Reviving Original Emblems

Reviving Original Emblems

A little care & model paint can work wonders

If you're into parts originality for your restoration, then saving vintage badges and emblems is important to you. Many suppliers are now manufacturing reproduction items, but most don't carry those original part numbers so precious to many resto enthusiasts. New old stock (NOS) emblems are becoming scarce and expensive, so save those originals!

Necessary Items

If the plating on your original items is still good, and we'll show you a trick for polishing chrome, then hobby-shop model paint in the correct color, a small-pointed paint brush, paint thinner and some patience can bring your emblems back to show condition in a few hours. Take the emblems with you to the hobby shop and compare the colors. Most model paint is available in a large array of colors and is inexpensive. You'll also need a clean table and the temperature around 70 degrees or less for the best results. You want the paint to flow and dry slowly, so a cooler temperature is best.

Cleaned Emblems

Most automotive emblems are segmented into depressed areas divided by metal ribs. Any chipped or scratched areas must be cleaned to bare, smooth metal prior to adding new color. If your emblem paint is really bad, it might take paint stripper to completely clean out the areas. You can't sandblast chrome or the plating will be ruined. Once the old paint is removed, thoroughly clean the surface with paint thinner and wipe with a clean cloth. Allow the surface to completely dry, wash with soap and water, and wipe again with a dry towel. At this point, the emblem should be ready to take new color.


Mix the model paint thoroughly and make sure it's thin enough to flow. Using the pointed paintbrush, pick up a drop of paint on the end of the bristles and place it into the area to be painted. DO NOT brush the paint into the area-work quickly and let several drops flow together to fill the space. If the paint is not flowing, thin the paint in the bottle and apply more until the area is covered. Be sure to completely clean the brush prior to using a new color. Several washings in the thinner should do the job nicely.

Clean Edges

In a perfect world, no cleanup on the emblems would be necessary, but we're not perfect. Some paint will naturally get where it doesn't belong, but don't panic. After the paint dries overnight, carefully scrape these areas with an X-Acto knife blade until the unwanted paint is gone. Again, care and patience pay off here. Remember that a few imperfections were present in the factory emblems, so don't try to create a perfect masterpiece. These emblems are usually viewed from several feet away, and very few people will be examining your handiwork with a magnifying glass. Do the best you can, remembering that you still have the original piece for your car and the colors are bright again.

Chrome Cleanup

Once the paint is completely dry on the entire emblem, here is a trick to spiff up the chrome: Purchase a pack of 0000-grade steel wool at the hardware store and carefully use a small piece to clean the plating on the emblem. Don't get the steel wool into your fresh paint or you'll be redoing it. Rub the chrome with this super-fine steel wool (it won't scratch the plating). If necessary, use a little fine chrome polish with the steel wool. The results will be satisfying and your emblems will look great.

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