Clearly this was evidence of how little this car was valued by previous owners. It combined with 45 years of abuse and neglect it had suffered. Or maybe it was just an accident.
I pried against the inner structure and tapped lightly with a body hammer on the outside until I thought that I had leveled it out pretty good. I filled and smoothed the rest with bondo. I left the front repair alone for now. I planned to paint the lower parts of the doors and rocker panels matte black. This way I could go back and work on this area later and easily retouch it up. I saw this idea in Car Craft. They were fixing up an early El Camino with some rust in the lower fenders and quarter panels. They stabilized the rusty areas ( sand and paint with POR 15 or another rust encapsulator) then could return and address each area a little at a time. Their goal like mine, was to get the car to presentable level of appearance. I went around sanding, priming, bondo-ing until I was pretty satisfied. Actually you get kind of tired and disgusted and decide that it's good enough. The car ended up with multiple patches of different color primer depending on what I had around, and could get at the local auto store. Look at the pictures. As far as I was concerned I was done.
I was only going to spend so much time on prep. I didn't have the garage space available to sand the car down to metal or to guide coat and block sand it after priming. Really this is the critical point. If you have somewhere to work on the car inside, you can sand down to bare metal. This will expose prior bondo work, rust repairs etc. If you're going down to bare metal you have to protect the metal from moisture which will start rust. Also you will either generate clouds of paint dust or globs of chemical paint stripper. Neither will probably be appreciated by your neighbors. I read a post on the HAMB where a guy said he burned out three Harbor Freight electric palm sanders stripping off the paint with 80 grit paper. That would work. You could skim coat the entire car with a thin layer of filler, then long board sand it. Actually that's a good idea. Longboard it then take it to the body shop and have them spray a couple coats of primer and bake it. Then take it home and longboard and blocksand it again. After the bake the primer will have shrunk tight. Maybe have them spray it again and repeat the process. This would cost a little more money and a lot more time and work but could result in a pretty good paint job. But I'm getting off track. No showcars here, just better than a beater.
I contacted a bodyshop in Fremont, Almost Everything Automotive, to have my car painted. I spoke to the service writer who told me that they would not warranty my paint because they had no way of knowing
what was under the primer. He was right. I didn't know what was under most of it! He said that if the different products used were not compatible then who knows how they will react when they are baked in the paint oven. Well no guts, no glory. I chose the basic acrylic enamel paint job with basic prep. I had checked out their work and saw a couple of cars that they were finishing up. The paint was glossy and smooth but you could see a couple of imperfections under the paint ( some light scratches and poor feathering ). To cover up all the splotches of different color primer I opted for a basecoat/primer coat.
I knew that the new paint was going to fade quicker than factory paint so I opted for the UV resistant additive. ( I also keep the car under a cover at home.). I left the car and crossed my fingers. About a week later I picked it up. Pictures below. Draw your own conclusions.