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Do It Yourself: Body Hanging Tips For Your Next Build

This Super Street body was hung by two regular guys, not professional body hangers. If they can do it, you can too.

This Super Street body was hung by two regular guys, not professional body hangers. If they can do it, you can too.

One of the many reasons why we love the entry-level dirt racing classes is the potential to do so much yourself. Not everyone has the tools or inclination to build their own race engines, but when racing a Street Stock there is much else that you can do. Besides saving a buck, doing the work yourself can help you understand your race car and the changes you can make to improve performance in the future.

After building your own race engine, the most intimidating aspect of race car building for most people is probably hanging a new body from scratch. Granted, it’s definitely a big project and does require a lot of time and attention to detail. But body hanging is something that you can do. Although you can spend to the moon and back on specialized tools, all you really need beyond the basic shop tools is a good sheet metal brake to help you make good, sharp bends.

A good, blow-by-blow accounting of every step required to fabricate and hang your own race car body would require a book, and that would only be one method. In this article we hope to provide you with plenty of tips and good ides to show you one way to do it that works well. We recently spent several days visiting the shop of racer Jody Bigham while he helped a friend, fabricate and hang a new sheet metal body on a new Monte Carlo metric Super Street chasssis. Bigham is a perfect example of how this can be done: He is a regular guy who works a regular job and works on race cars in the evenings and weekends. He isn’t a professional body hanger and only hangs bodies when necessary. We suspect, he’s a lot like our readers.

But the end result of this project is a race car body that looks great, wastes minimal material and should be easy to repair once the inevitable happens.

 

By the time we got on board with car owner Jason Gulledge and body hanger Jody Bigham, they had already begun work on the chassis. At this point the front and rear bumper covers from Performance Bodies, as well as some of the interior sheet metal has already been hung. Nothing too technical or difficult yet.

By the time we got on board with car owner Jason Gulledge and body hanger Jody Bigham, they had already begun work on the chassis. At this point the front and rear bumper covers from Performance Bodies, as well as some of the interior sheet metal has already been hung. Nothing too technical or difficult yet.

This chassis is built specifically for the Monte Carlo-style nose. It simply rivets directly to the bumper and upper support. We'll go back and add  some support to the bottom of the cover later.

This chassis is built specifically for the Monte Carlo-style nose. It simply rivets directly to the bumper and upper support. We’ll go back and add some support to the bottom of the cover later.

The chassis builder has already made some provisions for hanging the body. Here, you can see the lower body supports welded up from one-inch square tubing. The tubing extends just beyond the driver's door protection in the roll cage. Two sticks are run down the side of the car to provide just a bit more protection.

The chassis builder has already made some provisions for hanging the body. Here, you can see the lower body supports welded up from one-inch square tubing. The tubing extends just beyond the driver’s door protection in the roll cage. Two sticks are run down the side of the car to provide just a bit more protection.

Street Stock racing is a contact sport. Out back this rounded piece of tubing not only provides a place for the flanges of the rear bumper cover to the connected to the car, but it also provides some rigidity to the rear quarter panel just behind the left rear tire. Racers love to stick the nose of their car here to get the driver loose, and this piece of tubing keeps the body from getting crushed from the contact that's sure to happen.

Street Stock racing is a contact sport. Out back this rounded piece of tubing not only provides a place for the flanges of the rear bumper cover to the connected to the car, but it also provides some rigidity to the rear quarter panel just behind the left rear tire. Racers love to stick the nose of their car here to get the driver loose, and this piece of tubing keeps the body from getting crushed from the contact that’s sure to happen.

Bigham prefers to hang the body from the back to the front. After determining the overall length with the bumper covers, he lays in the rear decking. Here, he starts with the center panel and cuts it so that it extends all the way to the rear downtubes of the roll cage. This way the outer panels can simply have U-shaped holes cut into them for the chassis tubes. The end result is clean without the need for elaborate patch panels.

Bigham prefers to hang the body from the back to the front. After determining the overall length with the bumper covers, he lays in the rear decking. Here, he starts with the center panel and cuts it so that it extends all the way to the rear downtubes of the roll cage. This way the outer panels can simply have U-shaped holes cut into them for the chassis tubes. The end result is clean without the need for elaborate patch panels.

Poster paper is a great material to use when making a template. It is cheap, yet thick enough that you can crease it in a sheet metal brake and it will hold its shape. Cut and trim it in small amounts until you finally get what you need.

Poster paper is a great material to use when making a template. It is cheap, yet thick enough that you can crease it in a sheet metal brake and it will hold its shape. Cut and trim it in small amounts until you finally get what you need.

