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1978 El Camino

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A Fresh Coat Of Paint


January 6th, 2003

A few weeks ago (mid-December, 2002), I was driving my El Camino around and I noticed the hood looked a little funny from the driver's seat. When I stopped, I looked at the hood and I saw that there was a very large section of paint (about the size of my hand -- including the fingers) that was about to come off right next to a spot that came off earlier in the year, When the first spot came off, I had an estimate of $1400 to have the hood stripped, repainted, and blended into the existing paint (this was basically re-spraying the entire front end of the car). Naturally, I didn't do anything about it at the time so I just sanded the area a bit and sprayed it with anti-rust primer.

When this second section came loose, I decided that I didn't want to spend a bunch of money fixing just the hood but I didn't want the car to rust away either (the concern was more for the rest of the car than the hood -- I knew that new hoods were inexpensive) so I went to the local Maaco for an estimate on December 21st. For a complete repaint (their best), a new hood (the peeling paint was actually peeling body filler and a new hood was much cheaper than fixing mine properly), fixing a few rust spots in the quarter panels, smoothing out some of the waviness in the quarter panels, and resealing the back glass, the estimate was just under $1600 so I decided to go for it. In case your wondering, It will be the same color that it is now (this is actually a stock 1988 GM paint color so getting this color was no problem).

I know that Maaco has a bad rap in general (and I've seen a few bad Maaco paint jobs) but this one has a steady stream of older cars (they had a few in there while I was there) and the shop gave off a good vibe. They also seemed excited about working on it which is usually a good sign.

I actually got to see the car today (January 6th)and I was pretty impressed with their operation. The work area of the shop was pretty dusty (as you would expect when there's lots of sanding going on) but was otherwise well organized. They also had everything they had taken off of the car and all of the new parts with the car so nothing would get lost.

I don't have any pictures at this time (the trip to the body shop was unexpected and I didn't have time to pick up my camera before I went up there) but they are taking their time and doing the car right. What I saw today indicates a high level of craftsmanship.

Also, since a nice paint job abhors ratty old trim, I decided to replace most of mine while I was at it. I've spent about another $600 in trim parts and clips so far which I purchased from EC Parts (http://www.ecparts.net) -- most of this was NOS stuff so I know it'll fit. So far, I've been very happy with them and as a bonus, they're open late enough so I can actually call them from home after work.

January 11th update

Still no pictures but I stopped by today to drop off clips for the rear window trim (all of mine were missing and they have to go on before the rear window is put back in) and I got to see the car fresh out of the paint booth! It has been a really long time since the car was as shinny as it is now (and it still needs buffed!) and the work they did to smooth out the wavy quarters (these are factory waves) really made a difference.

As I noted earlier, they also replaced the hood and that has also made a huge difference. The hood once again follows the contours of the finder tops.

January 25th update

I picked my car up from the Beechmont Maaco (this is in Cincinnati, OH) on Thursday, January 23rd. Overall, I'm very impressed with the paint job that the car has on it now and it looks much, much better than it did before. I do have a few minor complaints (passenger side door handle is mis-assembled and the hood pop up spring, hood insulation, the filler panels on the sides of the rear window were not installed and are still at their shop, and they didn't clean the interior out very well [specifically, they didn't move the box of mostly old trim stuff when it was cleaned out]) but since the car isn't a daily driver, getting it to their shop to have these issues resolved isn't much of an issue for me.

For those who are curious about what this has cost so far (including all taxes and shipping charges), the total is $2,512. Note that this is not a show quality paint job by any stretch of the imagination (mainly because they didn't fix all of the chips) but the car would have needed to be stripped to accomplish that. All I was looking for was something that will look nice until I decide to take it completely apart. Here's how it breaks down:

  • $1,669.45 at Maaco. This includes their best paint job, R&R rear window to fix the leaks around it, replacing the hood, rust repairs, ding repairs, new body side moldings, and new pin stripes. I also had them remove all the little things that are a pain to mask around and smooth out some of the factory installed waves in the quarter panels.
  • $592.05 at EC Parts.This was for a bunch of trim parts and clips. I also purchased my hood insulation from them. Most of this stuff is NOS parts. The only thing I know of for sure that isn't is the hood pad and it is a very nice reproduction. I also need to point out that they ship parts very fast. Everything I've ordered from them has arrived in 4 days.
  • $250.50 at The El Camino Store. This was for rocker molding clips and a set of rechromed side marker bezels and rechromed trim that goes under the headlight bezels (these items are not available new anymore). I've heard mixed reviews of them (particularly with back ordered stuff -- which my chrome parts are) but I'm hoping that some of it is just random screw-ups. On the other hand, they're they only place I've found that can supply these parts so I don't really have a bunch of choice in the matter.

Here's what's left to do on the exterior:

  • Either find a new grille or have mine rechromed and the emblem restored.
  • Rechrome or replace front bumper (it's original and the chrome has spider cracks in it).
  • Align front end sheet metal (pre-existing condition that I forgot to have Maaco fix).
  • Replace bed trim (I've replaced the corners since they were broken). This is about $550 worth of trim and mine looks good enough for now.
  • Have the Rhino Liner fixed (the paint under it has lifted in one spot).
  • Have the rear window and rocker moldings fixed and polished.
  • Do something about the wheel opening moldings. The ones that I have need work but they are so thing I'm not sure if they can be saved. Replacements are available but they are different from the stock ones. I still haven't decided what to do about this yet. For now, I'm leaving the off the car (they were optional anyway).

Last Updated 01/03/04 11:25:17 AM