Restoring Japanese Imports – Paint Removal

Restoring Imported Japanese Cars

‘Restoring imported Japanese cars’ is a bold headline, to be perfectly honest!

If you’re looking into this area, you probably already own a Japanese import of some description.  There’s a huge market there for some outstanding cars at very reasonable prices.  The only problem being that once you’ve imported a beautifully rare classic, it’s most likely going to need a complete overhaul.  As with all restorations, we recommend completely stripping the car down, so that you can see exactly what you’re working with.  Of course, you may not be looking to go this far into a restoration, but we find the vast majority of owners really want to know the hidden history lurking under forty year old paint work.

We generally find that the best process for cleaning older Japanese cars is our crushed glass system.  This is where recycled glass (ground up Coca-Cola bottles and the likes) is blown onto the surface with compressed air.  It is an abrasive system, which is why it can get filler and rust off, but it’s easy for our experienced operators to control how powerful the process is.  You can read more about our crushed glass system here. Any thinner areas of steel, aluminium, carbon fibre, or just ‘areas of concern’ will always be cleaned using bicarbonate of soda.

Following the paint removal process, we offer an epoxy paint priming option.  This is completed in-house, within a purpose built booth.

We’re very proud to have worked on a number of Japanese cars to date – directly imported from Japan or otherwise.  There’s a few examples below, but this is by no-means the full list. If you are restoring an imported Japanese car, let us help you take the first steps to completing a fantastic restoration.


Hakosuka Skyline

Can you tell me a little about yourself

Hi, my name is Richard Newton or more commonly known as Chunk. I’ve been into classic Japanese cars for a long time, especially Datsuns. The Hakosuka Skyline is always one I’ve wanted to restore. This is my 2nd Hakosuka, the first one I decided wasn’t the one for me, especially when I saw the one I’m restoring come up in the Japan auction sheets. Unfortunately I know nothing about the cars history as I imported it personally direct from Japan.

Restoring imported Japanese cars Datsun Hakosuka

Chunk's Datsun Datsun engine bay

Before beginning work on the vehicle, what were your plans?

When I first saw the car in front of me, I didn’t think it was too bad, so I took it to a friends fabrication shop, unfortunately it stayed there for 18 months without much work being done. This, however, worked out in my favour as when the car arrived back at my workshop, I started digging a bit deeper and found some issues I didn’t know about. The decision was then made to do a complete strip down and restoration.

Restoring imported Japanese cars Restoring imported Japanese cars

Restoring imported Japanese cars Restoring imported Japanese cars

Why did you decide to go down the blast cleaning route?

I much prefer the soda type rather than sand or acid dipping. I’d heard good things about soda so that’s why I went that route. ? I’d seen SBL featured on a few TV shows and I knew some previous customers, hence why I used them. I’m very happy with the outcome and service provided. I would definitely recommend there service to anyone.

Blast cleaned and primed engine bay Restoring imported Japanese cars

primed shell Restoring imported Japanese cars

Plans for the future?

I’m planning on finishing the restoration within 12 months. I’d ideally like to debut the Hakosuka at the Retro Rides weekender 2020.

1970 Datsun 510 Paint Removal

Unfairly (in our opinion!) dubbed ‘the poor man’s BMW’, the Datsun Bluebird was loosely based on European sedan engineering – incorporating SOHC engines and suspension inspired by the BMW 1600.

They’re a popular collectors’ car of choice across the globe – particularly in America and New Zealand.  We’re finding that they’re a much loved car in the UK, but still extemely rare to see on the roads.

Although Japanese by birth right, this Datsun 510 was imported to the UK from Malaysia by its current owner, Nian.  He’s in the process of completely stripping the car down and rebuilding it as a resto-mod.  Sympathetically returning the interior and body to its original condition, but upgrading mechanical parts to give the 70’s style a modern finish.

Before work even began, we were all aware that many, many hours would be needed to get this car looking gorgeous again.  Here’s the photos of the shell and panels when they arrived at our Wolverhampton facility.

Datsun on arrival

restoring an imported japanese car restoring a japanese import = datsun 510

restoring a japanese import datsun 510

restoring a datsun 510 imported datsun 510

datsun 510 bonnet datsun 510 doors

Filler Removal:

The Datsun 510 had a fair amount of filler covering various sections of the car.  The panels and bodyshell both needed filler removed.  We use crushed glass to do this, as bicarbonate of soda often isn’t up to the challenge.

paint removal from a datsun 510 paint removal from a japanese car

filler on a datsun 510 datsun 510 - restoring a japanese import

Blast Cleaned Datsun 510 Shell:

Once the filler has been exposed, it’s then removed – along with all paint, underseal, sound deadening and rust on the car.  As mentioned before, the owner was aware of the potential condition of the car prior to blast cleaning work.  He was prepared to find a welder and fabricator to help get this project off of the ground. We’re really looking forward to seeing progress of this potentially very cool family car!

restoring a japanese imported car how to strip the paint from a japanese import car

datsun 510 paint stripping paint stripped datsun 510 interior

interior datsun 510 restoring a japanese import - datsun 510

blast cleaning datsun 510 how to restore a japanese import

If you’re currently restoring imported Japanese cars, why not get in touch with us today to see how we can help!