6 Exterior/Chassis

6.1 What original pieces are interchangable between the various H-bodies?

For Monza Ken (mahoy78spyder) says:

For Vega:

John B (vegadad) adds about Vegas:
"As far as interchange, doors fit by body style e.g. coupes to coupes, wagons and Panel express to wagons and panel express. You can switch front clips door-to-door in year groups 71-73, 74-75, 76-77 Vega, other than that the body panels will interchange by body style. The later vegas had Fuel filler caps on the rear quarterpanels whereas the 71-73's were under the rear license. The taillight panels changed on the coupes and hatchbacks with the above listed years. Hatches 71-73 interchange then 74-77 interchange. In 74 the License mounting on the wagons and Panel Express were moved to the center of the rear door. I've always thought that an early Vega front clip would look cool on an 75-76 Astre Hatchback because of the sloted taillights (Sorry Tom). Use your eyeball and good judgement it probably won't fail you."

6.2 What are some popular replacement body parts?

6.3 What are some specs for the Spyder decals?

Spyder decal part numbers: Hood 20052964, Left Door 3063003, Right Door 3063002, Rear spoiler 356598 for these colors:
1977: Lt Blue Met #22, Dk Aqua #38, Med Green Met #44, Camel Tan Met #63
1978: Lt Blue Met #22, Ultramarine #24, Med Green Met #44, Camel Tan Met #63

6.4 Where can I find functional front and rear spoilers?

Take a rear spoiler from a 2nd-gen Camaro ('70-'81). Once the center section is narrowed, the spoiler will fit well and look good.

6.5 How much do the H-bodies weigh?



6.6 What are the exterior dimensions of the H-bodies?

Data for 1976 models, other similar:

6.7 What is the Coefficient of Drag for H-bodies?
  Vega Hatchback:  0.40
  Monza Hatchback: 0.40
  Monza Coupe:     0.42
  Monza IMSA:      around 0.30
6.8 How do I stiffen up the body? (subframe connectors)

Try adding subframe connectors, which connect the front and rear subframes giving you the stiffness of a full-frame car. Note that some aftermarket pieces require cutting the rear footwells-- Alston Chassisworks subframes, for example (regardless, these connectors get good reviews from club members and are reasonably priced).

Roll bars and cages also help, plus provide extra safety. See 6.17.

John B (vegadad) writes about subframe connectors:
"I've installed a set of the Alston [not Chris Alston's Chassisworks] sub-frame connectors in my 72. A piece of advice I may offer. Use layout chalk to outline what cuts you will be making on the upper side of the floor pan. Identify the places that are reinforced such as the area just forward of the rear wheelwells. These will appear as oval indentations in the floor that run fore and aft (old sailor don't cha know). Anyway cut these indents out so that the connectors will fit flush against the underside of the floorpan. This also will provide you with additional welding area. There are also some of these indents forward of the seat mounts as I remember. Most important, believe "Bob Villa". "Measure twice, cut once." They are not difficult to install and will, with the addition of at least a 6-point Roll bar will give you very good service."

Aleck (stinkybuttihave) adds:
"Aluminum, NOT! Think about it.Frame connectors are for strength, and you need steel for that. On my car I've used 1 3/4" round tubing. It runs along the inside of the rocker and is welded the whole length of the factory seam. They are curved upwards at each end and and cut to fit flush against the floor. At the rear they have a tab welded to them that the lower suspension arm bolts go through. They hang down about 3/8" below the rockers and offer a strong jacking point. The tubing is 1/8" wall mild steel and cost about $35.00 Canadian. Please do NOT use muffler pipe. I also changed a few seat studs because of interference. You could probably just bend them."