Bigham traces the template for the rear quarter panel onto a sheet of aluminum. In areas where he plans to fold the aluminum over for extra strength, he adds an inch to his template.

Bigham traces the template for the rear quarter panel onto a sheet of aluminum. In areas where he plans to fold the aluminum over for extra strength, he adds an inch to his template.

Nothing fancy necessary when it comes to cutting out the fenders from the aluminum sheet. Just air powered shears right on an open space on the shop floor.

Nothing fancy necessary when it comes to cutting out the fenders from the aluminum sheet. Just air powered shears right on an open space on the shop floor.

Here's the rough fender trimmed up and held in position with Cleco fasteners. Right now the chassis isn't sitting at ride height, so the wheel opening is kept small. It will be trimmed later.

Here’s the rough fender trimmed up and held in position with Cleco fasteners. Right now the chassis isn’t sitting at ride height, so the wheel opening is kept small. It will be trimmed later.

This shot lets you see a little more clearly how the beginnings of the interior metal work with integrate with the body to keep the driver sealed off from the elements. A panel on top of the lower spacer bars will create a floor. The first of two pieces that will create the crush panel in front of the right rear tire is also in place.

This shot lets you see a little more clearly how the beginnings of the interior metal work with integrate with the body to keep the driver sealed off from the elements. A panel on top of the lower spacer bars will create a floor. The first of two pieces that will create the crush panel in front of the right rear tire is also in place.

Here the Bigham test fits the left-rear quarter panel. As you can see he's added more defining creases from the shot you saw of the first mockup of the fender on the right-hand side.

Here the Bigham test fits the left-rear quarter panel. As you can see he’s added more defining creases from the shot you saw of the first mockup of the fender on the right-hand side.

Bigham pulled the fender out wide to cover the rear wheels but needed it to come back in to fit the rear bumper cover. The 90-degree bend at the top provides a mounting point where the fender meets the deck, but with a little time on the shrinker that bend can also be used to pull the fender around.

Bigham pulled the fender out wide to cover the rear wheels but needed it to come back in to fit the rear bumper cover. The 90-degree bend at the top provides a mounting point where the fender meets the deck, but with a little time on the shrinker that bend can also be used to pull the fender around.

It's a small bend, but it serves to give the body a little more shape and not be quite so boxy.

It’s a small bend, but it serves to give the body a little more shape and not be quite so boxy.

The creases help give the rear quarter a little more dimension to help it look better, but it also helps add just a bit of rigidity so that the sheetmetal won't be flopping as the car goes down the track. Those creases will be followed the length of the body.

The creases help give the rear quarter a little more dimension to help it look better, but it also helps add just a bit of rigidity so that the sheetmetal won’t be flopping as the car goes down the track. Those creases will be followed the length of the body.

Bigham works his way to the front. The front fender is broken into sections. The piece you see attached to the door skin is relatively permanently attached. The rest of the fender can be put on with just a few rivets or Dzeus fittings so that it can be quickly removed for suspension repairs or adjustments.

Bigham works his way to the front. The front fender is broken into sections. The piece you see attached to the door skin is relatively permanently attached. The rest of the fender can be put on with just a few rivets or Dzeus fittings so that it can be quickly removed for suspension repairs or adjustments.

Here's a better view of the upper portion of the fenders. The edges are folded over twice on the sheet metal brake to add strength.

Here’s a better view of the upper portion of the fenders. The edges are folded over twice on the sheet metal brake to add strength.

The finished fender.

The finished fender.

A large sail panel helps keep the rear of the car planted when it is thrown into the turns.

A large sail panel helps keep the rear of the car planted when it is thrown into the turns.

The A pillar is just there to connect the roof to the fender, but the quarter window just behind it should help clean up the airflow around the cockpit.

The A pillar is just there to connect the roof to the fender, but the quarter window just behind it should help clean up the airflow around the cockpit.

A couple of braces connected to the lower valence on the front bumper cover will help keep the plastic from rolling under when the car is at speed.

A couple of braces connected to the lower valence on the front bumper cover will help keep the plastic from rolling under when the car is at speed.

The maximum width of the rear spoiler is constrained by the rules, so Bigham rolls the side panels out to help catch more air.

The maximum width of the rear spoiler is constrained by the rules, so Bigham rolls the side panels out to help catch more air.

The finished product ready for its decal wrap.

The finished product ready for its decal wrap.

 


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  • Josh says:
    October 25, 2017 at 10:29 am

    I’d like to buy one of these body is there any way I can ?

    Reply

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