Elijah's Body and Paint - Introduction

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Elijah's comments are in italics.  Kerry's are in normal text.  

I've owned this 1971 Imperial LeBaron for twelve years. I bought this car in Chattanooga, TN, for the princely sum of $375. Since I was 16 at the time, I was wildly enthusiastic about the prospect of having my own Imperial, but not terribly well-informed about judging the relative mechanical and cosmetic soundness of the car.

At the time I purchased this car, it had 131,000+ miles on it. It now has over 234,000 miles on the clock, and is in the best condition it's been in since I've owned it. Since I got this car when I was 16 and drove it all through high school, college, and graduate school, it is definitely an integral part of my life. I have a LOT of memories invested in this car -- not to mention a good deal of blood, sweat, and tears. 

As many folks may understand, I was not financially able to do all the things with this car that I've always wanted to until recently. Even now, my budget is limited (professional librarians are seldom overpaid!), so I still have to take things in steps. I managed to more or less complete the mechanical restoration of this car about three years ago. At that point, I had to pause to finish grad school, get a job, and settle into "adult" life. 

I am more grateful than could possibly be imagined that Kerry offered this opportunity to restore the appearance of this Imperial. As he stated, our work was truly a labor of love. This car is a part of me, and it's a great feeling to see it sparkle in the sun! 

I met Elijah over the IML and he was instrumental in my finishing my 73 because not only told me about a parts car, he spent a day helping me strip it.  I had three motivations for doing this project.  One -- to help a friend.  Two-- to mentor him through the body and paint process.  Three -- to document the process so others may learn and grow as well.  In retrospect, I probably would not have tackled the job in the time frame we did had we fully understood what we were going to get into.  As Elijah said, we did an amazing amount of work in 6 days.  I'm still recovering!  Seriously, it was great fun and the car did come out pretty well.  Every time I paint a car (this is my 7th), it gets better and something is learned.  This lesson is -- NEVER, EVER, EVER paint a car without washing it down with TING to stop the fisheyes.  While the paint job looks good.  It could have been REALLY good.  

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This page was last updated August 30, 2000.   Send us your feedback, and join the Imperial Mailing List online car club today!