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Cost of Body/Paint Restoration?


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Before anyone says anything, I tagged the search function and only found ways to do a restoration at home in a garage - no $$$ figures.

 

I've been going to the different shops locally to get a feel for who does what in my area - new cars, old cars, both, etc. One shop I singled out in particular quoted me for $8000-12000, keeps a log book, requires a weekly check-up and only deals in cash. Other shops had other similar rules, but were either "we do all the work, you pay us top dollar" or "we'll undercut and save you some money ($5000 total, seems too cheap). All the shops that are ran by old boys tell me that they will do all the prep work themselves and will strip the car no matter what, something I'm not upset about.

 

Does $8000-12000 sound reasonable? This is with me removing bumpers, trim and glass from the car and giving them the shell on the chassis - no frame off. The closer I get to the city, the steeper the price and this shop is actually within 5 minutes of my house, so it fits in with my already busy school full time/work full time schedule. The car has one rocker hole, one rear quarter hole, one hole behind the trunk emblem,  trunk lid rot at the bottom, and a lot of surface rust. I know everyone's experience is different, but I'm looking for guidance since I really don't know any better. This shop in question came highly recommended from one of my older peers that has been valuable to my restoration - his cars look fantastic.

Edited by Beemon (see edit history)
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Are you talking about just metal work or metal work and prep and paint?  What vehicle, your Buick Century???  I know several people that went into a body shop with a little bit of rust, one or two holes and wanted body work, prep and paint.  They were quoted $8,000.  As soon as the old paint was off the price started going up, work was always discussed with the owner, options given and choices made.  Fantastic job done. Final price over $24,000.

 

 

Edited by Tinindian (see edit history)
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So by restoration you mean complete repaint?  Would that include all of the nether regions such as jambs, firewall, etc.?  If so, then $8-12k seems about right for a really nice paint job including the stripping and rust repair you mentioned, with the price varying by geographical location.

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4 minutes ago, Tinindian said:

Are you talking about just metal work or metal work and prep and paint?  What vehicle???  I know several people that went into a body shop with a little bit of rust, one or two holes and wanted body work, prep and paint.  They were quoted $8,000.  As soon as the old paint was off the price started going up, work was always discussed with the owner, options given and choices made.  Fantastic job done. Final price over $24,000.

 

If the car has never been repainted the chance of surprises goes way down.  But if it's been under the paint gun before, there's no telling what you'll find.

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$12,000 for a full restoration? That's insanely cheap for a full job. There's no way a restoration can be completed for anywhere near that figure.

 

Or are you talking just a paint job? $12,000 will get you a decent paint job, depending on the car and the level of disassembly required. You can surely expect surprises underneath, guaranteed. Few old cars are faultless under the surface. Those holes you mention are probably a bit worse than expected. It's easy to understand how costs get out of control pretty quickly if there are unseen issues that need to be addressed.

 

Don't expect to hold the shop to that price no matter what--if they're experienced, they'll tell you that there's no telling what they'll find and costs can and will change as they get in there. Be prepared to spend more if that's what it takes to get it done right. It's not reasonable to expect them to have X-ray vision when quoting the job and unforseen issues are your responsibility, not theirs.

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The car has never been repainted, the body is survivor status. In some places, the paint has been stripped and shot with rattle can by my Uncle in the 80s. Most of the shops said they would blast all of it off anyways. I did passenger fender and roof with rattle can primer this last spring.

 

Updated title to reflect just body/paint work.

 

Thanks everyone for replies, they did indeed tell me that it's a start to finish process with unforeseen circumstances surely to rise up. The quote I outlined above was based on their experience with mid 50s cars in similar shape to mine.

Edited by Beemon (see edit history)
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Yes be careful.

Friend of mine has a 1966 Continental factory stretched limo we drove home some 150 miles. He took it to a guy (restoring cars) saying it would be 8,500 dollars to strip and paint it the original black it came out of the factory with.

A clue should have been the 41 Continental in the shop that was barely in primer and all apart for about two years. Stated he was waiting for some money....

Sure enough once the limo was stripped and finding some rust around the stretched window panels, the press was on for more money.

One day me and some other friends get a call and we are to bring pickups and trailers to go en masse and get the now fully stripped out but base coat painted car out of there!

So far he has about 30,000 in it and the rebuilt motor and complete interior or glass are not in it.

 

Lesson, cash or no cash, get something in writing of the complete process and your expectations (know sometimes hard to meet). See his finished work and talk to the owners at length before going ahead with anything.

Good luck with everything.

 

IMG_0723_Easy-Resize.com.jpg

Currently sitting against the wall.....

