How to Restore, Paint & Chrome Damaged Car Emblem & Hood Ornaments

How to Restore, Paint & Chrome Damaged Car Emblem & Hood Ornaments


1932 Studebaker President Hood Emblem
Michael Barera [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Most car enthusiasts want to restore their car’s logo emblems for their beauty.  Beyond enhancing any car’s appearance, original emblems also increase its re-sale value. You can purchase New Original Stock (NOS) emblems via the internet and local car shows, but you can save money by painting the originals you already have.  Vintage, cast emblems have paint-filled depressions in a many colors.  Most emblems are fastened to the car’s metal body parts, and must be removed from the car for restoration. Emblems mounted on the car body feature pegs in the back. Punch holes in a cardboard box and slide emblem’s pegs through the holes to hold it in place.  If you can not remove them, take the car to a body shop.

Car collectors save vintage badges and emblems because original parts are important to the car’s authentic restoration. Many suppliers now manufacture reproduction emblems (especially in China).  Most reproduction badges don’t carry those original part numbers. New old stock (NOS) emblems are becoming harder to find, making them more expensive, so always try to save your original emblems!

Tools Needed For This Job:

Soap & Water

Toothbrush (any small brush)

Clean rags

Safety glasses

Safety gloves

Hobby knife

Paint stripper

Small, pointed paintbrush

Model paint

Paint thinner

Steel wool (extra fine)

Chrome polish


Is the plating on your original emblems in good condition? If so, matching model paint, a small-pointed paint brush and paint thinner will quickly bring your emblems looking like new again. To find the “correct color,” take your emblems to the hobby shop with you. NOTE:  Model paint needs a temperature of @70 degrees or less to flow well and dry slowly.


Car emblems are divided into depressed areas with metal ribs. You must clean chipped or scratched areas to the bare, smooth metal BEFORE you even attempt to add any new color. If there are only a few chips, they can be scraped down to bare metal with the tip of a small knife.  You might need paint stripper to fully clean out some areas.  NOTE:  Never sandblast chrome, as it will ruin the plating!  You can use a toothbrush to remove dirt in the tiniest  corners. After you remove the old paint, clean the emblem  with paint thinner and wipe it off well with a clean cloth. Now, set it aside to dry completely.  Then, wash it with soap and water, and wipe thoroughly again with the clean cloth. NOTE:  Always work in a well ventilated area and properly dispose of all used containers and rags.


Before opening, shake the model paint by hand for a couple of minutes.  Mix the model paint, making sure it’s at room temperature, so thin enough to flow freely. Pour small amounts into a clean, separate container if you are going to dilute the paint with thinner.  Put a drop of paint on the end of the small, pointed paintbrush and gently, slowly place it into the emblem area you wish to paint. NOTE: DO NOT BRUSH or PUSH the paint into the area.  Simply allow several drops to flow together and fill the space. If the paint is too thick, it will not “flow” enough.  You must add more paint thinner to the paint bottle to “thin it.” Then, apply more of the now flowing paint until your area is fully covered. Position the emblem so it is level and let it dry thoroughly before handling. This can  take a few minutes, or a few hours, depending on the thickness of the paint.  You can use a hairdryer. or CLOSED sunny window, to speed up drying time.  NOTE:  You must clean the brush thoroughly before you apply a new paint color. Do this by washing the brush in the paint thinner several times.


Car emblem details are very tiny, so some paint will always end up “flowing” where it doesn’t belong.  Let the paint dry overnight, then scrape unwanted paint off with a small knife.  Scrape any spills or uneven paint, including raised edges.  Patience is the key to success when working with extremely detailed, small pieces. NOTE: some imperfections were already present in the factory emblems, so you’re not seeking perfection now. Emblems are mostly viewed from several feet away, and they look “perfect” from that distance.


Now that you’ve let the paint dry on your entire emblem, the last step is to polish the chrome until it shines like new again.  Polish the chrome plating with a small piece of fine, steel wool. NOTE:  Carefully avoid touching your new paint job…or you risk redoing it again. You can also apply a little fine chrome polish with the steel wool for extra shine.

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