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I am going to be repainting my 1930 Lincoln - custom body. In considering colors I have seen many late 20's and early 30's car with metallic paint, is this acceptable or should I stick to non-metallic ? What is the first year that metallic was available ?

Mike

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To my knowledge, the first use of metallic paint on a car was November 1927.

Most clubs (CCCA included) allow a vehicle to be painted any authentic color that was available for that model year, so the real question is, did your Lincoln come that way when new? If not, why do you want to change it?

I don't think factory built Lincolns used metallic paint in 1932. (I may be wrong about that.) Since your car has a custom body, it is possible that it was originally finished in a metallic. The technology existed at the time and the original purchaser of the car could have ordered it that way. Even so, I can't recall ever seeing a Lincoln of that era with metallic paint.

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Most of us have seen ( and drooled over ) those incredible FORTUNE MAGAZINE advertisements of the big luxury cars we now call "classics". Werent they MARVELOUS ! I recall one of an early 1930's Packard Twelve - must have been THREE colors on that thing. As a result, we often see equally attractive paint jobs on these cars at present day auto shows.

But...back to reality. It is hard to imagine...hard to explain, to today's car buff...what our culture was like in earlier times. To say that it was conservative....well.....that would be an understatement. There were certain things you just didn't "DO" if you were a member of the upper classes.

My suggestion is go back and look at NEWS photographs of the era...not the advertisements. You will find MOST cars were solid dark colors....rarely do you find lighter colors, and then...typically, economy-grade cars.

White walls ? Yes....you can see them in some photographs...but the overwhelming majority of cars, again...solid dark colors....usually black, and black-wall tires.

As Chuck notes, metallics ( although a much milder, more subtle, MUCH finer grade metallic ) were listed in the color-chips even in the early 1930's....but...how often did one have the audacity to order a large, expensive luxury car in ANYTHING but solid dark blue or black...?

Bottom line...it is YOUR car....do what pleases YOU !

Pete Hartmann

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Hi Mike, A custom Lincoln could have been any color the owner wanted. Pete is correct in that most were not painted in any wild colors, but SOME were. I have a copy of some of Brunns order sheets with Pierce and Lincolns on them. They were all dark blue, deep green, or black. Take a look in the CCCA general post marked posting photos..... My 36 PA is shown in "electric blue" according to some members. Lots don't like it, the girls think it is great. I just don't like driving a car that looks like a undertaker is driving it. Great colors also make resale much faster, and usually at a higher price. Remember the old saying RESALE RED? Pete was right, paint it any color that makes you happy. You will be the one washing and polishing it, why not have YOUR color on it. What body builder and style is it? Try looking at factory literature to help on a color. Best, Ed Minnie

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Ed, in reference to your comment that you "don't want to drive a car that looks like an undertaker is driving it" I'd like to make the following observation. I was with some co-workers a few years ago, none of which knew anything about old cars. Coming down the road the other way was a 1939 Cadillac Model 75 limousine. It was all black, with black wheels and wide whitewalls. I pointed the car out to my co workers and tried to explain to them what it was. One of them commented "it looks like a hearse." My reply was: it's the other way around my friend, a hearse is meant to look like that Cadillac. The reason hearses looked like limousines is because it was your "last ride" and was supposed to be formal and dignified. Hearses look like limousines on purpose, not by accident. The problem is most people these days do not know what formal car is. They equate a limousine with some stretch job painted white with chrome wheels and a TV antenna hanging off the back. Subdued, formal elegance is foreign to most of the geneal public.

Also remember, as the depression wore on, the wealthy were weary of driving extravagent cars. Conspicuous comsumption was frowned upon. In the mid to late 30's, a newly finished car leaving the Rollston shop in NYC was stoned by jealous onlookers. Many custom bodied classics of the mid thirties were painted dark colors and trimmed conservatively in order to "blend in" with other cars. Just my 2 cents worth.

