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I am getting ready to paint my 40 Buick Roadmaster sport coupe. It was Monterey blue and silver French grey. No one seems to have mix codes for modern paint. I can go the nitrocellulose route, if required. How are you guys matching the paint?

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Look for paint chips for European built cars in the 1970 and up era, ( Jaguar, Mercedes etc) they had a lot of non metallic colors which were /are very close to the colors of the cars pre WWII era. In 1972 when I was in the process of restoring my Derham Bodied Franklin I got a paint chip chart for the 1972 Mercedes - the dark blue was an exact match to the dark blue my car was originally painted on the body panels and the window reveals were another exact match for paint color from the same chart! If you can find a chart of that era and then translate it to today's colors or  something used to day that is close you can order that color.  The nitrocellulose lacquer I used at the time was made by Belco in England - not cheap cost wise , but that was what the exact color match was.  I too own a 1940 Buick Roadmaster and admire that you want to keep the car as original  and authentic as possible.

Walt

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 I agree with Walt that first looking for a serendipitous later match is a good idea.  Metallics were in use in 1940 if the silver is one.  The aluminum flake size was generally quite fine, so be careful of that in later colors.  It's a very attractive color combo for the car.

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A good paint store will have an electronic spectrometer which will allow them to match the paint that is on your car exactly. Assuming that what is on there is correct and buying by paint code won't necessarily get you a match since whomever painted your car may have just picked something that was merely close to the original color, not exact. Plus there's fading, polishing, and simple age that affect the color over time. Any paint store that supplies professional body shops will have the ability to exactly match whatever is on your car and compensate for time and fading. I was able to match the factory paint on a 1941 Cadillac even after decades and it was perfect.

 

Call around and ask the various paint stores to see what they are able to do and use the one with the scanner. You'll be pleased with the match.

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The spectrophotometer match has some limitations.  It works by mapping the frequencies and intensities of the reflected light.  Then it "looks" in  its pigment library to build a set of "overlays" to match the scanned item.  The paint company of course loads its own base and pigment library.  So if you do not get a good match, it might be worthwhile to try using a different paint company's set.  Metallics or pearlescents scatter light and confuse the machine.  These are still typically done by eye. The spectrophotometer typically has one incident (and therefore reflected) light angle.  Different matches "travel" or "flop" differently.  So by all means use the tool, but have a test piece to check under different angles and lighting.

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Before you go and have a gallon mixed once you decide that the color you have chosen ( or the paint supplier has) get a quart mixed first ! Use that quart to spray on a primed panel ( easiest to do is get a piece of smooth masonite, prime it with automotive primer , sand and get to the point as it would be the same as a sheet metal panel) no smaller then about 10 inches square , Now you have a larger "color chip" to hold against your car to see if you like it. Yes, it will cost some $ to do this as well as time , BUT you are not paying for a whole gallon of paint- to decide if you do/don't like it. Never look at a color under fluorescent light !!

You will not get a true value to the color of the paint! ( I taught art for over 40 years and combined with my interest in car colors/repainting etc know from some experience) The paint I am discussing here is lacquer either nitrocellulose or acrylic - I do not no anything about enamel, base coat clear coat yadda yadda yadda - other "modern" paints - yes I am old school!

Walt

PS the quart of paint that you may have mixed as a sample if you don't need or want can be brought to a car show flea market and most likely will be purchased by some guy who 'likes to restore pressed steel toys'. Yes, that is an accurate description of me!

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Perhaps just go with a paint chip chart from the period and then try to find a chip to match or ask them to custom mix you paint to match.  The old formulas rarely work as the base colors for mixing have changed over time (ie. base white is no longer the same shade of base white). 

 

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those chip sheets are an interesting place to start to choose but are not suitable as standards to match.  Not when new and certainly not after all these years.

 

Walt's chip making, viewing and lighting comments are just as relevant to newer paint systems. 

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Posted (edited)

Contact TCP Global / Auto Color Library to get the paint mixed.   

 

https://www.autocolorlibrary.com/pages/1940-Buick.html#parentHorizontalTab2

 

There phone number is 858-909-2110

 

They are very helpful.  I called and ordered a 5x7 card of my color first for around $25 before springing for the paint.  I did not want to spend big bucks for the paint without knowing it would be the correct color.

