The “purists” will scream–not because of the color choice; you could order a 1960 Dart with a Pewter Iridescent body and a white roof. But because I used . . . Rustoleum and a brush! I know that sounds crazy, but let’s see how it turned out . . .
First, a little background: Back in 2017, I had this 1962 Mercury Monterey which was in amazing original condition, including the paint. The problem was, having a car painted all solid tan (actually “Desert Frost”) wasn’t too inspiring.
So I went to Maaco and had them re-spray the roof “Sultana White” which I think really improved the car’s looks. Incidentally, Maaco did an excellent job–the finish was super-smooth, but it cost about $475.
In September of this year, I bought this 1960 Dodge Dart Phoenix which had a dull battleship look. Not that Pewter Iridescent is a bad color choice; it just has to be used artistically. However, the paint on this Dart, unlike the Mercury, is still somewhat tarnished and flawed even after my best efforts compounding and polishing. It has a “patina’d” look, which may be part of the charm. A fresh, professionally painted top just wouldn’t look right with the original lower body paint. And Maaco probably wants $500-$600 to do the roof job today–and I just didn’t feel like paying that.
So I starting thinking, “What is a car roof? It’s a piece of sheet metal. Can’t I paint a paint a piece of metal with a brush? It’ll leave brush marks. But I can sand them out, right?” Well, let’s see.
Brief summary: I started out with my 3″ natural brush and a quart can of Rustoleum Gloss White. I started painting the car, and it looks horrendous (“What have I done?!!”) But hey, it’s just the first coat. Next day, sanded it down real smooth. Applied second coat. Looking better, but still a lot of brush marks. More sanding. Third coat: I discover that by dipping these little applicator pads in the paint and flowing it on in little swirling motions, it goes on smooth as cream! I now have a thick enough layer of white paint to aggressively sand down with a sanding “brick” and Comet cleanser. Then finer sandpaper, compound, and a heavy layer of solid carnuba wax.
So that’s it. Whole job cost me about $20. It’s not perfect, but perfection was not needed. I may do more work on it to make it smoother yet, but I think it’s good enough for now. From 6+ feet away it looks almost new, but I would only recommend this method for older cars showing “honest wear”. Also, doing just the roof is one thing, but I wouldn’t want to paint a whole car this way.
Here are some before & after views so you can see the full effect. I think the white makes the gray “pop” in a new way that is more attractive than before. It also accentuates the sleek styling of the roof itself:
To paraphrase the great Earl Scheib: “I’ll paint any car (roof), any color, for $29.95–no ups and no extras!”