Did Henry Ford really say that his customers could have a Model T in any colour so long as it was black?
Well, not exactly and although a lot if the 15 million Ford T Model’s sold were black the most successful car of its era did come in other colours. However, the man who popularised the production line and started a process that eventually would ‘put the world on wheels’ did have a preference for black paint because it dried faster.
Automotive paint in the early years wasn’t very different from the paint applied to houses, wagons and iron railings. It was oil-based, applied with a brush and took up to 40 days before the process of painting, sanding, buffing and drying was complete and the car could be sent to a sales outlet.
Air-assisted paint spraying had been available since the 19th Century but it took decades before the concept was sufficiently refined to dispense paint onto automotive panels. That happened during the 1930’s, accompanied by experiments with metallic paint finishes and more inventive multi-tone colour-schemes.
Nitrocellulose vehicle paints produced levels of depth and shine that previously were impossible to achieve, but they were hazardous to people using them and the environment. The 1950’s saw manufacturers move to acrylic enamels which were less volatile, easier to apply, dry and buff.
The vast majority of pre-1980’s ‘classic’ cars would have originally been painted in a baked enamel finish where heat was used to dry and harden the paint. Some painters still specialise in this technique and insurers like Enthusiast will understand the need to replace ‘like with like’.
Since the 1980’s the majority of new vehicles and many undergoing restoration will have been painted in water-based polyurethane paints. These are tough, easy to apply, fast drying and can be tinted to produce a myriad of colours. Once painted using a urethane base-coat the finish is protected by clear lacquer.
Extremes of temperature and harsh washing techniques don’t do ‘clear over’ paint finishes any favours. Today it is common to see older vehicles with unsightly patches where the coating has worn away and the paint beneath is either flaking or seriously faded.
Creating show car paintwork is a skilled and exacting task that uses special techniques and paint products. One device that has been employed over many decades to create special effects and spectacular automotive art is the airbrush.
Devised in the 1870’s, the design of the air-brush evolved and its use expanded in many different directions. Today the murals that decorate thousands of show vehicles owe their existence to talented air-brush artists.
Chromaflair or ‘chamelion’ paint uses millions of tiny aluminium flakes with a coating that changes the way light seen through the paint is viewed. Reflections in the paint appear to merge and swirl in complex patterns depending on lighting conditions and angle from which the vehicle is viewed.
Cars with special paint need special insurance. In the event an accident, a specialist insurer like Enthusiast will ensure the paintwork is repaired using correct materials and by someone with appropriate skills and experience. Before insuring your custom-painted vehicle or any vehicle which is rarely driven and held in high regard, give the team at Enthusiast Insurance a call on 10 10 44 or visit www.enthusiast.com.au