Project Ninety: Part Six
In the quest for the perfect paint job, Ed and Steve dismantle more of the Ninety, to the precise requirements of the body shop
If you want a perfect paint job, prepping a car to body shop requirements is essential
It is always worth talking to people, especially when they’re about to undertake a critical job on a Land Rover, such as a complete respray. Steve Grant and I asked the body shop to tell us exactly how they’d like the vehicle prepared in order to do the best job. They wanted as much off the vehicle as possible because that saves time masking and gives best access for painting all the nooks and crannies. And they wanted all the new panels supplied separately, off the vehicle, so that all panel edges can be properly sprayed.
Apart from helping to achieve a complete and original-style respray, this preparation work is always worth doing before sending a Land Rover for respray, because the work is fairly easy and it saves the significant cost of the bodyshop stripping and masking the vehicle. Either way, repainting a Land Rover properly can be an expensive and time-consuming job, depending on the condition of the existing body panels and the number of panels that need to be renewed. New and old panels will need to be rubbed down and primed and, unless original panels are straight and corrosion-free (unlikely on a vehicle that needs a repaint) new panels are easier to prepare and paint.
We’re putting a lot of new panels into the Ninety, due partly to corrosion and partly due to minor bump damage. Luckily, all panels are available, even for this 1989 model. The two side doors and the tail door are being replaced because the originals are corroded and the typical white-spot corrosion is practically impossible to treat. The side doors have been extensively filled at some time in the past in an attempt to repair serious corrosion, which hasn’t worked. The same applies to the left front lower wing, which is badly dented anyway, and to the sill panels. It’s cheaper to fit new panels than pay for a specialist bodyworker to repair them.
We’re also replacing the right hand lower front wing. It’s basically good but has been replaced some time in the past,
and the fit along the seam to the wing top panel is poor and the respray job isn’t up to scratch.
Although the bulkhead is still in almost mint condition and the rear tub is dead straight with good paint, all of the paint has faded significantly over the years. So, rather than try to blend to the original panels with a colour match, it makes sense in this case to paint the whole vehicle and thus start with a clean machine in the correct colour with no fade or blending.
I’ve agonised about the paint colour. There are a few tasty shades around on later Defender models, such as Heritage Green, and I’ve been tempted with a colour change of some sort while I have the opportunity. But a colour change implies extra work spraying in the engine compartment and inside the door frames so that the whole thing is the same shade. And how will these currently fashionable colours look in ten years time? Besides, this is a classic vehicle, so it should be in its original Shire Blue, which I like in any case – decision made.
The paint shop wanted all new panels left off the vehicle so the flange edges of wings could be properly coated, and the new doors could be easily sprayed inside, outside and around the shut faces. This achieves a more complete and factorylike paint job, so we aimed to supply them a rolling chassis with body tub and bulkhead attached, plus a big pile of bits.