Thursday, May 9, 2013

DIY Cozy Coupe Paint Job

I have to admit that I'm pretty excited to be sharing my first "tutorial". I say it like that because I don't want to try to represent myself as the one who came up with these ideas, I'm merely showing you how it went for me when I (approximately) replicated what others have already done. I am, by no means, the first person to do a tutorial about this (just Google "cozy coupe paint jobs"'ll see). But I'm also not one who usually takes pictures as I work, mostly because (even if I've done some research beforehand) I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda gal, so sharing my step-by-step process creates the potential for embarrassment. I've decided to embrace that as part of the fun from the beginning. Having said all that... here we go!!


So let me start out by saying that it was never my intention to make this sad, old, faded cozy coupe look brand new again. My goal was to do somewhat of a practice run (because I know I'll be doing it again hehe) while making this ride a little customized and girly.


For this revamp, I used:
  • spray paint (3 cans of color, 2 cans of clear matte)
  • coarse sand paper
  • medium sanding sponge
  • painter's tape
  • plastic drop cloth
  • phillips head screwdriver (not pictured)
  • flat head screwdriver (not pictured)
  • plastic grocery bags (not pictured)

I know for a fact that I spent more money than I needed to on this, but it was mostly to save time. I'm sure I could have found some painter's tape, an old sheet, and some unused sandpaper if I looked hard enough - but I did not....

Unscrew here

I didn't take a before picture, but the little buttons that are usually right there cover the screws, one on each side. Those two (phillips head) screws are the only thing that attach the roof to the body. One of the screw-cover buttons on this coupe was broken so I just got rid of them altogether. Once the roof is off, the poles pull right out.

It's a mystery...

I wanted to remove the door, but I didn't really know how. This peg is what holds the poles in the front in place (there's another one on the other side, the steering wheel is blocking it here). This one also goes all the way through to the underside of the car to hold the door on. I didn't know what tool to use, if it could come off at all, and it didn't seem vital that it come off, since the new paint would just end up rubbing off inside that joint anyways.

Silver accessories

I wanted to paint the little tikes logos, the key and the thing that looks like it's supposed to be a gas cap (was there an awesome little tikes gas station play set that I never knew about??). The cap came right out. I pried the logos off knowing that I might break them in the process. One of them did break, one did not. I also knew I'd probably break the key, too, but I yanked it out anyways. All these little pieces got 4-5 coats over the span of the project with plenty of drying time in between. The only prep I did on them was to wipe off the loose dirt, since they're not functional. I would have also painted the horn silver if there was one - I might look into trying to replace it with another old one at some point. 


One of the hubcaps was broken, so I pried them all off with the screwdriver. The old plastic was really brittle and all the spoke-like parts crumbled into a million little pieces. I left the piece of the hubcap between the screw cap and the wheel in place as a spacer, I just made sure that I got off all other remaining little spoke nubs.

Once the coupe was disassembled, I went to sanding. During my research I learned that it would be best if I sanded the whole thing down before I painted. These Rust-oleum cans actually tell you that (even though the paint is meant for all kinds of surfaces, including plastic) the specific type of plastic that little tikes toys are made of doesn't necessarily allow for maximum adhesion. (I can only imagine how many complaints they got before they had to print that on the can haha.) So I used coarse grit sandpaper all over, and the sanding sponge worked really nicely in the all the curves and grooves. Why coarse sandpaper? you might ask. It made the most sense to me... I knew this car would spend most of its time outside in the New England elements, so coarse just seemed right (at the time).

 super silver

I used the painters tape to make new "hubcaps" and I did the steering wheel silver also, about 3-4 coats for both. I didn't take a picture, but I put the poles on their pegs to paint them and then leaned them up against the house to fully dry. In the end the poles needed 4-5 coats.

the anticipation is killing me...

I used plastic grocery bags to cover the wheels and steering wheel. I cut two pieces off the roll of plastic drop cloth (I think I only ended up using half the roll). I just rolled it out the length of the body, then the roof, and cut.

I had a vague idea of the finished color scheme... my initial plan was to do the body purple and the roof pink with the poles silver. I started spray painting the undercarriage of the body in purple. I wasn't terribly concerned about perfect coverage since it is, after all, the underside. I did one coat on the body, then one coat of pink on the inside of the roof to give the body some time to dry a little. If I remember correctly, the can recommends 10 minutes between coats, so I kept going back and forth between the roof and body. 2 coats on the undercarriage seemed like enough, and I was also starting to worry if I would have enough purple. Since the body would be sitting on the wheels, I flipped it over as soon as I finished the second coat. The pink paint seemed to have better coverage, so 2 coats was more than enough. I waited until that was pretty dry before I flipped it over, probably about 20 minutes.

I love spray paint : )

I could just tell by the weight of the can that there wouldn't be enough purple for maximum coverage all over the body, but I had a plan in mind. I did one coat of purple all over the top side of the body, and on my second coat I made sure that the bottom half was covered really well. I guess the top half got 1 and a half coats of purple. The roof had gotten 2 (maybe 2 and a half) coats of pink, which was more than enough for great coverage. Now I don't have much experience with spray paint and I know I don't always follow the rules (I get too close too often), but I decided to try for a fade anyways. I have to say I'm pretty happy with how it came out.


It felt like there was too much pink, and I had some silver left over, so you know what that means... Once the pink was mostly dry I put the poles back into the roof to make doing the fade easier. I only did the silver on the outside though, not on the inside. After the colors were done I sprayed on 2-3 coats of the clear matte finish paint.

a little glitter never hurt anyone

I waited at least a week to put everything back together. (This was easy since I did this project at my parents' house, where this particular cozy coupe "lives" - my 2 year old forgot about it once we left so it's not like she was itching to play with it.) I did some light sanding on the several rough parts I had created by prep sanding (more on that later). The unbroken logo popped back into place. I put the broken one back on with a little piece of rolled up duck tape. It just so happened that my mom had found some 3D glitter paint pens that she wanted to get rid of - of course I took them lol. I did the brake lights with some dark pink (if you look closely you can see that I was a little too generous with it and it glooped some). As I was painting on the headlights I felt like they really needed to by eyes, with lashes (I didn't take a head-on picture but you can kind of see an eye in one of the pics).

I love doing this kind of stuff, so I have no hesitation in saying that I'll be doing this again (probably when my younger daughter is old enough to want one too). There are some things that I would do differently...


I'll sand better. Maybe if I had gone back over everything with medium and then fine paper before I started painting I wouldn't have ended up with so many big gouges. You can see them if you look closely, and I admit it does feel pretty rough in some spots. I have the feeling that just using fine sandpaper all over would have been good enough. 

I'll plan my paint job better. To end up with the plain purple body and plain pink top that I had originally thought of I would have needed 2 cans of purple, 1 can of pink, 1 can of silver, and 2 cans of clear. I wouldn't hesitate to do another fade, though : )

I won't yank the key out. I should have just painted the key when I did the steering wheel and then taped over it, too. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to reattach it so it stays on.

I won't buy so much stuff. I'll definitely take the time to find the stuff I know I already have somewhere.


I have yet to see how everything holds up. I'll check back with an update after the summer is over to let you know.

So there's my first "tutorial". I hope you found it amusing and helpful!

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