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Dear Jason (AKA Stutsnutz), I agree with almost your entire post. I am sure that rocks would come my way driving any bright color Classic car in the depression. Rumor is that the Brewester hart fronts were bought so the owners could say "It's just a Ford." (So I have been told by people who built them.) As far as the style of a hearse, most in the pre 1935 era had carved wood panels, but up here in New England it was also common to have the sides in glass so people could see the casket. I can think os several of these off the top of my head, including a Rolls P1. On the subject of Stutz, I am very lucky to have grown up aroud them. For quite some time as a teen I thought all of them were DV-32s ...... we have a lot of great cars out east and it was some time before the BBs, Ms, and others came my way. Over the years I have been able to help on restorations of cars built from 27 through 33. Even got to play under one of the "blower" cars last year. It was very slick, and a lot of fun. If I buy another car in the future, it will probably be a Stutz. If you like I can post some neat Stutz photos for the fourm. One last question--- Is Stutznuts a medical condition that a urologist can help with? LOL All my best, Ed Minnie grin.gif

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It's an incurable mental illness. I like cars with advanced engineering.

L head straight eights just don't do it for me. I'd love to see your pictures. Jason

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I think that much depended on what region of the country the cars were sold in, and by whom. As an automotive modeler, I've done a fair amount of research, trying to come up with authentic paint schemes for the cars of the 30's I have done over the years. This is pretty much what I have found:

Cars sold in the more conservative areas of the US did tend to be painted much more conservatively, either because of the nature of the buyer, or the local economic/social climate. The "old money" folks along the East coast, and in the Midwest seem to have highly favored darker colored cars, apparently not wanting to be flamboyant in their display of wealth, which seems to have been a tradition dating well back into the 19th Century. This seems to have been their nature. On the other hand, the "newly rich" in Southern California seem not to have been so restrained--after all, they didn't have to face the criticism of their fellow socialites, nor were they apparently worried about appearing to flaunt their affluence in cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, or even San Francisco. As a result, even the rather drab black & white pictures of cars on the streets on the West Coast and Southwest do show a lot more light-colored cars (and this seems to be true of all classes of people and the cars they drove).

Brighter, multi-colored cars tended to be a warm-climate (sunbelt) thing, it appears, most likely due to the drier, warmer climate, where road dirt and grime were not nearly the problem that the snowbelt has, even today.

I believe this is also why whitewall tires were much more common out West, and in Florida along with other Gulf-coast regions. People there seem to have been much more interested in a little bit of showing off than their cousins up North, again abetted by the lower amount of road grime those tires would pick up in daily use.

These trends continued well past the Second World War, from my experience as a kid growing up in a very affluent city in Indiana in the 1950's. Frankly, not until the great burst of light and pastel colors on cars by about 1954 did we see much in the way of the bright shades so prevalent even in late 1940's dealer brochures. And then, it was the younger buyer who gravitated first to the more colorful cars--their elders tended to stick with the more conservative, darker colors for several years. Even whitewall tires didn't make much inroads into tire sales in the Midwest until the late 1950's, when they finally became one more way to "keep up with the Joneses".

Also, one's career or profession seems to have been a deciding factor as well: A banker, lawyer, doctor, clergyman, and of course schoolteachers (and even the principal!) tended to be rather careful about the cars they drove, not so much the marque, but certainly the color and body style. Woe betide the single female schoolteacher who showed up with a bright red convertible or hardtop back then--it just might have reflected on her character. The same, I recall, was just as true of other professional people, and ministers--they generally (speaking of the small town, and cities of medium size) just didn't opt for the obvious display, not until much, much later, when the WW-II generation began to reach higher positions in their communities, and brought their own view of how things should be.

But, to the basic question, yes, even the great luxurious classics could be had in all manner of bright hues, and a good many of them did, but just not everywhere--so much depended on the expectations of the society in a particular region of the country.

