Chapter 5: The Paint Job, Phase I & Pinkie, the Parts Car, NOT!

Well, it's been a LOOONG time since the last installment. Thanks for waiting and thanks for coming back! This episode is a bit non-linear, and it's split into two pages. It details the unpainting of Subtle XS (on this page) and the acquisition of ANOTHER 61 Imperial, Pinkie, the Parts Car, who turns out…well, let's just say, Pinkie's still in one piece.

The body and paint work is taking a LITTLE longer than I expected. Not that there's more to it or anything, it's just that I've entrusted it to some experts that I normally couldn't afford. The deal (as ever and anywhere) is that you can control two of the three parameters in a transaction: speed, quality, and price. I chose quality and price, so speed has been a free variable. This project gets work in between those of folks who chose speed and quality! You may recognize the place from Chapter 1, when Subtle XS was first delivered:


Hurley's Garage: the Scene of the Work


Meanwhile, the weather here in the Northeast is making pre-winter threats, blowing the green away and scaring the leaves: first into colors, then right off their branches. The winds have begun to rub their faces in the dust, too, now that they're down and out. Winter is a mean time, a cruel justice without the temperate forgiveness of Summer's longer days. Father Time, the cad, presses his advantage on Mother Nature.

So I cleaned out a place for Subtle XS in the barn. Favorite pieces of scrap wood from other barns and earlier projects and extra parts from other cars, some long gone, have been collected and carted off, like the dead leaves of my own hobby summers. I went to the local Goodguys meet and was inspired by a Ford Vicky with a custom trailer in its own miniature image! Plymouth Prowlers have also been seen with such rear end reflections tagging along. Wow, I thought, wouldn't it look GREAT if Subtle XS had a trailer to match, fins and all? Now, you practical sorts (why are you reading about old Imperials?), you may wonder why an Imperial, with a trunk big enough to carry a spare Yugo or two, would need a trailer. Well, that's beside the point. It will just look GOOD, that's why! Here's a sketch (Thanks, Papa Tony, for the base art).

Idea for a "Ditto" Trailer made from a Donor Parts Car


Meanwhile, life goes on and we had a summer vacation. We were in Scotland for educational purposes (Sue & I, with progeny Sami & Ethan), so we dropped in on Tony Vickers, near London, England. Tony has a beautiful 61 LeBaron, in the Coronado Cream that is my favorite color. Go to the Bonus Images Page to see us there at Tony's House, or back to Chapter 2 to see Tony's car in all its glory.

So Subtle XS is nearly stripped and primed. The doors, hood, and trunklid have been removed and done. There was no hidden rust, but….

There was an answer to the mystery of the rusty interior (mentioned back in Chapter 4). It turns out that there must have been some subtle damage to the roof, somewhere along the line. Maybe a branch fell on it. We found some bondo in the rooftop! There was a ripply area in the steel, and it reached over near the driver's side chrome spear! That's the one where I found no sealing putty in its attachment holes at disassembly. Now we know why!

A view of the stripped top showing a former bondo job: The cause of the Leaks!


Here are some images of the process:

The Front Clip, Stripped, Smoothed, and Primed (the purple is just primer)


That damn bumper is off, and so is most of the paint!


George, my Hero, Showing some of his Handiwork: Stark Naked Metal


The Other Fin, stripped, showing a trace of rust at the bottom.


The Hood and Decklid, all done and waiting to go home again.


Hurley's tells me there is little on the schedule for late November. So, unless the snows come and generate some new fender benders to deal with, it looks like Subtle XS will get reassembled and painted REAL SOON! Before they do, I have to pull the door glass so wee can get pint in there and I can replace the track and seal soft parts.


Til then, I'll just motor about in Pinkie.

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