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Hagerty Employee

The slippery slope of engine compartment cleanup

Last September, in the good old pre-virus days—when you could drop everything, borrow a truck, rent a U-Haul auto transporter, drive 5 1/2 hours each way to look at a car (so you’re prepared, just in case you want to pull the trigger on it), drag the car back, and spend hours in a garage breathing the same air with someone you’ve never met—I bought a 48,000-mile 1973 BMW 2002 from its original owner...


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Thank you. A timely article since the engine is out of my TR3B and I'm trying to decide how far to go.  Very similar situation with the present value of car Vs. Value with engine bay redone.  Guess I'll paint a couple rusty bolt on components and hand clean whatever I can get at.  Was astounded at price to have it totally redone first class professionally. Around 4500.  My body is in very good daily driver condition, not a big show winner, so not gonna invest that. 


Ha! I'm in the middle of exactly the same thing on my 73 MGB/GT. Pulled the engine to put in a new O/D trans and thought, "Why not do a detail on the engine compartment while everything is out?" Cleaning the **bleep** of 50 years away revealed original paint that had been damaged in places by leaking brake fluid (its British.) I did find a great place that sells exact match aerosol spray paint and upon application in the really bad areas it made the areas with good original paint look bad. So the debate: Do I paint the entire engine compartment? To do that properly requires taking all the pieces off, including the wiring harness. And while you're at it, let's get new harness clips, plated in the proper color. Oh, and the brake/clutch pedal box looks terrible - lets pull that and paint it. While the pedals are out, lets put in new pivot bushings - they're only $.80 each! And........ 


Most auto paint stores have a spectrophotometer to determine paint color and a computer to translate the match into a paint formula.  Stone Auto Body Supply, right down the street from you in Watertown, MA, makes up spray cans of exact match using a spectrophotomer and pretty exact match paints mixed to the car's paint code. I think I paid about $18 for a spray can of "not quite exact match" paint to use on a pickup truck plastic lower apron where the original paint did not quite match the original paint on the rest of the body when it left the factory.  As I recall, the exact match spray can version was about $40.


Most paint store spectrophotomers require a paint target larger than the size of a quarter so many body shops will remove and carry in the gas filler door for sampling to get an exact match.


When I removed the battery tray from a Mercedes-Benz I owned, I removed the rust and coated it with an epoxy paint to protect it from corrosion caused by future battery acid leaks. I think I used black POR 15 that was part of a small six-can sample kit that included several other colors. I'm willing to accept the trade-off of incorrect color match for improved corrosion protection. 

New Driver

Another great read, thanks Rob.

Intermediate Driver

One can call this Project car Hell, or Making The World Better One Car At A Time; I prefer the latter, if only because it might legitimize, say, a complete restoration that started out as just replacing a sun-split rear seatback cover...As for the pints, quarts, and rattle-can paint library on my paint shelves, I could make that available locally and probably finish every touch-up-needy vehicle within miles...

Intermediate Driver

I feel your pain, Rob. This is exactly why all my "just clean up and recondition a bit" motorcycles wind up as  bare frames ready for paint or powdercoat. And then, of course, some assembly is required

Pit Crew

Another consideration, I would like to see a photo of the battery tray with the battery installed. I bet you can't even see it.

Plus, with the typical  car batteries of the 1970s you would expect to see that the original battery tray would either be rusted through, or repaired. Your repair was nicely done so "no points lost" ... Gary 

Pit Crew

“Welcome to the hell that is my world.”  That about sums up every restoration project.

Pit Crew

And the underside of the hood drew my eyes . . . . .