1990 Original Owner Z28 Opti Guarded

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This is the car I mentioned in the teaser post the other day. To recap why I was so excited to do this car, it was from the era that my family was active in selling GM cars, namely Pontiac, Buick and GMC. I fondly remember driving Firebirds as demos that I ordered for myself. 1990 is also the year I got married, so that has sentimental value too. It is a one owner car with 64,000 km (40,000 miles) on the odometer and is obviously garage kept and well cared for.




Having said that, it is still 22 year old paint with all the issues that go with it. The owner only wanted the exterior done, but wanted it as nice as possible including the application of Opti Guard. Game on Baby!!


Here are some shots of what it looked like when it arrived. When you looked closely, there were a ton of stone chips all over the paint, and not just on the front end either. There was also a fresh, deep scuff on the passenger door and scratches on the roof from the glass roof removal. These are the issues I was dealing with:






















Here is that scrape..what a shame!








The mirror was marked up too!





Love these wheels and tires! Time to improve on them!!







The black cut-outs by the lights needed some attention; they weren't scratched luckily, just faded. The trim on the hood was in some dire need of some UTTG!






First up was the wheels. They were sprayed with Carbrite wheel acid and agitated and then rinsed and sprayed with Zep Citrus for further cleaning and also for acid neutralization. The raised white letter tires (they look so cool!!) were heavily scrubbed with a stiff brush and Zep Purple. I also tried a magic eraser on the worse ones, but it didn't help that much...agitating with the brush did the best job for me.

The wells were cleaned with Zep Citrus.




Next the car was foamed with a strong mix of DG 901 followed by a Dawn wash. There did not seem to be any wax evident on the surface before, and there sure wasn't any after those 2 steps!






The car was then brought inside wet and was clayed using blue Riccardo. This is strong clay, and the paint needed it. I microwaved the piece for about 30 seconds before using it to make it as pliable as possible to reduce the marring it instilled. The clay still marred the paint, but what it was removing was worth the extra effort. Besides, I planned on compounding every square inch of the paint anyway!










There was also some staining in the paint. Something had run down and stained it in several places:






Next up was the paint chip filling. This step took a very long time. I spent a minimum of 1.5 hours going around the car filling in the chips and scratches. I used both a pointy toothpick and a micro brush depending on the size of the repair I was doing. I also attempted to clean up the bottom of the front lip the best I could as it was nasty from scraping up against a curb or two during its life. I wanted the paint to have as long a time to cure and harden as possible so I wanted to do this right away.


The wheels were next to get some attention. These are the original factory wheels which to me, just adds so much value to the car. Everything about it is original, down to the AM/FM, Cassette player. The washing took care of cleaning them up, but the gray inserts in the wheels were dull and needed some polishing. M105 was used with a mf and then buffed using a Mothers wheel cone and my drill. I've owned this cone for probably 4 or 5 years and this is the first time I used it. It did a good job. The rest of the face was done by hand with M105 and a mf. They were buffed off and then prepared with ERASER for the OG step. OG was applied with the block and suede mf method, my favourite. The tires were dressed with Opti Bond, neat. The wells were dressed with foaming tire spray.



To battle the paint, I started with the worse spot on the door. I went all around the car with the PTG. I was very curious what kind of readings I was going to get, which of course, would determine how I could proceed with how aggressive I could be compounding. Unfortunately for me, the door with the scrape was measuring high 80's to low 90's in that area. Not what I wanted to see!! I very gingerly started with my black wool tuff buff pad and M105 using very low speed and low to moderate pressure with my Dynabrade rotary, only working for seconds at a time. I was able to slowly get it better (I was constantly checking the readings!) but the paint was down to mid 80's...time to stop buffing! Wool was used where the paint was the worst. For the rest of the car, I used my Megs DA and a yellow B & S pad and M105. That was followed with a white B & S pad and M205. I followed that step up with a blue B & S pad and 85rd, and did the top surfaces with it. It was not making a huge difference, but still wanted the extra amp on the top surfaces.

Here are a few 50/50 shots. The first one is the door that was done, and the front fender not. (I should not even have to say that, LOL)




Another one on the rear 1/4 panel:




The big issue with this car was filling in the chips and scratches. I busted out my bottle of Langka and employed a new method to use it. I used one of my suede mf towels and the CQ block. Now, the Langka stains the block, so I put it in a baggie. The result was that the block held the mf tight and flat and allowed me to level the chips and fill-in's quite nicely. Many of them I was able to level completely. Some had the paint pulled right out so I had to repeat the paint process. A light touch is so important with this stuff! That big scrape on the side on the door ended up being filled twice. There were a bunch of old touch ups on the car that seemed to be done with a darker shade of red. I removed the paint from those and re-did them. This really cleaned up the appearance of the car for sure!

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Here are some outside shots from Saturday after being polished, but before any coating was applied. I didn't know if I'd have sun on Sunday or not, so I took advantage of the late day sun for these:












No trim dressing yet on these:







The whole car got washed with ONR and then the paint and glass got prepped with ERASER for the OG. The block and mf method was used. Every piece of exterior glass was treated. He'll probably never drive it in the rain, but if he does, he's in for a surprise when he sees what the rain does on those windows!! Here are some inside shots from Saturday night in the garage all done:

















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OK, I know I took a ton of pics, but please bear with me for one more set. Here it is on Sunday, with some sunshine lighting it up for me:












The hood trim looking much better with the addition of UTTG!




Remember that cluster of chips?










Finished product of that deep door scuff:












Bird Poo etching that was old and had permanently stained the paint:





This was a real joy to work on this car!!






The owner was thrilled and shook my hand a bunch of times, which is what I do when I'm really happy about something too, so I know it was an honest reaction. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I welcome your comments.


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That car is just sick! Those are the hot rods of my generation. I remember going to super Chevy Sunday in 1986 and getting a bad ass IROC Z tee shirt. Thanks for the reminder of the good ole days and a wonderful restoration of a classic American sports car! Nice work, richy.


I'd love to see a GTA restore from that era.


Hey Chris, I hear you on the nostalgia part. My father was a GM dealer until 1991 and I used to order in my own demonstrators. I'd order a Firebird Formula special model with a 5.0 L V-8 and if you got it in conjunction with a 5 speed manual, you could choose a 3.73 rear end which made it incredibly fast off the line! I would delete the ugly 3 colour stripe from the side so it just said "Formula" down the side. It looked great. Plus you could get that engine with the T bar roofs (which you could not get them with the 5.7L (350 CID) motor. It also came with a dual exhaust system back to the cats. It sounded great and was very fast. GM also had a factory subwoofer with a sliding gain switch too, so the stereo (for stock) sounded amazing! My demo's would sell within a month every time. I would also usually order red for myself and would polish it weekly with Meguiars #7 which made the red just pop! Boy, do I miss driving those cars!!

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