The Secrets of Classic Car Paint Restoration

February 7, 2019

 

The vast majority of vehicle owners would never consider visiting classic auto paint shops in Orange County, let alone paying for a top-of-the-line classic car paint job. And who can blame them? Modern cars come pre-painted in neutral colors, like black or gray, that have been specifically chosen because they appeal to most people.

But classic car enthusiasts aren’t like most people. To us, choosing a great classic car color is a huge part of the customization process that made us buy these vehicles in the first time. Like the muscle car itself, its color is a direct representation of who its owner is as a person.

Whether you’re a newcomer to this hobby, or you’re a longtime member of the Association of California Car Clubs, you should always approach your classic car’s future paint job with utmost care.

How to paint a classic car?

At a glance, the idea of putting a new color on a car doesn’t seem too complicated. Just paint the vehicle like you’d paint anything else, right? Unfortunately, it’s much more complicated than that. The way classic cars are made creates a number of unique painting challenges that must be taken into consideration in order to get the best results.

Don’t feel discouraged by any of this. One of the reasons we love our oldtimers so much is precisely because of the time, money, and effort that went into making them what they are. It’s all worth it in the end when you’re cruising past the Balboa Pavilion in your cherished ride.

Read on to learn about the common car painting problems to watch out for, as well as share some painting techniques that can be of help if you’ve decided to go it yourself. Needless to say, the safest way to get a first-rate paint job is to have it done by a reputable oldtimer restoration company in Orange County.

Decide on what type of paint you’re going to use

Car paint comes in two types: solvent-based and water-based. The carrier liquid within water-based paints is water, while in solvent-based paints it’s resin. Although they’re similar to each other when it comes to cost and durability, the water-based paints use a different drying procedure and climate control.

Water-based vs solvent-based paints

Water-based paints require a special environment to be properly applied. However, they’re also more eco-friendly and the clean-up job is far easier than it is with solvent-based paints.

The three subtypes of solvent-based paints, lacquer, enamel, and urethane are much easier to apply, but they’re also more harmful to the environment. Urethane and enamel are both chipping-resistant, but unlike urethane, enamel is very hard to apply correctly. Enamel’s sole advantage is that it’s considerably less expensive than urethane.

Lacquer used to be the go-to car paint up until the 1960s. While it’s easy to apply and can still achieve a gorgeous shine, its lack of durability and tendency to fade in sunlight resulted in it becoming unpopular. All solvent-based paints are extremely toxic and shouldn’t be applied without protective gear.

 

How to restore rusted and abused paint on a classic car?

Sometimes, rusted and chipped paint can be restored and stripping old car paint may not be necessary. The majority of oldtimers are painted with a base coat, so you’ll need a base coat and a clear coat to paint them properly. First, mask the entire vehicle to shield it from paint and overspray.

Polysheeting is great for this. Simply cut it to fit around the hood and the door openings. Next, sand down the patina, or rust spots, down to the bare metal. 120-grit and 220-grit sandpaper is ideal for this. Afterward, spray the area you’re working on in heavy coats of primer. Finally, apply the base coat.

It bears saying that the above procedure can be a time-consuming, difficult process. Unless you have extensive experience with this sort of activity, it’s probably safer to have it done by a professional classic car painting service.

What paint to use on classic car steering wheel?

Aside from the pedals, the steering wheel is the part of a car that gets the most driver interaction. Unlike the pedals, which are rarely seen unless you go out of your way to look at them, an ugly, faded steering wheel is clearly visible to anyone who approaches the vehicle.

Because of this, it’s worthwhile to make sure the steering wheel looks good. To do so, you must first remove it and clean it thoroughly using water and detergent. After that, spray paint it with a pre-painting prep to remove any oily residue. Then smooth it using 240-grit sandpaper.

Apply a few light coats of primer to the steering wheel. Wait for it to dry before applying your topcoat. Self-etching primers create a phenomenal base for virtually all topcoat finishes. Some people use epoxies, but we do not recommend this.

What color should you choose?

This may sound like a strange question, but the color you choose for your muscle car means more than just personal taste. It’s scientifically proven that different colors convey different things. For example, white implies that someone is fastidious, direct, pure, and may be hard to please.

On the other hand, orange indicates an artistic and creative personality, while red signifies strong emotions and a certain danger-loving streak. Some insurers even charge more expensive premiums for “risky” colors such as red or yellow, while others charge less for “safe” colors like gray or blue.

Also, if you live in an area that sees a lot of criminal behavior, having a vehicle that’s painted an unusual color such as bright green may be a good idea, as it deters potential car thieves.

 

The best of all muscle car paint shops in Orange County

Are you a classic car enthusiast eager to give your favorite ride the amazing paint job it deserves? Or have you bought an oldtimer with the intention to resell it, and you want to have it restored in order to raise your asking price? Then reach out to Chimera Motors.

As Orange County’s finest classic car restoration company, we can meet all your classic ride painting needs. Dial 714-907-0609 or drop by our shop today.

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