Larry (vega_man_larry) describes another brace:
"I have a Don Hardy brace installed in my '75 Vega. It attaches behind the passenger footwells and ties both rocker rail sections together. It has lift bars that attach to this crossmember and to the rear end housing, the stock suspension arms are removed. The setup uses a wishbone locator and uses the stock shocks. It's pretty beefy for street use and doesn't encroach on the passenger compartment. It is an alternative to the weak stock setup, and a full on race setup."

6.9 What are particularly bad areas for rust?

On the Vega, check the rear quarter panel drains. If clogged, the interior of the panel will stay wet and rust. Enlarge them if needed.

Robert (twelve_second_vega) adds:
"I see a lot of rust around the windshield and hatches on Vegas. I discovered that I can drill holes in the window channel area and let water drain into the cowling, preventing rust formation. The rear hatch's glass channel can be drilled on early cars, but I am not sure about later models. Be sure to treat the drilled area before reassembly! With the windshield out of the car, you drill a hole into the bottom of the glass channel at each corner, about a 1/4" hole is good. This will open into the interior of the car. Next, from under the dash, drill another hole through the inner firewall and into the cowl cavity in front of the windshield. I then epoxied 2 nylon tubes into these holes that carry the water out of the channel and allows it to drain into the cowling. It may be overkill in one respect, but it keeps water from standing in the channel."

Dan (dancv32) writes:
"I will always go over a restored/repainted car very carefully. Why was so much restoration needed on a car with that kind of mileage? Take a magnet to check for body fillers. Check gap between 1/4 panel and door edge to make sure the gaps are correct. Usually a 1/4 panel replacement will change the gaps based on cars I have personnally observed with replacement 1/4 panels. Rust is a problem in the following areas. Inside spare tire well, underside of hatch at lip and around window. Sometimes if moisture or corrosion is present around the windshield, it will also be present on the surface of the dash. Underside of hood at seams. Shake hood and listen for rust particles moving around. Check battery tray, underneath battery tray and around core supports for corrosion. Check mounting points for trailing arms at the rear suspension. Check lower inside edges of rear 1/4 panel. Check carefully around the lower gasket of the 1/4 windows. I have seen rust occasionally show up on the metal rail above the rear 1/4 interior plastic panels. Check battery side frame rail around the stabilizer bar mount, bumper bracket mount, idler arm mount and top of the frame rail below the battery. If extensive rust is present inside the frame rail it will sometimes appear at the exterior at these locations. I personnally look for a great body and interior. It is a labor intensive effort to repair,prep and paint a car if you do it the correct way."

6.10 Where can I get replacement Torx screws for the headlight bezels?

Body Tite part #45860, any major auto parts store.

6.11 Where can I get replacement door seals?

For Monza:

For Vega:

Also check the vendor section; other vendors still sell these and other pieces.

6.12 Where is that #@$# squeak coming from?

6.13 What do I need to convert a 2-headlight Monza to a 4-headlight front end?

If you want to put a Monza front end on your Vega or vice-versa, Key (mahoy78spyder) writes: "Basically, you've got really only one way to do this and that is to use an entire dog-house from a Monza w/ the Sport front end (4 headlight). You will need the fenders, header panel assembly, front radiator support, and hood. Those alone will be tough to line up and bolt on precisely. But the toughest part of it all is getting a rear-hinged hood to bolt onto a car that was originally a front-hinged vehicle. You can't really take the cowl of a Monza and transplant to your Vega (not without compromising structural integrity) to enable a "bolt-on" solution for your hood."

6.14 Were 4-headlight front ends only available on hatchback Monzas, and 2-headlights only available on coupes?

Nope! There were Spyder Coupe (4-headlight front end) and Sport hatchback (2-headlight front end) models available.

6.15 What can I do about the anodized aluminum trim and clips?

If you don't care about having an original finish, buff off the anodizing and polish the aluminum. Then clearcoat it. Otherwise, you'll need to have the trim reanodized. Places that perform this service can be found in Hemmings Motor News (see any bookstore's magazine rack). Or check with Eastwood for home kits.

