Only the most optimistic classic car lover on the hunt for a vehicle to restore would realistically expect to find one with its paintwork in perfect condition.

This situation can only happen if the car has been stored indoors in a totally dry setting, or, at least, under covers, with its paintwork having been protected from six or seven decades of UK or European weather conditions.

As any experienced restorer will tell you, cars in such a condition will always come with a price tag to match.

The truth is that most people taking on a restoration look upon painting a car as the greatest opportunity to stamp their personal signature as a tribute to the car they have lovingly restored.

As experienced restorers will tell you, the last thing they will take into account when deciding on a particular vehicle to restore is the state of its paintwork.

The best scenario that car restorers can hope to find is that the car still has its original paintwork, although probably well faded with spots of rust here and there- an ideal basis on which to build for any classic car restoration project.

In the world of classic car restoration, especially in the United States, a trend has risen and grown to leave the car with its original paintwork intact.

Most cars that have been around the block several million times without having a major respray will have built up a coating of various chemical that have formed over the years on the surface paintwork due to constant exposure to the elements, known as patina.

There is nothing more unique than a car with patina, and all that the restorer has to do is apply a coat of clear lacquer to preserve it for posterity. Not everyone's cup of tea, but a chance to be different at a relatively low cost.

Another low-cost alternative to a full respray that has sprung to light in recent years is to have the classic car "wrapped."

In a wrap, a large vinyl graphic or decal is applied directly over the original paint of the vehicle. Using a wrap allows the restorer to change the vehicle's appearance instantly.

Wrapping also presents a continuous option to either return the vehicle to its original condition or even switch to a different wrap design.

While patina and wrapping are options to be considered when it comes down to it the favourite choice for most restorers is a traditional respray, either partial or full.

Only in exceptional cases will a restorer, especially one who plans to restore just one car, will find any financial justification in investing in overly expensive paint spraying equipment and especially the booth required to do a professional job.

That means that almost all forms of painting will need to be farmed out, although the restorer will be able to save some money by doing as much of the preparatory work, such as sanding and filling, in-house.

If the respray is to be only partial, the restorer might be saving some money although giving themselves a lot of potential headaches.

Firstly matching paint colours to the original means a lot of expertise both in finding an exact match for the existing paint as well as spraying the paint so accurately that it all blends in accurately. Skills that only an experienced painter will have at their disposal.

Many restorers, with an eye for authenticity, make a lot of effort to retain the vehicle's original colours. If so they will need to have access to the vehicle's paint code, which can be traced through the manufacturer, who should have details available, or if that avenue is closed through consulting a member of the particular model's owners' club, or at least someone familiar with the specific model.

If all else fails, then all that remains to match the colour by eye, although it should be worthwhile to find a friendly paint supplier prepared to help find an acceptable colour through their vast reservoir of colour chips and swatches.

Going for a new colour is the simplest and most obvious option, despite that it also means removing all of the original paint that remains and stripping the car down to its bare metal.

More restorers are comfortable with the concept of a bare-metal respray than they were in the past, although they are taking a chance the removing the car's primary protection may open a pandora's box of problems that it will cost more to solve than leaving a coat of stable, solid paint, even though it may be sixty years or elder.

A stripped shell, on the other hand, is always going to attract moisture and with it rust, especially when the bodyshell has been shot or sandblasted.

That means that little or no time must be wasted between stripping to bare metal and the car at least being sprayed with undercoat.

When it comes to the final decision on which colour to spray, it would be wise for the restorer to tread warily and not attempt to be too controversial, as a dramatic colour change may detract from the ambience of the vehicle.

What is for sure is that when the vehicle rolls out of the paint booth, be it in either Platina, wrapped or full or partial respray, it will signify the light at the end of the tunnel for the restorer, when they can envisage how the finished article will look, after considerable financial outlay and effort.









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Sanding the car body

Applying a top coat

Buffing paint work