Author Topic: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?  (Read 860 times)

prefervintage

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Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« on: November 22, 2020, 03:38:23 »
This past summer I was hoping to have my '69 SL painted. The car is clean and a daily driver. I was hoping for a strip to base metal, shoot it single stage white, and color sand. Pretty standard stuff. Readers on this forum indicated I should be able to get a good job for $8-10K. Problem is, I can't find a body shop interested in the job. I live in Connecticut...one gentleman who comes highly recommended in Guilford had me leave the car to quote on...he never emailed me a quote...calling him several times, he said he would get back to me when work eased up...he is undergoing chemo, so I get he may not be taking a lot of new work. Two other shops said they don't do many full paints anymore, preferring to do only quick insurance jobs. Question then...is it no longer profitable to do a whole car anymore? I assume the material would be about $4K, so there is some profit to be made. Has anyone else had trouble trying to find anyone to paint their Merc? Thanks for any suggestions, especially if anyone in Ct can recommend anyone...

JamesL

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2020, 08:50:31 »
At a guess, they swerve them as while the car looks great, once stripped, they’ve no idea what they’ll find, and what it’ll take to prep the car properly.
A quick insurance job is an easy piece of work as chances are low they’ll find rust, tons of bondo etc.

Your car may not be that car, but they’ll all have had “that” car and taken a huge hit on a quote.
James L
RHD 280 in DB906 with cognac leather

MikeSimon

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2020, 13:22:30 »
I have two friends who own bodyshops. They both do not want to work on a classic car. Their best return is insurance work and that is what they are looking for. Painting a classic car is too much work and will hold up the shop for too long. It is far more cost effective to replace body panels and repaint than preparing, sanding, finishing, maybe applying tin/lead, finishing again and painting.
On top of that, you have to deal with a discriminating customer who will have to pay north of 20k for a complete paint job and will nitpick every detail.
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thelews

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2020, 13:58:54 »
There are plenty of shops who will do it, you just will need to pay up. 8-10K sounds inexpensive for a strip to metal, remove all trim and paint single stage.  It sounds like you want a deal.  And shops want to make a profit.  At the price you want to pay, it's not working.
Enjoy some pictures at this link:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8292359@N06/sets/72157603240571101/show/

John - Wisconsin
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Cees Klumper

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2020, 14:11:18 »
This is why I have decided to do the paint on my '73 Lancia and '68 Triumph myself. I am currently doing the bodywork on the Lancia and can confirm, like with a few Pagodas whose restorations have been documented here, there's a lot of rust that takes a lot of time to take care of. It's a wholly separate part of the crestoration process and has little to do with the ultimate painting.
As for the painting, I am looking at spending no more than a couple hundred dollars on the paint + consumables, so $4K I don't quite see. It will no doubt be in the labor, getting it all prepped and properly finished (sanding, polishing etc) where the cost will be. But since this is my chosen hobby, this is another plus to doing the paint myself.
Last week picked up the compressor for the job, $170 on Craigslist.
So being an amateur, the end result will likely not be perfect. But I expect it will be at 90% of that, at 10% of the price.
Cees Klumper
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1972 Lancia Fulvia Coupe 1.3 rosso corsa
1968 Triumph Spitfire MK3 1.3 canary yellow
1986 Nissan 300 ZX 5-speed brown metallic
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Bonnyboy

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2020, 14:53:38 »
Look for a car dealer selling older import cars like BMWs and Mercedes and ask where they get their cars painted.  You may luck out and find someone who is painting out of a home based shop that does entire cars.   I expect that you may need to get the body stripped by someone else but talk to the painter you find to see who he suggests.   

I asked a couple painters about spraying my other toy and they both said come talk to them in the summer when they have a bit more room as they can open the doors to the shop and put a few cars outside to make room and work evenings for cash.
Ian
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mdsalemi

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2020, 15:57:32 »
...I can't find a body shop interested in the job. I live in Connecticut.Thanks for any suggestions, especially if anyone in Ct can recommend anyone...