 

They mixed an obsolete code for me and it was an exact match to the original paint I found under the dash.

 

It is my understanding the paint color scanners only come up with a code for available modern colors.  The color may be close, but usually not an exact match.

 

 

Edited by Vila (see edit history)
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Thanks guys, I actually started painting this car 40 years ago in multicellular lacquer, match was excellent. Got the body done then sold car. 35 years later I bought it back just like it was when I sold it. Closest place that can computer match is 1 1/2 hours away, but I guess that is what I will do. Need to take a door and coal vent. I was hoping someone might already have a color that had been matched. I am repainting entire car so it just needs to be close. Thanks for help.

 

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Authenticity is nice, I support that for my cars.  However, I've been told that "close" or "appears period correct" is good enough when judged. 

 

I understand that the old lacquers can be prepared in small batch quantities but I would still question any apparent match to a paint that was applied five years ago much less 80 years ago.  Wouldn't the organic compounds in the paint degrade and change, possibly darken?  When I look at the paint chip charts that John_Mereness shows above, the chips have darkened so much it is hard to tell the difference between the dark colors.

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Posted (edited)

Some of the period paint chips can darken but not to the extent you can't tell. Especially the larger paint chips by Acme that I have are about 2 1/2 inches wide by 4 inches tall or larger ( these all only date from about 1928 thru 1936 and were stored in their original steel box which kept away from sun light), if they are dull then a very tiny bit of light rubbing compound will bring an area back on the chip. The chips that John shows , first set were photographed in a shadow- that will make them appear darker.

In the case of my 31 Franklin which had no paint chips to go by and in the early 1970s was probably before the spectrometer I sanded an area to get below the weathered surface then polished that to see what the color was, then did a match by eye against the paint samples I had for 1972 Mercedes Benz. Got the exact colors as mentioned.

Edited by Walt G
added information to clarify (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

 To me, the "texture of the paint is more important than the color.

 Modern paints have a luster or shine that is different then enamel or lacquer.

Getting the exact color or hue is impossible, do to the fact that many pigments are no longer available.

 I would be happy with a color that is as close to original and then buff off the artificial shine.

 

PS. color chips are not the perfect match as they are inks or paint on paper, that does not reproduce as well as on metal. 

 

 Another point that I would like to make is that colors change with time and the sun.

 I had a fleet customer that complained that the color was off on a truck that I just painted.

 I walked him out to the parking lot and pointed out several trucks that were factory painted, and the ones that I painted, and none were the same exact color!

Edited by Roger Walling (see edit history)
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I think it's important to mention that "correct" colors are purely subjective. "Close enough" is always close enough because that's all there is. Plucking a paint code from an 80-year-old car and having paint mixed to match it is not a guarantee that it'll match--close, yes, but not exact. Even in 1940, you might park two brand new blue 1940 Buicks next to each other and they could be slightly different colors. Maybe one was built in New Jersey while one was built in California. Maybe they had two different paint suppliers. Maybe one was painted on a humid day and one was painted on a cold day. So many factors at work that saying anything is an EXACT MATCH for the original color is impossible. Add in 80 years of fading, weather, oxidation, polishing, and just the passage of time, and you get variations that are going to affect the final product.


Color chips are subject to the same age as everything else, so matching to those is still a shot in the dark. Close enough is, by necessity, close enough simply because there's no way to know for sure what the ACTUAL color really was. It's kind of an esoteric, abstract thing, but I see so many guys obsessing over getting the EXACT color when, in fact, there's really no such thing.

 

Also, I do believe the scanner devices can compensate for different colors--they don't just pick a late-model color that's pretty close. The Antoinette Blue on my 1941 Cadillac was almost black and had no metallic in it, and it was original 1941 paint. The paint matched exactly and even the gloss level was pretty darned good. That was extremely impressive. Trust the guys who do this for a living to get it right, they'll take care of you. A few spray-outs can help ensure it's right, so that's a worthwhile investment if you're trying to match what's there. But if you're repainting an entire car, well, I'm not sure it's as critical.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Every automotive paint company has the color formulas for your car on file. Your local dealer may not have them but can get them from their supplier. If you have the original name and code number that is all they need. Usually it takes a couple of hours to get a formula. Just ask whoever you normally buy automotive paint from.

