Another Day in the life of Auto Restoration... arrrrrggg....

Another day, another classic to work on.  Sounds like fun and it usually is.  However, this week has been a challenge working on an older El Camino.  Here we have a nice car that was in a front end collision.  Unfortunately, the owner was not yet 21 and had "regular" insurance on the car (as opposed to classic car insurance).  Well, the adjuster totaled the car.  Our estimate came in around $4500 which exceeded the book value for the 1982 model.  After some back and forth with the insurance company, the customer retained ownership of the car and opted to repair it.

Basically, the front left corner of the car got smashed including the fender, hood, grill, header (fiberglass front piece), the grill, headlights, inner-fender, condenser, radiator, radiator shroud, headlight bezel, etc.  In other words, lots of parts, many of which are no longer in production.  

We have finished replacing all of the parts.  The original parts we used fit great.  All of the re-pops fit like crap and that's NOT a reflection of the cost of the parts - trust me, they aren't cheap!  After at least a day of aligning all of the parts we finally have a best fit assembly and on to paint.

Well that's where the progress really hit the brakes.  The color is a silvery, greenish fine metallic, nothing at all like an original color.  With no paint code to go with, we start with searching through the "prospector" which is a zillion color chips that we can mix paint to match.  None were very close, certainly not close enough to use.  So what to do? We pick a lousy match and start tinting it to get it closer.  Unfortunately, you cannot simply look at the paint to see if its right.  You can't even spray it on a card to see.  You have to spray it on a card, then clear over that to really see what you've got.  

Well, to make a long story short, we have done about 15 spray outs in our effort to get a close match (we mix a couple of ounces each time).  We've mixed the better part of a quart of paint working on a suitable match.  As a point of reference, a quart of this stuff is worth on the order of $125 and none of this time or expense is ever included on an insurance estimate.  It's no wonder so many body shops won't do restoration work!