K.J. Jones
November 30, 2006

This installment of our T-top coupe's build coverage starts where we left off in last month's update. The 'Stang's bodywork needs have been assessed and repairs are underway at Johns Customz & Performance in Torrance, California. The company's co-owners, John Barbera and John Morrow (John B. and John M.), Paul Morrow, and everyone else at the shop have been diligent in making things right again with the car's body, which we learned had quite a few more issues than we initially thought.

We're happy to tell you the body's problems have been addressed. Our special 'Stang with a trunk and a T-roof now beams with an awesome Deep Black hue on all its straightened body panels. When we introduced this project ("Raisin' the Roof," May '06, p. 94), we said the car would be refinished with black paint. We're glad we decided to use the nearly blue mixture by Auto Air Colors, as it definitely pops even though it still needs to be color-sanded and buffed. John M. complemented the Deep Black even further with his own special mixture of Charcoal Gray Metallic that highlights the body trim and covers the Chris Alston's Chassisworks FAB9 rearend housing.

Our project car is finally closer to the ready-for-painting stage. Final touches of glaze putty, which contains a higher percentage of resin and is smoother than the putty we used during initial repairs, are applied to fill in small dents that were undetected earlier. We like to call it "you missed a spot" putty.

In our first article on repairing the car's damaged body ("Damage Control," Oct. '06, p. 144), we detailed what we learned during our crash course in autobody repair. This was the first time John M. had worked with Auto Air Colors' water-based paint, and we all learned a lot about the application characteristics for this type of material. The paint should be shot with gun set at a fine mist, with a short flash time for drying.

With Hot Rod's Drag Week being the endurance challenge it is-five days, five dragstrips, 1,500 miles with no trailers permitted-a lot of our focus is on our project Mustang's performance. But we also want the car to look as great as it runs when we're on the open road.

JCP, Auto Air Colors, and Latemodel Restoration Supply helped us restore our T-top coupe's body to near-original form and opened our eyes to everything that quality autobody repair and painting entails.

Horse Sense: Trying Auto Air Colors products on our project car has put Johns Customz & Performance a step ahead on becoming familiar with what's soon to be a standard in auto painting: water-based paints. Sources tell us that by 2009 the Environmental Protection Agency will have a "zero" Volatile Organic Compound ruling in place that will prohibit auto painters from refinishing cars with any chemical-based products such as enamels and lacquers.

To minimize the chances of paint getting on parts and areas of the car that should not be painted, green masking tape and paper are applied to the glass, chrome, and trim/accessory pieces that remain on the car. The color of masking paper does make a difference. John B. says the green paper is the most common, as it is fairly thick and paint does not penetrate through it. White masking paper is the cheapest, and using newspaper is absolutely the kiss of death for a paint job. The fiber of the newspaper creates "fur balls," which can get all over the paint while the painter is spraying.

Paul uses a high-speed wire brush to clean out the residual urethane in the rear-windshield channel. Every piece of the body that will be painted must be clean and free of debris.

John M. applies Grow Automotive's Super Klean grease, wax, and silicone remover (PN 1705) to the rollcage. John says that wiping down the 'cage and the complete body is an important step in the final preparations before shooting sealer, primer, or paint. Debris or contaminants of any sort are a painter's nightmare. All measures should be taken to make the body's surfaces as clean as possible.