My plan was to complete the bulk of the engine and suspension work first, then take care of painting the car. With the engine work falling way behind schedule, the painting schedule was forced to move out as well. When the new engine was finally in however, painting proceeded in the winter of 2002/2003.
It is amazing what estimators at paint shops can tell you about your car. It is also amazing how different their prices can be.
I had originally thought that my car had never been repainted, other than a respray on the trunk. Many of the body components still have the original Maserati stickers on them, an indication that they have never been repainted. After visiting a few body shops, I am now convinced that the driver's side door had been resprayed. After disassembling the car I noted some overspray on the underside of the passenger door handle, leading me to believe that it had also been resprayed. However, with the car apart, there was nothing on the inside of these panels to suggest any serious damage. Maybe just a victim of a keying at some time in the past?
I told the painters that I want to get the car done to exhibit at car shows. So I want a top quality job, not a quick squirt. Windows out, all the removable parts removed, rain gutters off, do inside the doors, the trunk, under the hood and in the engine compartment, take the doors and bumpers off, etc. One guy said he would love to do it, but he wasn't interested since he would never make enough money on it!
I eventually selected a 'hole-in-the-wall' paint shop that was suggested by my mechanic. When I went to meet with him he had a Maserati Mistral in the shop that had been stripped down to bare metal and just blasted with walnut shells.
I also discovered through this process that the pinstriping and the trim to protect the doors is not original, so all of it will come off and stay off.
I'll replace the front windshield, since it is delaminating and pockmarked. I'll replace the side windows as well, since they seem to have some strange vertical scratch marks in them. I also ordered new metal trim for the front and rear windows since there are some pretty serious dents in it that look beyond buffing. I think that I can get the grille cleaned up though. The passenger side mirror will be replaced, since the connection that holds it to the car, but also allows it to pop off it hit, is broken. I managed to salvage three of the four pieces of rain gutter, but will have to replace one as it got bent while removing it. I also bought new trim pieces that cover the 'hinge' of the rear side windows. I may also buy new door sill plates since mine are kind of scratched up. I got a good deal on the rocker panel covers from MIE so I bought a pair, although the original ones were really still OK.
The fog lights are badly pitted, and the cases they fit in are badly corroded. MIE had only one foglight left, and I didn't like their price. I found a pair on eBay for about 1/3 of MIE's price. The catch of course is that the ones on eBay don't come with cases. So, I have only solved part of this problem. I may have to do some restoration work on the fog light cases.
I wanted to order new headlight assemblies, but they come as one unit, you can't buy just portions of them. If I bought the pair, it would represent a significant portion of the whole project! Luckily for me, the glass and plastic are in good shape. The only real problems are that the chrome plating on the turn signal reflectors seems to have come off, and the screws that hold the turn signal covers on are not the fancy original ones with plastic heads coloured orange and clear to match the cover itself. I'll get the turn signal reflector chrome replated on, and see if I can find some better screws for the covers.
I had all the old undercoating stripped off, cleaned up any rust on the underside, and then applied new undercoating by hand. My mechanic had this done by an apprentice at his shop. The guy actually did a pretty good job. Can you imagine a less exciting job than scraping off old undercoating?
In lieu of painting the car before Concorso 2002, I purchased Meguir's Gold cleaning, polishing, and waxing compounds. The idea was to make the best of what I had. I was amazed at how easily this stuff cleaned up small blemishes and minor swirl marks on the paint. Just as importantly, it cleaned up dirt and grease in awkward spots like the narrow channel close to the trunk gasket. I can say that I have never seen my car looking so good in all the time I have owned it. Unfortunately, it still needs paint though! And, all my hard work to do this was for not, as the paint will all be sanded off before the respray!
I removed as many parts from the car as I could in my garage. Then I had it towed to the mechanic's shop to take off the really difficult parts, then off to the paint shop for prep and painting. The reassembly I will do in reverse order, with the paint shop re-attaching anything they took off, the mechanic putting back on the hard parts, then I'll put the rest back on in my garage at my usual leisurely pace.
