If you open it, you will notice that they are painted chrome on parts of the housing, if not all of it. This is to increase the reflectivity. (You can see this in the headlights) There will be parts on the inside that you can paint, like the borders, but you want to leave the inside shiny to keep your lights bright.
And I don't think you want to sand blast it. I can imagine that tearing it to pieces, being really uneven, and providing a terrible surface to paint on.
EDIT: I noticed you have an older car and the taillights could be different from those of newer cars, but I think they still are reflective inside and the plastic still probably won't hold up to sand blasting.
I used "0000" steel wool, followed by a little bit a paint thinner as like a degreaser. I wanted something different for mine, so I looked up tattoo designs online. Found what I wanted, designed to fit to size I was wanting.
I then used blue painters tape and taped off my whole light and traced out the design. Carefully I cut out the designs and peeled away all areas to be painted. I used a wheel coating paint. I'm sure you could use any automotive exterior paint, but remember yo either lightly darken or at least leave 75% visible light.
Heres pics of my taillights:
I've had cops behind me manytimes since then and none of them have stopped me for it. I recently got a speeding ticketfor a 48 in 35 and even then he still did not mention anything about it. was even a Washington State Trooper too.
I had thought about doing the VHT paint, but didn't want to wait for it to ship to me. I checked all over my area and no one had it. When I want to get a project done, I just do it....lol. But for someone that wants to order and wait...that'll work too.
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