Saturday, January 7, 2012

It's All In The Details

Details, details, details - they can drive you nuts. If you want your classic to stand out in a crowd, pay attention to the details. From suspension to engine, there is always something that could use some extra attention. One major detail on any ride is the engine and the compartment that it resides in. I can remember as a teenager one of the very first things I would do to any car that I had was detail the engine compartment. I went through cases of Plasticoat paint. Semi-gloss black was my color of choice. I know what you're thinking, that it was just "spray bombed", but let me tell you that there was a lot of prep work involved. I've seen some crude spray jobs also, but mine could have been considered works of art.

Technically, it's not about just painting either. A good detail on the engine should include new plug wires, holders, distributor cap, vacuum hoses, water hoses, clamps, etc. Also, removing these components allows for a better detail on the engine itself. Don't let the lack of chrome valve covers stop you either. With careful masking and sanding you can two-tone an engine and achieve excellent results. A lot of my tricks were learned from my good friend Jim. He was the master of detailing an engine. Jim even made up special tips for the spray cans that could get into hard to reach areas without making a mess and when he popped the hood on his Camaro it would always attract a crowd. Like my friend Jim, I am also a stickler for details. I guess that makes me sort of a nitpicker, or maybe even a fussbudget, but definitely not obsessive - compulsive. Just don't ask my wife...

For your perusing pleasure, here are some pictures of a detail job I did on my '62 Mercury. Enjoy!
This is what the engine compartment looked like before the detail

Painting the engine block gloss black

Prepping the valve covers for paint

Painting the valve covers and being careful about the overspray

All done and detailed

Was the detail job worth it? You bet! Afterwards I was able to lift my hood at the car shows and feel proud of what I had accomplished. The gloss black on the block went well with the flat black engine compartment and semi-gloss pulleys and brackets. The gold valve covers, gold flames and red plug wires really made the whole thing pop.

So there you have it, all the details! Sorry, I couldn't resist. Just be prepared to use a lot of elbow grease, newspaper, and tape. Also remember that overspray can ruin your day, so when it doubt, mask it!


  1. Reading your blog makes me miss my classic...I had to sell it for practical purposes. Got myself a new Alfa Romeo Giulietta stunning but not as fun!

  2. Had a 67 cougar, loved the car. Never did a restore on it though and the engine pretty much looked like your before pics.
    Found a 70 mercury cougar on here: very nice!

  3. Every part of the car is important, as each detail contributes to the value and appearance of a car as a whole. If it has scratches, these would stand out from the smoothness of the vehicle. I'm thinking of re-painting my car black to cover up the scratches. Maybe some time next month would be nice. Also, you did a good job of explaining what you did step by step. That can certainly help clear things out for your other readers here.

    Stelle Courney

  4. That engine part and probably the whole car deserved to be showcased in car shows big time! Also, that step by step method you’ve shared could serve as a handy tip for those who want to customize and detail their vehicles to into something great!

    Delsie Maidens

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