BUYING AN OLD CAR PART 3/BODY PREP
When restoring an old car, learning the history of the car and the company can be as much fun as the actual physical restoration. Coming from the “Baby Boom” generation, post-WWII cars have always been among my favorites. Most car manufacturers didn’t come out with an all-new model until 1949. With Packard, it was 1951. This superseded the 48-50 bathtubs, giving way to a more modern, lower, leaner look with plenty of glass. The 51s were designed by John Reinhart, Packard’s chief designer, and were instantly well-received by the public, selling over 100,000 that year.
Our car is a Mayfair (named after a fashionable section of London, England) hardtop coupe with the 327 straight 8 and ultramatic automatic transmission. It was to be in competition with Cadillac’s Coupe deVille. The price was comparable at $3,150 to Cadillac’s $3,500. Mechanix Illustrated reporter Tom McCahill test-drove the new car the the Packard Proving Grounds, reaching speeds over 100 mph. His comment was that he had never driven an American car at that s peed that handled better. It held the curves, didn’t overheat, and had excellent brakes. With all of this going for it, Packard offered 15 paint color choices with two-tone available only on the Mayfair ocupe. We chose an original scheme of Matador maroon metallic (Duco #1355-M) top with Packard Ivory (Duco #1218) bottom.
Although our car had only a little over 36,000 miles, the paint was cracked and coming off, and there were rust bubbles along the lower body. After removing all the chrome and stainless and taping the windows with duct tape, the car was sandblasted. The hood was also removed to blast both sides and down in the fenders. We used Biasill (CP-2-48-D) sand. This produces a smooth finish and creates less dust than regular silica sand. Our unit is a TIP 99lb. pressure unit with a 5 hp compressor. The cfm is about 15, and it is less likely to warp the metal with a small compressor of this size. When we finished blasting, the rust bubbled had become rust holes, as we had expected. Using a cutting wheel, we cut the rust outs in squares and rectangles as needed, and used these pieces as patterns for our new metal, making the new pieces slightly larger. With the holes cut out, we sprayed POR-15 rust inhibitor into the rocker panels, door, etc, with an undercoat gun, then put the new pieces into the body panels by recessing, then using an air crimper. With the new panels in place, they were MIG welded completely around and the welds ground down. They were then brush coated with POR-15, let dry until tacky and sprayed along with the rest of the car with PPG’s epoxy primer DR-90. It is necessary before priming over the base metal to use a metal conditioner to etch the metal. We used PPG’s metal conditioner DX 520 SL, then wiped off with Acryliclean PPG DX 330. We blew the sand out of all door jambs, etc., before priming. After the epoxy dried overnight, we primed the car wit PPG’s K-200 primer surfacer and now are ready for the finish body work. See you next month with Dent Filling and Sanding.