June 17, 2021

Linkage Mag

Geared for the Automotive Life

Tools You Can Use — Touch-up Edition

Fixing paint issues on a classic car can snowball out of control — before you know it, a quick touch-up job on your MGA or Chevelle can turn into a full-blown bare-metal respray, or touch off a years-long restoration project that you maybe weren’t ready to start.

So what can you do if you’ve got a small painted area that needs a touch-up and no desire to dive into a full repaint? You can always go to a paint shop, and as long as you make your expectations clear, that’s a good option, as they have the tools and the know-how to tackle every classic car paint problem and match things as they go.

Here’s something else to consider.

AutomotiveTouchup.com offers a range of OE color touch-up paint for your classic, assuming it has original paint. Their base-clear paints are available in everything from paint pen applicators to gallon-size containers for professionals — and they say their color match is guaranteed.

Their site offers everything from base-coat colors through sanding blocks and paper, cleaners and clear coats as well — pretty much all the things you’ll need to do the job yourself while sidestepping “paint jail.” For some situations, this is a great fit.

Fine. But how well does mail-order paint really work? Can they really get their color match correct from a distance?

Well, I wanted to know, so I bought some.

My 1979 Chevrolet C10 pickup is no show machine — but it does have mostly original paint, and it’s still in reasonably good condition. It needed a rocker panel touch-up, and rather than take it to a painter, I ordered two 12-oz cans of GM code WA8052 from AutomotiveTouchup.com — the Charcoal Metallic that Chevrolet used on its trucks in 1979. I also ordered a 12-oz spray can of primer and some clear. Total cost was just under $70 for everything, minus some masking materials I already had.

After a few days, they’d mixed the color and shipped everything to my door.

Every kit comes with a test card that must be used prior to painting. This is a vital step, because as I learned, silvers are very hard to match, and GM wasn’t especially consistent with their paint colors or their application from the factory. My truck must have been painted on a Friday, as the paint is dark and the original metal flake is inconsistent and broken-up, as if it was from the bottom of the paint can after a week of agitation. It’s also 42 years old.

As such, out of the gate, my order of Charcoal silver was too light to blend into the door jamb. I took a few pics, sent them off to the company and waited. Within a few days, I got a note back asking for high-res images of the card against the body, and after that, a new batch was on its way — at no cost to me — mixed slightly darker to match the truck. And believe it or not, it worked.

For paint that was mixed off-site from the truck itself, the match is close enough for a good, easy blend and a seamless fix. I smoothed out the area, primed it, sanded it, hit it with a few coats of base color, and then cleared it. Without me telling you that I’d touched up the jamb, I doubt you’d be able to tell, and that’s the key to any cosmetic fix.

As with anything, your mileage may vary — and this doesn’t take the place of a professional paint job. But if you’re not ready for that, it’s a good option, specifically thanks to the company’s attention to detail and desire to hit the mark when it comes to blendable color matches with OE finishes.

If you’re in the market for a good color match to solve a rock chip or two on a driver-level car — or to finish off a minor rust repair without getting into a full-on repaint, this is worth a look.

Learn more at www.automotivetouchup.com.