Creating The Perfect Paint Job, Step 2: The Teardown


This month we’re going to explore Step Two in our Creating The Perfect Paint Job series: The Tear Down. Now that you’ve got a solid vision in of the final product planted firmly in mind, it’s time to get to work with stripping down the car. This step is going to play a vital role in the quality of the final product. 

Obviously you want to do the very best paint job you can, so when you do the tear down I recommend that you remove EVERYTHING except the main body parts, hood, fenders, doors & trunk. I’ll explain my purpose on keeping them intact later.

Before we go any further though, I need to let you know that this is where you could get into trouble. Believe me: I’ve skipped this step many times and it’s come back to bite me in the backside, so no skipping, okay? 

No matter what, you’ve got to keep track of  every part, trim, screws, clips, etc. you want to do what we call “Bag and Tag” go out to your local grocery store and purchase those generic zip lock freezer bags they work well, get yourself a couple of black sharpies and every part you remove label it, put all the hardware into a bag and write “left front fender bolts”.

Next get some good 3M yellow or blue masking tape to label any of the parts that are larger than the zip lock bags. When it comes to rubber, you want to save as much as possible of the window, door and trunk rubber first as reference and second if you cannot find aftermarket substitutes at least you have the original that can be cleaned up and re-used.

During this process you’ll want to gather all the chrome, stainless and aluminum pieces that will need to be either re-chromed or anodized, you’ll want a reputable shop that will keep track and do quality work, take photos of all the pieces, print out the photos, make two copies, one for your records and second have the shop initial every photo so that there is a complete understanding on how many pieces there are and what will need to be done to bring them back to their former glory.

Quick Tip #01: the more pieces you have the better you can negotiate a lower price.

Now that the vehicle is stripped down, we return to what I said about keeping the doors, hood, fenders and trunk attached to the vehicle. This is where you can get a better idea of how the gaps will and you can begin any body work that needs to be accomplished.

Some would disagree and tell you to removed the sections do the work and fit after primer and I have no problem with that however every car has its own individual shape and characteristics that make it special and it will be better if you keep them intact for the first phase of body work so that you will be able see the issues you need to address when it comes time for assembly.

In conclusion, take your time in dismantling the car, you can never take too many photos. Assess the chrome/trim pieces and get those in the working so that by the time your paint is finished you will have everything ready to assemble.

Quick Tip #02: Before doing all the above, I strongly suggest that you take photos of everything you plan on removing. That way, when it comes time to reassemble everything, you’ll have the perfect points of reference from your photos. Up next, we take a look at body alignment.