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Cost depends on part of the country although materials are the same everywhere.  For a high end paint job assume 4k plus just for materials (primer,paint,paper, etc).

 

Where I am, a big car like a Buick would be 20k or more for paint assuming nothing nasty underneath.

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2 hours ago, buick man said:

… or you could try Earl Shrives .. er is he still doing them for $ 99.99 ?  … :')

 

Not that I'm aware of, but there is Maaco. 1/2 price paint jobs in February. 

 

Not "show car" quality for sure, but they are decent driver quality paint jobs. 

 

We spent more money on sandpaper, fasteners, & window seals than on the paint job itself. Not perfect, but good enough to win a few awards...

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5 hours ago, alsancle said:

Where I am, a big car like a Buick would be 20k or more for paint assuming nothing nasty underneath.

With numbers like that, it makes no sense to restore 95% of the old cars out there.

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6 hours ago, KongaMan said:

With numbers like that, it makes no sense to restore 95% of the old cars out there.

 

I wasn't talking about restoration, I was talking about paint.  Restoration numbers are 5 to 10x that.  You are correct that 95% of cars are not worth restoring.

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1 hour ago, alsancle said:

 

I wasn't talking about restoration, I was talking about paint.  Restoration numbers are 5 to 10x that.  You are correct that 95% of cars are not worth restoring.

 

Hey now :)  I make a small change and say would say 95% of cars are not worth paying someone else to restore. :P

 

As far as the OP, there just isn't enough info given to give a good answer.  Generally speaking, $8-$12k to prepare and paint a car is not bad at all , assuming the prep work is fairly minimal. 

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$8000-$12000 appears to be the good figure.  However, as someone mentioned in this thread, when the paint comes off and metal work is found to be needing work the cost will increase.  Usually at will.  Shops that are cash only seem very sketchy to me.  I'm a contract guy.   Estimate is agreed on.  Metal work if required, hourly rate?  

 

Earl Sheib has not painted a car for $99.99 since the 80's.   As far as Macco...I have seen the paint job peeling in under a year.

 

Find a shop with good reviews.  Normally shops will have a book of past projects with pictures, etc.     

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$8-12K is about right:  Restoration Services in Seguin, TX or Midtown in Austin....double that at Jeff Lilly in San Antonio.

Many of us have painted our cars.  No reason you can't do it unless you need instant gratification.

Lots of discussion on cost estimates, but most shops will not meet the time estimate!

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Beemon,

The shop who quoted you $8-12k and says they are going to keep a log book and keep you updated sounds like a pretty reasonable shop to deal with. 

There is a relatively good chance you will be disappointed in any shop you choose, depending on your expectations. I can almost guarantee you will be disappointed in a shop that gives you a firm quote as opposed to an estimate. At some point that "quote" shop will run into something that will take more time to do and will not do it because they will lose money. I never gave quotes to anybody on any work I did. I would give a reasonable estimate and I did my best to come in under it every time and I lost money many times because I wanted to be "fair" to a customer.

I am also a semi-bitter ex-restoration shop owner because I gave too many deals to too many people.  (Insert Tongue in cheek emoji here).

Anybody who is willing to "make you a killer deal" will also disappoint you. Your project WILL wait at this shop. 

 

My story follows...

My 55 Special was painted at a shop that was 60 miles round trip from my house. I was "quoted" $5k. I took it there with the chrome and seats out, engine rebuilt and firewall painted by me (with a small touch up gun in a garage). I drove there every weekend dropping off or picking up parts and small pieces. I helped installing glass. I picked the car up and drove it home after it was completed and I installed all of the trim, weatherstrip and interior. All said and done, the final bill was over $8k... but they stripped the car to bare metal, patched several rusted spots, painted the door jambs and dashboard. I was distressed that they went over the quote (more of an estimate, dontcha think?) by nearly half, but the car looked outstanding in the end. It was the best paint I  saw on many cars I "competed" against. I don't think I could have done a better job at that point in my life. 

The key to my story is that I established a positive working relationship with that shop and assisted without being a nuisance. We are still on speaking terms which is a different experience  than I have heard from more than one other hobbyist.

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Edited by buick5563
Long story. Can't spell hobbiest. Hobbyest?? (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, old-tank said:

$8-12K is about right:  Restoration Services in Seguin, TX or Midtown in Austin....double that at Jeff Lilly in San Antonio.

Many of us have painted our cars.  No reason you can't do it unless you need instant gratification.

Lots of discussion on cost estimates, but most shops will not meet the time estimate!

