Effective May 1, 2017, the base labor rate for all services (except sodablasting) is $110/hr. 100-Hour blocks of prepaid labor will be sold at the discouted rate of $100/hr. Projects that are already underway and those with deposits holding a spot in the backlog queue will be grandfathered in at their originally-quoted rate. See our "Ways to Pay" page (Company Menu) for more information.
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77 Lancia Scorpion


67 Camaro RS Conv.


68 Austin Healey Sprite


68 Cougar


69 Corvette


70 Opel GT


69 Marcos 3000GT


86 TVR 280i


73 TVR 2500M


90 Buick Reatta

Strip, Body & Paint



Unlike MAACO and Earl Scheib, we don’t “package” paint jobs. In fact, we do not offer paint jobs by themselves, but typically only as part of a restoration or – in some cases – in combination with a sodablasting job. Every project is treated separately and the work that goes into the final product is determined by client desires. The topics discussed below are strictly offered as a guideline to assist our restoration clients in determining just what it is you want us to do for you.

SODABLASTING: We think so highly of using sodablasting to strip cars during restoration that we decided to invest in our own sodablasting rig just so that we’d have access to it here whenever we need it. You can read more about the benefits of this process on Sodablasting webpage. The standard rate for sodablasting is $150/hr including all labor, fuel and blasting media. Most cars with an original paint job (one with little previous bodywork and that hasn’t been repainted over another paint job) typically takes 4-6 hours to do the exterior. The amount of time required will vary greatly depending upon the number of layers of paint on the body and any body filler, rust or other material under the paint. Our sampling of work has shown that original paint can be stripped off at a rate of approximately 0.85 square feet per minute. Sodablasting engine bays, wheel wells, interiors, trunks and underbodies can take significantly longer on a per-square-foot basis because of blow-back in enclosed areas, difficulties reaching into tight spots and layers of grease, grime and undercoating. When contracted to blast an entire vehicle, we typically mount the chassis on our rotisserie (mount/dismount charges are at $75/hr) so that we can get at everything much easier. Full-car jobs (inside, outside, underneath, etc.) typically take 10-15 hours to blast completely depending upon size of the vehicle and how much we’ve got to blast through.

CORROSION PROTECTION: Once the body has been stripped, we normally acid-wash and then coat the exterior (and – depending on the project specifications – the interior, engine bay and underbody) with two coats of self-etching primer. This not only ensures a better bond between the metal body and the layers of paint products it also provides corrosion protection that isn’t inherent in the primers used in the bodywork process. This isn’t actually required for a nice paint job, but it is a must if rust is of any concern.

BODYWORK: In our vernacular, bodywork begins with a stripped body/chassis and ends with a body that has been block-sanded using a guide coat to ensure a straight body. Just how straight the final product winds up being is dependent upon the client’s desired level of quality in the overall finish. You never really know how much bodywork is going to be required on a car until you find out what you’ve got under the paint, grease, grime and undercoating. Rusted body panels are automatically replaced or patched with new sheet metal whenever rust has gone through a panel. Exceptions may be warranted in the case of small pin holes if we can properly treat the metal to ensure that the rust is stopped. Unless otherwise requested by the client, rusted areas that have not rusted through are stripped of rust (to the extent possible), treated to stop the rust, then filled as necessary (using either plastic body filler or lead “body solder”) to provide an invisible repair that will last. The level of attention to detail in the bodywork goes hand-in-hand with the quality level of the final paint job desired. Bodywork is charged out at the standard shop rate of $75/hr plus materials.

PAINT JOB: Once bodywork has been completed, the vehicle is sprayed with a sealer coat of primer to ensure a uniform finish when color is applied. Unless otherwise specified, all paint jobs are done in two stages – base coat followed by clear coat. Levels of finish vary depending upon client desires. The quality of materials used can affect the overall cost as well as the quality and durability of the finish.

We rely upon PPG’s line of paint products for most of our restorations. Selecting a grade of paint materials for a project has a noticeable affect on the appearance of a paint job, but it has even more of an affect on the durability of the finish.

