S30 Hub Cap Restoration

I lost a "Z" hub cap when I took my Z out for a drive recently. So I decided to refinish a few caps, one replacement and a couple of spares. After digging through my stash, I found a few suitable donors. The topic of hubcap refinishing has been addressed before, but I thought I'd document the steps I took to bring these hub caps back to life.

Items Needed

  • Paint stripper
  • Automotive Masking Tape
  • Dish pan
  • Dish Soap
  • rubber gloves
  • scouring pad
  • Paint Brush
  • PPG wax & grease remover or simular
  • hammer & dolly
  • X-acto knife
  • pick
  • Paint


  • I began by removing the center ornaments. I used a pick to bend up the tabs on the retainer clips. The clips could then be pulled off.

  • Next, the hub caps got a bath in hot, soapy water. After drying them off, I wiped them down with a wax & grease remover to make sure all dirt, grease & grime was completely removed. I keep a little PPG wax & grease remover in a spray bottle. Eastwood's Pre Painting Prep (or similar) would do, as well

  • Once clean, it was easy to spot the dents & dings. A little hammer & dolly work straightened things out.

  • Next, I used paint stripper to remove the old paint, which is pretty thin. I put the hub cap in a large plastic tub that I got at Ace Hardware to prevent from making a mess. I poured a little stripper into a clean vegetable can and used a chip brush with natural bristles to apply it. Be sure to wear rubber gloves to prevent getting any on your hands.

    The old paint started to wrinkle within a few seconds of applying the paint stripper.

    I rinsed the caps off and used a green scouring pad to remove all of the old paint. Repeat as needed to remove all of the old paint.

  • Now it's time to mask off the areas that won't be painted. I used Scotch green tape. The 1/4" tape is perfect for outlining the scallops and the outer edges of the hub cap. I found it easier to stick a small section of the 3/4" tape in the "corners" of the scallops and trim to size with an X-acto knife. The 1/4" tape bunches up on the inside of the bend in the tight corners

  • After masking the hub cap, I wiped it with a tack rag to remove any dust. Then I applied 2-3 light coats of SEM etch primer. I let the primer dry overnight, although it says on the can that it can be top coated after 1 hour.

  • When I repainted the grille, rear finisher & hubcaps on my '73 I had a local paint shop mix up a pint of paint using the "recipe" outlined in Wick Humble's book. It is a silver/grey metallic with flattener. Fortunately, I had some left. I used a Sharpe Cobalt gravity feed gun to spray the top coat. I applied 3 light coats, waiting 5-10 minutes between each coat

  • Once the paint was dry I removed all of the masking tape. The cap is starting to look nice! I polished up the center ornament with a couple of Meguiar's products (see http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/s...ghlight=hubcap). With a polished center ornament attached this hubcap is ready to put on the car. Might not be 100% show car quality, but darn nice for a Z that is driven! Now I've got a couple of spares in case I lose one again!