job.

As for the Jetta, sorry no pics. I am getting it this weekend
 
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