Elijah's 1971 Imperial Body and Paint Restoration

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Body and Paint


Six FRANTIC days in October

October 18, 2000

Elijah Scott brought his 1971 Imperial to Kerry Pinkerton's workshop for a body and paint makeover.  Elijah's car was very sound mechanically.  The body, however, was a different story.  There was rust in both rear rockers and lower front fender.  The paint was nearly gone on the hood and trunk with serious surface rust and minor pitting.  During the process we discovered serious problems with a previous repair under the vinyl top which had to be re-repaired.  There was also a few minor scrapes and dents and 30 years of door dings and road rash to be resolved.  The goal was to fix all the rust, repair the body, prime, paint and finish...all in 5 days.  Normally this process would take much longer but with dedication, determination, and not much sleep we were able to turn this: ES109.jpg (252751 bytes)  into this:  ES716.jpg (263219 bytes).  

It took us 6 'clock' days and approximately 184 man hours.  While the result is not perfect (I'd LOVE to respray the hood) it looks very good.  TOTAL cost for material and supplies was about $500.  Don't EVEN do the math for the labor, it has to be a labor of love or you should pay someone to do it.  

The process we followed is sound and should be of interest to anyone doing similar work, regardless of marquee.  You will see how and why we did the repairs, learn from our mistakes and, hopefully, learn also from our success.  Neither of us are professional body-men.  This is the 6th car I have painted.  Each one was better than the last which goes to prove that old dogs can learn after all.

We worked in a basic workshop with a decent assortment of tools including a MIG welder.  The actual spraying was done with a borrowed HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) turbine but similar results can be obtained with a standard paint gun.  In other words, this is something that can be done by most any shade-tree type.

Special thanks to Ken Newberry who devoted four long evenings to the project.

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This page was last updated August 30, 2000.   Send us your feedback, and join the Imperial Mailing List online car club today!