Jim Smart
December 1, 2003

What started out as a simple "I'd like to own a classic Mustang" evolved into a full-scale car-building project for Gary Mattson of Simi Valley, California. I have to admit to being the guilty party here. Gary had a passion for Pontiac GTOs, and that's what he wanted. At the time (1997) I was building Project Ed, a Performance Red '65 Mustang hardtop with white Shelby stripes and 5.0L fuel-injected power. It was an unfair influence for my buddy next door. One day, there was a knock at the door. It was Gary. He had found an Emberglo '66 Mustang hardtop in Burbank for $1,000 and wanted me to see it. It was a rock-solid, rust-free Southern California driver with a worn-out Mexican-block 302, balding whitewall tires, and several layers of Emberglo paint. It wasn't perfect, but it was a gem of a deal for just a grand. I encouraged Gary to buy.

After we hauled the car home, it needed lots of attention. To be a driver, it didn't need much. A fresh 289 V-8 and C4 Cruise-O-Matic would have gotten the job done. Gary would have been enjoying his Mustang as we speak. Instead, a simple engine/transmission removal evolved into a full-scale car-building project. No one knows where this line of thinking began. It likely began with me, because I love car-building projects. Problem is, I like starting them; I just don't always like finishing them. And so it goes.

Gary's Mustang has been sitting, more or less, since 1997 when we pulled the engine and transmission. Gary and his Mustang have fallen victim to other car-building projects that have taken priority in the years since, like our own Project KISS, which has appeared in Mustang & Fords with great regularity. Project KISS is on a temporary hiatus pending the arrival of parts, and human energy.

Gary's Mustang was stripped to the bone and media-blasted by Diamond Sandblasting in Canoga Park, California. It then received a self-etching primer/sealer to protect the steel until a body shop could be secured. We had the good fortune of finding David Maddox and Ted Polisky of Scotty's Body Shop in Thousand Oaks, California. Ted and David are Mustang enthusiasts. David runs the shop, and Ted provides the expertise and quality. Ted took us by the hand and walked us through what amounts to outstanding bodywork and paint. We're going to take you along.

Working The Body

We've just shown you how to remove dents and work body filler. But to achieve a perfect foundation for paint, we have to do more. Any paint job is only as good as its foundation. This means we have to work the surface repeatedly until it's smooth--void of ripples, dings, and dents. Body preparation is more than just dent removal. It's about achieving a perfect surface that will not only marry the paint in a cohesive manner at the time of application, but be tolerant as the paint shrinks and settles afterward. Sometimes, the paint looks terrific when it's applied, then looks horrible as it dries and settles. But if you prep the surface properly to begin with, you'll never have to worry about paint settling later.

So, how do we achieve the perfect surface for paint? We have to lay down a guidecoat, which is spray paint in a different color than your primer. For example, let's say your primer is light gray. Your guidecoat should be black, or a dark color that you mist over the light gray surface. We call this a guidecoat because it "guides" you through the process of perfecting the surface. When we block-sand the surface, we cut into the guidecoat, which removes the guidecoat, leaving the light gray primer behind. Whenever we have a low spot, the black mist remains. And whenever we have a high spot, we typically sand right down to the steel. Guidecoating and block-sanding is how we perfect the surface before painting.

Be sure to check out the sidebar articles below for more on Dent Repair and Body Filler tips.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery