By Jon Maib
In Phase 1, I mentioned that we picked up a damaged 10th Anniversary Rubicon hood from 4 Wheel Parts Truck Fest a few months ago... This hood retails for around $830 with the vents (and if you buy online usually comes with a hefty shipping price). So when I saw this hood in the damaged section of the event for $250, I took a good look at it and decided it could be fixed. Figured I'd try to get a bit more meat off the bone (this is project Vulture) and offered them $200, which they gladly accepted. With the purchase of the hood, meant that I could get rid of the 911 someone decided to scratch into the hood and that it was time for our custom paint job.

It began by test fitting the hood on the Jeep to see what really needed to be done to get it straightened out. Once on, I really found out how bent up this hood really was, but I was commited to make this hood work. I began by bending the front of the hood out to get the basic lines in the right spot and then used my cheap set of body hammers to straighten out what I could and hammering out the smaller dents.

Once the dents were as smooth as I could get them, it was time for Bondo. I know some people are not fans of using Bondo, but the trick is to get the metal as smooth as possible and then you just have a fine layer of bondo to smooth down. We did have to build up a few sections of the hood unfortunatly, but in the end, the results speak for themselves. Once the Bondo'd areas were smoothed out, the hood got shot with some primer.

When the hood was finished, it was time to prep for the rest of the Jeep for paint. I began removing the doors and the fenders. After looking over the rest of the vehicle, came up with a plan of attack. It would have been easy to leave everything on and masked off what I didnt want painted, but decided it wouldnt be that much work to take the individual pieces off and paint them. Once I had everthing off, the Jeep resembled something out of the movie Mad Max. It just needed a few machine guns mounted to it.

The most important part about painting a vehicle is the prep work. A lot of time was spent sanding down body parts, fixing a few imperfections and it was then time to lay down paint. I ordered a John Deere paint called Blitz Black that I have used before on my Jeep TJ. What I like about this paint, besides the $35 a gallon price tag, is that it is very forgiving and easy to paint with. Another great feature about this tractor paint, it's UV resistant, lead free, and environmentally safe.

Once the painting had been completed, I let the parts sit for a few days in order for them to have proper dry time. It was then time to start putting project Vulture back together. Its important to take your time so you dont scratch up the paint while trying to get it all back together. An extra pair of hands often comes in handy to get the larger items such as the hood and windshield back on without any issues. Once the Jeep was back together, I added some metalic gray accents on the hood. All that was left was to figure out what we were going to do with the fenders and needed to get the vents for the hood (as they did not come with the hood at the 4 Wheel Parts event). With hood, vents and paint, the project only cost us around $350. Thats a savings of more than $480 if I went out and bought the hood new. Vulture is now back together and has been officially branded. Stay tuned for Phase 3 of Project Vulture as we tackle rock protection.