You may be considering having your car painted, or maybe even painting it yourself. If you are going to farm it out to a paint shop, you may be able to save significant money by taking the car apart yourself, having the body and parts painted, then reassembling yourself. Obviously, if you are doing your own paint work, you should be disassembling and reassembling yourself. Here we will look at what you need to disassemble, how to keep things in good order, and how to reassemble.
It is also important to note that color change is different from a respray. If you are going for a color change, then the inside of the doors, the door jambs, hatch area, and engine compartment are all on the table. With a same-color respray, these areas may not be as important.
We have a local paint shop here in DeLand that does excellent work for a good price. We have had several cars and individual parts painted there, always done well. So we have a little experience with this topic. We had to have some crash damaged repaired on our white 87 924S (Sparky) last year, but instead of just getting the right side fixed and repainted, we decided to have the whole car done in its original white. We have had nose pieces repainted to get rid of the stone chips and other light damage, and most recently we have had a complete repaint on a black 1988 924S Special Edition that someone in the past had decided should be red – but needs to be back to the original black finish.
So let’s get started!
For Sparky, the task was to get it freshened up in his original color. The door jams were not repainted, and there were no concerns in the engine compartment, so it was basically an exterior repaint. We will detail that job, then talk more about the color-change-back-to-original and the additional work that was necessary for that job.
Plastic bags, index cards and markers are your friend. As you remove components, label the bag with the index card and put the card and parts in a bag. Put the screws, nuts and bolts together in the same bag.
Here is the list of jobs to strip for a same-color respray.
- Remove the front and rear bumpers. Remove the rubber pieces on both, and remove the front turn signals.
- Remove the hatch and the rear quarter windows. Plan on new seals for them all.
- Remove the front nose piece with the Porsche crest, and remove the crest. Plan on new fasteners for the crest.
- Remove the headlight covers. Be careful not to bend them, and retain the small screws. Remove the plastic surround on the headlights.
- Remove all lights – tail lights, tag lights, side markers.
- Plan on new seals for the tail lights. Get them from Only944.com.
- The nut on the tag lights is 5.5mm. Real pain.
- On Series I and 924S, remove the plastic grille on the lower valance.
- Check the condition of the lower valance. If it is bent up pretty badly, replacements are pricey. You may consider removing it so that the body shop and work it back into a presentable shape – don’t expect miracles, though.
- On Series II cars, remove the front bumper cover to be painted separately with the proper paint.
- Remove tags and tag mounts.
- Remove the sunroof if so equipped. Remove the seals and plan on replacing them with new.
- Remove the outside door handles. Watch some YouTube to figure out how to do this without breaking them. Bag them. Plan on new seals.
- Remove the door mirrors. DO NOT cut the wires – get the tool to remove the wires from the plug after making a diagram of where they go back in the plug.
- Take the door mirrors apart so that you have the two pieces of metal for the paint shop. Bag all the parts.
- Consider removing the fuel door.
- For Series I 944 and 924S, remove the trim around the windshield, and keep the foam strips on each side. On Series II 944’s consider what you can easily remove with damage.
- The drip rails on each side of the roof are held on by spring clips and are easily removed – but be careful not to bend them. Remove and bag the clips – they are expensive.
- The rails have a thin rubber strip in a tiny channel. Remove it for paint. In many of our paint jobs, we do not replace that piece of rubber. It is expensive ($50 each side!) and difficult to replace. We just leave it out, but that is up to you.
- Pop the windshield washer nozzles up in the hood, then tape the nozzle and wires. You do not need to remove them.
For a color change, you need to decide on what “level” of color change you are looking for – specifically, the engine compartment. For a really nice job, you will need to paint the engine compartment to match the rest of the car. (On our red Special Edition, we were taking it back to black, so the engine compartment was not a problem.)
Other than the engine compartment, there are other considerations when changing colors.
- The new color will have to go into the rear area and spare tire well. So:
- Remove the rear carpet and pull the side carpet away from the body.
- Unplug the rear harness from components, and pull it away from the rear of the car to keep it out of the areas to be painted.
- The doors will have to be painted all the way around and past where the door cards cover it.
- Remove the door cards.
- Remove the seals on the body and the door.
- Remove the window channels.
- Remove the plastic thresholds and move the carpet away from the door jamb.
- Remove any other seals or trim that covers the edge of where the new color will be.
- The sunroof will need to be painted “all around,” so remove the catches and interior liner from it so that you have just the fiberglass.
- Remove the trim and scrapers around the door windows. Be careful not to damage or bend them.
- Remove the plastic door vents in the back of the door and the body. (Check with the body shop and see if they are going to remove the doors for painting. If so, remove the door stop (limiters) in each door.
- Remove the dome light switches in the doors, and tape the wires to prevent a short.
- Remove the hood latch.
- If the paint shop is going to paint the bottom of the hood, remove it and remove the windshield washer hoses, nozzles, etc. Remove the engine compartment trouble light. Remember to take photos here so that you can replace everything in the right way.
While the car is at the paint shop, go through the parts that you removed and check them for function and beauty. Anything that is worn out, ugly or non-functional should be replaced. Clean the parts that you are going to replace, make them like new. Reassembly with new or clean parts is the only way to go.
When the car comes back from paint, there are a couple of tips that will help.
- When you get the car back, follow the shop’s instructions as far as “curing time.” Generally speaking, car paint dries in three steps – 1) it flashes off as soon as it hits the surface, then 2) it “dries” over the next 24 hours, and 3) the final chemical reactions occur over time, depending on the paint. When you get it back, it is still chemically curing, so it is technically “soft” and easy to damage. Ask then follow the instructions, and don’t get in a big rush to throw it back together.
- Check the car from top to bottom for overspray before reassembly. Most places where overspray will occur are on the bottom and in the rear. A can of good black spray paint will help.
- Use masking tape lightly applied if there is a chance of a newly painted part hitting or being hit by another hard thing, like a tail light going onto the body. Use the tape to help protect the new paint, and remove the tape gently as soon as you can.
- Before you put in the quarter windows, put the new seal on the hatch opening, then put the hatch in place. Cover the rear and sides with towels to protect the new paint. It is much easier to reach the hatch hinge bolts and make adjustments as you go with the quarter windows out.
- New sunroof seals on the sunroof itself are normally pretty tight. Do the sunroof last, letting the paint cure for as long as possible.
- Tape the areas around the outside door handles to protect the paint while wrestling the door handles back in place.
First and foremost, take your time to do it right. Throwing screws and bolts in a box is a no-no. Parts on a table or bin without bags and labels will make you hate yourself. Plan ahead and order the seals and other parts that you want to replace in advance of getting the car back from paint.
We are sure that there are things here that we have missed, but what we have here is a basic overview of what to do. So dive in, and if you have anything to add, please do so in the comments.