 

I don't have the time, storage or shop. A lot of my repairs and work in the last year have been on my back in the pouring rain. Naturally I took a break for the winter lol. But not having a place to store the car means rot is setting in, too, and I would rather have it in a climate controlled shop being painted than outside unpainted. Plus you should see my outstanding paint skills. 

 

This is one thing I wish I could do myself but I don't think I'll regret this as much as the engine. 

 

Now that we've established what they're asking is a fair estimate, does anyone know of a way to make 10 grand in 6 months? I'm open to ideas here. 

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You are looking at $3000-$4000 just for materials if you go base/clear and use state of the art products that will last. You won't get anywhere near a show quality job for $8000 unless the painter is a relative or works in the garage behind his house, or does it "on the side" in which case you will be lucky if it ever gets done.

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Being a body man I hate when a customer brings a vehicle in that the bumpers, trim, glass...... have already been removed. The reason for this is fitment issues that could be easily fixed if the vehicle had been seen together before stripping. You will have a better finished product if you let the shop disassemble and reassemble. Shops shouldn't give you a quote without seeing the vehicle.  One person's good condition vs another's are usually way off. I would stop by weekly to see the progress and to take photos for your own records during the restoration process

 

 

Edited by Jack E (see edit history)
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I guess I'll be off the body and paint track, but Jack E., you're correct.  I do a little upholstery as a hobby, and I wish I could take the upholstery OUT of every car I work on.  Usually, I get it in boxes if I get it at all, then a lot of time to reconstruct what's supposed to be where and how....and of course no pictures nor documentation on what screws and fasteners and trim pieces go here or there....

 

If you have a car scheduled to restore, find your paint and body guy, find your trimmer (the old term for upholstery guy!!), and get them involved FROM THE START....I guarantee you'll have a better end result.

 

Someone thinks that the 5 hours they spent taking all the upholstery apart and out of the car saves them money, but no, the trimmer will spend (and charge your for)  multiples of that time figuring out what goes where, but had the trimmer taken it apart, documenting and taking pictures, it would go so much easier.

 

Work with your guys providing a service, don't just dump it on them...

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If you are figuring $18,000 on the high end and 10 to 20% for contingency, you have $20,000 to work with. It might be best to shop for a car. One with the paint and interior done. There is quite a bit out there and nice stuff, too. Sell your existing car and add a little more to the pot.

No matter how good a shop is or their reputation there is nothing like buying the finished job. It is really good to see what you get up front.

 

Sentimentality can be a tough trap to extract yourself from, but if you get something really nice it is not that hard to learn to live with the loss of the one that needed all the work.

 

Bernie

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Don't agree with that!!!!!

The amount of cars that are restored and sold only to have massive problems passed on to the new owner.

I have seen quite a few cars that have been imported here to Australia that look awesome until it goes up in the air

and you see them better inside and out. A lot end up being re done.

Whatever quote you get, make sure you can double it, as everyone has said, hidden or in expected things will crop up.

As well as in planned expenses, like, "this bit broke and we need another one" and the big killer, look at that nice paint and you want to put that horrible pitted thing back on

(did that to myself) I must have spent over 5K on chrome on my dodge and it still wasn't all of it.

I do agree with giving the shop the whole car. You cant gap a car without the glass ect in the doors, you need the bumpers and trim for trial fits ect and the big one, you give then 1/2 a car

then they have deniability for lost components. Drive it in, Drive it out

 

 

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I'm definitely not selling my car. This car means more to me than anything I own, which isn't a lot, but besides the point. My grandfather bought this car for my now deceased grandmother and it's the only thing he had to hold on to that reminds him of her. I would rather spend $20,000 on this car than buy another. 

 

Thanks everyone for the information. The price tag is off setting,  and probably won't be anything to accomplish short term. I still have 2.5 years at the college, so for now I'm going to try my hand at body work and drop a Maaco paint job on it. Every shop I talked to will sand blast it no matter what I do, so after I'm graduated and making the big bucks, I'll do it up right. 

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13 hours ago, alsancle said:

 

I wasn't talking about restoration, I was talking about paint.  Restoration numbers are 5 to 10x that.  You are correct that 95% of cars are not worth restoring.

Agreed -- but that was my point: paint is only part of the equation. If you're spending $20K on paint, and if the rest of the project is 5 to 10x that, you're talking well into 6 figures.  Ain't many cars worth anything close to that from a financial perspective.  You better be working on a Duesenberg or something, because there aren't many Buicks which can justify that kind of investment.

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12 hours ago, Beemon said:

I'm definitely not selling my car. This car means more to me than anything I own, which isn't a lot, but besides the point. My grandfather bought this car for my now deceased grandmother and it's the only thing he had to hold on to that reminds him of her. I would rather spend $20,000 on this car than buy another.

