"In this Special Series, I document my complete paint & body restoration along with the exterior upgrades to CSL specifications. In collaboration with my long time friends at @exclusivautomotiv, we hope to cast light into the world of custom paint & body.
On the first entry, I dive into my intentions: why The Phoenix needs a complete paint & body restoration."
Why paint matters to me.
I try to avoid looking back if that chapter is closed. It’s too easy to get ahold of the past to justify where you aren't at today.
In my first ever journal entry to EuroConnex, I told you guys about my past in the automotive industry.
For the purpose of this journal entry, it's worth going a little deeper into my past specifically related to paint.
This is SEMA.
I've had the opportunity to exhibit at SEMA multiple times, thus being a part of building and most specifically painting show cars.
It was always done with my friends at ExclusivAutomotiv. Jonathan has taught me everything I know about paint.
Unrealistic deadlines, goals of perfection, the realities of shipping cars cross continent and various other factors create an environment of extreme pressure.
SEMA cars often inherit mistakes of others that worked on this car previously. You can never truly never know what you're getting into unless you start fresh.
Mistakes get expensive, 5 digits corrections were common, sleep was loss, stress was accumulated, relationships were strained.
We spent sleepless nights in the paint booth. Ultimately what matters is one thing: deliver.
Trying to get our dose of sunshine in October. These are last days before snow in the North East.
No matter what happened, we always delivered.
We were rewarded with a few seconds of recognition and won a couple SEMA awards. This is Wataru Kato, founder of LibertyWalk. 2016 was a different era.
2017 was my last year exhibiting at SEMA and we went out with a bang: respraying this Ferrari 488.
Jonathan and I traveled to the Philippines to showcase his talents and train people how to spray exotics.
We had our share of fun times through it all. The Manilla Skyway Express past midnight is a memory I can't share with my mom to this day,
Back to current times: The Phoenix, from my vantage point.
While you've never seen me hold a paint gun (and you never will), I can look over a car's paint and notice the imperfections and obvious resprays with a professional perspective
Why is my paint crappy? Luuuuuc!
One of his worst ownership decision was getting a paint "refresh". We prompted him on how much it cost him, he proudly said 2,000$.
2,000$ means no panels, trims, or windows ever came off the car. Painter's tape became the painter's go-to tool. It looks good to the unknowing at first, for a year or two, and then the real problems start showing up.
Circa September 2021 when I picked up the car from Luc with Jonathan and Audrey.
Sure looked good from afar :)
Let's talk orange peel.
While my PY looks good from afar, it became most evident how stunningly crap my paint was when I started documenting about the CSL diffuser.
The properly wet sanded & polished diffuser has a much higher gloss level. It allows far more light to reflect off PY's metallic which lightens the color in direct sun light.
The color match was obviously off. This wasn't René's fault - neither were the busted lower corner brackets.
Some people don't read and commented on Instagram how the CSL diffuser we crowdfunded on Euroconnex was crap. Some people also don't know that they don't know.
Paint are chemicals. Chemicals are science. Paint quality is scientific. Knowing the basics will give you the lexicon to talk and hopefully evaluate paint on your own.
Paint reflects light. Light is best reflected off a mirror: a perfectly gloss surface.
Gloss levels can be measured. We can nearly achieve perfect gloss levels with paint with a lot of time, effort and the right products.
Reflected Image Quality (RIQ)
If your surface isn't perfectly smooth and flat, there will be deviations. This can be measured. The graph below is a vulgarization of the physics at play.
Once you see it, you can't unsee it.
Orange peel has dramatically altered my lifestyle around cars. It has dug holes in my pockets deeper than I could imagine trying to achieve perfect paint work. It has led to burnt clear coats, and expensive mistakes.
The reality of it all, paint can only ever be perfect if you never drive the car. Here's the best visual representation of orange peel.
Zooming in on the roof moulding, this is getting ever worse. At this point, we go from orange peel to frost.
From peel, to frost.
Frost is paint & body lingo for when orange peel just isn't enough. It's paint with orange peel and low gloss levels.
A frosted clear coat is a prime symptom of an extremely cheap paint job. Clear coat was hastily applied with no regards to drying time and a wet sanding paper never touched that paint.
My roof trims were prime examples.
Overspray was found in every other trim that wasn't body colored. The radiator support, the bumper carrier and all the undertray plastics were sprinkled with overspray.
Painter's tape cannot be your only friend. Removing panels and trims is mandatory to a quality paint job.
The front bumper, radiator and all the metal components comprising the front end had PY overspray.
This isn't the ideal picture to showcase this issues, but overspray was present all across the inner edges of body panels.
Flaking paint has many culprits. In this case, it's the painter inability to fully cover the panels and trims when spraying. The edges of the "new" paint were exposed to the elements. Nature did its thing.
The paint started flaking in tighter sections cross roof moldings.
A great example of orange peel and the paint starting to flake across the side trims spanning the entire side of the body.
I mean, c'me on Luc!
Last but not least: pin holes [...] everywhere.
Paint are chemicals, and they're complex. They need to meet ever tightening environmental regulations while meeting the ever more demanding requirements of insurance companies looking to cut cost.
Paint needs to dry fast. Paint that dries fast is often paint that looks like crap. A painter that sprays too fast ends up trapping the solvents that need to evaporate to leave the solid state of your paint.
This is how pin holes are made and make up another signature of poor paint application. My hood had pin holes all over. I couldn't grab pictures of it in time [...]
[...] but I did on another brand new part for this build. As I documented in an earlier journal entry, my Karbonius CSL roof was covered with pin holes all over.
Karbonius isn't any different to other aftermarket companies in this industry: their clear coats are sprayed by humans in not perfectly sealed environments with a necessity to get products out the door to keep the production flowing and customers happy.
If you want to achieve the closest thing to perfect paint, buy your parts primered or uncleared, and get them done locally!
Enough with the pain. In Part 2 I chat about what The Phoenix means to me, and my dad.
Why does it matter?
Because PY is getting sanded away to dust to make way for a new color.
Stay tuned for blasphemy!