  • Base Grade Paint: PPG’s base product line (Omni) is typically used by repair shops that cater to used car dealerships for quick repairs that make a car look good for sale. While this product line can look very good on a car when properly applied and finished, durability and tolerance to UV rays is not the greatest. So, if the vehicle is going to be left outside and exposed to the elements much of its life, this base product line of paint will not hold up well – 1 to 2 years before degradation can be seen. But, if the vehicle is going to live a very sheltered life, it does reasonably well. Materials cost typically ranges from $600 to $900 depending on color and quantity.
  • Mid Grade Paint: PPG’s mid-grade paint line is the Deltron series. When properly applied and finished, it presents nicely and holds up very well when exposed to the elements. Materials cost typically ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 depending on color(s) and quantity required.
  • High Grade Paint: When a show-level paint job is desired, the materials used are determined on a per-project basis. Show car requirements are obviously much higher than “normal” vehicles and client requirements warrant leaving the product line to be used open to discussion. While PPG has high grades of paint, other product lines such as House of Color may be used. Materials costs will vary widely.

Of course, paint jobs require labor in addition to materials. While materials quality level is an important component of any paint job, just how good it looks when you drive it away depends heavily on the amount of effort that goes into the job – including both bodywork and the final paint finishing process. While bodywork and paint go hand-in-hand, it is important to note that we treat the two stages of the job as separate costs since the amount of bodywork required on any car can vary widely. To assist in selecting a finish level, we break down the quality of finish that can be achieved into three basic cost categories:

  • Daily Driver: This is a basic “I don’t want to worry about it” paint job that will be “presentable”. We accomplish this by following the same basic techniques we use in all paint jobs, but the work ends with the application of the paint job followed by a basic buffing. This level of workmanship typically leaves some minor flaws and “orange peel” in the finish. It is what many car buffs refer to as “a 20-footer” – meaning it looks good from 20 feet away, but you start seeing flaws as you get closer. No attempt is made to eliminate every minor flaw in the bodywork, but the overall appearance is that of a “straight” body. Labor costs run roughly $3,500 depending upon the amount of “real estate” we are working with.
  • Club Car: This is the kind of paint job you’ll be able to be proud of whether you’re attending your favorite car club event, cruise night or even a local car show. The level of finish is very nice and on par with many production car paint jobs. We achieve this level of finish by continuing work long after the clear coat has dried. Once cured, the clear coat is “color sanded” to remove flaws and orange peel. Once these irregularities are gone, the finish is polished using at least three stages of polishing compounds to achieve a high gloss. While no paint job (at least in this price range) is “perfect”, it will require relatively close inspection to identify any flaws. Such paint jobs usually qualify as a "10-footer" - or even a “5-footer”. Typical labor costs at this level run $5,000 plus/minus depending on the size and styling of the vehicle (detailed body lines can take a lot of extra effort).
  • Show Car: For the serious car enthusiast, sometimes only the best will do and maybe some special “tricks” are needed to really satisfy their desires. We all know how much a really special paint job can do for even the most common car. While all the processes mentioned above go into our Show Car paint jobs, we also go through extra steps – such as sanding between coats – to ensure the best finish possible. We can also provide extra depth and alternate finishes to the paint job through various means and – when desired – we can call in artists to provide everything from custom pinstriping, painted-on emblems and murals. The devil is in the details and with a show-level paint job, we pull out all the stops. At this level, cost is not the issue for most clients. But, plan on labor costs starting at $8,000 and climbing to whatever it’s going to take to make you go WOW!

Color has a lot to do with the amount of effort required to make the job look anywhere from “presentable” to “gorgeous”. For example: White paint jobs require far less attention to detail in bodywork to look nice than do red or black ones. So, if you’re looking to save on costs, consider a lighter color. But, if you’re looking for a darker color (such as red or black) every small flaw in the bodywork will stand out like a sore thumb – requiring a far greater level of detail in the bodywork.



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bob@midlifeclassics.com