Car Paint Repair for Classic Cars [How To]

G’day mate! I’m Patty and today we’ll be chatting about car paint repair for our beloved classic cars. 

Whether you’re fixing old scratches or giving your beauty a complete makeover, I’ll be sharing my top tips on how to snazz up your car with fresh paint.

Let’s get cracking!

Benefits of DIY Car Paint Repair

We’ve always been told don’t judge a book by its cover but boy do I judge a car by its paint job. A fresh lick of paint can cover up any old scratches and dents with the added benefit of a clean new look.

There are a lot of upgrades I love to make on these classics. But while repairing the upholstery is great for comfort and looks, the real joy is giving the old things a gleaming coat of paint. 

And if you do it right, car paint repair has the added benefit of getting rid of all those annoying scratches. 

But why should you bother doing it yourself, especially if you’ve got a mechanic right around the corner? In my eyes, the biggest benefits of doing it yourself include:

  • Customising
  • Saving money
  • Learning something new


Preserving these classics can be pretty darn awesome but putting your own spin on them can be even better. A bit of paint repair or even a full touchup can turn a dull relic into a fresh car that’s uniquely yours. 

Our favourite classics often look a little battered and faded but that’s nothing a fresh coat of pain can’t solve. Some lucky buggers even buy a car on the cheap and whip it into shape with a touch of paint. 

Going for bold colours, flames or even a racing stripe is a guaranteed way to turn heads. However, restoring your car to its original and authentic look is another awesome way to go.

That’s what’s so sick about customising. You’re the boss. 

classic car repair

Save money

Unless you’re one of the lucky winners of our classic car giveaways, you probably know all too well that these beauties don’t come cheap. 

Much as I love ‘em, they’re also bloody expensive to maintain and I’m always keen to cut costs wherever I can. Doing your own car scratch repair could save you loads in fees for a mechanic who’d just do the same thing.

The good news is you won’t just save money but time too. You can nearly always fix a scratch or dent if you’re willing to put it in a bit of elbow grease on a Saturday arvo or two. However, you’ve got to remember that penny-pinching isn’t always the way to go and even if you go the DIY route, you’ll still end up hiring a paint spray. 

Learn something new

If you’re a gearhead like me, then you probably spend ages holed up in the old garage, working away on some new part of your favourite car. 

Choosing to do DIY car repairs (with a little help from me) is a great way to learn some cool new stuff about the cars you love.

And this is a terrific way to start. Not only is repairing car paint one of my favourite upgrades to make but it’s a damn useful skill to have. Rather than ignoring scratches or spending loads on a mechanic, you can get down and fix ‘em yourself. 

You’ll get to practice your sanding, priming and all that other stuff to truly primp up your classic.

And when the job is done, you’ll be left with a killer car that’s better than ever. 

repairing car

Downsides of DIY Car Paint Repair

I know you’re probably keen to hear how to actually do all this repair stuff but first, I gotta be real with you. 

Much as I love my DIY tricks, there are some definite downsides to doing your own car paint repair. 

In my experience, there are two things you gotta remember when doing this sort of stuff:

  • Won’t be perfect
  • It takes time

If reading these downsides gives you cold feet at the idea of doing this yourself, then that’s alright. However, don’t forget all those great benefits I mentioned above.

Won’t be perfect

You likely aren’t a pro so you’ve gotta go into this whole DIY thing with reasonable expectations. 

Even after years of practice, I know that my work ain’t going to be perfect. And while having the proper equipment (like your paint sprayer) definitely helps, there’s still plenty of ways to screw up. 

You might spray one side too hard or another not enough and end up with a mottled and uneven coat. Trust me, it sucks when that happens.

If this makes you a bit worried for the safety of your precious classic, then I know exactly how you feel. It seems easier to just trust the experts. However, if you take your time and follow my steps, you’ll be alright. 

Requires time

As you probably know all too well, this DIY business can take a while. It may be annoying when a two-day revamp turns into a month-long shambles but sometimes that’s just the way it is.

Even if you’re an experienced car owner and you reckon you’ll breeze through these paint repairs, I’d encourage you to take your time and follow my instructions carefully because this sort of paint repair can be mighty tricky and you don’t want to waste time fixing your previous mistakes.

Now for these sorts of repairs, you’ll need to rent a paint sprayer and those things are bloody expensive. And remember, DIY stuff can take ages so you’ll likely be working with this thing for a while. 

Renting a sprayer over a few weekends can rack up a pretty big bill so you’ll just want to think ahead and set time aside so you can do this thing right.

car repair how to

Car Scratch Repair Using Paint

Scratches may seem like a bugger to deal with. However, it isn’t impossible. Whether you use paint for the repair depends on how deep it is. 

If you’re dealing with a simple surface scratch, you can get away with buffing or applying some sort of scratch removal product. But that’s not what we’re worried about. It’s those great big ugly scratches you have to watch out for. 

Here’s a quick rundown on how to repair a nasty scratch using paint:

  1. Sand the scratch with 2000 grit sandpaper so that it’s all on the same level (remember to sand in the same direction so you don’t mess up your classic with new scratches)
  2. Mask the surrounding area with newspaper or something similar so you don’t spread paint or primer elsewhere. 
  3. Spray your primer and then your car’s matching paint (if in doubt, spray more paint as you can always buff it down later)
  4. Let it dry and then polish well until the area matches the rest of your car.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s also pretty easy to mess up so really take your time with this one.

Car Paint Repair for Wear and Tear

A complete paint makeover is possibly my favourite way to fix wear and tear. It can transform a dull old classic and return it to its former glory. 

This is where the real fun starts as you don’t have to settle for the same old when repairing wear and tear. While I love to recreate the original shining look of my classic, you can also go rogue with some fresh new design. 

Whichever you choose, the steps for car paint repair are the same: 

  1. Degrease any surface that’s going to be painted (same with rust and all that other fun stuff)
  2. Sand your car down to the filler surface (this improves the eventual surface finish)
  3. Cover up everything you don’t want to get sprayed with cardboard and masking tape (or plastic sheets if you’ve got ‘em)
  4. Apply your primer, let it dry and then sand it smooth before applying the second primer
  5. Clean your car with a mix of vinegar and alcohol to remove any dirt and grime (that way the paint can coat the car smoothly)
  6. Begin spray painting (you’ll want to do two coats with around ten minutes of separation)
  7. Apply your 3 layers of clear coat with around a 20-minute break in between each
  8. Wet sand, polish and wax the entire car to finish it off

The end result is a beautiful shining car looking better than ever.

Wasting time and money with mechanics just isn’t on, mate. Car paint repair is a great way to improve your classic and learn an important skill doing it. 

Pumped to try out these new repairs? Save heaps on essential auto parts with our VIP club membership, which provides access to discounts from over 200 Auto retailers and services providers within Australia; as well as getting exclusive access to classic car giveaways.

It makes those DIY repairs that much cheaper and puts you in the running to win some of the most iconic classic cars on the market.

If this all sounds pretty sweet, then be sure to sign up today! Join now and I’ll see you next time. 

What are you waiting for, mate?