 

If those are the car's original colors you can get the code numbers off the data plate on the firewall. If not there are places online you can look them up.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Rusty, what you state may be so for postwar cars but I do not think would apply to a Franklin or Locomobile , Stearns, Reo etc.

Do you really believe that a paint company has the formula for the color that was on a Handley-Knight like my father in law owns? Even if he has a paint chip and a paint code?

One can not generalize on any of this , most paint companies will not know what a Franklin, Stearns etc are or that they were even built.

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I have tried several paint manufacturers, they could not come up with a cross reference code, they had mix codes but the paint bases are no longer available. I have dupont and Acme chips with the mix ratio, they are both different. I will probably haul the parts to Raleigh and see if they can come up with a match. 

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As stated a spectrometer has it's limitations, but it's a good place to start. If you are not doing a complete and are trying to match some already applied paint it's best to do a spray out on a similar surface and compare it to what's already on the car. Realize you may have to seek out the help of an old timer who can continue with the process, and do a color match the old fashioned way, visually. People willing and able to do the color match correctly are a dying breed, but they are still around. Women are particularly good at doing a correct color match, because they seldom suffer from color blindness.

 

When trying to match a paint chip that you're comfortable with, is to search out a paint provider who uses a color bank. These have a catalog of minutely different hues  that you can actually compare your chip or  to your existing paint to. Sikkens is the company that immediately comes to mind, but there are bound to be others.

 

Bill

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Posted (edited)
On 5/6/2020 at 7:24 AM, lhend50 said:

Thanks guys, I actually started painting this car 40 years ago in multicellular lacquer, match was excellent. Got the body done then sold car. 35 years later I bought it back just like it was when I sold it. Closest place that can computer match is 1 1/2 hours away, but I guess that is what I will do. Need to take a door and coal vent. I was hoping someone might already have a color that had been matched. I am repainting entire car so it just needs to be close. Thanks for help.

 

If you really like what you sprayed years ago, then I would have it matched - call ahead and ask them what is the best day to come and that you are 1.5 hours away.  

 

A really good auto body shop may be able to help too - my guy for example has maybe a 10 x 8 case of chips on his wall from his German paint supplier - sometimes I can get a pretty close match off the chip board, plus he has lab access and he has a large bookcase of chip books too.  He will also tweak something for me and give me the paint thereafter - I do have to buy his time for the help though.  

 

And, I often go down to the local paint store, but the owner frowns upon them doing custom matches as there is so much waste and it is the black hole of time.  

 

Also, I have had some colors that the local paint supplier can only get close - the tints are not correct and the color is now unpopular (green's and pastels seem to be the most recent problem). The paint readers also have trouble with pastels.

 

 Also, it is hard to find the really fine metallic's that are used in late 1940's silver (and other 40's colors too) that were probably originally more a "pearl" finish.  

 

Interestingly, the last silver car I had painted we could not find a match after going though literally I bet 1000 silver chips and then the color amazingly just drove in on a new Mercedes 80 years difference in age - made life easy after that (turned out to be the hardest paint to spray though and my painter is the best color match guy around these parts - he had to call a lab engineer for help and they came out as they said incredibly difficult to spray.  His departing words were - "don't chip it as I will charge you $2,500 for a chip and $5K for a panel"). 

 

Just a random thought, but Hibernia Restorations did a Packard match for me in Nitrocellulose Lacquer (I maybe would not do a whole car, but beautiful match we needed for metal sidemount spare tire covers, luggage rack, and touch up). 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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John has sage advice everyone, he is not guessing at what he states but actually was there doing it. I can appreciate everyone wanting to help but if you have not had to deal with the situation directly - actually get paint matched, actually sprayed it on a panel to see what it looks like, actually had to bend/match paint on a panel that were painted perhaps some years apart - well then just say so ! "this is what I have read about it, or someone told me or or or" Facts from experience and hands on " doing it" are what is being sought by the question here, not "expert" opinions by people who have never sucked up paint fumes actually doing the process. There's a lot of experts out there. .

