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DIY Body Panel Prep - CHP Step By Step

Old Roots, New Skin
Prepare Your Own Body Panels

Sean Haggai Jun 1, 2009
0906chp_01_z Using_sander To_clean_rust 2/13

There are countless ways of slashing costs when you've got more than your fair share of bills to tend to, let alone a project car sitting on the back burner. It's important to realize that you can do most of the work yourself in the comfort of the garage for cheap. All it takes is a little elbow grease and some hours on the clock. So when it comes to giving that old skin some new life, what's the best and most cost-effective method for getting that done? Well, doing your own bodywork can save you hundreds of dollars at the paint booth. Plus, you'll even benefit from a good workout and possibly develop more defined biceps, which is always good for the missus!

While we realize that not all bodywork may be completed on your project car, we still want to emphasize the point that most of the work can be done with minimal experience. Take for example our '71 Nova. While the paint has seen better days, the body is fairly straight, which is the situation most of you guys out there probably find yourself in. Aside from a bit of rot running along the lower rocker panels, the roof, hood, decklid, and doors, for instance, are free of major defects and would only need to be prepped for paint. This means no dent pulling, no panel replacement, and not much cash to get it completed.

As always, we go step by step to show you how to prepare your dent-free body panels for paint. This way, your project car spends less time in "paint jail" and your wallet stays a bit fatter through these tough times. We grabbed up our project '71 Nova, and John McGann from our sister publication Car Craft, who has become the paint and body guru around here, and guided us in the dos and don'ts. We spent half a day getting it done the right way, saved a few coins in the process, and learned a thing or three.

Quick Notes
What We Did

Sanded, ground, stripped, filled, and primer-coated our panel to cut costs in the long-run.

Bottom Line
Time spent here saves a bit of dough in the long run and gets the body ready for painting yourself.

Cost (approx)


Eastwood Co.



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