if the old paint on a plastic model is in good shape is it still necessary to remove the old paint before applying the new paint?
The old paint needs to provide some grip for the new paint. Another point is the thickness of two layers of paint. You may loose some details and finally will you cover the paint with one layer of the new paint (dark over light) or do you expect to have even more layers?
Depending on who made the car, you may be able to paint over factory-applied paint.  Some brands, like Tyco and the original LifeLike, used too much paint, and it hid, on some cars, rather well-executed details.  Regular Athearn cars had relatively thin paint, but it's easy to strip off if you need a fresh start.

My preference, in almost all cases, is to remove the paint and start fresh.  This also affords an opportunity to add some better details, such as free-standing grabirons or to simply remove some details which are out-of-scale or non-prototypical.

Here's a couple of Train Miniature cars with the original paint stripped-off.....

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[Image: NewYearsChallengePhotos045.jpg]

In both examples, this made it easy to get rid of the oversized and improperly-placed door tracks, creating new ones using strip styrene.  Both cars also use modified Athearn doors.

Here's the same cars, repainted and re-lettered....

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[Image: NewYearsChallengePhotos102.jpg]

Well I am taking your advice and am now soaking a passenger car in mean green.  This will take just about a day.  Now I would like to know if  I will have to scrub the paint off or does it come off fairly easy?  ( I know I sound a little lazy)
I'm not familiar with that product, Leon.  I use either methyl hydrate or SuperClean for most paint - some paints will blister and separate from the model quite readily, and others may require more attention.  A stiff toothbrush is a useful tool for the latter, but is also good for cleaning-up remnants of paint that cling around moulded-on details, such as grabirons and ladders.

Depending on the type of paint stripper, it's often a good idea to wear nitrile gloves while doing the manual labour after the chemical has done its work - they'll not only keep your hands clean, but will also protect them from potentially harmful chemicals.

The two biggest problems painting over existing paint are the lettering on the model will show through because of the additional layer of paint and many times on cheaper models the factory paint itself can be very thick and obscure details.

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