How to Paint Your Mopar Engine, and Which Color Is Correct?

How to Paint Your Engine the Right Way, And Which Color Is Correct?

Painting an engine presents a unique challenge. Unlike the rest of the car that gets painted, engines get hot and some parts get really hot. Now that’s not news to anyone, but heat must be taken into account when painting an engine.

The factory-painted engines were practically the definition of down-and-dirty work. They looked OK when new, but it didn’t take many years for them to ugly out. For the most part, that was all right. It was just how it was, and mostly nobody really cared.

But when these original muscle cars began being restored, suddenly they were expected to look nice not just on the outside but also under the hood. Even more, they were expected to stay looking nice under the hood. Given the abovementioned really hot parts . . . well, there’s the challenge. One way to accomplish this is not to drive the car after it’s done or at least not drive it much, but that’s not going to be an acceptable option for most of us.

Muscle Car Restoration in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, has been restoring muscle cars pretty much since restoring these cars became a thing to do. MCR has had a lot of time to figure out how to make an engine look good for as long as possible. Note that engine heat will always have an effect on paint over time and that the really hot parts like exhaust manifolds will discolor paint almost right away no matter what.

So what’s recommended? MCR uses PPG epoxy primer and single-stage catalyst cured paint. The colors are accurate, it holds up well under the heat, and it’s relatively easy and quick to apply. It’s also reasonably resistant to fuel and oil stains so it can be cleaned up after a few miles.

Engine Color Chart, ’64-’74*

1964-68 361/383 with Carter
1966-68 440 with Carter
1968-69 383 with Holley
1967-69 440 with Holley

1965-68 273/318/340

Race Hemi Orange
1964-65 426 2x4bbl

Hemi Orange
1966-68 426 2x4bbl
1969 383 with Carter
1969-71 426/440
1970-71 383 with Holley

1970-71 340

Street Hemi Orange
1969-71 426 2x4bbl

1969, 1972-74 318/340/ 360
1970-74 383/400 with Carter
1970-74 440 with Holley
1972-74 440 with Carter

*Note: There may be variations in production and/or final options.

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