Art Anderson

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Lots of great feedback on this post. I guess I would sum up that indeed a custom body car could have been painted in any color, but I think it more likely was NOT metallic. When I was learning about car restoration it was said that a given feature should look "correct for the era", and in the early 1930s metallics were not usually used, and very bold, screaming two tones were not either. Enjoy your car and the restoration in whatever color, make it beautiful but tasteful. Todd C

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Just came on board. Having fun reviewing old "posts". In case anyone sees this..suggest you guys wondering what colors to paint your old cars, look at old news photos. Very different culture in those days - most people were MUCH more conservative and their cars and dress showed it. Lots of solid dark colors, mostly black. I have seen those old advertisments and the auto show car photos, but also seen photos of the real world out on the street. Not many white walls or bright colors.

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Pontiac Cheif is right. These were somber times and so were the cars. Even people who had money didn't want to flaunt their wealth. If you were a bank executive who did a brisk business repossessing peoples homes and farms during the depression, it just wasn't healthy to be too flamboyant.

This mind set was probably why Packard did so well in the era. Their cars were very understated, but very high quality. Packard knew how to market their product with the subtle acknowledgment that you'd made it, but didn't want to brag about it.

The flashy cars were more the domain of entertainers and movie stars. They wanted to be noticed, because it was good for their box office.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Just came on board. Having fun reviewing old "posts". In case anyone sees this..suggest you guys wondering what colors to paint your old cars, look at old news photos. Very different culture in those days - most people were MUCH more conservative and their cars and dress showed it. Lots of solid dark colors, mostly black. I have seen those old advertisments and the auto show car photos, but also seen photos of the real world out on the street. Not many white walls or bright colors. </div></div>

Good advice, of course! However, I would not assume that just because a color appears as black (in a black & white Speed Graphic photograph--news photographers certainly were no Ansel Adams) that it is indeed black. Researching photographs of old race cars from the 20's and 30's has taught me a good bit about how deceiving b&w photographs can be.

Cars did tend to be darker, more muted colors years ago, and that extended into the very early 1950's, due to the more conservative nature of, certainly, middle-aged people in those years. The tendency toward more conservative car colors probably stemmed as much from the lower durability of lighter, brighter pigments, and the use of nitrocellulose lacquer, which in itself was not nearly as durable as today's finishes.

I've come to group the types of colors on more expensive cars of the 30's pretty much to their body styles and the geographic region where the car was sold when new. East=dark, West=light, North=dark, South (as in Florida, the gulf coast, and the Southwest)=light.

However, there were lots of colors in use that weren't black, or particularly dark, browns of all ranges, cream, muted yellows, maroons and dark reds, medium to dark blue, and of course, almost any tone of gray. In addition, medium to dark greens had their popularity in certain regions.

However, back to the basic question of this thread, which had to do with the possible use of metallics: Metallic paint on automobiles, while a showroom attraction, had a very poor reputation for durability until the late 1950's, and the advent of acrylic lacquer, which is much, much more durable and sun-resistant than nitrocellulose. However, that did not preclude many, if not all makers of mid-upper price level cars from offering metallic colors, but they did tend to be the very darker shades, such as blue, grey, green or maroon--but they did exist, at least by the middle 1930's, even though they did not have much in the way of consumer acceptance.

Whitewalls? Almost never, except among the young, the flamboyant, or the newly rich, from what I've seen.

Art Anderson

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Hi guys, I am a Ford and Lincoln Zephyr guy, and I have searched the Ford color charts pretty thoroughly, and the first metallics I have found were in the 1941 color charts. They were called "polys" and had a very fine metallic glitter to them, mostly in blues, for what it is worth, Rolf

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Hi guys, I am a Ford and Lincoln Zephyr guy, and I have searched the Ford color charts pretty thoroughly, and the first metallics I have found were in the 1941 color charts. They were called "polys" and had a very fine metallic glitter to them, mostly in blues, for what it is worth, Rolf </div></div>

Ford did have a metallic silver/pewter color in 1940. There are numerous color photos taken in 1940 of Deluxe Fords in this color out there. However, I suspect it may have been a "spring color", which would not have necessarily have shown up in any paint charts until 1941, which was a rather common practice all the way into the 1970's.

