Restoration Impossible: Painting Our Elan

The final product. We are stunned at how beautiful it is.
After sealing, we parked the body in the sun. This heats the fiberglass, causing it to expand and hopefully showing any cracks or defects before we apply the final coat of paint.
With the underside painted a grey that matches the original gelcoat, the underside is then carefully masked.

With a color chosen and the bodywork completed, it was now time to actually paint our Elan.

We had primed the Elan’s body with PPG ECP15 gray primer. This premium, quick-drying primer offers great adhesion, build and helps level the surface you are trying to cover.

After final block sanding with 500-grit paper, we sealed the entire car with black PPG NCS 2003 sealer. This sealer helps adhesion, hides minor sanding scratches, and makes a much more uniformly-colored surface to paint over. We could have lightened the entire car’s color a bit by using a white sealer, but this black sealer helped keep the topcoat richer and darker.

Before painting the top of the car, the entire underside of the car was prepped and then painted in gray, semi-gloss PPG paint to match what the original gelcoat would have looked like. We added 3M #08964 high cover black body schutz to the wheel wells.

Once this step was completed and allowed to dry, the entire top of the car’s body was painted with PPG Deltron base coat/clear coat (color code #17041).

From there the final task was to paint the rocker panels semi-gloss black as they originally appeared on the car. At the end of a long string of sessions in the paint booth, our Elan was finally ready for reassembly.

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View comments on the CMS forums
Dirtydog HalfDork
2/28/18 8:38 p.m.

Very nice progress.  Coming together very well.  Should be a nicely sorted end product.

Olivialisa None
2/28/18 11:57 p.m.

Mixing the Color published your competence well. Everyone will be amazed, seeing your craftsmanship.

Thank you

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
3/7/18 5:53 a.m.

Thanks! We are very happy with how the car is turning out.

3/13/18 10:28 a.m.

So you did not make Amelia Island?

pharriso New Reader
3/13/18 10:34 a.m.

In reply to pharriso:

Just seen the article that you posted on Amelia Island with photos of the car on display.

Congrats, the car looks superb!! I really enjoyed following your progress with what started out as a complete wreck.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
3/14/18 7:39 p.m.

Yes, somehow, with an incredible amount of hard work, we did get the car on the field.

pharriso New Reader
5/10/18 12:50 p.m.

It's a bit strange the way you left the articles... latest one has the engine bay starting to be completed... Amelia Isalnd was March 8th... no reports on completing the car or your experience at Amelia Island. Did the car get no love?

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
5/15/18 7:01 a.m.

I have finished the print and web stories and the boys are posting them. We did not win an award at Amelia, but as the story says, just getting it done and to the event was award enough.

5/17/18 9:04 a.m.

Tim, can you talk a bit about how your approach paint selection on an old restoration like this?  There's lots of chatter about picking a vintage color vs a modern one.  Beyond metallic, what would you say makes a color "look" classic?  Are there other aspects that add depth or complexity that might not be appropriate for a classic?

You said you chose base coat / clear coat.  Did you pick a specific formulation that would give the period-correct look?  Some would say that only a single-stage would look right.  Clearly you prove that wrong here.

Then again some might claim that 15 coats of hand-rubbed lacquer is the only way to go.  Sounds like a lot of work to me!


Thanks, Scott

Jim Pettengill
Jim Pettengill HalfDork
5/18/18 12:22 a.m.

Spectacular job, Tim - the Elan has always been my favorite sports car, in my mind, it is the definitive postwar sports car.  I've loved them since i was a kid, reading the beautifully drawn Bob Challman ads in SCG (later replaced by simple ads that just said "the car that Clark drives").  I hope this one is a keeper, it is truly a classic by any definition.

racerdave600 UltraDork
5/18/18 2:57 p.m.

It looks great, and I really like the color choice.  Since I've been reading GRM and CM since the late '80's I feel like I've watched you mature as a restorer.  Given the shape of the Elan and how it looks now, i'm a bit worried about what you might start with next!  wink  

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
6/4/18 6:12 a.m.

I try to always pick an appropropriate color. I saw a metal flake copper MGA at a show this weekend and it looks so wrong to me, to use modern colors on an old car.

6/4/18 5:56 p.m.

So beyond sparkly bass-boat/bumper-car paints, what do you think makes a classic/vintage color vs. a modern color?

Does paint formulation or system come in to play?

Thanks, Scott

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
6/13/18 5:33 a.m.



Yes, paint formulation does matter. When we painted the Group 44 GT6, we used a single stage paint to make it more original. I just like piant colors that are perio corret, which would mean pastels in the fiftes, dull metalics in the sixties and bright colors in the early seventies. I do not care for all of the browns in the late seventies.

6/13/18 8:10 a.m.

No browns, eh?  So seventies, though.

I don't like them either.

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