The final finish on your classic or special interest automobile can be considered the crowning jewel of the restoration process. It is the single most visible aspect of the finished project and it affects the potential value of the car. Furthermore, it is a direct reflection of the care and pride invested by both owner and craftsman alike. In order to help familiarize you with the art of custom/restoration refinishing we have compiled the following information.
Our paint department uses only top quality state-of-the-art materials unless specific materials such as lacquers or enamels are requested for the project. We are capable of and are experienced with today's modern waterborne systems as well as early coatings like lacquers, enamels, exotic custom finishes like candies, color shifting pearlescents and others. Any of these will only look its best with the proper foundation and surface preparation.
Nearly all of the cars that are candidates for restoration are fairly old. Invariably, they have had previous restoration attempts and usually have numerous resprays on them. As an example, today's paints react extremely unfavorably with the lacquer-based materials found on many classics, restored or original. Because of all the variables that exist with previous work and even some early OE paint systems, it cannot be over-emphasized that the only way to insure the longevity of any paint job is to start from the bare metal, wood or fiberglass and build the proper foundation.
Proper refinishing at these levels takes time. Once the major metal (and/or wood, fiberglass) work is finished (corrosion and dent repair), it is a good rule of thumb to expect the car to be at the paint shop for many weeks. Checking fit, refinishing, individual components and assemblies, disassembly and reassembly of panels etc., is far more time consuming than your average late model collision repair. Even after being painted, a large amount of time is usually spent sanding and polishing out the final finish to meet today's standards before final exterior and interior assembly.
One scenario of the paint process at a glance: if the car is metal (let's say steel or aluminum), after final prep and cleaning the first material applied is an etching primer. This bites into the metal providing excellent corrosion protection while also creating an extraordinary base for the primer-surfacer. The primer-surfacer is sanded to remove any remaining imperfections in the surface. When the primer-surfacer has been sanded the car is ready to spray with a sealer. Your vehicle is now ready for its color coats. Most refinishing today is done with a base coat/clear coat system. Our primary system here at Ragtops & Roadsters, unless something job specific is needed, is an environmentally friendly, modern waterborne basecoat and urethane clear coat system.
These produce beautiful, durable and repairable finishes and in the right hands can be made to look like older colors and finishes but with today's durability. It is the type of system we use and highly recommend. As stated in the previous section, this gets sanded and polished out creating a glass-like finish if desired.
A craftsman is only as good as he is allowed to be. While we understand that not everyone is endeavoring to create a show car, the basics of sound refinishing are the same for all refinishing projects. The major difference is in the attention to detail each step in the refinishing process receives. The speed and methods of production paint shops, while capable of producing acceptable results, are geared towards an entirely different standard. We believe the standard for special interest automobiles is a cut above the rest and it is to that end that we direct our efforts.