- By Jason R. Sakurai
Forget fixing that rusted out hulk, with Dynacorn's new body shell , you won't have to.
North Carolina is the unlikely locale for one of the best restoration shops in the country. While the surrounding area is somewhat secluded and rural, there’s nothing unsophisticated about Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists (CARS). The brainchild of two decidedly forward-thinking engineers/enthusiasts, CARS is where a Corvette convertible that’s already a Bloomington Gold contender comes in and doesn’t leave until it’s a certifiable winner. It’s also where magazine’s four-door Suburban project vehicle is transformed into a two-door—no small feat even though it simple. Yes, much of what CARS creates appears to be easy, perhaps because they planned it that way.
Jim Barber and Doug Harris, founders and co-owners of CARS, didn’t enroll in the busted-knuckle, learn-as-you-go school of car crafting. They went the engineer-with-a-degree, high-technology route, and after years of toiling in a corporate manufacturing and engineering environment, decided they were more ideally suited building the classic cars they owned and lusted after in their youth. Notice the word rather than ? This is the reason why enthusiasts and aficionados of First-Generation Camaros are flocking to this restoration outpost—because CARS is the first company with the necessary jigs to assemble Dynacorn’s new all-steel 1969 Camaro body components.
Unlike companies who produce replacement body panels, Dynacorn has created the unibody structure upon which the sheetmetal is hung. But as CARS’ Harris related, “We know our cars are going to be driven, so we’ve engineered them as you would if you were the manufacturer assembling the original vehicle. Knowing most Camaro owners are drivers and not collectors, these cars are destined to see street duty, and for some even as daily drivers.” Amidst the restorations and rods being built at CARS is a dedicated area where the buyer’s components can be assembled for them at their request.
“Most of the replacement panels available today for the early Camaros were intended to be grafted to the original shell, and to use in making repairs. So when it came to using them to fit Dynacorn’s unibody, they “weren’t even close,” Barber said. “With OE-spec manufacturing tolerances, Dynacorn had no choice but to make their own panels. This is a major reason why their completed cars will be as tight as if they rolled off the assembly line in Van Nuys in ’69.” It makes sense then that same robot welders used in assembly plants the world over are also found at Barber’s shop, to duplicate the thousands of welds needed to solidify the structure and make them one.
Dynacorn’s assemblage of components that go into making the restoration shell consist of literally hundreds of parts, which are preassembled at the factory and made into 35 substructures. This forms the basis for Barber’s crew, which then, after negotiating assembly charges, will assemble the components on the specialized jigs and ship the tub to the end user. And after watching this process we can only tell you that quality is second to none, in both material design, and the completed product.
“Our emphasis is on quality and details. We pride ourselves on being creative, flexible and understanding,” Harris said. “CARS is a group of experienced craftsmen who use proven techniques during the restoration or manufacturing of any vehicle to obtain the desired results.” Among the services they provide are body and sheet metal fabrication—from restorations to custom—and literally everything in between.
As Barber described, “Our shop is a professional business, not a hobby. We are experienced craftsmen who use proven techniques to restore each car. Soon, we’ll be adding in-house engine building to our repertoire, and at that point we will truly be a one-stop shop fully capable of producing turnkey cars.” He added, “That’s been our intention from day one, and it appears we’re getting closer to making it happen.”
Another dimension to CARS is that they are also a warehouse distributor for a virtual who’s who of the aftermarket industry. When you add it all up, one thing’s for sure: If you’ve got a rusted-out ’69 Camaro convertible hulk sitting their ready to have new life breathed into it, CARS should be your first phone call.
Click here for the rest of the story and pictures of the project