I spent today pulling the front fenders off the car. This is another big step towards removing the body so I can clean-up and repair any rust on the frame and the body. It was a lot of work, but can be handled easily in an afternoon provided you have a systematic plan of attack.
I had to start by finishing up a job I began the other day: removing the parking lights. During the week I removed the headlights entirely, but only removed the covers of the parking lights. Since those lights are mounted on the fenders, I began by removing what remained. The lamps are mounted to the inside of the fender by three small nuts (each) that bolt onto posts in the light assemblies. I used a 5/16″ socket to remove the nuts.
Also, each parking light is wired into the harness with three wire connections. I labeled and disconnected these and then removed the parking light assemblies.
Also, the doors need to be off the car in order to get the fenders off. There are bolts that hold the fender to the body that are concealed by the front edge of the doors. So next I removed the doors from the car. The doors have two square hinges that are bolted into the body with four bolts per hinge. I used a 7/16″ socket with an extension to get at the bolts at an angle.
The lower hinges I was able to reach with no extension on the socket wrench. There is a bracket attached to the door that guides the door shut. It is attached above the lower hinge with a Philips head screw bolt and nut below. This piece can be seen below left just above the wrench. It should be removed before the last two hinge bolts so that the door can come off freely once the last bolt is out.
With the door removed I could access a bolt that holds the curved edge of fender to the body. Even with the door off I could only get at this bolt using a 7/16″ box wrench.
Also, at the rear edge of the fender there are three more bolts into the body. I again used a 7/16″ box wrench to remove each of these.
At the lower rear edge of the fender there are two bolts that bolt into the frame from below. I removed these using a 1/2″ socket.
With the rear of the fender free, I moved up to the front of the car to work my way back. Starting at the bottom, there are three Philips head bolts that attached the lower inside front edge of the fender into the body. I used a 7/16″ socket to loosen the nuts on these bolts from inside the body. Towards the end I used a #3 Philips head screwdriver to hold the bolts and prevent them from spinning.
After removing the three bolts located behind the bumper, I could see that the fender would not clear the brackets that the bumper is mounted to. The bracket comes through a small hole in the fender and then spreads like a “Y”. The brackets had to come off so the fender would clear the body. So next I unbolted the brackets from the frame using a 9/16″ socket and pulled out the brackets on each side.
Moving up the car, there are two more of the same 7/16″ Philips head bolts located where the grille mounts on the front of the car. I removed the bottom one’s nut with a socket, but the top one did not have enough clearance for a socket or even a box wrench. So I clamped a pair of vice grips on the nut and used a lot of force to turn the bolt counter-clockwise with a #3 Philips head screwdriver. I got it free with a lot of sweating and swearing.
There are six more of these same bolts located under where the hood rests on the fender. I removed these the same way as the others.
The uppermost of these bolts is not accessible in the engine bay but in the interior of the car. I crawled onto the floor of the car and located the nut for this bolt up by the firewall. This one I removed using a 13 mm socket (the 7/16″ wanted to round-off the bolt–go figure). However, on the opposite side when I removed the other fender that same nut was frozen in place and I ended up unscrewing the bolt from above.
Those are all the mechanical fasteners for the fender! I held the fender by the headlight hole and wheel well area and gently worked it off the body. There was an absolute ton of dirt and road grime under there on the fender and the body. Thirty-eight years of dirt is quite a bit. Literally, piles of dirt fell down when I removed each fender.
Below are some pictures of the wheels with the right and left fenders removed, one of the engine bay, and one of the car from the side without the doors and fenders.