We'll come right out and say it: one of the best things about muscle cars or vintage hot rods is how amazing they look with a custom paint job. Keeping your beloved oldtimer in perfect working order is all well and good, but eye-catching custom paint jobs in Orange County are what really gives these cars their unique character.
In this article, we'll give you some pointers on how to correctly paint a vintage car and how to expertly strip old paint. We'll also tell you where to get a professional custom paint job if you decide that doing it yourself isn't your preferred option.
What kind of paint do you use on a car?
Car paint can either be solvent-based or water-based. Water-based paints are eco-friendly and don't require special protective gear to apply, but they also use special drying techniques and generally take longer to apply properly.
Solvent-based paints come in three types: enamel, urethane, and lacquer. Between the 1920s and the 1960s, lacquer used to be the car paint of choice. However, due to being vulnerable to UV light, chipping easily, requiring frequent waxing and buffing, and being extremely harmful to the environment, lacquer is rarely used today.
The main difference between urethane and enamel is that urethane is costlier, but also more sturdy and better looking. Enamel is also difficult to apply properly, especially if you're a novice painter. For these reasons, urethane is the go-to solvent-based paint for most people today.
How to custom paint a car?
For a muscle car to be painted right, you must first strip the old paint. This is done either by media blasting, sanding, chemical stripping, or scraping. These are all tried and tested methods that can reliably strip a car down to the bare metal. Which one you use depends on personal preference.
As for the painting process itself, the exact approach you use depends entirely on the paint you're using. For example, acrylic urethane requires you to first thoroughly sand the surface with sandpapers of varying grit, finishing with 400-grit. It goes without saying that the painting should be done in a clean, dust-free booth.
Afterward, apply acrylic urethane primer coat to all prepared surfaces while taking care to follow the paint manufacturer's recommendations. Apply the primer using a high pressure, high volume compressed air painting system. Your sprayer should have a minimum of a sixty gallon compressed air tank.
Applying the finishing coat
Lightly sand the primer coat using 800-grit sandpaper. De-dust the surface with a tack cloth. Mix the acrylic urethane as per manufacturer's instructions, and start applying the finishing coat using high volume, high pressure spray painting equipment.
Acrylic urethane comes in single stage and double stage variants, which is what determines how many coats you have to apply to finish the paint job. Always give the previous coat time to dry completely before applying the next one.
How to get a custom paint job for a car?
What if you can't or don't want to paint your classic ride yourself? Maybe you don't have the time to do it, maybe you lack the tools, or maybe you simply want to be 100% sure that your cherished oldtimer is painted according to professional standards. Luckily, there are classic car paint shops that will gladly do it for you.
Where to get the highest quality custom paint jobs in Orange County
Chimera Motors is Orange County's finest classic car painting and restoration company. Located within walking distance of the Sunset Beach, our shop is outfitted with top-of-the-line car painting tools and supplies.
Get in touch with us by dialing 714-907-0609, or visit us at our premises. We're eager to help you get the great paint job that perfectly fits your muscle car.