The Mazda3 family car at the revlimiter compound (named “Blue Car” by my daughter) has a hard life. It has to park outside every day and night, it has to run errands and park in odd places, and it has to deal with a little girl flinging food everywhere.
One of the items in that list finally caught up to poor little Blue Car.
This happened in a parking lot. The white truck had an e-brake failure and it gently slid into Blue Car’s driver door. Fortunately, the truck had insurance.
Fortunately, I know a very good paint shop.
The door damage was not really the worst part of Blue Car’s paint.
Sitting in the New Mexico sun for eight years had faded every flat surface badly. The water-based paint that Mazda used originally just kinda gave up after two years. It was badly clouded and always looked dirty for the next two. And for the remaining four years of that eight, the car has looked increasingly sad.
I’ve wanted to paint Blue Car for about four years, but the opportunity just never came. And then… the door hit!
I took Blue Car to Carmer’s here in Albuquerque. They’re the shop that painted Sharka in 2015. Hell, they’re pretty much family at this point. There was no other place I’d take the car. The work they do is just incredible.
The fact that they let me turn wrenches and play with cars right along side them is also a bonus.
Sanding a car was something I really wanted to learn to do. There really isn’t much to it but… when in life will I ever get this chance? When will I have a car to learn to sand on?
Removing so much of the crappy factory paint from Blue Car was like therapy. It was so damn satisfying. Words can’t really express. And I have a new car skill to add to my collection.
The huge door ding was apparently not too hard to fix. The dent mostly popped out. A few hours of sanding and long boarding the door finished it up. It’s more perfect than the other three doors now. No factory waviness at all.
The very-sun-damaged pieces needed to be stripped to the metal before painting. The hood, spoiler, and roof got the aircraft remover treatment. Watching that bad paint slide off the panels was nearly as satisfying as sanding the car myself.
Jerry is a wizard. That’s all there is to it. He’s a terrific mechanic and a magician with body tools.
In the time it took me to remove the door handles from the car, Jerry completely fixed the few door dings on the passenger side of the car. I looked up and there weren’t any more dents. It was amazing.
No more weak, water based factory paint for Blue Car. No sir. Blue Car gets a thick coat of Sikkens enamel. High solids, precision mixed, and sprayed with love.
And three coats of clear.
This paint should be able to handle another 20 years of sitting in the sun or more. And it shouldn’t show much sun fade at all in that time. I’m excited.
No one was more excited than my daughter. When Blue Car got hit, the first words out of her mouth were “Don’t worry. We can take it to Ken for new paint!!”
(Just in case you couldn’t tell, she loves the paint shop)
While the main body was getting painted, I focused my efforts on some small parts. I masked these off and started smoothing out the surface – wet sanding. Always fun.
And let me just say how much less stressful it is to wet sand a primered part vs my freshly painted Sharka’s clear coat. I just took my time, used the blocks, and kept it wet. I’m proud of the job I did.
And just like that, there was most of a car ready to be put back together.
Ken got the car all painted. I showed up the next day and helped Jerry get the small parts installed. About two hours later, Blue Car was whole again.
This whole process took roughly two weeks. That’s pretty close to light speed for a body shop. Most shops would take roughly two months to do this, if not more.
One more thing – there was NO buffing done on this paint. This is how it came out of the spray booth. I asked Ken to spray it as glossy as possible. The idea of not wet sanding the clear was to have more of it on the body to resist sun damage for as long as possible.
The paint that Ken sprayed has less orange peel on top than the car did from the factory. There’s just a few dry spots way down low where it’s hard to see. 90% of the car is amazingly close to perfect.
Without any wet sanding.
Since I was getting the paint all refreshed, I spent money and effort to fix some of the broken plastic pieces around the car at the same time. This included.
-4 new door exterior handles. They each have a metal latch held on by a plastic retainer. Each was in a various state of being broken.
-4 new lower window moldings / belt strips. The sun had destroyed each.
-1 new inner door handle. The driver’s side was broken by the shop that did the car’s tint.
-3 dead wiper blades (I don’t actually neglect these, it was just time to replace them all).
-1 broken sun visor retainer
One new badge for the tailgate. I chose a black Prototipo. This is a new size for my store, 85mm. I’ll have those up for sale shortly.
For about 10% the cost of a new car, I got a completely refreshed car to drive for another 10-20 years. That, in my humble opinion, is a fantastic bargain.
Thanks again Carmer’s!!! Next time we’ll probably be painting Bucky.