There's a huge difference, as others have alluded to, between working on a "classic" or collectible older car (bodywork or otherwise) and something newer. So, there's a line in the sand and the specialists in older cars tend to work on only older cars.

So, because of that, you cannot go down the street to your local "bump shop" as they call them in Michigan, and expect someone to be able properly deal with a Pagoda. You may very well need to transport your car out of the area or even out of state.

As for Connecticut, the folks at Automotive Restorations Inc. in Branford can probably do this, or at least point you to those who can. Also, in the Philly area--not all that far away, try calling Tony Labella who specializes in these. Dave Tobin of Tobin Motorworks in upstate NY is also experienced with the model. Gernold at SL Tech in Maine probably has local folks trained to do things the way he specifically wants. Not that he's in your area but Dan Caron (a/k/a Dr. Benz) of Sombra, Ontario, doesn't do his own painting but has restored enough older Mercedes that he has folks who will do things locally to his satisfaction. Not all in your backyard, but all within a few hours drive tops--except for Dan.

I'm reminded of the time, fresh off restoration when my Pagoda looked showroom new and had blown its transmission, we had it towed 75 miles to the nearest MB dealer. I made the mistaken assumption that a transmission swap/repair is relatively straightforward thing, whether the SL was 2, 20 or 50 years old. As the driver was lowering it off the flatbed, the service manager ran out, and screamed "GET THAT FU&%$#@ THING OFF MY LOT!!!!"  I knew then that this was not the place to go. We went another 75 miles to an independent...
« Last Edit: November 22, 2020, 21:16:00 by mdsalemi »
Michael Salemi
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Pawel66

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2020, 16:02:26 »
I think you may be lucky some of the guys you contacted refused to take your car. It might have been much worse if they helped.
Pawel

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mdsalemi

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2020, 21:24:38 »
...I am looking at spending no more than a couple hundred dollars on the paint + consumables, so $4K I don't quite see...

Exactly what kind of paint are you going to use? When my car was restored going on 20 years ago now, the paint materials at that time (ignoring consumables; just the paint, reducer, hardener, etc.) in Glasurit (now BASF) and solvent base, were quite costly. Certainly over $1,000...I suppose the waterborne paints (you probably cannot buy the solvent stuff in CA) may be less costly today...but good paint products are not cheap. Doesn't matter who sprays them.
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
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dirkbalter

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2020, 23:01:48 »
Well, for a couple of hundred dollars you may be able to paint your bathrooms with some latex paint from home depot. (No offense.)
After my original paint guy unfortunately passed away earlier this year, I was on the search for a while to find a paint shop that I feel comfortable with, painting my car. Most regular paint shops didn't want to touch a classic for exactly the reasons described above. I eventually ended up with 4 shops willing to paint the car. Price was fron $6500 to $20000. I should get the car back in 1-2 weeks and will let you know if I made a good choice.
Good luck.
Dirk
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doitwright

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2020, 23:08:57 »
The number of factors that govern a decision on selecting the shop to paint or restore any car cannot be counted on 2 hands. If you are going to paint anything over 50 years old you are also going to do some restoration. I know this from experience.

In my case, my priorities for the shop were:

Had a resume of completed work and evidence of work in progress
Was able to demonstrate level of expertise with existing shop work showing all phases of the process
Was able to take direction from personal input and a document I prepared reviewing what I wanted done and the nuances of the car.
Did work for people who were even more particular than I was.
Was accessible. Allowed me to see the work as it progressed. Would explain reasoning behind why they did things a certain way.
Showed an interest in doing the project and wasn’t just interested in having another car to paint.
Was willing to make recommendations and ask questions.
Would look at the car and give an estimate. An estimate that reflects expected number of hours, a per hour labor rate and a line item for expected cost of paint and other materials.

Not among my priorities were:
Had to be a Mercedes or Pagoda expert. I felt I had learned enough that I could communicate the particulars that needed to get special attention.
Had the lowest price. The satisfaction of a lower price will disappear if the quality of the work is also low.

