How to Make Car Paint Look Aged

by Brendan Pelsue

Many antique car enthusiasts want their cars to have an aged look, believing a rusty patina gives the vehicle character. But antique cars that have never received new paint jobs are hard to come by. However, with a little paint and elbow grease, even the most freshly waxed car can be made to look as though it has gone untended since the day it came off the assembly line.

Body of the Car

Wipe down the body of car with dust rugs so that the car's surface is entirely clean. Failure to remove dust will give the car a rough finish after painting.

Spray paint all sections of the car that should look aged with a car paint of any color. Allow paint to dry completely.

Spray paint over the recently painted areas of the car using paint that is the existing color of the car, so that it appears the car has not been painted. Allow paint to dry completely.

Sand recently painted areas of the car with 600- to 800-grit sandpaper, so that paint in both the new and existing colors is visible. Sand in broad strokes rather than contained areas, so that the car's wear and tear appears to have happened over time. The more intensely an area is sanded, the more aged it will seem.

Doors and Windows

Wipe down the tops of the doors and the sides of the roof closest to the doors with dust rags.

Spray sections of the tops of the doors and the sides of the roof with silver paint.

Sand the silver-painted sections of the doors and roof with 600- to 800-grit sandpaper. Sand in broad strokes rather than controlled sections. The sanded silver sections will make the car look as though the exterior paint has been worn down to the underlying metal.


  • Think strategically about which sections of the car are most likely to have a patina. The car will look more realistically aged if those places with the most exposure to wind and sun----such as the roof, hood, and fenders----are the most worn down.
  • Sand vigorously; otherwise, the patina will not look realistic.
  • Special rust and patina sprays are available commercially. See Resources section for details.

Items you will need

About the Author

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