Done Painting the Stealth (for now)

rear view

It’s easy to forget what a long road it’s been, but if you click through this set of photos, it’s really amazing how far this car has come in the last 13 months. I put the badges back on and hooked up the spray nozzles on the hood tonight. Once I knocked the dust off, I was amazed that this actually looks like a real car from about 5 feet.


The challenge with flat black paint is you can’t really appreciate it in bright light, but once the light starts to fade, it really looks great. Who would have thunk it.

front now

And all it took was about 15 rattle cans of black, half a dozen cans of filler-primer, and two tubes of bondo.

front before

MINI Paid Off & Stealth Bubbles

Hood respray

Like so many things with this car, you never really know what’s wrong until you get out the grinder. After I finished painting the roof, I found a bubble in the paint on the hood. At some point in it’s tortured existence, something very heavy landed on the hood of this BMW. The hood is mostly straight, but it sits about a quarter inch lower than it should at the hinge mounting point. It sat so low, it rubbed against the top of the throttle control link which wore a hole through the hood liner. I took the liner off, but there was no rust from the underside of the hood. I took the grinder to the bubble and found nothing but bondo. Evidently the bondo wasn’t bonding to the metal so well and had created a bubble in the paint. Sort of odd, but fixable with better prep work and more bondo. I tried to blend the patch, but trying to blend flat paint doesn’t work so well and I ended up respraying the whole hood.

But that wasn’t the big news of the day: I finally paid off the MINI today. If you know my history with cars, you’ll appreciate the magnitude of this day. For the first time since March 1988, I don’t have a car note of some kind. Now I just have to resist all of the deep discounts, once-in-a-lifetime-sales-events, zero percent financing, and cash-for-clunkers offers. That convertible we have, which probably wouldn’t sell for $1500, is worth $3500 if traded against a passenger car that gets 22 MPG or better. And Volvo currently has a $2250 discount on new 2009 V50s. The BMW 335d qualifies for a $4500 tax credit. I’m just saying….

Stealth Gets a Deeper Shade of Black

Roof in primer

I finally finished my rattle-can respray in black. Well almost. I have a rust bubble I have to finish on the hood, but otherwise it’s finally done. My goal of a more or less uniform satin black finish is almost realized. The last bit of major painting was the trunk and deck-spoiler.

spoiler primer

That actually turned out pretty well.

spoiler black

I need to rub-out and polish the whole thing, but it’s coming together nicely. I’ll post pictures with the spoiler painted as soon as it stops raining. This one shows the roof done before I finished the spoiler.

roof done

Bottlecap Wheel Refresh


One thing that drives me nuts about the “bottle cap” rims is that they’re impossible to clean. If you leave the brake dust on the wheels it eats into the surface and you cannot really get your fingers in the slots to keep them clean when you wash the car.

Since I had a little time off around the 4th of July, I thought I’d repaint the wheels and apply a more durable clear coat that’s supposed to resist high heat and brake dust. If nothing else, for a brief period they will be clean and dust-free. The photo above shows the worst wheel of the set. I’m not sure how the previous owner got that gash in the wheel, but at least it’s on the thickest part of the rim (knock on wood).

I have another set of the same wheels with snow tires on them. At some part I’ll swap this one out, but for now, it looks much better. From 10 feet away you can’t even see it. And that’s the goal of this car anyway — a decent 10 footer.


And the set.


All in all, pretty good for a couple of days of work and about $20 in paint.


Convertible Paint Finished

Last clear coat done

I talked to the experts at Paint World and upon their recommendation, added a third coat of clear to the hood. That made all the difference to get the repainted hood to match the shine of the fenders. I had some paint and clear coat left over so I also repainted the rear panel around the taillights and license plate. Considering I only got a single coat of primer, single coat of color, and single coat of clear on the rear, it looks pretty good.

Rear done too

We’ve had the car for just over a year now. Here’s what the hood looked like when I started:

Hood before

And here’s the rear panel:

Dull rear