Good evening all,
I am posting because I was faced with an interesting dilema. My 93.5's dash panels were showing a little wear that really pained me. They weren't entirely noticeable unless the car's roof was off and in direct sunlight. The only panels that really show any wear are the shifter console and the radio panel.
Normally, I suspect the common answer that most MKIV owners would throw out is to replace the panels with the 97-98 because they are more resiliant. Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and personally, I prefer the black panels on the 93.5-96.
That said, I wondered if there was/is a way to restore the finish. I happened to be tooling around my local Lowe's today while my wife is shopping for new interior paints to re-decorate our son's room. While there, it occurred to me... Plastic paint....
Before you start assuming, please read on!
I started browsing around when I stumbled upon a nifty product, Valspar Clear Plastic Primer. I bought a can to test out my shifter panel thinking: "Well it's already jacked up, I have nothing to lose, let's test it out and see".
First, I chemically stripped the rubberized coating off the panel with an aerosol version of Goo Be Gone, actually it is called "GOOF OFF". I sprayed the panel down enough to thoroughly soak it, then I let it sit for about 5 minutes. Next, I used a regular old dish brush to scrub away at the panel. With minimal effort, the rubberized coating crumbles up and washed right off. When I stripped the panel, I ended up with a naked piece of plastic that looked like this:
Notice that it's smooth and a little ashy... It's a very clean surface. I must apologize, I didn't take pictures of the shifter panel stripped because I had no idea it would turn out so well. In case someone asks, I removed the Premier Edition Emblem with Dental Floss and using a sawing motion back and forth. I was able to remove the emblem without bending it or damaging it. I will re-apply the emblem once complete.
Next, I used the Valspar Clear Plastic Primer. I dusted a thin base coat and let it dry approximately 1 hour. I applied 3 more coats in the same fashion, dusting and let them sit 1 hour. 6 hours has passed by and the finish is quite smooth, and very resiliant. It looks like this:
Here is the ash tray complete:
The shifter console complete:
Curious, the panel has a satin look to it. It isn't shiny, but not flat either. It's very black, it has a darker hue than the rubberized panels. The finish is very smooth. The nice thing, it is very hard as well. I was testing the side of the panel to see if I could scratch it with my finger nail. I was unsuccessful! The finish is very hard so far.
I will continue to add pictures to this account, but I wanted to offer up my experience to others out there who might wish to do the same. Personally speaking, money isn't the factor when it comes to spending $450 on a new set of panels. For me, it's a matter of principle. I'd rather spend the money elsewhere on the car if I can restore the finish to like-new. I think that once completed, the untrained eye won't notice the difference.
I'll keep everyone updated.