Bodywork - there will be rust!

I love the body shape of the e9, that long nose and those pilarless doors make for timeless classic lines that will always turn heads. I think the only negative was the questionable build quality of the Karmann production of these cars.

Strip it 'n' dip it

I would usually chemically dip the removalable panels and soda blast the rest. On this ocassion I have opted to dip the entire car. It's not an inexpensive process, it involves using an alkaline chemical cleaning compound which is a completely non-destructive, immersion metal cleaning process that not only strips paint, powder coating, grease but also removes rust from all those areas - even the places you couldn't normally get to.

After 5 weeks of dipping the car came back and it wasn't pretty! Apart from the rust which I expected, the car had a lot of poor repairs from accident damage and a lot of filler (bog!). The poor repairs needed to be recified and the rusted areas repaired. Thankfully Wallothnesch in Germany stock a lot of the repair panels and for a short while I had Major Customer status with them. At least I had a clean car to work on with none of that nasty proofcoat!

The car has been braced, and I removed the wings and rear quarters to get at the repairs. The nose needed to come off as it was bronze brazed on only! It had been replaced at some stage after a front end nudge and was rust-free but unfortunately took another nudge later in life. It was all fixable with time and patience, but I replaced the top piece and repair the rest.

The main areas I addressed first are the sills, the outers were bad, the intermediates and inners had spots that have rusted out. So I replaced all 3 layers as the sills provide a lot of the structural integrity and with the 330hp power plant, not an area to comprimise on! I also did a lot of body-strengthening.

So here’s a list of repairs:

  • Removed nose section and repair and replace upper panel

  • Both inner fenders removed and repaired , removed redundant brackets and filled in holes no longer required

  • Replaced left lower bulkhead

  • Repaired both A pillar rust and replaced bottoms

  • Repaired all the plenum rust holes

  • Replaced wing extension panels

  • Repaired front floors

  • Replaced inner outer and intermediate sills both sides

  • Replaced right B bottom pillar

  • Removed both quarter panels, removed all dents and replaced lower sill panel both sides

  • Minor wheel well rust repairs

  • Replaced spare wheel and fuel tank panels

  • Removed rear beaver panel and repair or replace

  • Deskinned both doors and repaired rust

  • Deskinned and repaired trunk lid

This is before I have made any modifications to accommodate the design changes! 


  • Modifid rear shock mounts to take e28 subframe and coilovers

  • Stitch welded complete chassis for strength

  • Front sub-frame redesigned and fabricated to accommodate S54 engine and later e36 M3 suspension

  • New pedal-box/firewall modifications

  • Replaced old handbrake with later e30 handbrake

  • Mount drive by wire pedal



John Ward

< The engine < > Interior >

Go back to the Von Trapp page