I’m Committed – Or Maybe I Should Be

We’ve been pretty quiet about our VW Jetta project lately – mainly because there’s been nothing to report. No news is good news during a street shakedown to work out any remaining bugs. The only new one I’ve found is a dead electric radiator fan. I have a replacement fan waiting for me to install. That means the time has come – the time we’ve all been waiting for since the beginning of this project. I just committed to buying a Smyth Ute kit to turn this European sport sedan into an American pick-em-up truck. It’s entirely possible that I should be committed for this, but that’s another story.

Fully armed and operational battle station
Before…

It’s both exciting and scary at the same time. After all, right now we have a cheap, roadworthy, and mostly operational sedan. We’re planning to strip and chop up a perfectly good car that I’ve put a bit of work into just putting back on the road. It’s a much bigger project than anything I’ve ever tackled. But having seen the kit for myself, I’m optimistic in my ability to assemble it. Probably not in a weekend, as Smyth Performance claims you can, but spread out over the summer. Unlike some publications, we don’t have a drop-dead date by which we have to have it ready – no publication deadline, no event that it has to be at – so no last minute Roadkill style mad dash should be necessary. And when we’re done, rather than a sedan, we’ll have a Ute, which is actually much more useful to us than a cheap sedan because I already have my WRX.

Mk4 VW Jetta Smyth Ute
…after?

If chopping up a VW wasn’t enough to commit me, the finishing process I have in mind probably is. I could take it to a local paint shop, or maybe partner up with the local vocational school to paint it for me. But I’ve read many articles about the $50 paint job, using basic Rustoleum out of a can, mineral spirits, paint rollers, and a lot of sanding to get a nice paint job for not a lot of money but a fair amount of labor. Since I don’t have a lot of money to spare but I do have time, we’re going to give this a try on the Jetta Ute. Reputable publications like Hot Rod and Car Talk have used this method successfully, so I figure why not try? It worked pretty well for Rickwrench’s Corvair.

Rickwrench's roller painted Corvair
Photo credit: Rickwrench

Besides, we’re going to have some extra body parts to test it on, such as the passenger front fender or back bumper that have both been bashed in, before painting the Ute itself. Best case, we end up with a great looking Ute for not a lot of money. Worst case, we screw it up and find some other way to get it painted. But for the price, it’s worth a try on this low budget build.

For now, it’s time to start cleaning and rearranging the garage for this build to actually begin. Cover me – I’m going in.

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