We Did a Backyard Paint Job on the Craigslist Project 240sx

$1,000 Drift Missile Gets a Fresh(ish) Coat of Paint on the Cheap.

Last time on “Buying and Building a Shitcar Off Craigslist,” we had blown the 240's engine. A shattered timing guide allowed for the timing chain to play ping pong inside the engine. Naturally, we pulled the drivetrain, shoved the car into the backyard and pretended it didn’t exist whenever anyone asked about it.

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This eventually became bothersome, especially for anyone with vision who would see the ten-tone primer-painted land gnome in the back yard and ask how the weeds had grown so fast around it. After some fierce shoveling and weed-work we had an unearthed, but very ugly S13 shell, sans engine of course.

What to do, what to do? The engine wasn’t going back in, too obvious. It was eventually decided, after not too much planning or preparation, that we would paint the car. At the very least, our lawn ornament ought to look nice.

The engine bay was red and, after some scratching away at it, we determined that was most likely the original color. After wiping clean the disgusting door jambs they also appeared red...ish. Amusingly enough, Rustoleum Sunrise Red is a damn near perfect match for the original Hot Red color, available now at Home Depots across the country. Thanks Google.

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Our supplies list went as follows: one Harbor Freight paint gun to attach to our air compressor; sandpaper of all varieties from coarse to fine; bondo, lots of it; primer; several gallons of Rustoleum Sunrise Red and clear coat along with thinner and other paint prep oddities. Oh, and a lot of tarps. Yes, tarps, you’ll see why in a moment.

After washing and degreasing our shitbox, it was time to assess the body damage. There isn’t enough bondo on planet Earth to fix the cratered body work on this 240sx. Though, we tried. Some attempts were valiant, others were downright awful. At some point the “good enough” call was made and it was time for primer.

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We had made a paint booth consisting of an EZ-Up, drop cloth and tarp. The neighbors were thrilled.

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The primer went down pretty well, except in the areas where our body work was less than stellar. Whoops.

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...Moving on. After more sanding and degreasing it was time to lay color. Our first time using the Harbor Freight spray gun didn’t turn out terribly considering our...textured canvas.

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We painted several of the panels off the car, specifically the bumper and fenders. The clear coat left us wanting in terms of clarity, but the color came out well, and this was before the next step: wet sanding!

Here’s a rather dramatic shot of the quarter panel after being knocked back. Don’t worry, there is a method to the madness.

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After wet sanding the paint back it was extraordinarily smooth to the touch. Time to whip out the secret weapon: polishing.

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A friend let us borrow his machine polisher which was an absolute lifesaver. This still took many hours, but after cutting, polishing, and waxing, the finished product looked pretty good!

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Here’s a 50/50 shot of before and after polishing:

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After working away at the 240's new paint all night and passing out just before sunrise we were all dead tired. However, when we woke up about 12 hours later here is what we had waiting for us:

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Not bad at all for a couple hundred bucks and a long weekend’s worth of work. It’s not perfect (we missed a few spots), and a real repair shop would have done better (naturally), but at a fraction of the cost, this is more than sufficient for drift duty.

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Stay tuned for the next episode when an engine goes back in the car and we do celebratory street donuts...kind of. Fun times ahead for Project Craigslist 240sx.

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