Gallery: Muscle Car Restorations Replaces Wheel Tubs on a 1968 Dodge Charger

In many ways, we are living in the very best time to be a classic car owner. Never has there been more access to products and services to restore our dream muscle cars. Yes, finding just the right one is not getting any easier but with all the resources we now have there aren’t many that can’t be saved.

Muscle Car Restorations has had previously restored cars come to their shop that were supposed to be in decent shape only to find out after a full disassembly and chemical stripping that they were anything but. Years ago, many of these cars would have been scraped or parted out as hopeless cases but today companies like Auto Metal Direct keep providing more and more of the parts needed to keep these classics on the road.

Above: This outer lip damage is pretty typical of B-bodies. If the quarter is bad then the outer wheel tub usually is too. If this were a stock restoration, MCR would simply section in a piece from a new AMD part but since this car will run 15 x 29 inch tires mini-tubs are called for.

Above left: When an entire panel is being removed a lot of time and effort can be saved by rough cutting out large chucks of it. This allows much better access to drill out all the various spot welds that will need to be cut. Above right: MCR’s favorite weld cutter is a 3/8th-inch Rotobroach. It’s fast, clean and simple.

Even beyond that, common modifications have become mainstream enough for the aftermarket to provide properly engineered kits to do what used to be only in the realm of custom work. Various Mopar suspensions are great examples of this and MCR has done enough mini-tubs for it to become a routine process to widen the tubs and cut the floor back to the frame rails so decent sized tires will fit under the car.

Taking this a step further, AMD now offers a widened inner wheel tub for B-bodies to make this process even easier. No longer does MCR have to custom widen the inner tub approximately three inches, they just order them ready to install directly from their AMD rep. A set of those tubs being installed is what we are going to show you here but with a twist.

Above left: Because the inner half of the tub is about three inches wider than stock, the floor will have to be cut back to make room for it. To get a good idea of where to cut the floor, a template is drawn to the shape of the inner half of the tub. Above right: Using inner structures as reference points, the template is used to draw an approximate cut line on the floor. Approximate because a new lip about an inch wide will be formed that will be spliced into the floor. The same process will be done on the other end of the tub with the trunk floor.

Above left: The first test fit of the inner tub. Note that the cut removing the floor need not be precise. At this point there just needs to be enough room to test fit the new inner tub. Above center: A new floor lip is formed by bending a corner and then stretching it to match the radius of the inner half of the tub. Above right: Here’s how the new lip should fit around the tub. A line will be drawn around the lip to mark precisely where the floor will need to be cut.

Unless you’ve done a good number of these, you might not be aware that all B-body wheel tubs are the same. That’s probably not surprising. What’s also not news is that all B-body quarters are not the same. Well of course not, what’s the point? The point is that some quarters have more room for larger tires than others but they are all limited by the same outer wheel tub shape.

Chargers have more quarter room for tires than the stock outer tub will allow so MCR decided (well actually the car owner insisted on it) to take mini-tubs for B-bodies to the next level. 15 x 29 inch tires will not fit in a Charger wheel tub even if it is about three inches wider toward the frame rail for reasons you’ll see in a moment. But there is room inside the quarter itself so MCR modified the outer tub to take advantage of that space.

Of course this mod is not necessary for the ordinary mini-tub job nor are the mini-tubs themselves for a stock restoration but the wheel tub installation process is basically the same for all, just with a few less steps if the car is staying stock.

Above left: New floor lip in place ready to accept the new inner tub. Above center: Both halves of the new tub are screwed together so they can be test fitted as a whole assembly. Above right: Ruler shows the approximate shape desired for the outer half of the wheel tub.

Above: MCR has the tools and expertise to custom form sheet metal parts for applications such as this.

Above left: Here you can clearly see how much extra tire room this modification will add. Above right: The custom panel is simply spliced into the new AMD outer tub and the original section is discarded.

Above: This is an awesome comparison of the stock parts and the mod that MCR made to the outer half of the tub. It’s pretty obvious how much extra room can be gained by this. Yes, the quarter was mocked up on the car to confirm that there is room between the fender and the tub.

Above left: Some changes were also needed to internal parts to accommodate the wider inner tub. Above right: The biggest change was to the bottom part of the trunk spring bracket. Rather than modify the original, MCR opted to make new ones from scratch. It produced a much cleaner look than cutting and reshaping the factory part.

Above left: The floor is not normally welded to the wheel tubs but this will be a high horsepower Hemi car and these welds provide additional strength in this area. Above right: MCR spot welds all panels wherever possible to retain the factory look but plug welds are a perfectly acceptable alternative.

Above: After a coat of epoxy primer, you’d really have to know what you are looking at to tell that this is not the original wheel tub.  And later, others will be scratching their heads wondering how 15-inch tires can fit inside a stock wheel well.

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Mark Ehlen

Mark Ehlen is one of the most prolific writers and magazine editors in the past 35 years, producing articles for the entire Motor Trend family of publications. Mark's technical acumen is always on-point, delivering easy-to-follow tutorials, inspiring many do-it-yourselfers to pick up their tools and dive into their own projects.

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