Pulling up the carpet on a vintage Chevy often comes with a sense of dread about the revelations below it. Rust, as it is said, never sleeps and floor repairs are almost a guarantee when it comes to restoration work, especially with early Camaros—whether it’s a comparatively small, localized issue or a more invasive spread of tin worm.
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Surprisingly, rust wasn’t the issue with the floor in this story’s project car. It’s the latest ’69 Camaro build for Pro Touring pioneer Mark Stielow and Detroit-area Sled Alley was tasked with prepping the body and chassis for some Detroit Speed upgrades. After tearing down the car, they were pleasantly surprised to find essentially no rust in the body shell or floor but determined a floorpan replacement was still required. That’s because, when new, the car was immediately pressed into drag racing duty and it was clear it had suffered bumps and bruises of a wayward driveshaft or two and some precision clearance work with a sledgehammer. There were also some old patches used to correct other damage.
“It’s a shame that a new floor was needed for a rust-free body, but the original floor was really beat up,” Sled Alley’s Matt Gurjack says. “Replacement was the only practical solution.”
All Camaros, of course, have unitized construction, which adds a bit of complexity to the project. There are spot welds that secure the floorpan to the underlying rear subframe rails, as well as the rocker panels, all of which must be replicated to ensure the strength of the body structure. And because a significant portion of that body structure is removed for the repair, it must be carefully reinforced temporarily to keep the body shell straight and square during the surgery.
All of that brings up an important question: Is a floor replacement a DIY project? The welding isn’t particularly complicated, even for those with only moderate experience, but the job requires additional tools that might not be in everyone’s toolbox, including a spot weld cutter for a drill, long body panel vise clamps, a bodywork hammer, and an air hammer. A plasma cutter speeds things along, too, but as the accompanying photos show, this project was accomplished without it.
003“Right around 40 hours of labor might be into a floor replacement—and that’s if we don’t find anything else to repair or address during the floor’s removal,” Gurjack says. “Getting the old floor out is mostly the easy part. All the time comes with grinding out the original spot welds, prepping the body for the new floor, and also prepping the new floor itself by punching the necessary spot-welded holes. It all adds up on the clock and you can’t rush it if it’s going to be done properly.”
To be clearer, those 40 hours merely involved cutting out the old floor and installing the new one. They include disassembly of the interior or removal of the brake lines or fuel lines, which must be done, too. Simply tackling the project on a non-stripped car will easily double the labor.
The replacement metal for this project came from Auto Metal Direct (AMD), which offers first-gen F-body floors in separate right and left halves or the whole enchilada as a one-piece stamping, including the transmission tunnel. Because the trans tunnel was the primary area of damage on Stielow’s car, Sled Alley ordered the entire floor, along with new floor plugs and seat risers. It’s worth noting, too, that AMD’s floor includes the separate, weld-on reinforcements specific to convertible models.
All those parts dropped easily into place for installation in this project and after about a week of cutting, grinding, and welding, the Camaro had a straight, rust-free, solid floor again. There will be more sheetmetal surgery to cover with Stielow’s latest project and we’re planning to keep following the car’s progress.