John B (vegadad) offers this advice:
"The other member that told you about the moulding being aluminum was correct. If you are really adventurious, mask the pieces off and spray them with Regular easy-off oven cleaner. When the piece turns black the anodizing will have been melted. Clean thoroughly and color buff. For small scratches you can use 600, 800 or finer sand paper. Recoat the piece with NYLAC, available from Eastwood. The down side is that you will have to repeat this procedure from time to time and you will loose a little metal in the process, but you can really get it to shine. I've used it on Aluminum wheels and you can get them to shine like chrome again. [then later] I just looked at the EASTWOOD site. It appears they replaced NYLAC with a new product, CLEAR COAT BARRIER."

Jeff (monzafan) adds:
"The moldings are held on by plastic clips. There is a special tool that slides underneath the molding to release these clips. Do not rush and break the clips when removing the parts! They are old and may be a little brittle. Just pulled mine a whle back and sent them out for re-anodizing. Look terrific now, but the cost... Minimum charge is $200. Expect upwards of $500 if you want every stick of aluminum trim redone."

Windshield trim clips are reportedly produced by MRG or Motormite, available through a number of retail outlets.

John B (vegadad) adds about Vega wagon trim:
"You'll have to remove the rear quarter windows in your wagon to facilitate the removal of the trim. From that you have choices. 1) Clean, polish and replace the trim pieces. 2) Replace the quarter window and fill the trim slot with a black RTV and carefully form it, or 3) Find a "plain Jane" donor Car for the trim.

Just make sure you reseal the window gasket material as it was originally installed. The side benefit is you can clean up any corrosion under the window gasket and renew the seal."

Clyde (CJBIAGI) adds, about the clips that hold on the trim:
"These clips are held in place by sliding on little rivets or studs. You should be able to slide one off and match it up with a new one. Try the stores that were mentioned in the previous post or if that fails try a body shop supply store, they usually stock them. If that fails, I'm sure someone who is parting out a car should be able to get you as many as you need."

Tom (tjvanoverbeke) continues:
"I just replaced some of the clips on my hatch. I used a dull screwdriver to drive/breakup what was left of the old clips. I took in a semi-good clip to the auto/paint shop to get the correct clip. Dorman or motormite has ones in small packages, but the shop had them in bulk cheaper. There are many different ones that look similar. To get some of the new clips in I had to cut away some of the window caulking/sealing. Probably would have been easier to cut the sealing first rather than breaking the clips out. I'm also thinking that I should have used a knife with a dull point to better insure that I didn't penetrate the underlying paint and start a point for rust."

Keith (mr_phelcher) writes:
"These clips in question are called gm reveal molding clips. BODYTITE PN# 45600. They are 1.69 for a package of three."

6.16 How do I install a back-half chassis kit?

Tony Hallo has a write-up about his experiences in the Tech Tips section of HBOA Online: http://www.inwave.com/~bacchus/HBOA/.

6.17 Where can I get a roll bar or roll cage?

(also see question 7.5)

Autopower sells SCCA/IMSA-approved roll bars and cages for H-bodies, bolt-in or weld-in. Their cages may or may not be NHRA-approved.

S&W Race Cars sells NHRA/IHRA/NMCA-approved bars and cages, weld-in. The 10-point cage is pre-bent but will need to be cut to fit.

Alston Race Cars (in IL) sells a 6-point cage, but only the main hoop is pre-bent. The installer must cut and bend the remaining pieces as needed. The 8-point cage might be pre-bent.

6.18 Where can I get replacement hatch struts?

For Vega: Strong Arm brand part # 4717, about $40

For Monza: Monroe makes replacement struts, part # 901250. These are the same as used on the Chevette and Citation. Or, Strong Arm barand part # 4445, about $40.

