Body restoration estimate


Veteran Member
Mar 18, 2013
Pearland, texas
I got 3 body shop quotes

1. from pictures I sent to a local place, he said it would take a year to complete, from start to finish, bodywork, metal work, paint, polish. for 18k
2. I went by another place, not too far away. He said 10k without even looking at it for just bodywork
3. Called a resto shop, told them what I have, sent pictures, he said 15k.

So doing myself, and I have about 3k total in money in body, and probably a 250 hours in it when done.


Veteran Member
Nov 16, 2011
Probably not what you want to hear, but aside from the estimate on floors, etc.. you said you're getting "complete door shells, so only installation and adjustment..." but I've spend as much as 20 hours per door, gapping, fitting, and bodyworking to make them look good and belnd into the other panels. Aftermarket or OE, you're going to have some time investment in replacing your doors, aftermarket is just going to cost more time. ( benefit is that they're lighter! =bonus!) That's not a statement on the quality of aftermarket panels, but certainly on the time it takes to make things fit well. I tell people to take what is estimated and add 20% to be safe. I read some great advice on this thread! Lots of folks have been down this road on here. Nothing wrong with investing in a vehicle build, just do it with your eyes open and expectations set at a realistic level. Good luck!!!

That’s the truth there!! These cars fit horrible at best from the factory. I’m over 40 hours into welding gaps closed, and grinding then welding the seam back up on the ones too close...with the original GM sheet metal. Make them replacement pieces....the sky’s the limit


full time Ebay seller/hustler/car killer
Aug 11, 2010
erie, PA
OP WHY this car?

was it your first car, or your dad's or something like that?

it costs the same in labor to restore any car...if you're going to spend that kind of money, why not a 69 Chevelle or Corvette or something that might actually be worth the expense when you're done?


New Member
Apr 16, 2021
All great advice and points! Thank you. Im actually headed to AZ for work this week so looking to see if any 79-81’s on the market. Will likely push forward with this car unless something out there is worth it. Never really considered buying a car sight unseen but since I’m out there it’s worth a look.


New Member
May 8, 2001
Minneapolis, MN
I’m watching this thread closely and appreciating everyone’s comments. Not looking to hijack the thread, though. I’m in a similar situation with my ‘78 Z28 (manual) which is my first car - so sentimental value - and I’ve owned it since 1987. It’s been sitting for 15 years now, and I need to make a decision. Gonna need some serious sheet metal replacement, so I’ll need a donor shell rather than fight the OER battle...but then part of me has always wanted a ‘73 instead....

Regarding the original poster’s ‘79, a quick look on turned up a number of donor cars with no significant rust. Why not do that?
Last edited:


Veteran Member
May 4, 2001
Regarding the original poster’s ‘79, a quick look on turned up a number of donor cars with no significant rust. Why not do that?

Many folks don't realize the cost until they jump into it. Too many folks get upsold on $5K junk being told it will only be $10-$15K to restore! (Thanks Facebook!). When it comes to special cars with sentimental value, price really isn't a huge factor. You have to decide if the importance of the car is worst sinking 2-3X the value into it. For a first car, I would probably spend the money on it (if I had the money). For an average T-top 79...I would junk it and find a better car. For $10K you can get a complete, solid 79 T-top....why invest $14K in sheet metal repair?


New Member
Mar 26, 2021
"ZenBoy, post: a quick look on turned up a number of donor cars with no significant rust. Why not do that?"

I looked on this site and see the parts search, but didn't see how to find the donor cars