As I mentioned before, my experience is with lacquer only , which is what many of the cars being talked about on this forum used when new. I no nothing about base coat, clear coat - and will not give advice or suggestions on anything I have not had first hands on experience with.

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This was the silver match - 1939 LaSalle by Bohman & Schwartz of Pasadena, CA (deceiveing color as it is actually one of the whitest most brilliant silver's made and the wheel rims are actually maroon - the blackwall tires tend to overpower the finishes)

28661333_2013340932279968_912976967567933440_n.thumb.jpg.7cd7b44349cd1eecf0834c9e2e0dde5e.jpg

 

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Hirsch in NJ mixed paint for this car years ago, can no longer do it. Hibernia has the ability,but said they are not mixing at this time. I will call them again in a week or so.

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 John, those old "paliochrome" type fine metallics are aluminum flake, not pearl (which use mica).  The main supplier of the flake itself is Silberline.  They supply the paint companies. While I'm not sure how cooperative they would be to a small request, a small sample would be enough to mix enough paint to do a car.  Knowing the desired flake size would help, I'm guessing that around 1 - 2 microns would be a good starting point. Xirillic additive at first look has the right fine appearance at some angles but a completely wrong travel - not a good option.  As you say these fine metallics are not very popular in auto paint anymore, but Silberline also sells into other areas like packaging and plastics.

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On 5/6/2020 at 10:10 AM, Walt G said:

Rusty, what you state may be so for postwar cars but I do not think would apply to a Franklin or Locomobile , Stearns, Reo etc.

Do you really believe that a paint company has the formula for the color that was on a Handley-Knight like my father in law owns? Even if he has a paint chip and a paint code?

One can not generalize on any of this , most paint companies will not know what a Franklin, Stearns etc are or that they were even built.

The oldest car I have bought paint for was a 1951 Chrysler and that was from a company, Sikkens, that was not even in business in this country in 1951. Others have told me of getting colors mixed for cars as far back as 1927. What the paint companies have on file, or in their computers, I don't know but it costs nothing to ask. I can't believe they never heard of a 1940 Buick. As for your Humbly Fudge or Rolls Canardly you are on your own.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Rusty_OToole said:

The oldest car I have bought paint for was a 1951 Chrysler and that was from a company, Sikkens, that was not even in business in this country in 1951. Others have told me of getting colors mixed for cars as far back as 1927. What the paint companies have on file, or in their computers, I don't know but it costs nothing to ask. I can't believe they never heard of a 1940 Buick. As for your Humbly Fudge or Rolls Canardly you are on your own.

What you say is probably correct, but in other ways incorrect.  Technically, any company can make any color they have a formula for - that said with tints being changed so they stand a solid chance of only getting close.  And, of course Dupont made a huge impact on finishes - standardized many colors.  As I mentioned, my paint guy has lab access and I know plenty others that do too - that allows them to match anything.  That said though to navigate the Corporate divisions of some of the larger companies I would guess the same as like a dog chasing it's tail.  

 

Your best bets are at your local paint supplier for whatever brands you choose to spay/whatever brands they handle.   If I open a paint chip book I can generally find something pretty close, thoug keep in mind though there are countless shades of black, white, silver, and .... And, try maroon - like the silver I mentioned going through countless books to get something even close - the silver then drove into the shop right before our eyes.  And, on that same car was a maroon that was incredibly dark yet was not a brown or not a purple - it was probably the darkest richest maroon that could be mixed without going into another color and equally challenging.   

 

Here is a photo from the aaca webpage when I did the 1932 Packard Twin Six Sedan - I called Auto Color library and ordered up a couple of  quarts  of "1932 Packard Aztec Olivine Green - Light (Code 9-MB, PPG Code IM 1096, DuPont Code ?)  to do the 6 wire  wheels.  The color was pretty close, but if I had wanted a dead on match I would have needed it to be professionally tweaked.

 

post-42000-143138078367_thumb.jpg

 

In a quick internet search I was able to find that color here (and Auburn too plus a lot of other odd ducks, but no Buick):

https://paintref.com/cgi-bin/chipdisplay.cgi?year=&manuf=Packard&smodel=

As a sidenote:  Auburn/Cord Rich Maroon using IM-1666 is not even in the ballpark to the original color (WAY OFF).

 

 

 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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