Classic Car Articles
Classic Car Project Nomad #27
I knew at some point we would have to tackle the crookest thing on the car when I bought it – the liftgate. This is the upper part of the tailgate and the ugliest alignment issue we faced.
There is a major weakness in the original design and fabrication of these and just about every Nomad I have ever seen the liftgate doesn’t fit properly and subsequently leaks. Mine was three times as bad as the worst one I had seen. On top of that it is made out of what the Yanks call pot metal (which is basically an alloy) which has pluses and minuses.
On the plus side it doesn’t rust, is a bit lighter than metal and can be chromed. On the minus side they often become badly pitted, warp due to a lack of strength and the pressure from the torsion bars. The torsion bars are basically a couple of metal rods in the roof that helps get the liftgate up and down. As the years pass all they do is help bend the liftgate out of shape.
There is no such thing as an aftermarket liftgate and if you are really lucky you may pick one up on eBay or through Hemmings and the like but chances are what you get is as bad as or worse than what you’ve got and your wallet just got a whole lot lighter as well...
Knowing there was no back up strategy Brian ripped into it and has massaged it to the point that it now closes and aligns with the bottom tailgate but there is still some massaging to do. I have faith that the end result will be good however the liftgate will need to be re chromed and hopefully they won’t change the shape of it during that process.....
One part I stumbled upon was a set of replacement gas struts for the liftgate. The original supports were similar to what you saw in panel vans and wagons on Holdens and Fords and you had to snib a button across then lift it slightly to get the thing to lower. Brian’s comment was the gas struts are worth a million bucks and makes the operation of the liftgate far easier and also does away with the torsion bars in the roof which are a pain and contribute to the problem of warping the liftgate.
This will be a work in progress for some time and each time I visit I will be checking the liftgate to see how it is going. Fingers crossed on this one....
Words by Mark, owner of Classic Car Gurus