Biba Restorations


Filler vs No filler

When we last left you, a proposition had been put forth regarding plastic filler vs lead loading.

This issue deals with not only the downside of using plastic filler but lead loading and shops / owners who claim there is Absolutely No Filler in their client's car.

There are basically three ways to bring a car's body back (or very close) to its original configuration.

First any proper body restoration should start with body and frame 'pulling', should it be necessary.

An interesting but frustrating thing happens when cars are involved in even minor shunts. Both high and low spots develop along the body work. It is not at all unusual to have a very slight right side front end shunt cause high and low spots on the far left side fender. Often a seemingly minor shunt resonates into the doors.

It's pretty much a given when any Alfa Spider, for instance, is hit in the rear, there will be rippling along the lower exterior fender wells and most likely beyond.

"There's absolutely no filler whatsoever on my car."

Should one's bank account be limitless, there are those who can 're-skin' (make a completely new body for) virtually any car. Perhaps you've seen Lotus 11's and other car's bare naked skin polished to a fair thee well. Impressed? BR certainly is. Not an easy task whatsoever, though strongly doubt if the bodies are quite the same as those that originally left the factory.

Back to no filler: A very, very good body shop will tap and shrink and file the body to get it as perfect as possible.

As professional and correct as this sounds, filing impinges on the metal's integrity as does shrinking which often involves heat (thus making the metal considerably more brittle).

They then began a series of primer coats. No, we're not talking a coat or two, we're talking numerous coats with sanding / blocking in between, then more coats.

Should one cut and section an area of a fender for instance,one would find 'material' between the body and paint.

If one cut and sectioned an area of a fender which has had plastic filler used, they will find 'material' between the steel body and the paint with considerably less expenditure of one's finances.

Your choice.

Bottom line.

An owner of an Alfa Spider (or?) who wants their car to be as 'perfect' as it was when it left the manufacturer and who has a car which is less than perfect, should be prepared to accept there will be some sort of filler to bring back the body's shape close to its original configuration­short of 'reskinning'.

Not only this, the owner should be prepared to now accept the responsibility the car has been somewhat reconfigured (the metal / body no longer being identical to its original stamping).

BR feels even the most pristine of restored cars are meant to be driven and appreciated...though hopefully not abused.

The Alfa Romeo pictured is currently in our shop. We will prepare its own 'page' as things progress. Should you care to discuss your particular car's needs, please email.

Next Column


 '79 Spider when first brought into shop


 '79 Spider shell replacement
(considerably better, but obviously not perfect)


This represents over 60 hours of finish work. Base paint was thoroughly sanded using a body file. BR's theory is if the current finish is in good overall condition, use it as the base. All edges are brought down to bare metal. Because of the thorough sanding between finishes, there is very little overall build-up.


 The engine bay was quite pristine
except for the inevitable rust under the
brake and clutch reservoirs.


 Shutline and panel match up is probably as good if not better than original. Because of minor front damage, additional plastic filler was required on the leading edge. An owner has the option of being especially careful of the front because of the filler, or because he has paid a great deal to have the front cut out and a reproduction panel welded in. It will now receive six or more coats, with sanding in between, of high build black primer before the five or six coats of black urethane are applied.
AlfaCyberSite Site Map | Biba Restorations Q & A | Biba Restorations | ACS Parts / Accessories Home Page
Plastic Filler Issue A | Paint, Costs & Matching

Copyright © 12002 - 2005, AlfaCyberSite. All Rights Reserved.