 

13 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

Sentimentality can be a tough trap to extract yourself from, but if you get something really nice it is not that hard to learn to live with the loss of the one that needed all the work.

 

*Sigh*  ...and that is the dilemma.  I have the same situation with my '56 Bel Air that was purchased new by my grandparents and personally owned since my 15th birthday.  I have continually lowered my expectations for the final product to the point that i now simply hope to get it back to a state similar to what it would have been when it was 5 ~ 10 years old.  It's currently waiting patiently in my garage as my primary post-retirement project.

Edited by EmTee
typo (see edit history)
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13 hours ago, Beemon said:

so after I'm graduated and making the big bucks, I'll do it up right. 

 

If you are truly emotionally bonded to the car you may find that doing what you can both financially and with your own hands far more rewarding than simply dropping it off at some shop and writing checks. Paying someone else to restore a car is a bit like paying for sex..................Bob

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This is just my opinion, but many hobbyists get bogged down by "doing it up right."  My beater Dart is the car I have the most fun with, and even though it looks the worst of my whole fleet by far, that doesn't stop people from inundating me to ask questions and drool over it any time it's parked.  Why not enjoy the car until that day when you can restore it (if that's your desire)?  Could you temporarily paint it a flat color or use epoxy primer just to get it on the road and enjoy it for awhile?  

 

 

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3 hours ago, Aaron65 said:

This is just my opinion, but many hobbyists get bogged down by "doing it up right."  My beater Dart is the car I have the most fun with, and even though it looks the worst of my whole fleet by far, that doesn't stop people from inundating me to ask questions and drool over it any time it's parked.  Why not enjoy the car until that day when you can restore it (if that's your desire)?  Could you temporarily paint it a flat color or use epoxy primer just to get it on the road and enjoy it for awhile?  

 

 

 

 

There's no shortage of enjoying it here. Since I lost storage and it sits out in the rain, I drive it almost daily now.

 

6 hours ago, Bhigdog said:

 

If you are truly emotionally bonded to the car you may find that doing what you can both financially and with your own hands far more rewarding than simply dropping it off at some shop and writing checks. Paying someone else to restore a car is a bit like paying for sex..................Bob

 

I try to do everything on my own. Painting my car in a shared driveway at my mom's place is a no-go for two reasons:

  1. too many cars
  2. mother won't allow it

Only two more years of schooling before I'm out. I can take it, but the car can't - hence my questioning.

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9 hours ago, Bhigdog said:

 

If you are truly emotionally bonded to the car you may find that doing what you can both financially and with your own hands far more rewarding than simply dropping it off at some shop and writing checks. Paying someone else to restore a car is a bit like paying for sex..................Bob

Or like paying someone else to have sex for you. ;)

 

It's the emotional component that's hard to quantify.  For those of us who mostly do our own wrenching (who don't have an "engine guy", an "exhaust guy", a "suspension guy", etc.), much of the payoff comes from the accomplishment of doing it yourself.  Much of the benefit is that you're much more in tune with the car; you know the condition, you know how it works, and you know when something's not right.  And if you've got a car which has some specific history (e.g. your first car or one that was handed down through a generation or two), there's no way to put a dollar figure on that.  So you try to be sensible, knowing full well that you maybe aren't -- but you don't care, because that's not the point.

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On Wednesday, December 14, 2016 at 5:58 PM, Beemon said:

I'm definitely not selling my car. This car means more to me than anything I own, which isn't a lot, but besides the point. My grandfather bought this car for my now deceased grandmother and it's the only thing he had to hold on to that reminds him of her. I would rather spend $20,000 on this car than buy another. 

 

Thanks everyone for the information. The price tag is off setting,  and probably won't be anything to accomplish short term. I still have 2.5 years at the college, so for now I'm going to try my hand at body work and drop a Maaco paint job on it. Every shop I talked to will sand blast it no matter what I do, so after I'm graduated and making the big bucks, I'll do it up right. 

I am glad those bumper pieces are going on this car.  Good luck to you! 

