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The Body Beautiful

Q. Hey, I found your guide on the internet today and thought I'd ask for some advice. I have been working on this car off and on for a year now, and would like to get it painted:

1973 Dodge Dart Swinger
318 cubic inch
automatic Trans
60000 miles (roughly) A little less actually
one barrel Carb (I think) it might be two
brakes: drum rear, and disc front
Air conditioning-yes
rack and peanut steering? I don't know if I have that, but I could find out if you tell me how.

Any way, my question is about the paint job. I have been doing body putty to remove hail marks and dings, and I have replaced the rear quarters with brand new aftermarket fenders. The whole car is pretty smooth on the skin, and I am planning on doing all the finishing under the fenders and stuff (all the non-skin stuff), and I have done MOST of the putty work--I just want to know what you suggest for getting it painted, do the paint guys usually do the bondo and check to make sure she's smooth as glass? And can I get that for a thousand bucks--that will last?

Thanks a ton, I need answers I'm getting close to my deadline of when to have this car done.


A. I'm not a body man... well, it depends on the body. Anyway, body work is mostly labor. The more you can do, the more money you can save. Things like removing or masking lights, sanding and priming repaired areas can save you a few bucks.

If you want a quality paint job, you need quality body work. The final paint will show any imperfections in the base work. Everything should be as smooth as possible. You can do all the body work and have the body shop just paint it, or you can let them do all the filler work. A good shop will apply a coat of Nitro-Stan over all the puttied areas just before priming and painting. It is a very fine type of putty that sands smooth and fills in all the little scratches left from the sanding.

I think a grand will get you a good paint job with the shop doing all the final prep work. You can shop around for a good price, I'd say 3 or 4 shops will give you an idea of what you'll end up paying.

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