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TR2/3/3A 1960 tr3a sheet metal fitment


Darth Vader
So, at long last, I have all of the sheet metal hung on my 1960 TR3A. This is a frame off, long term project and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, yea! I get the feeling though, that I can't just start tightening all of the body bolts, I suspect that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about getting everything aligned and tightened down. So, my question is where do I start and how do I go about finishing up the body mounting with a minimum of mistakes, re-starts and do-overs?

Your thought, tips and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Thanks, Tinkerman


Country flag
Doors first. Set the rear gaps with the quarter panels.

Next front wings, setting the gaps with the doors, but not front bolts, yet.

Bonnet, setting the gap to the scuttle.

Front apron, setting the gap to the front of the bonnet.

Front bolts on front wings to inner wings.

Now for the rear...

Wings...tighten the 3 vertical bolts at the rear valence to align with the valence panel.

Work forward on the rear wing, one bolt at a time, aligning with the edge of the boot frame and rear scuttle.

Finish with the rear boot, aligning the gaps evenly on all 4 sides.

This sounds easy, but it is far from it. Each panel will take untold effort to align with the previous. The fitment is easier with lots of beer.


Jedi Trainee
Dick, I'm sure everybody has there "preferred" way to do it and it will require some tweaking as you go thru, but I prefer to have the doors off when mounting the front fenders because of better access to the vertical line of bolts at the hinge pillar. I also like to have the apron on prior to front fenders to avoid having to "sqeeze" the apron between the fenders. I just feel this way presents less chance of chipping paint. Use masking tape around the areas where panels are joined. Better to scratch the tape than the paint. You can be successful in any order, so I'm not disagreeing with John, but I think putting the fenders on with the doors on would be problematic. Maybe he means to align doors to quarters then take them back off. IDK


Jedi Knight
Country flag
And don't forget NOT to tighten up the fender bolts until you have the chrome fender beads in place. All six of them.


Darth Vader
Thanks for the info. I feel a major do over coming on, sigh.......................................
I have to do this alignment with the wheels on and the car on a smooth surface. I would guess that the wheels should all have the same tire pressure and all of the body bolts need to be loose.
Cheers, Dick


Jedi Trainee
I think you're over thinking it. The biggest issue is if the body tub is located properly to start with. That establishes 90% of the panel alignment. There is very little adjustment built in to the body panels short of a 2x4 and BFH. To achieve those perfectly matched gaps would require trimming and welding of panels and test fitting prior to paint. That was just not a goal they strived for when the cars were built new. I understand that many people have that goal on a restoration and I admire their effort, but I think you are beyond that point now. If I recall you have the car painted already. It's not going to matter if one tire has 32 lbs and one has 35 lbs except in suspension alignment and ride height, which has nothing to do with body panel alignment. The frames are pretty rigid, but you'll have to take the wheel off the front to access the bolts to the apron. You just need to have it as level as possible even if its on jack stands.


Country flag
I would suggest when you tighten up the bolts with the large fender washers inside the wings, front and back to make sure the fender washers themselves are not too large. If the fender washer is too large when you pull the bolt in the higher arch on the circumference of the large washer will push and pooch out the fender about a 1/16 or so. The original washers are not ÂĽ American size fender washers they are smaller. What happened to me on a couple of them was as I jockeyed the fender around with some of the bolts and washer and caused a dimple. The last time I did this I took an original washer with me to a bolt store and got something with a little bigger hole for the bolt and a little small diameter so it would not dimple the fender as it pulled in. I think Moss sells the correct washers. It does not matter on the front wing tops because there is room, only up the sides.

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