Body removal was my first step after getting the car home. From a practical standpoint, I needed to get the body on the buck so I could get the buck positioned where I wanted it in the garage for the build process in order to start organizing parts storage under it. Without parts being organized, there was no way I could build.
It was also handy that my parents were still around so I’d have a few extra sets of hands for doing it. It seems most of the build can be pretty easily done with one or two people, but a few things just look a lot harder and a lot riskier without more help.
Removing the body consists of two steps:
- Get the body detached from the frame
- Carefully work the body away from the frame and get it onto the buck.
Getting the body detached from the frame first meant removing the doors. They were taped closed, but once the tape was removed the doors opened and all that was involved was removing them from the car. Factory Five suggests either unbolting the door from the hinge, or unbolting the hinge from the car. In the best interest of saving my various body parts from catching on them, I removed the hinges from the car.
Removing the Hinges
Removing the hinges is pretty simple. They are held on with two bolts and square nuts. The bolts needed a 3/16th hex key to remove, which of course I didn’t have because the Craftsman Mechanics toolset I tend to use tools from came only with metric hex keys. Thankfully from a previous brake kit job on my old S4 I had a set of hex key sockets, one of which was 3/16th.
The driver side where the hinge mounts:
The passenger side with the door still mounted:
Once the doors were removed, according to the Mk III build manual, its just a matter of removing the body shipping bolts. On the sides of the body were four more 3/16th bolts, two per side.
Removing the Bolts
The bolts looked like this:
The front bolts were longer than the rear ones, as seen in the next two photos. They also used a seemingly arbitrary number of washers to space the body from the frame. I say arbitrary in that they were different per bolt, so I didn’t bother to pay attention to how many were originally there.
The rear was held on with four long bolts with some various washers and spacers. I believe these were all 5/16th nuts and bolts. The results of removing them:
The nose was held to the frame with four more 3/16th bolts:
Of course my hex socket adapter wouldn’t fit in the brake duct opening. I ended up using a 1/4 wrench, a 3/16th hex screwdriver bit and a deep socket on the inside to get them loose. I also made a note to stop at Lowes or Home Depot and pick up a set of SAE hex keys. All of my previous cars were German and were metric.
The end result was a body ready for removal:
That was the theory, at least. Turns out the trunk lid was firmly mounted to the body and the hinges wrap around part of the frame. Some more duct tape was removed, the trunk opened enough to reach the bolts (but not completely because the gaps were too small between it and the body), and the trunk removed.
The stage was set for try #2. Unfortunately the build manual left out another important point. (Or I was completely unable to see the right way to remove the body!) On my car there was just no way the body could clear the trunk sheet metal unless it was made out of rubber. The side sheet metal in the trunk was removed and the lower trunk floor removed.
Removing the Body
Voila! The body came off:
The process would have definitely been easier with four people. With three we needed two to walk along the car to carry it past it with one in the front. There was no way to get it on the buck that way, so we had to set it down temporarily:
Now it was just a matter of picking it up and putting it on the buck. The body really is not very heavy, its just awkward:
One more problem we discovered. The benefits of a raised buck are pretty obvious. One side-effect though: its really hard to get the body on it if you’re not 6’5″. It took some stretching and work to get it up and onto the buck. A stool would’ve helped:
A bit of stretching and grunting and all was good:
A passer-by slowed down when they noticed the body on the buck:
A few clekos to hold the trunk sheet metal back on the car, and the buck was rolled back into the garage:
Next step is to get the parts moved around so the buck can be moved to the side or the rear of the garage, and get the chassis out from under it.