I labelled all the parts I removed and put all of the smaller items into separate baggies with labels on them indicating where they came from. I also took lots of pictures along the way. Plus I wrote down any comments or observations I had as I went. If I found any parts that needed replacing, I marked them in my parts manual so I could order new ones if the price is not too usurious. This was mainly small parts like screws and washers, as well as most of the visible brightwork. So hopefully all this will make it easier to put it all back together again, when that day finally comes. Ha!
After I had the car all taken apart, I hit a couple of my local big box hardware stores to see if I could get some of the screws and washers that I needed there. I had limited success, as their collection of stainless metric hardware was pretty small. So I ordered all the rest of the stuff from MIE. I sent Mitch there a spreadsheet of what I needed, he sent me back prices and availability, and when I had trimmed my list down a bit, I popped down to MIE and picked it all up.
The next step was to take each of the new items, figure out which baggie it went into, compare it with the original in the baggie to make sure it was the same (a surprising number were not the same), and then discard the original and replace it in the baggie if it was. If there was a problem, I retained the original in the baggie and made a note of the problem. Some items that I had intended to replace I will have to clean up and re-use.
Step 1 - Trunk
I figured that the trunk would be an easy place to start. I took out the gasket, trunk floor mat, and liners first. I noticed that the lining piece on the driver's side has one of the trunk lid pistons threaded through it (really!), making it necessary to take off the piston in order to remove the liner. Underneath the liners on the sides were several pieces of dense sound deadening foam. Surprisingly, these were in pretty good shape and peeled off easily without tearing. I'll have to replace one of them (not available through MIE), but the rest should be OK. The rear liner, the one that covers up the tail lights is actually glued to the body underneath the trunk gasket. It was a bit of a bear to take off, and I wound up tearing it.
Similarly, the liner on the underside of the trunk lid has the tool kit threaded through it. And the tool kit is riveted to the trunk, so to take this liner off, it is necessary to drill out the rivets that secure the tool kit in place. I was not able to figure out how to take the trunk light out, I wound up breaking off two of the three tabs that hold the two pieces of it together. Ironically it is black coloured and my trunk lining is brown, while in the black interior of the car the courtesy lights are brown! I was a bit surprised to see what looked like duct tape attached directly to the underside of the trunk lid. Not sure what purpose it serves. With the liner off I was able to take out the wiring harness that feeds the trunk light and the license plate lights. Unfortunately the badging on the trunk appears to be rusted right into place, so I'll probably have to destroy it to take it off.
Next I took out the power antenna. Somewhere along the way someone had butchered this wiring. Also observed some kind of an inertia 'kill' switch tucked up behind the antenna. I think it is to shut the engine off if the car is rolled. I tried to start the car after I took this out and it wouldn't start, so I put it back in temporarily. Then I took out the fuel filler flap actuator. I had always thought this was a purely mechanical operation, but there is actually an electrically operated actuator. The fuel door latch itself, which is in the fuel filler door I could not take out, so I left that one for the mechanic.
Then I turned my attention to the tail lights, which came out easily. Later when I tried to clean them though, I was surprised to observe that the rear lights are a single unit, they do not disassemble to facilitate cleaning. It was a huge pain to clean the inside of the assembly, and I am not very happy with the results. Once the tail lights were out, I unplugged the side marker lights from the wiring harness, and was able to easily slide the entire wiring harness out.
My battery is mounted in the trunk, but I left that in for now. I'll leave that in right to the end, otherwise I can't start it up and drive it out of the garage.
The whole trunk portion of the project took me probably 6 or 8 hours spread across two days. I was surprised at the lack of rust in the trunk, other than in a few very small spots behind the passenger side wheel well.