6.19 How do I install an aftermarket racing front subframe?

One option is Jeg's front clip.
Kirk (kcdragmonza) writes:
"About two years ago I bought the full frame and 12 pt. cage from them. The clip must be used with the frame and rollcage because they are what hold the clip in the car. The two frame rails and rollcage tubes are all that hold the clip in place.

Because of the angle of the rails any swaybar used would have to have custom mounts welded to it. All other suspension pieces are used except for the Pinto [steering] rack which calls for the spindle holes to be drilled oversize to accept the tie rod end. Jegs recommends using "lightweight 4 cyl. springs" and the upper A-arms are switched from left to right."

Ken (mahoy78spyder) adds: "Jegs also notes that it works with off-the-shelf headers, and deep sump pans, not to mention it'll take 200lbs off the front of your car!

Part# 550-910001
Price: $494.99

Another useful kit that you may need to utilize in this swap is the rack & pinion adaptor kit. It consists of rack & pinion extensions, rod ends, bolts, jam nuts and spacers.

Part# 550-40201 (Vega/Monza w/ Pinto Rack)
Part# 550-40230 (Vega/Monza w/ Wilwood Rack)
Price for each: $83.99

Also, that rack & pinion kit does "not" include the actual rack & pinion itself. You would either have to find a used Pinto R&P, or you could buy the Wilwood/Pinto R&P unit (Part# 950-350-2038) from Jegs for $219.99 (chrome plated is all they have)."

6.20 Where can I get a driveshaft loop for a torque-arm car?

One option is to get one for an '82-'92 Camaro and modify it to fit. It will require some basic cutting and welding.

6.21 How do I fix my sagging/mis-aligned doors?

First, remove the hinge pins; replace them and the brass bushings. If that's not good enough, the holes for the bushings are probably messed up--weld them up and re-drill new ones. Finally, loosen and adjust the door striker, then tighten it.

Clyde (CJBIAGI) adds about hinges:
"My door hinges are welded to the body and to the door. Not exactly sure how they aligned them but from what I under stand from at least one body man is that the way to make minor adjustments is to place a large piece of wood under the door along with a hydralic jack and gently "adjust" the door hinges. Seems a little crude but it does work, especially considering that there is no adjustment on the welded hinges."

John (vegadad) says:
"Chevrolet still offers Door Pins & Bushings for h-bodys. The Pins are part # 9655646 and retail at $9.00 ea., although I seem to remember they come two to a pack. The bushings are sold 10 per pack Part # 9822198 at about $20 per pack $2.00 ea."

6.22 How do I convert my '74-'77 Vega front end to the '71-'73 style?

John B (vegadad) says:
"In my experience the answer is yes. The only problem you may experience is where the 71 - 73 front facia (upper Grill piece) mounts to the chassis at the bumper line. On the 71-73s there are two bolts per side that mount to an extended piece of sheetmetal at the battery level on either side. You may fabricate this extension by test fitting the front end and see what's required. Other than that you shouldn't have any problems.

Take a look at the donor car, or if you are installing fiberglass, the mounting holes will be identified by depressions in the new piece. I've seen at least two racecars that have had this done. Be patient and take your time."

Dan (vegon71) adds:
"What I did was drill out spot welds on radiator support panel on donor car which was a 71 hatch. It fit right up in my 74 wagon. I had to open up the radiator opening for more air intake."

6.23 How do Mirage panels attach to the Monza?

Ken (mahoy78spyder) says:
"The four Monza Mirage panels were screwed or rivoted in at the bottom, and then attached at the top using a plactic V-channel strip. The strip itself was rivoted every 2-3 inches to the fender or quarter panel, and then the upper lip of the Mirage panel was tucked in neatly underneath that strip, thus hiding the rivots and providing a nice-looking, seamless line across the top of the panel. Unfortunately, the urethane panels were prone to warping, and the V-channels were prone to drying out and chipping or cracking and over the years they deteriorated badly. [...]

