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Paint with Pizzazz

Friday, October 1, 1999 - 00:00
Paint with Pizzazz

Paint with Pizzazz
The body styles of the '30s and '40s have long been the preferred canvas of the custom painters in the U.S. Their bulbous sweeping lines lend themselves to color.
October 1999

Custom painting could be defined as any deviation from the factory application. It runs the gamut from the application of a two-tone, to stripes, to scallops and van murals. Even camouflage qualifies.

A feature on custom painting might have developed along the lines of a product line-up of all the paints available from our advertisers--e.g., DuPont ChromaLusion, etc. Or, it could have consisted of a how-to article, with step-by-step instructions on laying down pearls and candy colors. While those stories have their place in the magazine, and are certainly useful for those learning the techniques and business of custom painting, a photo journalist's view will do more to inspire and entertain the reader than anything. In other words, don't talk about these paint jobs, show me some!

Every year there's a cosmic convergence in Macungie, Pa. for the Wheels of Time Street Rod and Custom Car Jamboree. This event typically draws custom cars from a 250-mile radius, but judging from some of the license plates and radiator bugs, its popularity is spreading beyond the East Coast.

The Macungie event is restricted to 2,800 cars, 1963 and older. There are also a number of criteria that must be met by each participant: The car or truck has to be a modified or a custom. Points are issued for custom paint, color changes, suspension mods, engine swaps, etc. And flames will get you through the gate, no questions asked.

In recent years, the Wheels of Time show has attracted an abundance of '50s-style lead sleds and early hot rods. Modified flathead Fords, with their unmistakable exhaust note and multiple carbs, are becoming as common here as small block Chevys power plants.

The remarkable thing about the event is that every car is driven to the show--no trailer queens here. Besides the visuals one experiences at the show, the audio portion is pure music.

Over the last decade or so, pastel colors have overshadowed the traditional candy reds and metalflakes on the street rods. But based on what we're seeing at the shows, the pastels seem to have reached their saturation in the world of custom car painting. Today's painters are leaning towards the nostalgia look. Flames and scallops are bigger than ever. Ghost flames are the rage, too, some of which you literally have to strain to see.

One trend that's particularly pleasing is the way painters are reaching way, way back and grabbing shades that were used by Detroit, but always shunned by the custom car set. Remember the drab colors someone's Aunt Myrtle ordered for her Nash? "It doesn't show the dirt," she used to say. For the most part, those old standards were thought of as too ugly, too stock-looking for a bad boy's car. They were dull even in the showroom.

Today, however, these colors have been given a new lease on life in the urethane formulations. Think of a buttercream-and-white two-tone scheme on a Metropolitan with a big block. Someone brought one to Macungie ... and it was too tasty for words.

Feast your eyes.

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