At C&L Auto Body, we love classic cars. In fact, we love virtually every car because, let’s face it…someday, they will all be classics! But we do understand the special care and concern your baby deserves. So we wanted to provide you with five tips for tackling one of the most important steps to classic car restoration…paint!

*Disclaimer: Please note that spray painting outdoors or in your garage could potentially violate city and AWMD ordinances, which could result in heavy fines. What’s more, a garage does not provide a dust-free environment, so the paint could likely be contaminated with dust. For these reasons, we highly recommend that you seek a professional shop with an adequate booth for this step. Doing so can save you time, money and produce a far more professional result than if you go it alone

  1. After deciding to tackle custom painting yourself, prepare a booth for the job. You won’t be able to evenly apply paint if you try to do it outside in the elements. A slight breeze or hot spot can undermine the consistency of the paint. So clear out a section of your garage and sweep and vacuum every square inch. Then, wait 24 hours for dust to resettle before covering every surface with warm soapy water. Mop at least twice and then wipe down the walls so stray dust won’t find its way into the finish. For the final pass, use a 50/50 mix of alcohol and water. If you opt to convert a portion of your garage to a painting booth, make sure the space has adequate ventilation. Install a window fan, if necessary.

    Professional paint booth at C&L Auto Body

    Professional paint booth at C&L Auto Body

  1. As with all paint jobs, the all-important foundational element for classic car painting is prep. So, long before you open a single can of paint, wash and dry the car. Then, go over every inch of the exterior with a tack cloth. This is the time to go over everything two or three times with grease-and-wax remover. Don’t forget about the insides of the doors and bonnet, as well as the sub-frame, and wipe down other small pieces of hardware and vents in the doors.
  1. Mask metal work and windows. It is important to note that masking tape and paper comes in a variety of widths and lengths. The narrower the tape, the more easily it will fit into small spaces. The larger the tape, the less time you will need to spend to gain adequate coverage. Don’t skimp on the quality of tape you purchase, since good quality tape will keep paint from seeping through. Another hallmark of quality masking tape is that it is easy to remove. Hint: don’t use newspaper to cover car parts. It is porous, so paint can easily seep through. Also, the ink could bleed onto the surface, leaving an oily residue.Man in Hazmat Suit and Protective Gear
  1. Cover yourself. As important as protecting metal surfaces of your vehicle and our booth is outfitting yourself for the job. If you get the right type of suit, you’ll resemble an employee of the CDC. Make sure you stay away from any type of material made from cotton, flannel or wool, which could send stray materials into the air, landing on your car. Once the painting begins, you will understand why a well-ventilated suit and face mask are critical components of any vehicle painting project.
  1. Apply the paint. If you own one classic car and think it is the only one you will ever restore, consider renting painting equipment instead of purchasing it. However, once someone has been bitten by the classic car bug, they are usually hooked for life. So it might be worthwhile to purchase your own equipment. Use a professional spray gun to carefully, thoughtfully apply an etching primer over any bare metal. Then, apply the base coat and then, after that layer is dry, apply a second coat before sealing. If you mess up during the process, wait for the car to completely dry, then sand it down and start again. Getting the base smooth with minimal dust and without drips is tricky. So take your time. And when you are finished, leave the car alone. Don’t walk around and stir up dust. Follow manufacture’s guidelines for drying times between each coat.

red hotC&L Auto can help make your classic car restoration dreams a reality. The “go-to” location for repair and restoration since 1970, we are known for our attention to detail, courteous service, and fair and affordable prices. C&L is owned and operated by the Buonsanti family, who strives to treat clients like family. Come by the shop 781 E San Bernardino Road in Covina, contact us via email today or call (626) 445-6630.