Having said that. Now it depends on what you want. A respray? Same color? Mask and paint or strip and paint? Repairs with filler or metal?

Collision shops do not do restoration work and you would not want them to even if they said they would. Their business model is get them in and get them out. In my case, I found a hot rod shop. At the time Mike did my car, there were no hot rods in his shop. There was a 39 LaSalle, a few late 60’s Camaro’s, a Porsche 911S, and a 59 Cadillac Fleetwood with a donor car. His work was excellent.

Before deciding to go with Mike I did visit a shop who had a Pagoda just out of the paint booth. He said he had done several previously. That did not make him an expert and it was evident.

If you handle the process like a project manager, you have the best chance of getting the results you want at the price you can afford.

Frank Koronkiewicz
Willowbrook, Illinois

1970 280SL Originally Light Ivory - Now Anthracite Gray Metallic

prefervintage

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2020, 23:26:37 »
Hi all....thanks for the input. Actually, I did all the bodywork on this car when I bought it nearly 20 years ago....some was plastic filler, some was lead, MIG welding etc. I shot the car myself outside, then color sanded it...it came out really well, though it's amazing how every speck or dirt, bug, you name it suddenly is attracted to wet paint as soon as you spray it! This time, I wanted a great job and I'm too involved at work to try to strip my own car. I'd bite the bullet and prepare to pony up $15-20K to get it done well, but god help you if you say that, it suddenly becomes $20-30K! Plus if your car gets caught up in a shop that has litigation, falls behind on bills, etc, try getting it out (intact), or prevent it becoming part of a lien on the shop, or stolen etc etc. I guess I'm just a bit dumbfounded that even during the pandemic, work is being turned away. I'm not a nit picker for the job...I drive my cars...I also guess I'm beginning to understand why there is such a huge gap in prices for our vehicles....good condition $50K or 60K pounds, but over 100 - 150 for a full restoration...I went into the wrong business it seems!

cabrioletturbo

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2020, 15:08:25 »
Probably the best bet would be to find a local classic car shop. It will not be cheap, but at least you would have someone with expertise and dedication to do the job right. After three body shops and disappointing paint job by a 'professional', I believe your fastest and the best way is through a shop that knows what they are doing. STAY AWAY from insurance body shops.
Igor
1965 W113 230SL, Ivory with Black

merrill

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2020, 20:53:52 »
hi
you could reach out to Gernold at SL tech for a quote
Matt
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dirkbalter

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2020, 21:16:11 »
The number of factors that govern a decision on selecting the shop to paint or restore any car cannot be counted on 2 hands. If you are going to paint anything over 50 years old you are also going to do some restoration. I know this from experience.

In my case, my priorities for the shop were:

Had a resume of completed work and evidence of work in progress
Was able to demonstrate level of expertise with existing shop work showing all phases of the process
Was able to take direction from personal input and a document I prepared reviewing what I wanted done and the nuances of the car.
Did work for people who were even more particular than I was.
Was accessible. Allowed me to see the work as it progressed. Would explain reasoning behind why they did things a certain way.
Showed an interest in doing the project and wasn’t just interested in having another car to paint.
Was willing to make recommendations and ask questions.
Would look at the car and give an estimate. An estimate that reflects expected number of hours, a per hour labor rate and a line item for expected cost of paint and other materials.

Not among my priorities were:
Had to be a Mercedes or Pagoda expert. I felt I had learned enough that I could communicate the particulars that needed to get special attention.
Had the lowest price. The satisfaction of a lower price will disappear if the quality of the work is also low.

Having said that. Now it depends on what you want. A respray? Same color? Mask and paint or strip and paint? Repairs with filler or metal?

Collision shops do not do restoration work and you would not want them to even if they said they would. Their business model is get them in and get them out. In my case, I found a hot rod shop. At the time Mike did my car, there were no hot rods in his shop. There was a 39 LaSalle, a few late 60’s Camaro’s, a Porsche 911S, and a 59 Cadillac Fleetwood with a donor car. His work was excellent.

