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How to Paint Your Own Car

We got a little help from the local tech school when painted the Car Craft Mustang. Here's how it was done.

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Every April, we paint a car, and this time around, we made an honest girl out of our '67 Mustang coupe, which made its first appearance in CC exactly two years ago. To refresh your memory, we picked up this lowly I-6/C4 commuter from its previous owner for $2,000. And it looked like what you'd expect from a 40-year-old car at that price. There were several layers of paint, some rust spots, and someone in the recent past was a regular practitioner of the "park by feel" method-reverse till you hit something, forward till you hit something, inch back, and ... you're good. As you'd expect, the front and rear of the car had more creases and folds than the entire cast of The Biggest Loser.

Over the last few years, we've featured mostly garage jobs for our paint stories, so this year we decided on a different approach. We sent the car to professionals, or at least professionals- in-training. We phoned our buddy Brian Ferre: bodyman, pinstriper, custom painter, and full-time instructor at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, who offered his services and those of his Collision Repair and Refinishing students. Cool-we'd have a team of builders just like the rich guys do.

The students killed themselves over the course of two and a half months and, with a lot of help from the guys at Year One, Goodmark, and The Eastwood Co, the result is a body and paint job much better than we'd even asked for. Watch and read as the saga unfolds.

Like any major project, the first step in your paint job is to determine your desired outcome. Is this going to be a show car, a weekend cruiser, your daily driver, or a demolition derby competitor?

Our Mustang is going to be a track car and cruise-night driver, so it doesn't need to win any awards for looks. Having determined that, we decided against stripping the car to bare metal and planned instead to rough it up and straighten it out prior to its new coat of paint.

Nothing earth-shattering here-taking things apart is usually easier than putting them back together. Devise a system to keep things organized when the time does come to reassemble. In our case, the students put fasteners and small parts in manila envelopes, marking the contents on the outside. It is also helpful to take pictures of things as they come apart. It will reduce your pile of mystery bolts left over after the job is done.

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