Rolling Steel (Tabco) 70-72 GS/Skylark Quarter Panel
Sheetmetal has become a sore spot for our Buick musclecars. NOS prices are heading out of sight, good used is getting harder and harder to find, and due to the low production most companies do not produce sheetmetal for our cars, and when they do, it can sometimes be very bad quality. This makes buying reproduction sheetmetal a scary thing. I faced this problem with my convertible, but took a chance and bought some parts based on the recommendations of others who had preceded me, I will try to show these pieces as well as I can, and give my opinions on them as well. Please remember this is only my OPINION, the final choice is up to you of course.
I simply couldn't hack the price of a NOS LH quarter for my 1972 GS ragtop, especially given that I live in Canada so once I pay the shipping and the exchange the price for me is usually DOUBLE what the US price is. The problem is that I am pretty fussy with my cars, so I wanted something decent. I have found most quarters are not very good when it comes to the subtle body line of the 70-72 GS. With this in mind, I spent a lot of time talking to others, and looking at pictures of their cars with the various panels on them. The problem is that pictures can hide a lot. So I crossed my fingers and ordered a LH rear quarter from Rolling Steel Body Panels out of Kirtland, Ohio. The guy who took my order obviously knew his stuff, and encouraged feedback once I got the part. More on this later.
Overall, the quarter seems to be a pretty decent piece. I noticed there was a "Tabco" sticker on it. The body lines seem very close to original, although it is hard to tell with the semi gloss natural metal finish. I debated painting it to see how the lines looked, but decided against that as it would create problems later on. The quarter goes up to the door opening and wraps around into the door jamb area about 2", but I have not checked to see if this bend is accurate. From there, it goes all the way to the back and includes the flange that sits behind the bumper. It stops at the shoulder area on the top and at the rocker panel on the front lower edge. The rear marker light area is recessed, but not punched out. This is not a big deal as the marker light sits proud of the surface and has a gasket anyway, but I did notice the edge in the marker light area seems uneven.*
Close up of the marker light area. Note the aft end flange which stops at the correct position, unlike many others.
One the worst areas with reproduction pieces that I have seen is the wheelwell area, and the detail of the edges. This one seems decent. Although the depth of the small recess on the edge doesn't seem as deep as stock, or perhaps just not as sharp in detail, the chrome trim I have fits fine. This may be due to the stainless trim being somewhat flexible, when installing later is would be a good idea to be very careful to get it perfectly positioned. Compared to my original Stage 1 , the distance from the outside edge of the trim to the peak of the wheelwell lip is slightly larger on the reproduction piece, but not enough to be noticeable. See the pictures.
Note I just taped the trim on. There is a wide flange all around the quarter which I will trim off in the wheelwell area right away so it is the correct width. You could do it after installation as well, but then you risk something being welded in the area you want to trim. Anyway, you don't want to mount the stainless until the panel is installed, as it will certainly shift.
I measured the thickness of the metal on this quarter, and it came in at .040" thick. Pretty hard to measure accurately as the edges are drawn out so have been stretched and have tool marks on them. A factory quarter measured in at .050" thickness.
My one pet peeve has been trying to get ahold of Rolling Steel. I first ordered the quarter April 10th and paid for shipping up front, and when it had not shown up at the border in four weeks, I tried to call several times. This was always met with an answering machine who asked to leave a message, then told me the mailbox was full. I finally got through after many days of trying to call over a couple of weeks, and was then informed that there had been a delay but it should ship right away. Once it arrived at my connection in Sweetgrass Montana, the trucking company tried to collect a 93.00US shipping fee, but my broker refused to pay it since I already paid for shipping. That was two weeks ago, and I have been trying to get a hold of Rolling Steel ever since. E-mails bounced back and I am assuming that they are on the carshow circuit, but in this era there are better ways to stay in touch with your customers. They did call back once but I wasn't home, and then when I called them I got the "mailbox is full" routine again!!LOL hopefully we will finally connect to straighten the shipping out. Price was 185.00US, and then another 100.00US to ship to Sweetgrass, Montana.**
Tabco Body Parts
*Update: Once I trimmed the marker light opening, the marker fit with no problems and the uneven edge is hidden by the gasket.
***Update: June 16, 2002: I finally got in touch with Rolling Steel, they are looking into the extra shipping charges and thought it was odd since they don't COD anything and also even though the extra charges weren't paid, the quarter was delivered (I thought that was odd myself!). Apparently, there has been flooding in the Ohio area and then the power company screwed up some communication lines so it has been a comedy of errors trying to get in touch with anyone.
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