Before deciding to go with Mike I did visit a shop who had a Pagoda just out of the paint booth. He said he had done several previously. That did not make him an expert and it was evident.

If you handle the process like a project manager, you have the best chance of getting the results you want at the price you can afford.

Frank,
I agree 100% with everything you said.
I don't know about mentioned Gernold, but I doubt that the known specialists actually paint themselves. They will however act as a project manager for a fee if one doesn't want to do that.
Dirk
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Benz Dr.

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2020, 22:28:52 »
The best shops work on time and materials. They will give you an idea of prices for parts and a ballpark on labor.  These places are busy so the work probably won't go quickly. They take a lot of pride in their work and almost all work they do comes by word of mouth. You will very likely pay more out the other end than most places you could go to but you will also get more for that price too. 
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ejboyd5

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2020, 23:41:26 »
Ask yourself, would you want to work for someone like you when there is so much low hanging fruit on the insurance trees?

Cees Klumper

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2020, 23:47:17 »
Well all I can relate is what I know and experienced. I had my Pagoda painted for the first time in 2000 in Amsterdam, for something like $1,000 (can't remember now exactly, it's probably here on the forums in the old, old threads but it was much less than $2,000) which included some bodywork and some rust repair/ welding in a repair fender lip. I did the stripping off the chrome bits, bumpers, lights and such myself, and the re-installation of same, they did everything else. It came out just perfect, car looked superb (to me). Fast forward to end of 2017 - I needed 2/3 of the car repainted and had that done at a small shop in Langres, France. This time I did nothing, they did all the prep, stripping and finishing. Again, came out (to me) perfect, as expected. The cost was around EUR 800.

The paint I intend to use is single-stage, over two part epoxy primer. Here's an example of what you can get:

https://www.amazon.com/Restoration-Shop-Complete-Acrylic-Urethane/dp/B001B422M8?ref_=ast_sto_dp

I will have the paint for my 1972 Lancia mixed to the original color, which will make it a bit more expensive.

I am not going for a 100 point show car. I am happy if the car looks great (to me), and similar to how it looked when it was new (when I think it was all single-stage paint). I don't want it to be over-the-top shiny. I want to be able to drive it like a normal car, and enjoy it, and not worry about a parking lot mishap turning into a $5,000 issue, and all the potential problems described here ("will they take it, what will it cost, will they go bankrupt, will it take forever, will I have to go 200 miles to get there and back", and so on, and, most of all, will I have to spend 30-50% of the car's worth - or 5%).

I guess I will see whether I am actually capable of doing a decent paint job. What I do know is that even the simple rattle-can matched-paint repairs I did on my Bronco, my wife's Volvo, my 1976 Yamaha XS 650 and our BMW Z4, all came out great (to me), and each job cost me less than $100. Will post photos when it's done, I hope in about 5 months' time.
Cees Klumper
1969 Mercedes 280 SL automatic white
1972 Lancia Fulvia Coupe 1.3 rosso corsa
1968 Triumph Spitfire MK3 1.3 canary yellow
1986 Nissan 300 ZX 5-speed brown metallic
1990 Ford Bronco II 2WD colonial white

dirkbalter

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2020, 01:21:03 »
@Cees
I stand corrected. Without getting into it, i guess it is possible to paint a car for a couple of hundred bucks.
Good luck
Dirk
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doitwright

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2020, 05:10:17 »
Remember Earl Scheib? He'll paint any car for $99.95.

https://youtu.be/PtjdHaMeiiQ
Frank Koronkiewicz
Willowbrook, Illinois

1970 280SL Originally Light Ivory - Now Anthracite Gray Metallic

Pinder

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2020, 15:56:05 »
I also used restoration shop paint and I am no expert but it is very durable and wet sands nice. I painted my 2 pagodas around 4 or 5 years ago.  paint I ordered online and I used epoxy for its durability and adhesion and high build primer. ( from a well know DIY hobby place you probably all know about). for the top color coat is used the one you mentioned here.

Some lessons learnt.

