Apparently the 2007 Nissan 350Z suffers from an armrest ailment: The paint scratches off very easily. Other than that, the car is perfect. Here's what I did to improve the look.
Step 1: What I Used
Vinyl and Fabric spray paint (matte black)
Plastic bag (for masking the parts I didn't want to paint)
One smokin' 2007 350Z
Step 2: What It Looked Like Before
The center part wasn't quite as bad as in the photo (I scraped it some before I started shooting the pictures), but it was pretty rugged. The edges around the white area are indicative of what was going on prior to the makeover.
Step 3: Getting Down to the Base
I initially thought that underneath the original matte black finish was a solid gray base, but I was wrong. Apparently the gray is just a primer (and not a very good one, at that). I think I'd have gone with a black primer, but that's just me. I guess if it's gray, it lets you know pretty quickly that the matte black finish is coming off. Anyway, as I was scraping away at the original finish (which comes off like a pliable nail polish, for those of you who nervously scrape off your nail polish), I scraped through the gray into another black, which seems to be a solid base. The process of getting through the gray added an hour to the project. The gray is a little harder to get off than the outer black. I scraped it carefully with an Exacto blade. I knew that I was going to sand it a little, but I was still as careful as I could be not to nick into the base.
Step 4: Tape It Off
I started taping the area off before I finished scraping, to help protect the unpainted areas and to help me see my edges. I eventually scraped it all except the area toward the mirror adjustment knob. See the gray stripe on the right? I left that, and the paint above that line is the original finish. I left that, too. I noticed that after a couple of hours, I lost patience with the scraping. I figured, it's my car. It can't look much worse than it did when I started. I sanded all the scraped area.
Step 5: The Fun Part
After I taped the plastic bags around the entire area and made sure to tape the window, lock, and mirror adjustment mechanisms, I was ready to paint.
I like spray paint. This was my first time to use this Vinyl and Fabric spray, and it worked well. It went on very smoothly and dried really quickly. I have probably five coats on this armrest. I don't know yet how it will hold up, but it looks good.
Step 6: The Reveal
Nissan probably won't be calling me any time soon to do detail work, but I'm happy with the outcome.