(most of this is copied/pasted from my post in the LegacyGT Forums back in September last year)
This past week, I did the $50 Rustoleum Paint Job. I’m not going to cover everything in detail, since a lot of the guides already do an excellent job.
I went from this
I mostly followed DrSimon’s guide from Instructables. Before this, the only other painting experience I’ve had has been refinishing some homebuilt arcade cabinets.
The total cost was under $100, but certainly over $50. I ended up using 3 quarts of Rustoleum High Gloss White Enamel, and did 4 coats. I used 4 cans of Rustoleum spray primer.
First of all, make sure you have plenty of room. I wouldn’t want to try doing this outside, and I ended up using most of 2 garage stalls during the process.
If you have any rust spots you need to repair, this is the time to do it. If there are any parts you can easily remove (bumpers, grilles, etc), take them off and paint them separately.
Make sure to wash the car good first. Paint won’t stick to any road grease or wax on the body, and it doesn’t come completely off just from sanding.
Other than repairing rust spots, you do not need to sand down to bare metal. I used 220 grit followed by 400 grit to get through the clear coat.
Proper masking will give you the crisp lines you want. I had a couple slipups that will take some time to clean up later. The best advice I can offer is to use smaller strips of masking tape when doing curves. Automotive masking tape (green) will stick better than house tape (blue), and at least around here, was a couple bucks cheaper.
Garbage bags work great for masking off the tires/wheels, and ziplock bags work well for the mirrors.
With everything masked off, you can start priming. I did 2 coats of primer, waiting about 10-15 minutes between coats.
Painting (& More Sanding)
I used a spray gun that came with my air compressor for the painting. You’ll have to experiment a bit with your sprayer to figure out how much you need to thin the paint. It seemed to work best when it took 4-5 seconds for the paint to start dripping from the mixing stick. If the paint is too thin, you’ll have a lot of runs, if it is too thick, it won’t dry fast or level out enough.
The first coat will look horrible. The 2nd coat will look like you did it with a can of spraypaint. I waited 6 hours between each coat. Here it is after 2 coats:
After 2 coats, I wet sanded with 800 grit. It was handy to have a spray bottle full of water when doing the wet sanding.
After the 3rd coat, it looked like this. You can still see some orange peel in the reflection, which I was mostly able to get rid of after some more wet sanding with 1000 grit:
I would do it again, and did learn a few good things from this. Paint did get under the paper in a few spots, and I had to scrape off some of the glass. Wetting the glass with soapy water and using a razorblade worked well for getting the paint off.
I let the paint dry for about 18 hours, and it seemed fine once I took it out of the garage. If it’s muggy or cooler out, you might need to wait longer.