Body Work Repair Information For Your Imperial

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Question from John:

Someone backed into my '65 last night making a pretty large dent in my fender. Luckily the driver is being up-front about it and we'll take it to his insurance company Monday. I'm going to take the car to my body shop to get an estimate, but I'd appreciate some extra opinions!


From John:

If the damage is confined to just that spot, I would have it repaired rather then replace. It looks like an easy repair for a good body man.

From Teresa:

My brother has been a body man for years, and this would be a very easy repair for him. I would take the car to the three VERY best shops in town, and get estimates from them....then take it to the one you like best. That damage should not require a new fender.

Question from Chris:

My '66 Imperial Crown Coupe has some minor dents sprinkled throughout--a dimple here and there, a minor crease on the rear quarter. Does anyone have any experience with the following: suction cup dent pullers, Dent Drs (a franchise) and great body men that don't even stock bondo. My car was repainted sometime in the past 5 years and its always been garaged, but either it picked up these imperfections after the fact or the PPO didn't want to spend more money on restorative body work.


From Kenyon:

Suction dent-pullers are right up there with hair restoration tonic and 300 mpg carbs in my book.

There are some local guys that have a mobile operation that specialize in door-dings and they appear to be a franchise of some sort. They have metal rod-wands that they use to massage out the dents. Don't know more than that.

I'd suggest using Google and looking up "paintless dent repair" for general info and then moving to the phone book for local vendors if that's the way that makes sense to go.

From Charles:

I got one of these pullers, it's something 8 inches round. I have never been able to pop a dent out with it, I always can pull the unit right off the body. It was and has been a huge waste of money.

From Teresa:

One of my brothers has a business doing dent massage. It works very well with newer thin metal cars. If you are going to have one of them try this on an old Imp, I would ask for photos of their work on older vehicles, before and after. I haven't seen any of my brothers work on older vehicles, as these guys tend to work more for dealerships that are sprucing up used cars for a quick resale.

On the other hand, my other brother is a body man. If your paint job isn't that old, and you need only minor repair...a good body man may be able to knock out a single panel for you and repaint it (if necessary). But, if your dings are multi-panel, this is going to be a problem. Or, if the paint is old, it is likely that it may not match.

I personally have some experience with the suction dent puller. I bought one right after I bought my 1956 DeSoto. The driver front fender was pushed in right behind the wheel well, looked as if someone had backed into it there slightly. I tried the suction dent puller, and had some MINOR success....however, what I found was that the suction cup wasn't quite powerful enough to stay stuck to the car while exerting enough force to pull out 50 year old steel. See where I am going......your next move is falling on your backside...suction cup still in hand. But, the dent did come up a bit before detaching. If you need minor dent pulled out, try it...what do you have to lose? You can buy them cheap, far less than the dent doctor or a paint job.

As Kenyon said, it may be true that these devices (at least for older REAL STEEL cars) are nothing different than a fat destroying - carbohydrate absorbing miracle pill that really doesn't do much of anything.

From Bob:

The only thing I can add is that a fellow car owner purchased one advertised on TV and the first time he used it the handle came off.

Question from Dan:

I started the body work on my Crown and am filling rust spots. Most are small, about 1/8" - hundreds of them! I bought a Haynes instruction book from NAPA and am carefully following the suggested steps... One of these reads, "If bare metal is showing apply "Chemical Metal Treatment". For this, the auto parts guy gave me an aerosol can of etch primer. That doesn't sound right to me. Because it says "CHEMICAL" metal treatment I was expecting a clear liquid of some sort. So, essentially I'm being advised to sand down to bare metal, feather the edges, spray with primer, add glazing putty over that, then sand smooth and primer again. This suggests that glazing putty will stick better to primer than to metal. This is new territory for me, but that strikes me as odd.

I would appreciate it very much if someone could add clarity to this point.


From Will:

Firstly. are you filling over RUST HOLES or just pits in the metal? If you are filling over holes the Haynes manual is WRONG!!!!! Self etching primer works well but aerosol can doesn't inspire a lot of faith.

From Roger:

All rust should be removed to the point of good metal. Cut out and fabricate a patch panel out of paint lock of the same gage if needed. Then all bear metal should be prepped with a rust prep and then a metal prep before any body fill or primer. I always do both sides of the patch if possible. Use the best products available from a body repair supply store. NAPA has good products. PPG is easer to use in my opinion but that is me. If you don't do this it will be rusted with in a year or two. If you are a novice at this make sure you read all warning labels. These chemicals are very dangerous!

Use a DA or Dual action sander to feather out the edges of the paint pits. Metal prep the bare metal then fill with sandable primer. If you use an off color of paint lightly sprayed on primer and hand sand in a cross fashion until off color is gone. 3-4 thick coats of sandable primer with a repeat of color and the repair is finished. Seal the primer and blend in original color. The job sounds a lot easer than what I thought.

From Kerry:

I hate to be the barer of bad tidings but if you do what you described, your car will rust again before you get the masking tape off the new paint job. If you have "hundreds" of pin holes, you need to cut that metal out and replace it with new. OR AT THE VERY LEAST, be sure you can get to BOTH SIDES of the metal and kill ALL rust. Etching primer won't do it. POR 15, Endrust, etc might do the trick but I still think that with that many holes, you are going to see the problem come back.

If you have 'pits' in the panel, you have RUST in the pits. You have to kill the rust. I'd sand to bare metal and kill the rust with RustMort, etc, then prep for paint. Etching primer won't neutralize the rust.

This page was last updated June 22, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club