Only the most fervent optimist on the hunt for a restoration project would realistically expect to find the vehicle 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.
And as any experienced restorer will tell you, cars in such a condition will come with a price tag to match.
The truth is that most people taking on a restoration see painting a car as the dandiest opportunity to stamp their personal signature as a tribute to the car they have lovingly restored.
According to experienced restorers, the state of a vehicle's paintwork should never be regarded as a stumbling block when choosing a vehicle for renovation.
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. Original paint will typically hold up well if re-coated with new, modern paint. The issue of unstable materials is likely to arise from any repairs that have been carried out during the vehicle's lifetime.
Original paint will typically hold up well if re-coated with new, modern paint. The issue of unstable materials is likely to arise from any repairs that have been carried out during the vehicle's lifetime.
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 which 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.
While patina is an option to be considered, when it comes down to it, the favourite choice for most restorers is a traditional respray, either partial or complete.
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.
Suppose the respray is to be only partial.
With an eye for authenticity, many restorers make a lot of effort to retain the vehicle's original colours. However, to do so, access to the vehicle's paint code is a must.
This 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 do run the risk of removing the car's primary protective cover, potentially opening a pandora's box of problems.
Problems that could cost more to solve than leaving a coat of durable, solid paint, even though it may be sixty years or older.
On the other hand, a stripped shell is always going to attract moisture and 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 total 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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A complete glossary of classic car restoration and repair terminology