Step 2 - Driver's Door
I started by taking off the door liner. Having the shop manual was invaluable for this, as it was not intuitive for me how to take the thing off. Once the liner was off, I could see the clear plastic moisture barrier that was taped on the metal. This piece of plastic peeled of easily, it appears to have been secured with double sided sticky tape. The inside bottom of the door was filled with some crap that I had to scoop out and clean off with paint thinner, it looks like a very heavy oil. Despite / Because of this there was not much rust inside the door. As in the trunk, I noted duct tape on the inside of the doors.
I took out the courtesy light on the bottom of the door. The red warning light on the inside of the door was not as simple to take out. While the bulb came out readily, the red lens itself is clipped into place from inside the door with some kind of a thick plastic retaining clip that is impossible to 'unsnap'. So I will probably have to break it to take it out. However, it is a $15.00 part, so I will make a more serious effort to take it out without destroying it.
I took off the door handle and the keyhole assembly, as well as the door latch and the triangular shaped alignment pieces underneath the red warning light. The mirror came off readily. I was thinking of repainting it, but I have a replacement mirror for the passenger side and it looks to be the right colour, so I think I will order a new mirror for the driver's side as well.
Next, I needed to take out the wiring harness, since it fed through the door and into the car it would be in the way of the new paint, and the body shop plans to take the door off. I started by removing the speaker by the driver's left foot, then removing the small piece of carpet that was held in place by the speaker. (Interestingly, the Alpine speakers have the word 'Maserati' printed on their back) This gave me access to the door's wiring harness at a place where I could pull it. Eventually I was able to pull the wiring harness out of the door. As I was doing so, one of the exposed connectors was making contact with door and causing the door lock to activate. I decided this would be a good time to disconnect the battery.
Last, the window glass I could not remove and I will have the body shop remove it. Since no-one will ever see underneath the door liner and inside the door itself, I decided not bother taking out the window crack and some of the other mechanical bits and bobs in the door.
The passenger door was similar, except of course it took me only about 1/3 of the time to do as the driver door since I learned from (some of) my mistakes.
Step 3 - Door Opening
When the door is open, there is a very shiny metal plate stamped 'Maserati' which is riveted on the bottom of the opening. I drilled its rivets out and it was easily removed. This exposed the top edge of the rocker panel cover, which was also riveted in place. I drilled these out, undid the bolts securing the bottom of the rocker panel cover, and removed each of the screws at the ends of the rocker panel cover. These screws were nasty since there was hardly any clearance between them and the wheels, certainly no room for a screwdriver. In addition to all these fasteners, it turns out that the rocker panels are also held in place with the addition of some extremely nasty and sticky black goo that required quite a bit of effort to unstick and free the rocker panel.
Next I wanted to remove the rain gutters above the door opening, but to do so I would first have to remove the small window for the rear passenger. The front of this window, where it hinges, is covered on the outside by a vertical cover. This cover is riveted in three places and screwed in at the bottom. These were easily drilled, and the one screw removed. This piece was impossible to remove, and I wound up breaking it -a $200 casualty. Once off I discovered that black goo had been extremely liberally applied, and that this piece was also secured from the inside, so I should have taken off the leather interior piece that was behind it first. Once this piece was off, the window came out easily after two screws were removed, and the very heavy duty and gooey gasket was also removed. (Interestingly, when I did the other side, there was no goo at all on it. I am guessing there must have been a leakage problem there at one point.) This exposed all of the rivets on the underside of the rain guard which I then proceeded to drill out. Once they were all out, the rain guard still refused to budge, so, wary of my damaging it, I decided to leave this piece for my mechanic to remove. He heroically managed to remove three of the four pieces that make up the rain gutters.
The smaller pieces like the door switch and the door pins were easily removed, although I did have to take off some interior paneling to get the door pins off.
Step 4 - Engine Compartment
I initially thought that this was going to be the area that required the most work. Once I got started on it though it went very smoothly, so I now think that the doors were the worst. I got the grille, hood liner, and engine compartment light off very quickly. Both headlight assemblies came out readily, just four easily accessible screws secure them. The wipers were next, then the black plastic 'tray' that runs the width of the car and covers up the wiper motor just below the bottom of the windshield, then the gasket around the engine bay. Then I attempted to take off the front bumper, but only succeeded in getting the fog lights off (the only rusted component on the whole car). The bumper and its trim and marker lights will have to come out at the body shop.