They are extremely hard to come by because no one wants to take the time to drill off each rivot carefully to save the strips. Most people just pull off the Mirage panels only and leave the strips for ruin. Unfortunately, your only option without those strips is to bond the top of your panel to your fender/quarter panel. Ironically enough, that is what Chevrolet did in one of their first attempts at a Mirage. Look closely at the Mirage in the hard-to-find 4-page Mirage flyer and tell me if you see any strips there."

6.24 How do I convert a Vega Wagon to a Panel Express?

John B (vegadad) writes:
"In order to make a Panel express from a station wagon you will need the following:

  1. The panels--these panels are reinforced on the interior side to aid in holding them in place.
  2. The interior Clamps--these attach to the reinforcing strip welded to the interior of the panel to hold the panels to the inside of the gasket, and
  3. The gasket.
The slot for the panel is smaller than that of the glass since the panel is about 16 - 18 gauge steel with a flange to aid in holding the panel's shape. You can fabricate all of this and it shouldn't take any welding as the panel is installed the same way the Quarter window would be. By the way take a look at The Astre's website on the Astre Panel, you'll also identify the storage box that replaces the back seat in a Panel. This would be a great place for mounting amplifiers and sub-bass speakers for a kickin stereo system.

6.25 How do I remove the fixed rear windows?

Tom (TheAstre) writes:
"To ease the effort of removing the windows, pull back the rubber from the inside, then spray in plenty of oil where the rubber contacts the body. The windows push out at the top front. I've worked them out that way by just pulling the rubber back on the inside, oiling good, and pounding the window out with my fist. It'll take some time, because they work their way out just a very little bit at a time. Don't pry at the window, it will crack into a million pieces."

John B (vegadad) adds:
"In addition to providing lubrication. There is a sealant on the outside of the gasket to keep water from getting into the interior. Some folks wrap twine around the interior side of the gasket, then firmly push the window out as you pull the gasket away from the body. Just the reverse of installing the window, if you've ever done that. Be careful as it's safety plate glass and if it goes it will shatter into beads. Take it easy and you should be able to save everything."

Then he adds:
"The rear Quarter windows are a snap to remove. I recommend starting on the interior at the lower rear point on the gasket where it comes to a point. Lift the seal with a wooden spatula, if you have one, or something flat & dull. Don't want to cut the gasket material. Work from the point in both directions, along the bottom and up the back part of the seal, a little at a time. The seal is glued on the exterior side with an RTV type material, (The same stuff your windshield is out in with.) Be gentle but persuasive and a little Stern (finesse) once the back of the window frame is loose the window and gasket will push right out. everything is apart you can remove the trim pieces."

6.26 What should I know about the cowl seal?

For the cowl seal on either car, the opening faces the rear of the car.

panel73 has part numbers for Cowl Seal fasteners:
"I found fasteners for the cowl seal at Pep Boys. They look like OEM parts. Made by 'Body-Tite!'.
Part number 45502.
UPC number 0 37495 45502 2
Listed on package as GM & FORD hood insulation retainers."

6.27 What are likely sources of a water leak?

Britt (kiva75) writes about water in the floor board:
"90% chance it is coming from the grommet around the hood release cable. easiest fix, go to a windshield shop and ask for some scrap butyl rubber, or "dum-dum". it's a sealer for the glass. just pull the cable in the car a little, wrap some butyl around it and push it back up."

Tony (tonyhallo) adds:
"Check for rust holes in the cowl section under the hood, near the wiper linkage. Typical problem, I suggest fiberglass cloth and resin for repair if you find holes there. I would remove the wiper motor and linkage for clearance."

AJ (sbc77vega) writes:
"A place where I found water coming in once before is the vent in the kick panel. It used to leak in around the seal on my 76 hatchback. Pull it out and use the same stuff that Britt talked about a few posts back."

