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I never really wanted to own a black car, but with the E28 M5, you really don’t have a choice. There’s beauty in a deep gloss single-stage black car, but over time, wear and tear is particularly unforgiving on black paint. I find this especially true in the glare of mid-day California sun.
The paint on the M5 was definitely in unknown condition when I purchased the car, sight-unseen. I relied on the seller’s description, in which they stated “Appears to be original paint and even has some very tasty hand painted M tri-color pin stripes.” I asked a lot of specific questions about rust and received detailed undercarriage photos. Thankfully, the car is indeed rust free.
Also from the seller’s description: “There are a few small belmishes here and there, but overall in above average condition for the age and miles! The worst of the cosmetic blemishes include a cracked dash, small stone chips, a ding in the driver’s side rear door on the pinstripes, a very small clear coat issue next to the sunroof near the driver’s door, a crack in the passenger side fog lamp, and a few makes in the lower air dam.”
At the time, this was a red flag to me that the paint was actually not original, as clear coat on the roof indicated a 2-stage respray at some point. I also regret that I didn’t ask specifically about matching VIN numbers on the panels, but took the “original paint” description to imply the panels were in tact. It wasn’t until long after I had the car that I realized the driver’s front quarter panel was not original. The passenger side has the VIN stamped into it in addition to a VIN tag. The driver’s side is stamped with a different number, possibly a part number and there is a VIN tag, but it has been painted over with single stage paint. If I had to guess, I’d say the hood, and both front quarter panels have been re-sprayed with single-stage and the roof has been re-sprayed with 2-stage. It’s possible only the top of the passenger front quarter was blended in, but there definitely seems to be some primer sanding marks on the very top next to the hood. The good news is that I really can’t tell where it starts and ends. Also, the pinstripes seem very old and are equally matched, so I believe this damage/paint preceded them.
In any case, I wasn’t in love with the pinstripes, even if they were M Motorsports colors. They were faded in some places and I wasn’t going to get them restored or repaired. Thus, I looked into how to remove them. It was clear they were hand-painted. I ended up getting a 3M Denibbing Tool, which is a tiny handheld sander, perfect for a job like this. I got a pack of 1,500 grit tips and used pretty much all of them to get around the whole car. I used Griot’s Garage Speed Shine to keep the work area lubricated and took my time. It was a little scary to end up with wet-sanded paint, but this was the path forward.
The next step was paint correction over the entire car. I had an old Porter Cable dual action polisher, but wanted something a little more professional for this job. After a lot of research, I ended up getting the full Griot’s Garage BOSS G15 Long-Throw Orbital Pro-Grade Kit, which included a variety of foam pads, microfiber pads, and finishing creams and sealants. I watched a lot of videos and then just got to it. I was really pleased with the results and also how well it removed the sanding marks from the pinstripe removal. The ability for the system to safely remove the scratches and restore a deep luster was amazing. After a full polishing, the entire car was sealed with their beautiful wax.
It was a ton of work over a couple days, but the results were stunning. Again, I learned to give up on perfect, because the car has some underlying imperfections that this process just cannot fix. That said, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results and improvement over the condition in which the car arrived. This level of correction will only be required once and future paint work will be limited to mild polishing and sealant wax.