While this Corvette was a decent 20-footer, we are after show-quality paint here. That means detail that will look great, even under close scrutiny, and the only way to get there is to take the car substantially apart. Fortunately, mid-'70s Corvettes have a minimum of xterior trim, and most of what is thereis fairly easily removed. The only sticking point is that some of the fasteners may be rusted or seized. While penetrating oil and time does the trick in most instances, there were times when we were forced to break out the drill. With the car's exterior fully undressed, stripping the panels was the next step.
There are several ways to strip the paint from a Corvette. The choices here boil down to blasting, sanding, or chemical stripping. Since we wanted to do the job ourselves, specialty blasting was not considered, though many have success with plastic media blasting. The downside of blasting is the media can (and will) get everywhere. Since this car is not receiving a full restoration, we had further reason to seek other paint removal means. Sanding is another alternative, but the potential for digging into the fiberglass body shortly after the paint is removed can lead to damage and a wavy surface. A D/A air sander may be perfect for steel panels, but it takes a brave soul to attempt stripping a fiberglass body with one.
For our situation, that left chemical stripping. This process can be a hit or a miss, depending upon the product and the paint surface. Some paints are incredibly resistant to most chemical strippers, but ours came right off with a single application. The topcoats proved easy to chemically strip, leaving most of the original primer, which we will sand off by hand. Without a doubt, this is that point in our project that really takes some faith since our once acceptable Corvette was now looking like a torn-down wreck. It takes confidence that the final product will prove to be worth it in the end.