Robert (twelve_second_vega) adds about prevention:
"It is most helpful to fabricate cowl opening covers from wire screen and have the pieces powder coated for a neat, corrossion-free appearence. This will help break up heavy sprays of water, such as a car wash and prevent tools/parts from dropping down in the cowling, where they rot away, usually taking the cowling with them. BMW uses a neat trim screw that consists of a flat, plastic washer with a countersink, a screw and a cap that snaps over the screw effectively concealing it. They come in Black, Tan, White and Burgandy. I used them on my Shifter Trim Plate, the Cowl Screens and a few other areas where a neat, detailed look catches the eye. Another thing to check for on the Vega is the Water Shield made onto the Kick Panel. The tall, vertical plastic shield is difficult to remove and I often see Kick Panels that have this part chopped off, probably to ease installation. Without it. water spills over the Cowl Bulkhead and drops right onto the panel and into the floorboard."

Tim (TimMcCabe99) adds:
"I had a water leak coming onto the drivers floor. I thought the water was leaking in around the hood release cable, but after sealing the cable around the grommet, I still had water leaking in. I found the water was dripping out of the end of the hood release cable, there was a crack in the cable cover where it bent to come through the kick panel, water was running through the cable like a straw and leaking on the floor. Replacing the cable fixed the leak."

Bill (bill504a) suggests:
"A small piece of thin aluminum (6-8 in. by 3-4 in.) can be glued to the end of the rain drain area on Vegas to prevent water inside the car - use silicone sealant as a "glue" - it throws the water outward 2 or 3 inches which is sufficient to stop it from going inside the car."

6.28 What other brands of cars can supply body accessories?

Dick (monza75tc) says:
"Not to deter you from restoring your Monza, but some of the ground effects off of an Opel Ascona B, or Manta B will fit your Monza with only minor adjustments. I have some ground effects that My son brought back from Germany, and I think they will look very nice once I get them modified. Taking the time and working with fiberglas are the major hurdles to overcome."

Erik (erik_norway) made a really nice custom body kit for his Vega out of various existing parts and handmade pieces. He writes:
"Here is the list of cars that has donated parts. Front bumper and airdam: from Toyota 4Runner 94'
Front spoiler the lowest: hand made with in steel.
Rear rollpan: hand made in steel.
Side skirts: hand made in steel.
Wheel openings: From German Ford Escort XR3i.
Hood: Fibre Glass form World Products.
Door handels: From 94' Mazda 626.
Back door: Removed plate whole and key whole.
Side mirrors: From Formula 3 racing.
Plus some extra hand made steel pices to make it all fit.

If you are thinking about the Toyota 4Runner parts they were pretty easy to fit. All I did was remove the lower plastic part, then I cut the upper crome part on the middle almost in half, bent it to fit the vega's V shape (seen from above). Then I welded it together and mounted the plastc parts. Because the plastic part are so fleksible you van just bend it in to plase and fasten the it. You could splitt some of the stiffenings on the rear of the plastic to make it easier to mount. Since I mounted a hand made spolier below it we mounted the plastic to this as well. I also redesigned the front wheel openings and at the same time I made the front fenders longer in front to fit the lower spoiler and look better with the airdam.

The rollpan is made out of two pices, because I did not have big anough tool. The rollpan is roled in a machine (I do not know what wou call it) the tool is made out of to flatt tubes on top of each other. I took the steel plate in between the roles and roled it sevral times this made the shape from top to bottom. Then we welded the two pices together on the middle and grinded it. Then a friend shaped it from side to side in what we call an "english wheel" its a tool used by the ones who hand made complete cars it's just two wheels pushing together. This shaped a slite curve from side to side. It was welded to the car you can see where if you remove the rear bumper from a 74 up vega and look at my pictures. If you need a bigger picture I can mail you one. And for the sides I made some litle pices with a shape I think look nice to the rest, just to cover the whole behind the sides of the orginal bumper. The last thing we did was to cut out and weld in the plates around the lisence plate and a little cutting to fitt the tail pipes."