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Seeking Advice on Radiator Support Repair or Replace
I'm looking for the advice of those that have done major body work. My 71 ranchero has a damaged radiator support (see pictures). I have a good donor available but would have to remove it from donor car. Would you straighten the existing sheetmetal, replace it with donor or replace with new?

Situation: The car will be a driver...not going to be a show car. The car has been hit and repaired AND I believe the guy that delivered it to me, hooked up to the radiator support when he tied it down and did the damage to lower cross member...I didn't see it until later, so I don't really know when it happened.

Me: Was ASE cert mechanic at 18y/o, have TIG welder, decent fab skills, but have never done this sort of body work(i.e. don't have the special tools or know the techniques). Will soon be replacing trunk floor, tail light panel, and drivers fender aprons in my 72 mustang. Maybe this will be good practice??? Would I be better off paying for a new support? They are same between the mustangs and rancheros, so readily available repop.

Input is greatly appreciated.

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I don't know your future plans for the Ranchero. If you have a donor for the radiator support that all you have to do is drill the spot welds loose from the fender extensions and cross member I would probably do that.
If you are trying to make a show vehicle then maybe keep the metal you have and have a frame shop do some pulling and hammer and dolly to get the cross member back straight and the side flat near the battery.
If it is just a driver then the practice would work for your future mustang work.
The damage is cosmetic and not structure so as long as something is there to hold the radiator it works.

When a man is in the woods and talks and no women are there is he still wrong??
+1 on David's post. Chuck
It may take more work to straighten it than swapping it.

It will be difficult to straighten it without causing more damage. You will need to pull it back into place without causing damage at the attachment points. Pull a fraction of an inch at a time, hammering and massaging the metal back into place as you go. Some of the sheet metal is likely stretched and will have to be shrunk. It will probably be difficult to get into some of the areas with a hammer and dolly to straighten them, so you may have to make some custom tools to get to them. You might be able to use some 3/8 flat bar or angle iron with some heavy duty "C" clamps to squeeze the bend in the cross member back into shape.

Because you have a donor, I agree with David, replace it, it will likely be less frustrating.

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”
--Albert Einstein
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