1983 Jeep J10 Cosmetic Restoration

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The following picture shows how it looked when I first bought it. The body and frame were all in decent condition with minimal rust, all of which are advantages for a vehicle having lived its entire life in the hot and dry South. Texas is known for having occassional serious hail storms, but you wouldn't know it from looking at this truck with its thick steel body. At least I know it probably was fortunate to have never been nailed by the rare storm that drops baseball sized hail known to occassionally strike in Texas. The hot Texas sun did take its toll on the paint and everything made out of rubber.

Retired the old tires and fitted with new ones.

Loaded up and ready for transit from Dallas to Austin.

Arrival in Austin and ready for restoration!

A time capsule with a 16 year old Texas registration sticker still attached.


The seats were removed to replace the carpet. The new J10 carpet kit was made by Automotive Custom Carpets and were reasonably priced. The only downside is that the carpet is more like those in modern vehicles unlike the original luxuriously thick shag carpet. The previous owner apparently put two more layers of newer carpeting right over the existing carpet instead of doing a proper reupholstery job.

This provided a good opportunity to clean up the seats and repaint the metal frame brackets before reinstalling. Below are photos of what a 1983 Laredo J10 interior looks like. The first photo was taken right after the seats were reinstalled and the door panels weren't in yet. The seats were in surprisingly decent original condition!


Instead of paying for a professional paint job, I took the chance with a local high school auto body class and let the students use the J10 as a guinea pig for their learning experience. It is a win-win for the students and my wallet, but I had to wait 8 months from start to finish. At least I had no shortage of vehicles and was in no hurry to have the truck back because I wanted the students to take the time to perform a good quality paint job.

The first step was to cut out all the rust holes and patch with new sheet metal, weld and fill in with very thin layers of body filler. Using thick amounts of body filler is a poor and short lived solution. I have seen vehicles with body filler thicker than 0.25" that just fell right off after about a year. Definitely want to avoid cutting corners with body filler or the entire paint job is a waste of time. As they say, most of the time and work goes into preparation, not the paint. The J10 largely had surface rust and did not require a lot of repair. There was a hole on the cab roof that the previous owner had drilled out for a CB radio antenna at one time but plugged it with a dab of roofing tar. The worst rust area was on the rear bed fender that was cut out and replaced as seen in the second photo. The rest of the body was sanded down with 120 grit sand paper to rough up the old paint to prepare for primer.

The school used the ShopLine primer and paint products. JP202 primer, JH301 hardener and JR506 reducer were all used for the priming step on the truck. Two coats were applied with wet sanding in between applications.

For the final paint application, there are generally two choices. First choice is a single stage coat with the color and finish applied simultaneously. The second choice is the modern two-stage process with the paint color applied first followed by several layers of clear coat. I chose single stage because that is the way the old cars were painted. My opinion is that the single stage paint ages gracefully over several decades. I've seen way too many cars with clear coat failure or peeling that looks terrible. I'd rather the entire paint lose its luster over time and still have the option to polish the paint back to a shine with wax than to see unsightly peeling that cannot be remedied without a complete repaint job.

The paint product was a ShopLine JAU-A single stage urethane. The entire body not including the bed was applied using 1 gallon of Jet Black, which is the modern equivalent of the original 1983 AMC Jeep black paint color code 9000/9300. The bumpers were black and not original so I had the freedom to choose a color that I thought would provide some subtle contrast from the body. I chose a 2014 Toyota Knights Armor color code 926173 and a quart was enough for both front and rear bumpers. The paint was applied in 3 coats with wet sanding in between.

There is the option of applying the Laredo decal kit like the original. I decided not to go this route because stickers don't generally hold up very well over time. Also instead of applying a decal on the raised JEEP lettering on the tailgate, I chose to mask and paint the lettering instead as shown below. Spray paint primer was applied followed by two coats of white automotive spray paint.

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