Paint Can Make the Machine

By Mike Mello


When will interesting paint schemes come back into style, beyond what is only found at car shows? Are we likely to see layered pinstripes and two or three-tone paint schemes applied to luxury sedans any time soon? It was only a couple decades ago that conversion vans flaunted complex paint jobs on the outside that matched the waterbeds and crushed velvet on their insides. Paint can be applied in a way that subtly sets your car apart or makes a major style statement. If the job is well-done, it can enhance the character of your car in a way that doesn’t always come through with the installation of a few TVs in the headrests. Here’s some photos I shot at a recent car show that range from understated to complicated.

In a world where people still complain that contemporary cars look too much alike or where commercials try to make the potential buyer feel like he or she will get noticed by driving a certain model, it makes me wonder why more car owners don’t enhance their automotive profiles with custom paint work.

Perhaps the reason that most cars live out their lives in stock colors is that custom paint work costs serious money. You can’t go cheap because cheap equals something less than paint. Cheap equals decals, which are only cool when they come from the factory. (Think 79 Pontiac Trans Am or 77 Jeep J10 with the Golden Eagle package.) Here are some classic flames that never go out of style:

But you know, there’s plenty of people throwing cash at their stereo systems and rims, so the money’s out there to be spent on paint, even if it’s not for your daily-driven commuter mobile. Some of the paint jobs seen on shows like Overhaulin’ are definite examples of what kind of custom paint many car owners might love to have cover their sheet metal. Here are some shadowy skulls that took a few minutes to find when standing five feet from this car:

Even when we see celebrity’s cars or other high-end rides, it’s rare to see custom paint work that involves pinstriping or deep, layered effects. Perhaps it’s just the times we’re in where drivers would prefer to almost blend in and limit their color choices to highly-polished single tones.

Thankfully, that’s not route that the owner of this 75 ElCamino chose. Of course the paint work here is from a time gone by; more of the lowrider flavor, but imagine a variation on this theme applied to late-model Cadillac CTS. With the right color choices and patterns, a CTS’ angular panels could be just the right place for a new take on this complex application of paint.

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Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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1 Comment

  1. I don’t like to see the paint on cars all weirded out. It’s just not right to do that to most cars, IMO.

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