The moment I saw the doors open to the powder coating oven, I got a little choked up. It’s cool, no one saw. Before I show you what you came here to see, I need to show you the journey.
Two weeks ago, I was talking to my long time powder coater. He is in a great place with his business, where he mainly does contract work. Richard and his father are gear heads and have a serious amount of racing heritage. When I asked Richard if he would be interested in coating the chassis, there was no hesitation. He came out to my humble shop to see what he was up against. I was a little worried. Richard had built several GT cars, and was a good driver in his time. To my relief, he said I had put together a solid race car.
Sand blasting the car was not a option. So we were going to do a combination of sanding the chassis and a chemical etching. I then sent out two text messages to my buddies Rich and Mike.
Me: “Hey Man!”
Rich/Mike: “What do you need help with?”
I think the guys are on to me. The three of us put in over 20 hours of sanding and cleaning the chassis last week. Every little nook and cranny had to be sanded, otherwise the powder wouldn’t adhere.
I’ll be honest, sanding with so much detail was brutal, but it had to be done. With some strategic rigging, we were able to get the chassis loaded on the trailer. I then switched the 500HP SRT8 Jeep into TOW mode and headed to Richard’s shop.
First order of business was to lift the chassis off the trailer with the fork lift and suspend it in the air. Since I was the grunt, I pressure washed the chassis with a hot phosphate solution. This step ensured that there wouldn’t be any oils on the chassis and stops any flash rusting.
Then I sprayed a hot sealer solution. To me, it didn’t look great, I thought the chassis had a dingy look to it. Richard said it looked perfect (he obviously knows what hes doing), and I started drying the chassis with an air gun.
I had no idea how we were going to hang the car, but Richard had the car hung on one of his dollys in no time. Then we rolled the chassis into the oven to bake for 1 hour at 410 degrees. This step ensured that there wasn’t any moisture trapped. Once we pulled the chassis out of the oven, it had a gold color from the heat.
We needed to plug every thread hole to ensure the powder didn’t get on the threads. If you skip this step, you’re in for a lot of thread chasing.
To me, there is nothing better than an all white interior on a race car. It’s also very easy to spot oil leaks on a white chassis. When I told Richard that I wanted to go white, he knew the exact color. It was pretty cool to watch Richard do his thing, and you could tell right away he was a pro. This was going to be a fun challenge for him. A true master of his craft.
Once Richard was done, we rolled the chassis into the oven. It was the longest hour of my life. In the mean time, Richard’s 83 year old dad ,Bill, traded old race stories with us. As we were chatting I knew we were getting close on time. Then a super loud buzzer went off. Bill said, “let’s go check it out”. Then he turned off the heat and let the fans run. Once it was cool enough, he opened the oven doors for a peek.
It was a pretty crazy moment. 2.5 years of welding and grinding. Thousands of hours dedicated to the car. It all rushed over me. It was done… The chassis was finally done. It was getting late and we couldn’t handle the chassis for an hour or so. Bill called it a night and we decided we would reconvene in the morning.
It was like Christmas morning. I couldn’t wait to get the text from Richard “I’m at the shop”. I rushed over and they had pulled the chassis out of the oven. It was perfect. A job well done. Then we removed the chassis from the dolly and loaded it onto the trailer. We said our good-byes, and I promised them I would have them over for beers once I got the car with wheels and suspension under it.
Once I got home, more “strategic” rigging to remove the chassis and place it on my dolly.
There you have it. A new chapter starts for this little Z that was destined for the crusher. A new lease on life. Enjoy the photos below. Of course I had to toss the carbon roof and quarters on for photos.
I want to give a special thank you to Richard and Bill. No shop shout out. No sponsorship decals. They wanted nothing more than to just be apart of this experience with me and deliver an amazing powder coating job. That’s pure support for an up and coming driver, fabricator, and an unconditional love that is motorsport. I will be forever thankful.
So what’s next? It’s going to start moving fast. The next steps are to permanently bond the roof and quarter panels to the chassis. I need to seam seal a few areas. Then I’ll paint any part of the chassis that is exposed to the exterior black. Until next time, thanks for the read.