Smoothing out and modernizing your ride not only allows for peace of mind, but when it comes to reliability, these upgrades can sometimes yield cosmetic benefits as well. Take for example, shaving or molding, as it is known in some circles. This process can streamline your ride leaving a smooth exterior that looks even better than it did in stock condition! From the door handles to the body lines of your ride, this month’s tech article sheds light on the benefits of this process as we focus on shaving the firewall and adding a custom access panel to clean up the engine compartment.

Most classic Impalas had air boxes for the AC and heating system that were part of the engine compartment. Well, modern technology has allowed us to have the same type of system in half the space and size. In fact, we can actually put it under the dash instead of having it in the engine compartment. Today’s tech will allow us to eventually upgrade from a vintage air under-dash system to a serpentine system that will bling out the engine, while most importantly giving us AC for those hot days when we want to drive the vehicle.

Once we got started, we made a stencil and headed over to Industrial Metal Supply of Irvine, CA., where we got the metal we needed to begin the project. Once we returned, we began to clean up the firewall. The process took a few hours and really cleaned up the appearance of the engine compartment. Now check out what a clean shave really looks like.

Tech Project

1. This firewall was ready to be cleaned up.

2. The first thing was to make sure the firewall was clean, so a stencil was made from masking paper. The bigger the panel, the less work that will need to be done during the bodywork portion of the firewall.

3. Getting the stencil of the firewall is crucial; so two pieces of construction paper were being used to make the template.

4. Using construction paper allowed us to make a stencil that could be transferred onto the sheet metal fairly easily.

5. This firewall was ready to be dressed up with a piece of sheet metal.

6. We used a Lincoln plasma cutter to cut out the template.

7. Using a flap disc helped to clean the edges of the 18-gauge sheet metal that was used to cover as much of the firewall as possible.

8. Welding a big piece or section of metal like this is tricky, so the sheet metal was test fitted to make sure that it could be welded in place.

9. The metal panel was spot welded and added in sections to avoid warping the finish.

10. Once the panel was tack welded in place, it was welded in sections, keeping the heat to a minimum.

11. The welds were ground down smoothly to make the panel transition as easy as possible. The panel was wiped down with lacquer thinner and with a clean surface; it was ready to receive body filler.

12. The firewall cowl looked ugly and needed to be modified.

13. We did the same process as the firewall, using construction paper to make a template stencil.

14. Using our plasma allowed us to cut out around the windshield wipers like scissors.

15. You can see that the panel was almost identical to the template.

16. With the panel completed, it was all test fitted before being permanently bolted down.

17. Even without paint, you can see the difference in the engine compartment.

18. The firewall and cowl were ready to be sealed and painted to match the exterior of the vehicle.