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How to Paint Any Corvair or other Car for Under $60

Updated on October 16, 2009
This VW was painted using this method
This VW was painted using this method


Unless you bought your Corvair with a good paint job, odds are you need to repaint all or some of it. Believe it or not, the materials alone for a paint job professionally run at least $1300, before anything has been applied. Labor costs and prep simply add to this even a Maaco job. So spending $3000 on one is quite easy to do.

The following has been done by several and the outcome just as good as the professional. This process is not applied using a spray gun by paint roller!  It can be done outside or in a garage. The cost is less than $60.00 using three-four quarts of Rustoleum enamel paint available from ACE and any hardware store. It has been said by others that using this paint minimizes prep, you do not need to remove the original paint just any wax. Of course, you can sand off the original paint to metal and primer as usual, but you do not need to do it.  Using this paint, when thinned out 50\50 with mineral spirits, thins out this paint and this allows the paint when applied to “level out” evenly, so critical! The application of the paint is critical, as you want the paint to be applied as thin as possible with a high density round ended foam roller. When done correctly, the paint bubbles will burst quickly, when done incorrectly ( too thickly applied) the bubbles do not pop quickly or not at all.

Besides paint, you need several four inch high density foam rollers with round edges and small touch up foam brushes. Pick a color that is close to shade or the same for easier blending. Paint in warm to hot weather as drying time is 5-6 hrs. Your car will begin to look decent after 4 coats. Wet sand after every couple of coats to keep the ripples, bumps to a minimum. If you didn't sand 2-3 coats, the bumps and dips would build up on themselves with every additional coat, requiring that a lot of the paint be removed on a single final sanding to get everything again. Wet sanding is sanding using wet/dry paper under a little stream of water to carry away the sanded material. When you wet sand, what would normally turn into dust and clog up the paper, instead mixes with the water and washes away. You sand by hand. You don't need to wet sand every coat, every other coat will do, or every third if you are careful with the paint. It takes about an hour or two to wet sand a whole car. Start with 600, then to 800, 1000, 1200, 1500 on the last coat. Then buff it until it shines.

Your car (or chosen area) will be painted after the 7th coat applied. Once completed, let the it sit for a week to harden in a dry area. The key thing about this paint method is to TAKE YOUR TIME.


3-4 qts. Rustoleum Enamel Paint, 4+ High Density round edge rollers, 3-4 Small foam brushes, 600 to 1500 grit sandpaper, 1-2 qts. of Mineral spirits (not acetone, turpentine etc.)

Technique to use:

Mix one quart of paint with one quart of mineral spirit or any other 50\50 combo.

Roll roller in paint and remove enough paint so that it is semi-dry. Do not apply with the roller loaded with paint as if you are painting a wall. Sparse is better. Roll the roller on the area to be painted watching for bubbles, which should pop and disappear rapidly. If the bubbles remain or linger for very long- you are applying paint too thick on the roller. Let paint sit and level out. Let dry. Apply a 2nd coat. Let dry, apply 3rd coat. Let dry. Wet sand with 600 grit  the area lightly to remove inconsistency etc. Let dry. Apply 4th coat. Let dry. Apply 5th coat. Let dry. Wet sand the area again using 800 or 1000 grit.  Apply 6th coat. Let dry. Apply last coat, let dry. Wet sand with 1500 grit.

Depending on how the painting is going, you can wet sand after each coat. Once dry, you can buff the paint to a shine.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 7 years ago

      If the base coat is still there and simply dull, a clear coat ($30-50 a quart) may be all you need. My 66 corvair had this issue. I bought some clear coat and rolled it on. The tricky part is preventing air bubbles. It looks decent and the metal is protected. of course, it is not a pro paint job.

    • vietnamvet68 profile image

      vietnamvet68 7 years ago from New York State

      This sounds like a good way to go when you don't have the money to take it to the paint shop. I just bought an old 1988 Nissan Pickup, so maybe i will try this method.I just got done priming it. So now once i wet sand maybe i will give this a try and let you know how it turns out.

      Thanks for this info.........