Art Anderson

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Metallic paints were available back as far as the early 1930's. There are a number of interesting stories floating around as to how we got metallic paints. The one I believe is accuate, pertains to a car that was painted just in time to be presented at a late 20's or early 30's major auto show.

Seems something failed in the pigment grinding machine, and the paint job had tiny metal flakes in it. At first, the people who were to present the car were horrorfied - but, on second glance, decided it was interesting enough to take a chance on displaying it the way it was. The auto show-going public saw the new exotic finish with these metallic particles, liked it, and the paint mfg's were quick to jump on this and exploit it.

I have seen some genuine "original" metallic finishes. They seem to be much more subtle, and MUCH finer particles, than is the custom today.

No question that the modern two part finishes are vastly superior to paints available in the old days, in every respect - gloss, color retention, durability.

BUT - even the un-trained eye, even without understanding the phenomena, will catch the difference between a "real" lacquer or enamel paint job. The light simply behaves differenty when it bounces off the different type finishes.

Personaly, I like the more subtle look of the "authentic" finishes. If memory serves, Chrysler Corp. and Ford had ENAMEL on their cars, and GMC and Packard favored lacquer, clear up until the mid 1950's when the so called "acrylics" started showing up.

In any event - you know the old story...99.9% of a nice looking paint job..is three elements PREPARATION...PREPARATION...and MORE PREPARATION !

Dog Spot

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I believe that the first "public" use of metallic paint, in this case, Dupont Duco Lacquer, was the metallic gold paint job on the 1928 Sampson Miller 91 driven to victory in that year's Indianapolis 500 mile race.

Of course, metallics were certainly used on show cars as early as 1933, when both the Duesenberg "Twenty Grand" and the Pierce Silver Arrow were unveiled at the 1033 Chicago Century of Progress World's Fair.

As for lacquers vs enamels, Ford did use pyoxylin lacquers for body shells and hoods beginning in 1926, and carrying on until at least the mid-30's, while Chrysler seems to have used baked enamel finishes through the 1950's. Ford did use japan enamel (black) for fenders and running board splash aprons through the end of traditional black fenders however (Ford called it their "Bonderized" finishing system).

GM did use enamel for many parts, however. Their specs call for lacquer body finishes, with enamel for front and rear splash panels (between bumpers and body) and wheels through the 1950's.

Art

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I'll have to stand corrected on the earliest use of metallic paint! While in Auburn this weekend for ACD, I walked the ACD Museum with camera in hand. In the Dean Kruse Gallery stands a 1927 Duesenberg Model X sedan, which is listed there as being an all original, unrestored car (neat to see something like that!). It's painted in a now-faded green, which has a very, very fine (almost pearlescent fine) metallic powder in it. So, I guess I've learned something new!

Art

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I am replying via an unrelated e-mail that you recently sent to someone else since I didn't have your e-mail address. Rick Bloomquist of White Cloud Collections suggested you might be able to help me with a 1929 Cadillac speedometer cable and driven gear. I would appreciate any help or recommendations.

Jay Fitzgerald

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Art and others, Excellent comments on prevaling conservatism (tempered or not by location, profession, etc.) and color choices. Using period photos can be very misleading - for example, Red shows as black on older types of film. Other colors react in the B&W film in various other shades of gray. As mentioned by Chuck Conrad, there is convincing evidence that the first use of metallic paint was in November 1927 - this is not to say "common" or even "prevalent" use, but it was available. Marmon had a series of advertisements in 1927 for their use of "Jeweled Colors", obviously not considering black, unless you consider coal to be a jewel.