I had been toying with the idea of removing the fenders, since they appeared to be only screwed in place, but then after I removed the headlight assembly, I noticed that they were welded to the inner body. So they are not coming off!
Step 5 - Stripping the Interior
I decided to strip out the interior at the same time I was stripping the exterior. I figured that after the car was painted I would put in the new carpets and get rid of all the brown plastic pieces in the interior.
I was happy at how readily the front seats came out. Each seat is secured to the floorpan by four large Allen screws. I removed them, disconnected the electrical connector that was under the seat, and out it came. The back set was even easier, the bench part is just resting on a couple of pins and is easily removed simply by lifting up on it! The backrest comes out as a unit and is secured by two screws on the bottom.
The carpets were a bit more of a problem. The main carpet is a single piece that had a thin vinyl edging on the part of it that was glued over a lip in the door openings. The main door sealing gasket is then glued over this lip. Since I wasn't going to preserve the carpet, I tore the thin edging all up pulling the carpet out, then had to pick the remaining pieces off of the lip. I discovered that the passenger side underlay had been replaced once before. And that the driver's side underlay needed replacement as well. It was somewhat deteriorated from exposure to moisture, probably due to rain water coming in on people's shoes. These underlays were made of felt with a hard plastic layer on the top, maybe 1/8" thick. They are not available through MIE and I have not been able to find any similar material locally or on the internet. I had to replace them with the same alumized material that was used on the passenger's side.
Step 6 - Off to the Shop
I put my toolbox in where the driver's seat normally goes, fired up the car and backed it out of the garage. I never noticed how heavy the clutch was before. It felt like it was going to push me right back off the toolbox! It takes way more effort than the clutch on my Subaru.
A quick call to a local towing company and the car was on its way to the shop.
Step 7 - At the Shop
Those who have been following closely will recall that I first sent the car to my regular mechanic to have him remove some more parts before I sent the car off to the body shop. The reason for this was that my regular guy was much more familiar with Maseratis than the body shop was. He took off the front and rear bumpers, the rain gutters, the side marker lights, all the glass (OK he brought in some glaziers from Speedy Auto Glass to do this part), the logos on the trunk, and the logos on the pillars.
I taped over all the openings on the car before having it towed from my house, as I was afraid it would rain! Luckily, it did not.
Once in the body shop, the first thing was a paint stripper was applied (3 gallons of it) and all of the exterior paint was gone. The car looked very Delorean-esque in shiny metal after this step.
Next a coat of yellow primer was applied. Once dried, the car was block sanded. The various ding and dents in the body were cleaned up at this stage. There were only two of any significance, one on the hood where the previous owner had shut the hood on a screwdriver or something and one on the rear fender where the previous owner had scraped the car.
Then a second coat of primer was applied and the car was then sanded again. A third coat of primer was applied and the car was wet sanded. At this point the doors, hood, and trunk were all removed.
While all this was going on at the body shop I was busy cleaning the various parts that I had removed. A number of them had to be replaced, and others I was able to take to a metal replating shop and have redone. In particular the grille surround I was able to have cleaned and polished at a metal plating shop for about one-eighth the price of a new one. I was initially surprised at how badly pitted this piece was with very tiny marks when I removed it from the car. But then I realized this piece was at the front end of 80,000 kms of driving over 13 years so it was really not unexpected.
Lastly the final coat of colour was applied. I reapplied the original colour. Then a couple coats of clearcoat were applied.
Step 5 - Stripping the Interior
I decided to strip out the interior at the same time I was stripping the exterior. I figured that after the car was painted I would replace a lot of the interior pieces. This step is detailed on my interior page.
Step 6 - Finished