The reality television car shows are all the same. Within one hour, they completely redo an entire car from a pile of rusty metal to a beautiful piece of automotive artwork. What they don’t show you is how much work it requires to pull off even a small measure of the total. They make it look really easy – and sometimes it is. But don’t be fooled. For the most part – it’s a lot of work.
We don’t have 12 guys willing to work 24/7 for a week straight, under a completely fabricated deadline, in a giant shop that’s lit like a surgeon’s operating room packed with professional tools. Instead, we have a small shop where we work by ourselves. So, we decided to apply our short attention span to attacking the interior on our primered ’64 El Camino. At first, all we planned to do was repaint the dash. But like most plans – that quickly evolved into an interior rehab, because the new paint just made everything else look shabby.
We probably could have coerced one of our professional painter buddies to apply his custom paint skills to our dash, but we decided to do it the way most driveway artists would attack this and use spray cans. We learned about a company called AutomotiveTouchup (ATU) that offers factory colors in 12-ounce spray cans that looked enticing. We contacted them and soon had a box of spray primer, base coat, and clearcoat ready to apply.
The ’64 and ’65 Chevelles present more of a challenge compared to their later cousins because the dash in these early cars is welded in place. This required us to do all the sanding and painting in the car. This is not a huge issue but it does require a bit more effort.
We previously changed the original dash insert for a new one from Original Parts Group, Inc (OPGI) and added an in-dash replica factory tach from a company called Shiftworks. Unfortunately, all this did was make the rest of the interior look worse. The first step was to remove the dash insert along with the windshield so we could sand and paint the dash properly.
The area underneath the stainless windshield trim on early GM cars is notorious for trapping dirt and debris and our El Camino was no exception. We cleaned the entire circumference and thankfully found no holes, but we still treated the entire channel with POR-15 paint to keep the corrosion in check. After the dash was painted and reassembled, we then had a shop we know install the new windshield.
The visible dash area only took a couple of hours to sand completely clean (we didn’t sand the area covered by the dash pad). After masking and cleaning with Prep-Sol, we shot it with three coats of ATU sandable primer. We allowed it to cure for several hours (which was a great excuse for a 3-hour lunch break) and then sanded the primer with 600-grit wet/dry paper.
With the primer looking smooth, we then cleaned it with the ATU tack rag to remove any fine particles of dirt, but we weren’t too concerned since we were painting this outside and there was likely to be small elements that would intrude no matter what. We learned quickly that applying a slightly heavy, wet coat worked best for our situation since the weather was both hot and dry.
We had previously sprayed some test pieces to evaluate the clear coat, but decided that it was more reflective than desired and the basecoat color gave us exactly the texture on the dash we were looking to achieve. We applied the same technique to the steering column. At first, we painted the mast area black, but too much of it showed past the dash so we applied the turquoise and it came out great.
The last item during reassembly was the steering wheel, which was the right diameter, but the wood color didn’t fit. We tried a stock diameter wheel, but its giant size just didn’t feel right. Eventually, we ordered a pint of ATU base color and clear, and took the wheel to our professional painter friend, Brett Benson, who sanded, painted, cleared, and color-matched the wheel to perfection. We wanted the clear on the wheel, because it would make the paint far more durable.
We finished off the interior with a few resto parts from OPGI including a new carpet set, door panels, along with new window cranks and door handles. Our seat upholsterer went on vacation just as we were wrapping this up, but other than being benched, our interior looks amazingly fresh.
In a matter of a few days the interior went from shabby to show-worthy and we did it all (well almost all) with a little sandpaper and handful of AutomotiveTouchup spray cans.
|Base coat urethane, 12oz spray can||AER-BC||AutomotiveTouchup|
|Base coat urethane, quart||RTS-BC||AutomotiveTouchup|
|Primer, 12 oz spray can||AER-PR||AutomotiveTouchup|
|Primer, pint can||RTS-PR||AutomotiveTouchup|
|Clearcoat, 12 oz spray can||AER-CC||AutomotiveTouchup|
|2-part urethane primer, quart||FP410-||AutomotiveTouchup|
|2-part Urethane Clearcoat kit||FC-720/FH611||AutomotiveTouchup|
|Sandpaper Pak – 180 grit||WD180||AutomotiveTouchup|
|Sandpaper Pak – 400 grit||WD400||AutomotiveTouchup|
|Sandpaper Pak – 1500 grit||WD1500||AutomotiveTouchup|
|Sandpaper Pak – 2000 grit||WD2000||AutomotiveTouchup|
|Green masking tape, ¾” wide||TAPE||AutomotiveTouchup|
|Paint prep surface wipe||SWIPE||AutomotiveTouchup|
|POR-15 pint rust preventative||45008||Summit Racing|
|Shiftworks In-dash repro tachometer||S510-1||Shiftworks.com|
|1964 El Camino door panels, aqua||EK64||OPGI|
|1964 El Camino carpet set, aqua||PF33||OPGI|
|1964 Chevelle door handles||C990075 (2)||OPGI|
|1964 Chevelle window cranks||C990074-PR||OPGI|