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Beemon … have done this many times, so take a look at these cost allowances :

 

Airplane Stripper 2 gallons : $ 105

Plastic and Metal Scrappers : $ 35

Paper Towels @ $ 3.00/roll :   $ 60

3M Paper Masks vented for dust : Box of 10 - $ 18

3M Full Face Respirator : $ 125

3M N95 Carbon Filters: $ 10/pack of 2

Latex Gloves light duty, Box of 100 : $ 7

Poly Latex Gloves 9mil heavy duty, Box of 100 $ 12

 

2-stage air compressor used bought off of Craigslist with real 5 hp motor & 55 gallon tank (min) :  $ 450

Associated hoses: 1/2 diameter 50 ft & 25 ft:  $ 70

Associated attachments: $ 50

Associated air power grinders, cutters, D.A. buffers/sanders etc bought used off of craigslist, ebay, sears or harbor freight:  $ 250 or less for everything you'll need

 

Sand Paper 3M @ $ 1.25 avg per sheet cost / various grits :  $ 110

Sanding Blocks various sizes :  $ 75

Masking Tape @ $ 4.75/roll avg cost / various widths/types : $ 60

Masking Paper Rolls as needed :  $ 40 for 10 rolls 24 inch wide

 

Spray Gun either good used HVLP or good used Conventional w/ 1.8 mm tip/cap combo : Again used $ 100 or less 

Epoxy Universal Urethane Reducer: 1-Gallon $ 45

Epoxy Primer w/ catalyst :  1-Gallon $ 130 - example: S.P.I. Epoxy Primer

Polyester Primer w/catalyst :  1-Gallon $ 75

High Build Urethane based primer: 1- Gallon $ 85

Body filler:  Rage or Fiberglass based : $ 55/Gallon

3M Body Polyester Finish Filler Paste: $ 35/qrt

 

Spray Gun for Top Coat: Again good used item: : $ 100 or less

Dupont Nasson or Restoration Shop Single Stage Urethane: 1-Gallon $ 130 plus Activator: $ 40

Urethane Reducer: Again $ 45

 

Electric D.A. Buffer: Good used: $ 50

Polisher heads, paste, rubbing compound, wax etc:  $ 125

 

Miscellaneous Items account:  $ 250

 

Costs Approximately: $ 2.500.00 

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The only question I'd have is buying a used gun.  That can be a real crap shoot, as you often don't know how (or if) the PO maintained it.  If the tip's boogered or if he cleaned the internal passages with an electric drill or if it's full of dried paint, setting it up so you can dial it in for a nice pattern can be quite a challenge.  I might also suggest a gauge mounted at the gun so you know exactly what the pressure is where it counts.  And an inline filter/water trap at the tank.  And don't skimp on the compressor.  You don't want to have to work around the limitations of your compressor; "spray a minute, wait a minute" is no way to do this.

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Sad but reading many responses would/should make one run away from the hobby.   :wacko:Unfortunately much is true but we carry-on like troopers. 

I'd keep the car in rattle can primer until you get out of school and get well established in the working world. You may regret the Macco job if you plan to redo it right eventually. trust me on that. Use the little money you have to keep it in good running condition. 

 

in the future I will NEVER do another car that I have to take to a body shop. If it needs paint I'll build a temp booth and do it with single stage paint myself like I did in my teens and 20s. 

Bad body shop experiences are too common and most good experiences go deep into bank account. 

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On 12/14/2016 at 5:58 PM, Beemon said:

 I would rather spend $20,000 on this car than buy another. 

 

 

That's exactly why people spend more money restoring these cars than they are "worth."  My grandpa's bittersweet model 41 was turned into paperclips a long time ago, but he liked the car so much, he bought a white one used for my uncles to drive.

 

Our Maaco paint job was a stop-gap.  We put a coat of black lacquer on the car back in '95, and it looked nice for about 3 years before the Kansas sun had it looking just like it did.  The car would get cover in the summer, but no home in the winter.  We didn't want to put another coat of paint on it only to have it be destroyed, but the car was deteriorating because of the failed paint.  We knew the Maaco job wouldn't be perfect, but we didn't give them perfect to begin with.  It was more of a preservation effort than restoration effort, and a Maaco job is more than adequate for that.

 

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1 hour ago, Tinindian said:

Have I been mislead.  I always believed that "primer" was not weatherproof.  It's sole purpose is to bind the paint to the metal.  It's not any protection from surface rust over an extended period of time.   ?????

Of course its not weatherproof.......compared to a top coat but its better than nothing and its CHEAP. Back when I had little money from paycheck to paycheck, (remember not having $1 in my wallet for a Big Mac) I rattle can primed a daily driver 67 Riv that had thin paint and surface rust coming through. I drove it like that for a couple years in nasty western PA salty road winters and SURE it had to be touched up occasionally but at least it was one color and it prevented surface rust. :unsure: When someone has little money, you must make do with what you can afford and that was the cheapest solution for me offering some degree of temporary protection.

 

My suggestion is simply that, a suggestion and in no way indicates its the only option. Merely food for thought and Beemon can decide whats best for him.

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