1. I think doing single stage paint is actually harder to do than base coat clear. But even if you have a little orange peel you can get rid of it during wet sanding (color sanding).
2. if its a  metalic paint dont try single stage.
3.  do not lay it down too thick. for top coat 3 coats is all you need to do. doing more will only cause issues as the paint dries over the years. less is more.
4. epoxy do two coats. then any high build primers on top. no more than 2 coats at a time then wet sand to get out any minor dents.
5. for minor tiny dings try not to use any fillers. just keep doing more coats of high build primers and wet sand with long blocks.  the idea is not to use different materials that will expand and shrink over time at different rates. these will mirror through if you do use different materials.
6. Use an HVLP gun, it produces a lot less overspray.

for the two stage paints make sure to use a good face mask and filters.  Also for the primer stages its ok to do it outside to reduce exposure. you will be wet sanding out any bugs and dust.

You dont have to be a great painter to get a really nice mirror like finish. the hard work is in the wet sanding and buffing and the prep work.. the actual painting is done in about a day or so. 

I would definately recommend doing the work yourself.  this is a hobby so enjoy the journey.

both my cars were sold colors (no metalic) so I painted them in basically 3 / 4 stages stages.   Stage 1. Doors, trunk.  Stage two fendes front and rear. stage 3 roof and hood.

1970 280 SL  color is Ivory DB 670. 4 Speed manual shift no AC.
1969 280 SL Green. 4 Speed manual with AC.
1968 Cadillac Eldorado (Daily driver)

mdsalemi

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2020, 16:46:31 »
I guess I will see whether I am actually capable of doing a decent paint job.

"Decent paint job" will be primarily dependent on the pre-spray preparation, and then the post spray finishing. Those two are probably 95% of a paint job's effort and the resulting quality. The actual spraying is fairly quick and easy. Sure there are techniques, and some things to learn, some settings to make on the gun, etc. but you are smart enough to take the advice from others, (Pinder's got some great experience) and figure out the rest.

In the early 1970s, my father bought a box of junk at an auction. In the box were six quarts of Lesonal paint, mixed to a Mercedes-Benz color; if I were to hazard a guess, it was Light Ivory. (Lesonal is now owned by Akzo-Nobel). The paint was old at the time, but the cans unopened. The cans sat in our garage. I spent the better part of the summer of 1976 prepping my 1970 "Austin America" (a/k/a Austin 1300). Removed everything that could be safely removed (and still drivable); masking everything that could be masked, and sanding the entire car. I went to a body shop up town, told the guy I just wanted him to spray the car, it would be 99% prepped. He did it for $50. A totally glorious, wet-look paint job. I did NOT do, and neither did the painter, any post-spray work. No blocking, buffing, etc. We left it as is.

So, yeah--you can do a great job depending on the effort you want to put in. You can do it cheaply too. Follow some well defined guidelines, and you'll be fine. Keep in mind the prep: pre and post. That's what makes a paint job done by others costly.

BTW, even a $120,000 new S-Class has orange peel...
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
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Theo113

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2020, 12:29:28 »
I live in the Philadelphia Metro Area and have heard good comments on the work done by lso, in the Philly area-by Tony Labella.  I have no first hand knowledge however those mentioning him are trusted SL people.  Good luck!

 Classic Cars
9 Thackery Lane Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08003 609-706-7065. Tony Labella 

Cees Klumper

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2020, 14:34:07 »
Many thanks for your insights and encouragement, much appreciated.
Cees Klumper
1969 Mercedes 280 SL automatic white
1972 Lancia Fulvia Coupe 1.3 rosso corsa
1968 Triumph Spitfire MK3 1.3 canary yellow
1986 Nissan 300 ZX 5-speed brown metallic
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Pinder

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Re: Do bodyshops not want classic car work anymore?
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2020, 00:56:37 »
This is single stage paint from restorationshop. Very good paint. I painted it 4 years ago and this is bow it looks today
1970 280 SL  color is Ivory DB 670. 4 Speed manual shift no AC.
1969 280 SL Green. 4 Speed manual with AC.
1968 Cadillac Eldorado (Daily driver)