For you true enthusiasts of classic cars, you know that working on them—well, it’s almost as much fun as driving them and showing them.  One of the places where you can spend a lot of time and make a big difference is under the hood.  So we have a weekend project for you.

Our first step was to remove the hood to shed some light on the project, and also to save the backs of our heads from getting too banged up.  Next, we assessed the condition of all the exposed parts and decided which ones needed just a good cleaning and which needed more attention.  Now, you can drive yourself crazy getting every little part shiny as new, so be realistic about how far you really want to go.

Next, we masked off the carburetor and distributor with plastic to guard against water, dust and abrasives.  A blast of compressed air will remove the cobwebs, critter droppings and loose debris from all of the nooks and crannies.  Follow that with a thorough wash, paying particular attention to scrub away greasy spots on the back of the engine and the exposed part of the transmission.  But be mindful of the environment when using degreaser chemicals:  You don’t want this stuff ending up in your drinking water, so we removed the heaviest concentrations with rags before attacking it with the hose.

Then it was time to prep all the areas to be repainted.  And here’s something to keep in mind; the finished job is no better than the quality of the up-front prep work so take your time and address the details before applying that first drop of paint.  On our Caddy, the old paint on the inner fenders was a disaster so it was necessary to strip them to bare metal before trying to repaint them. We also recoated the master cylinder and brake booster, the valve covers, air cleaner, and a few of the shrouds and braces that were easy to unbolt.

We’ll repaint the hood later, but now is a fine time to work on the hinges.  A quick trip to the blasting booth and they’re ready for a new coat of primer and paint.

And here’s a tip for dull plastic and metal parts, especially on the firewall; a coat of satin clear enamel is a quick way to bring new life and shine to those old parts without a lot of tedious masking and painting.

This car is a driver so we didn’t want it 100% restored under the hood.  We wanted it cleaned and detailed.  I think it looks great. 


If you have a question or comment, write to me.
The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.