5.0 Mustang & Super FordsHow To Paint Body
Stripping Paint Yourself
How To Save Money On Your Next Paint Job
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The process of painting a car is a daunting task for the normal do-it-yourself performance enthusiast. Here at 5.0 Mustang, we openly acknowledge that body work, priming, spraying, and selecting the proper paints are better left to experienced craftsmen. Problem is that we don't want to spend three grand on a quality paint job. In our case, we can't afford it. However, in the case of the 10-inch Terror, we want it to look as good as it will run, so we cracked our heads together and came up with a lower-buck way to achieve a pro paint job. It's 50 percent do-it-yourself, 20 percent pain-in-the-ass, and 10 percent "my back hurts"--but, it'll shave about 30 percent off your paint job bill.
Here's how it works. Most of the labor hours in a quality paint job are invested in removing trim, body panels, moldings, grilles, and plastic pieces--not to mention masking everything off before spraying paint. Although the typical enthusiast is afraid of the other components of a paint job (filling, bondo, sanding, spraying), removing stuff like body trim, door handles, and antennas is fairly easy. By doing this time-consuming, but basically simple task, most body shops will cut you a significant discount off the hefty price of a spray job.
The first thing that we did was find a reputable paint shop that was nearby. Car-Nation Auto Body of Los Angeles, California, whom you may remember from our August '98 issue ("Cowl Perfection," Page 48), had previously helped us out with beautiful coats of fresh black and white glossy on two Cervini hoods. We were so impressed with the work of Carl Mertens and his crew of paint pros, that we entrusted Car-Nation to slap some color on the bare, ragged frame of the Terror.
One day, on our lunch break, we dropped by Car-Nation to discuss the project. We wanted a stand-out, brightly colored paint job that wouldn't break the bank. Because the Terror has earned a few waves and dings in the body panels over the years, we needed some body work done, but nothing extensive. We told Carl that we would completely strip our 5.0 coupe down to the bare frame, removing every molding, bracket, fender, light, and interior item. Carl sat down with his calculator, and sized us up a significant discount on our whole paint package. We discovered that by doing much of the nasty work ourselves, we suddenly could afford to put our project in the hands of a capable painter.
You can get a great price by stripping your car yourself. If you are going to remove 95 percent of the interior, like we did--including the carpet, seats, headliner, inner door upholstery, and plastic trim pieces--hardly any masking will be required for the interior. Since you've already taken off all the exterior items that would've been removed anyway, all that's remaining for the body shop to do is the basic paint prep and spraying (so long as no bodywork is required). Since we wanted our 12-point chrome-moly roll cage painted the same color as the body, we didn't mind if all the interior sheetmetal got oversprayed. If your interior is intact, you might want to spend the extra money to have it professionally masked, or do the job yourself (carefully!).
We had some extra things to remove that were specific to our coupe. The LX body moldings were wavy from being removed once or twice, so we peeled those off planning for fresh ones. And because we would be installing Pro-Glass lexan-type windows in the Terror, we also removed the front, back, and sideglass. Removing the glass was a major hassle since we didn't have the proper equipment to unseat the glued-in glass. Needless to say, your author got showered with glass during both attempts to remove the front and rear windows. Be careful if you attempt this.
We're going to keep you guessing on the future color of the Terror. The paint will be coming from PPG, one of the world's finest paint manufacturers, and it'll be hot. Even if our 5.0 is a slug, at least it'll look bad-ass! If you're thinking of painting your daily driver or racecar, and can't quite afford a big money hit, try talking to your neighborhood paint shop. Tell 'em no R&R time, little-to-no masking, and see how much they'll charge to do some simple body work and spray a few coats.