One of the most shocking cars I remember seeing at an AACA show was a Full Classic® Buick shown by Dr. Barbara Atwood - It was all black with black tires. It was shocking due to sheer elegance! It made me realize that many of these magnificent cars do not have to have wide-wide whitewalls or multicolored paint schemes to be beautiful. Alas, some do.

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Ron makes a good point. Some of the most stunning cars I've ever seen had very conservative paint jobs. They are usually black, dark blue or some other dark color. In fact, at first glance you might assume the color is black, until you take a second look and discover the hidden characteristics of the paint job. Pin striping on these cars is always subtle, but elegant. The bright work adds a touch of sparkle, but nothing gaudy. Recently, there seems to be a trend towards displaying cars with black wall tires, which is most likely the way they were delivered to the original owner. It takes guts to restore a car this way, but IMHO, it is well worth it.

Frequently, you have to study these cars for a moment to appreciate what the original designer had in mind. Then it hits you. Perhaps, it is an acquired taste, but once you get it, YOU GET IT! It?s similar to the difference between receiving fine jewelry in a box from Tiffany & Co, rather than J.C. Penney?s.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Ron makes a good point. Some of the most stunning cars I've ever seen had very conservative paint jobs. They are usually black, dark blue or some other dark color. In fact, at first glance you might assume the color is black, until you take a second look and discover the hidden characteristics of the paint job. Pin striping on these cars is always subtle, but elegant. The bright work adds a touch of sparkle, but nothing gaudy. Recently, there seems to be a trend towards displaying cars with black wall tires, which is most likely the way they were delivered to the original owner. It takes guts to restore a car this way, but IMHO, it is well worth it.

Frequently, you have to study these cars for a moment to appreciate what the original designer had in mind. Then it hits you. Perhaps, it is an acquired taste, but once you get it, YOU GET IT! It?s similar to the difference between receiving fine jewelry in a box from Tiffany & Co, rather than J.C. Penney?s. </div></div>

Chuck

Pretty much you reinforce my point. From all my reading, as well as interpolating from contemporary B&W photographs (and yes, some of the film and glass plates used back then can give false impressions as to what the true colors really were!)darlier, conservative colors ruled, for the reasons I generally mention, but brighter, lighter colors were out there.

Much has to do with personality, not only of the original buyer of the car, but also with the manufacturer, particularly once the Depression took hold. By 1931, conspicuous consumption was pretty much out, unless one was in an occupation where glamorous image was considered important (Hollywood would have been the prime example then, just as now!). Mr or Mrs Gotrocks would have been well-advised to have their new Packard, Cadillac, Pierce Arrow, Lincoln, or even a Duesenberg painted in darker, less conspicuous colors for motoring about a large city where breadlines abounded, or the street corners were populated with apple-sellers. It just wasn't quite proper (politically correct???) to flaunt one's wealth with a flashy, brightly colored new car when seemingly all about were people living in the abject poverty of Depression-era unemployment. But then, even in the relative prosperity of the 20's, so-called "old money" wealthy tended, it seems, to have been a pretty conservative lot, witness the several surviving all-original formal-bodied cars from those years. Regardless of their behavior behind the wrought iron gates of their estates or conntry clubs, those people were rather rigid about presenting the appearance of prim and proper.

However, when winter came, and the likes of the Vanderbilts, the Wrigleys, and their contemporaries hiked themselves off, by private railroad car to sunny, warm climates; Miami Beach, Chandler Arizona, Southern California, then they were away at their "playgrounds" and many of them had cars that matched that image as well.

On the other hand, I saw the fabulous Bohmann & Schwartz Model J Duesenberg town car built originally for Ethel V. Mars, of candy bar fame a year or so ago, and why, oh why, did the current owner decide that this car looks good in shiny black? That car was originally painted a brilliant metallic silver, even her chauffeur was dressed in a shimmering silver uniform--and the effect must have been stunning! That is a car, which IMHO, would be far better done as it was originally finished--but that is of course, my opinion, and I'm not the one with mega-millions to buy it and have it done over.

Oh well!!

Art

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