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1981 300D
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
When is it time to get your W123 repainted?

I have an 81 300D in Orient Red and the paint is okay but it has its issues and trouble spots and I was wondering if it's better to get things touched up or have the whole thing repainted. I can't really afford a full on repaint right now and I also like the idea of keeping the original paint but not sure if it's past the point of no return. Let me give you a little background:

Basically the paint is dull and a little oxidized but can probably be revived to a degree. I've had it detailed before and it looked pretty good but eventually faded again. The place that detailed it definitely didn't do anything like use Meguiar's #7 or anything else that would help revive the actual paint. They pretty much just did the basic wax and buff. So I'm under the impression that since it looked pretty good with a simple wax job, using Meguiar's #7 or something similar would help tremendously. My real concern is the scratches and dings/dents. So let me break that down:

The car has a handful of little scratches and chips in the paint, nothing too crazy but although they are mostly small, they are there and bug me. It also has a handful of little dings but it also has a few bigger/medium size dents. I know that there is paintless dent removal but when you have 4 or 5 dents it starts adding up. So, I guess my question is, is it better to have the handful of dings/dents fixed, scratches touched up and keep the original paint or is it better to have the whole thing repainted? I live in Los Angeles and could someone recommend a place that could basically revitalize my paint job? Basically fix the dents, touch up the paint and maybe give it the whole treatment without repainting the whole thing? Obviously someone that specializes in single stage paint jobs.
 

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1982 300D Turbodiesel (US Spec)
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218 Posts
If the paint is original, don’t repaint the car because worn original paint is more valuable and desirable than fresh paint, especially if the painter messed up the new paint and it has defects or overspray.

The problems you describe are nothing for a car that is old, is normal stuff that happens to cars as they get used. If the car had issues like deep scratches that let metal exposed or rust or is worn all the way to the primer, or flaking, then you have to repaint it, but otherwise don’t.

I would recommend that you don’t waste your money in a respray. High quality paint jobs cost thousands of dollars and require dismantling the car to avoid overspray. That means that not only you will be paying for paint, but also for new parts like window, doors, sunroof, trunk and taillight seals because everything that is rubber is likely to be damaged once removed from the car due to age. Also, you factor in the risk of trim pieces getting lost or damaged during the process. A cheap repaint will leave you with overspray everywhere and masking tape lines and perhaps runs, orange peel and small cracks. I’d rather have dings and dullness in the factory paint than overspray from a poorly done job.

So, I would recommend that you just touch up the worst bits and have the paint restored. If I am not mistaken, Orient red doesn’t have clear coat which means that the oxidation can be removed by buffing and waxing. Your paint most likely oxidized again because it needs periodic waxing with a good wax that protects the paint. If you keep the car clean and waxed, that paint will last many more years.
 

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W123 300CD, W123 300TD, W202 C250D Turbo
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297 Posts
I agree with Luis, and would add that unless you have rust (unlikely in LA) then the Mr Miyagi treatment is what is required.

That said, I have just done a full respray on a coupe and am putting it back together - it's a huge job and one which if I had to pay and get it done, would have cost a fortune
 

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1981 300D
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
If the paint is original, don’t repaint the car because worn original paint is more valuable and desirable than fresh paint, especially if the painter messed up the new paint and it has defects or overspray.

The problems you describe are nothing for a car that is old, is normal stuff that happens to cars as they get used. If the car had issues like deep scratches that let metal exposed or rust or is worn all the way to the primer, or flaking, then you have to repaint it, but otherwise don’t.

I would recommend that you don’t waste your money in a respray. High quality paint jobs cost thousands of dollars and require dismantling the car to avoid overspray. That means that not only you will be paying for paint, but also for new parts like window, doors, sunroof, trunk and taillight seals because everything that is rubber is likely to be damaged once removed from the car due to age. Also, you factor in the risk of trim pieces getting lost or damaged during the process. A cheap repaint will leave you with overspray everywhere and masking tape lines and perhaps runs, orange peel and small cracks. I’d rather have dings and dullness in the factory paint than overspray from a poorly done job.

So, I would recommend that you just touch up the worst bits and have the paint restored. If I am not mistaken, Orient red doesn’t have clear coat which means that the oxidation can be removed by buffing and waxing. Your paint most likely oxidized again because it needs periodic waxing with a good wax that protects the paint. If you keep the car clean and waxed, that paint will last many more years.
Yeah, I already know I wouldn't be able to afford a real, parts off paint job which means I'd probably end up with a crappy paint job. I always told myself that I was fine with the scratches/dents, etc. but now that I've put in a ton of work on every other aspect of the car I can't help but want it to look better.

I agree with Luis, and would add that unless you have rust (unlikely in LA) then the Mr Miyagi treatment is what is required.

That said, I have just done a full respray on a coupe and am putting it back together - it's a huge job and one which if I had to pay and get it done, would have cost a fortune
Yes, barely any rust, thankfully. Yeah to get it repainted correctly (all parts off) would cost way more than the car is worth, unfortunately.
 

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1982 300D Turbodiesel (US Spec)
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now that I've put in a ton of work on every other aspect of the car I can't help but want it to look better.
That means you have invested your resources wisely. A car should be mechanically perfect above all. Good looks don’t take you anywhere.

However, I do understand the desire to make it look good. The paint in my car is not by any means perfect, in fact is horrible and not original. Sometimes I would like to restore it, but that doesn’t make sense and I cannot afford that now, so what I do is washing the car, waxing the paint (even the wheels), apply meguiars black trim restorer to everything rubber and plastic, including the tires and clean the glass with rain X. When I finish, I’m mesmerized by the result. It looks like another car and because I use good cleaning products, the result lasts for months.

So, I think that detailing the car will do wonders for it. Perhaps you can have the car ceramic coated to make the finish last longer.
 

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1981 300D
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
That means you have invested your resources wisely. A car should be mechanically perfect above all. Good looks don’t take you anywhere.

However, I do understand the desire to make it look good. The paint in my car is not by any means perfect, in fact is horrible and not original. Sometimes I would like to restore it, but that doesn’t make sense and I cannot afford that now, so what I do is washing the car, waxing the paint (even the wheels), apply meguiars black trim restorer to everything rubber and plastic, including the tires and clean the glass with rain X. When I finish, I’m mesmerized by the result. It looks like another car and because I use good cleaning products, the result lasts for months.

So, I think that detailing the car will do wonders for it. Perhaps you can have the car ceramic coated to make the finish last longer.
Yeah, I've been washing mine a lot and it definitely makes a big difference but I've only detailed it once. I think that's the next step, investing in a buffer and actually going through all the steps of the Mike Phillips single stage paint restoration, The Secret to Removing Oxidation and Restoring a Show Car Finish to Antique Single Stage Paints
 

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W123 230
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41 Posts
I am in a similar position to you Johnbob. Mine is heavily oxidised but I know it will polish up well when I eventually get round to it. But I do have a number of localised rust issues to address first so some repainting will be required. I have done touch up jobs on modern cars, but what I am not sure on is how to blend a repair with modern 2 part paints with the original one part paint. o_O
 
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