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Faded Glory

Sunday, August 1, 1999 - 00:00
ABRN: Faded Glory

Faded Glory
Street rodders and custom car builders often leave their cars in primer--sometimes intentionally. What was once a practice born out of poverty has turned into hot rod chic over the last 10 years. See how one Pennsylvania Pontiac owner painted his Poncho ...

August 1999

It only took a matter of what seems like weeks for the OEMs to start priming their products in color--an idea that was long overdue and has saved them millions in production costs. But the issue for the repair industry is that now we have a another procedure involved in restoring the collision-damaged vehicles. Not only do you have to match the finish, you've got to match the primer, as well. But this isn't such a bad development. Tinted primer is an idea whose time has come. It will not only do more to recreate pre-loss condition of the vehicle; it will save time, material and money for the body shop.

On a number of 2000 model year cars, for example, the door jambs are being left in the tinted primer. While this may seem like an easier car to build from a manufacturing perspective, it introduces a new challenge, as well as an area of compensation for the rebuilder. Obtaining an acceptable color match is of paramount importance, which means painters may find themselves tinting and blending colors in order to nail it down.

Since most of you reading this story already know the benefits of using tinted primer, I won't waste a lot of time boring you with the economic, productivity and environmental advantage this practice brings to the collision repair shop. It would suffice to say it makes dollars and sense. What we'll dwell on for this article is one man's creative use of tinted primer.

John Madden, an automotive tech from the Philadelphia area, is a collector of vintage autos, trucks and motorcycles. He also is one of a ring of scavengers with whom yours truly likes to scour the local landscape in search of old iron. Madden came across two '55 Pontiac Star Chief hardtops--one in great shape, but with a locked motor, and another parts car with a running V8. The body on the better of the two Pontiacs was straight and relatively rust-free, with the exception of the doors. Evidently, the car was sitting under a pine tree and its needles got inside the doors, clogging the drain holes. Consequently, both doors rotted out.

This particular Pontiac also had a degree of celebrity status as it was featured in "Birdy," a 1985 offbeat film directed by Alan Parker and featuring Nicolas Cage in one of his earliest performances. The film was shot on location in Philadelphia, and the Pontiac had its fleeting moment of fame in a drive-by scene.

Since the '55 Star Chief is a derivative of the Fisher-bodied '55 Chevy Bel Air, there are a number of interchangeable body components. For example, Madden found new reproduction door skins and lower door box sections from Ole '55, a supplier of 1955

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