Volume III, Issue 7, Page 20
Words and photos by Jeff Burk - 07/16/08

 

ntil now in this episodic journal chronicling my efforts to hot-rod and rejuvenate the Rat-motored ’67 El Camino I bought more than a decade ago to turn into a street and strip stormer, I have enjoyed the fun my family and my friends and I have had with the project.

Before

Most of the reports regarding those efforts have involved working on or racing the Elk and then retiring to a local dive for adult beverages and bench racing. Being the fatalist I am, I always knew the joy ride could end up as bad juju. Little did I know that paint would be my downfall.

You see, the Elk has a near pristine body and after a half-dozen years or so of driving her around in just a coat of Dupont yellow primer, I decided it was a sin to leave the body in that state and took a fatal step. I decided to paint her. 

My first attempt at getting Nitrouso coated was to turn to my hot rodder neighbor’s 16-year-old son, who was already an accomplished paint and body man. He often painted cars in his driveway in the unincorporated neighborhood we live in and, in fact, had sprayed the yellow coat of primer on mine. I decided to pay him to put the Elk’s body in painting shape and spray it. I didn’t want anything fancy, just a nice, affordable paint job. I bought all of the material, including the school-bus yellow paint. 

Little did I know at the time that my decision would lead me down the dark path of the hot rod hobby: do-it-yourself paint projects. When I made my decision I thought I was prepared. I’d read about a half-dozen paint and body issues of Hot Rod and Car Craft magazines. They can take a rotted-out rust bucket, fix the body and give it a great paint job in just 6-8 pages. A piece of cake, right? Wrong, paint thinner breath!  I was about to embark on a project that would cause me much pain and anguish as the Elk and I languished in Paint Hell for the next three years.

It all began innocently enough. The young man started prepping my car. He applied a little mud and sanded almost all of it off. He sprayed and sanded several coats of yellow primer. Then the first disaster: we decided that all of the trim, bumpers and front fenders were to be removed. What actually happened was that some parts were removed and taken away to be prepped. Six months went by as the Elk sat in the kid’s driveway taking weather. One day I came home and it had moved to my driveway with the trim and bumpers piled in the bed and the left front fender missing.