Hillman Minx Gets A Repaint
By Bob Sekelsky
After another tough northeast winter my 1961 Hillman Minx Estate wagon was looking pretty shabby. Blisters of rust and scale were popping up all over, but for a daily driver of more than thirty years it still looked pretty good.
It's no miracle that this car has lasted so well. Every few years I have performed body repairs and paint touchup including replacement of body, floor and frame sections. It's been five years since the last major patch up and I had been contemplating a complete repaint for awhile. The current paint was the first generation of Deltron. It still looked good after more than a decade but it was constantly fading and the remaining touch up paint was no longer any good.
Whenever I approach making repairs like these to the Minx I often question if these episodes of labour are worth it. Well the Hillman was my mom's car new. It's rugged and economical. It's small but there's plenty of room and it's remarkably cheap and easy to maintain and repair. So I stick with it and deal with the real enemy, the sun, salt, rain and snow.
This time I shot the car with PPG single stage Concept Urethane. This produced a tough high gloss finish that won't fade. A 1980 Volvo, Cherokee Bright Red is a close match to the original Rootes Pippen Red. The white trim on the car only required minor touchup.
The process began by grinding out all the old rust and filler. Sometimes it exposed some small holes or rust and sometimes sections crumbled leaving large holes. My approach may be unscrupulous to some. Many spots that were structurally sound but had gone through were just filled in using a fiberglass waterproof filler. The bigger stuff needed patches welded in and the final sculpting was performed with conventional body filler. For a daily driver I didn't need "show perfection". These quick fixes last several years. It's always the same places that go bad. Over the years this "test vehicle" has given me the opportunity to experiment with a variety of paints, sealers, fillers and methods that I use on my other fine restorations.
When the repairs were complete I blended them into the original paint using an epoxy primer and then the whole car was wet sanded with 320. The bumpers, grille, side moldings and headlight covers came off. All the rest was just taped up.
Two coats of fresh urethane and the Hillman looks great. The whole thing took less than a month before I was back on the road. I think it was worth the effort.