Part 2 – Getting Started

It’s been just around three months now that I dropped of my 300SEL 6.3 for repainting. Since then, I visited Sheik at A2Z a couple of times to check on the progress.
Each time, I was accompanied by one or more of my fellow MBCA members Doug, John and Marcus.

More Prologue
When you start a project like this, you have to ask yourself some important questions upfront:
How thorough do you want the paint job to be? What about the engine compartment? Did you want to go into the extend to remove it for a full engine bay repaint? Same with the trunk. Does it need repainting? What if you detect further problems on the car? Can things get damaged while being removed/handled?
For example, if the front &rear winds come out (they should in a proper paint job), anticipate that they may not come out easily. The glass, together with the rubber seals easily gets damaged even when extremely careful. Obviously, now would be the time to replace any other damaged items. So find out if replacement parts are readily available. How much would they cost in case needed?
Rubber doors seals. Should you replace them? Are they available? Were these costs taken into consideration? Did you provide the paint shop with instructions and/or replacement parts?
Do you want a Euro version or a US version? Meaning, do you want to have the side markers, signal lights, headlights etc. modified? In the 60s, Mercedes-Benz cars were often delivered in Germany to US customers but in a Euro version, driven overseas for some time, exported to the US and only then modified to US specs. What version do you want the car to represent? Do your homework and have all parts available to finish one or the other version. How much are you prepared to have your budget increase by some late change of heart?
Keep these all in your mind when you boldly go ahead.

Taking the car apart
It is mandatory you and the paint shop discuss the extent the car is supposed to be dismantled to get painted. Ideal – from the painter’s point of view- is to have the whole car in pieces. This way, painting will be fast and thorough. BUT unless you have a car worth a 6-digit number, this may be cost prohibitive.

In my case, we decided to take the hood, trunk lid front fenders off. All of these parts, the rear fenders, doors and roof were then sanded and primed. With the car apart, now is the best time to address any visual and looming mechanical deficiencies.

Note: One option to proceed is to dismantle the car yourself. The reasons are a) to save money, b) avoid damage by an inexperienced paint shop. In my case  a) was debatable, as transporting a dismantled car would have its own cost and challenges and b) was not of concern – see Part 1.

After the dismantling, some small rust dots were discovered on the rear wheel arches and repaired. Contrary to an earlier plan, the 4 doors were not removed for painting. This was an executive decision by Sheik as he felt there is not much to gain painting wise, as the arches and the pillars could be accessed easily with the doors left in place. On the other side, removing and resetting door poses a certain alignment risk.

As mentioned earlier, even before starting a paint job you should give some thought and discuss of all things that potentially need to be addressed/fixed. Including anticipated problems along the way such as sourcing rare parts. For years, I had collected a by now fairly large stack of spare parts for my 6.3 and set aside to be replaced/installed during just this occasion. I had brought them along in some large boxes when we stated. For example, I had what I thought a full set of rubber door seals. Unfortunately, one rubber door seal was missing. I forgot, that I had never acquired one. The large windshield rubber that I had saved turned out to be for the rear window not the front as I had thought.
My research discovered that the car spent the first year in Euro trim before being converted to US spec. That conversion was done fairly crudely by cutting openings into the side of the fenders to install the side markers. I now switched the car from US specs back to Euro Specs and the side markers were shaved. I also deleted the bullet style front signal lights. All indicating is now from within the front light housing.

BTW, Even the Euro model of the 300SEL 6.3 always had the double headlight, not the single light design of the basic W108 model.

Here some more pictures from the two visits.