How to Paint a Classic Mustang

Should you take you Mustang to a body and paint shop or should you do-it-yourself? This is a big decision and will hinge on your budget and you ability to complete the job yourself. There are pros and cons that come with either choice; continue reading this article for some insight to help you make your decision.

Body and Paint Shop

Finding a body shop can be as easy as or referral or meeting a shop that you like however, you should be warned that not everybody that can do body and paint will actually deliver a quality finished project on time and within budget. Most of the stories I’ve head involved longer than usual production time, confrontation, inferior quality and craftsmanship as well as estimates escalating well beyond the projected budget.

If you get lucky, have the budget and find a paint and body shop that can actually produce results then you will spare yourself from having to purchase the supplies and tools to get the job done however, the is always the possibility that your project can end up in paint shop prison.


  • You keep the mess out of your shop
  • You wont have to purchase the tool required to do the job
  • You wont have the educate yourself on body and paint procedures
  • you can concentrate on restoring other components of you project while your car is out being worked on


  • A complete job can cost between $3,000-10,000
  • Progress could go much slower than you would like
  • You could end up disappointed with the finished product
  • You may end up with a good paint shop gone bad and potentially end up in paint shop prison

Do it Yourself Body and Paint

Doing the body and paint yourself will provide a lot of flexibility with your time and budget, can save you thousands of dollars and you project will be under your complete control and direction.

If you decide to go the DIY route then you should be prepared to put in some long hours of hard work, purchase the tools to get the job done and educate yourself on body and paint techniques.

As a do-it-yourselfer you’ll also have the option of sub contracting out portions of the work like welding and structural repairs, or you may higher some help from the local high school. You will also avoid all of the pit falls that come along with sending the entire project to a shop and you’ll never end up in paint shop prison.


  • More affordable, usually half the cost of sending it to a shop
  • You can choose what to contract out or even high some help
  • You are on your schedule and your project is completely in you control
  • You never have to worry about paint shop prison


  • It’s messy work, you will spend a good portion of time sweeping the floor
  • You will need to purchase the tools to get the job done
  • You will need to educate yourself on body and paint techniques
  • you may need to rent a paint booth

2 thoughts on “How to Paint a Classic Mustang

  1. Would you please post or email me the contact info for where you had the paint / body work done on your car?
    I live in the Portland area and am looking for somewhere to take my Mustang to have work done on it.
    Chris — January 20, 2009 12:05 PM

    Hi Chris,
    Unfortunately I will not be referring anyone to either of the paint and body shops that have attempted to provide a quality and timely finished products at a fair and reasonable price; they both failed on quality, time and price… and then failed on attitude and gratitude.
    I will be taking on the task of completing my own paint and body work and would be happy to take on your project as well; with the quality, integrity and attitude that we all expect from a true craftsman!
    JoeResto — January 23, 2009 8:30 AM

    What would be a good estimate for an overall paint job on a 67 mustang? All of the body work is finished and all removable parts are taken off, the paint and equipment are being provided.
    Eynon — August 19, 2009 11:31 AM

    Assuming that your Mustang is 99% prepared for paint and is in a condition where no parts need to be removed and you supply the paint and equipment; you should be able to get an experienced painter to shoot the car for a few hundred dollars. Believe it or not you can probably get a pretty good job done at one of the franchise shops like Maaco if al they have to do is shoot paint.
    JoeResto — August 19, 2009 11:47 AM

    Good points raised. I have been doing my own paint and sheet metal work for over 30 years. The crucial things to remember are preparation, preparation, safety, cleanliness, and taking your time. The old adage “haste makes waste” certainly applies with the modern polyurethane paints.
    Get yourself a fresh air supplied respirator from Axxis and keep the isocyanates out of your lungs. Build a good exhaust system using a plenum and intake filters. Use a gravity feed HVLP spray gun, they work much better than the conventional blast spray guns.
    Then take your time on paint application whether it be base coat clear coat or single stage. The carefully wet sand and buff. Any body can do it themselves! Be patient.
    Vince — May 25, 2010 9:57 AM

    could someone help me with this..
    I’m restoring my 641/2 mustang I want all the parts original color / finishes some are suppose to be the natural metal finish but ordering the new parts from the mustang catalogs come in black or gray not sure what to do.
    Kristine — October 8, 2011 2:54 PM

    When aligning body components, how wide a gap is good spacing to have?
    Brian neal — September 1, 2012 3:45 PM

  2. Can someone help me?
    I just purchased a 1970boss 302 in close to concourse condition. It took the team 4 years to complete.
    Does anyone have the factory marking guide with pictures so I can mark the car and what they all mean.

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