Jackson went an extra step by using the sealer mix to improve the surface to a higher quality by employing an additional sanding step. The sealer was sprayed over the previously sanded surfacer (done at 180 grit), allowed to cure, and then wet block-sanded to a 400-grit finish. Using the sealer in this manner gives a very stable, smooth, and fine-textured surface for the finish coats. As Ricky puts it: "You are never going to be smoother out of the booth than you were going in to start with, so putting a really fine cut on the sealer gives us the ideal base."

With the finely sanded sealer on the Laguna going into the booth for the final finish, it was easy to see under the lights that the car was straight as a pin. What remained was the application of the semi-flat black topcoats. Creating various levels of suede finish can be accomplished by a variety of techniques. A single-stage (non-clearcoated) paint can be brought to various levels of "flat" by adding a flattening agent to the paint mix in various proportions. Most paint systems have a flattening agent available, and the result is a catalyzed flat topcoat that is much more durable than a typical primer. The same technique can be applied to a basecoat/clearcoat system, but the flattening agent is added to the clear. This is the old-fashioned way of doing the job.

Suede Job
The favored technique today in a basecoat-clearcoat application is to spray the base color, Sherwin William Ultra 7000 in WA8555 black for our Laguna, followed by a pre-mixed low-sheen clear. This clear is created in various levels of sheen by mixing the Sherwin-Williams No. 947 Matte Clear, which is very flat, with the normal overall clear, Sherwin-Williams No. 950 in this case. Jackson used a mix ratio of four parts 947 to one part 950, giving it just the right amount of the gloss clear to bring up a low-level sheen.

The spraying technique is just like a normal repaint as far as the base, but hitting the clear perfectly for the right gloss involves just the right mix. Ricky explains: "It's a little tricky, since you have to have the mix exactly right, and you need to be aware of the conditions in the booth, like the temperature. You want to mix the products really carefully, like exactly to the line, and then it is a good idea to do some testing. You won't know exactly what you have until it flashes and dries, and what you see is what you get. The exact effect can vary some depending on application and the reducer, and you can adjust the level of gloss by varying the reducer, even if the mix of clears is the same. With a non-gloss finish, you are not going to go back and sand, or buff, or fix it. When the solvents went off on the Laguna, I knew we nailed it."

Stay Tuned!
Next month, we're going to follow up with all the custom stuff we did after the paint dried, like spoilers, powdercoated trim, custom (and cheap!) steel wheels, hood vents, quarter-window block-offs, rear window straps, removable headlight block-offs, hood pins, trunk pins, vinyl graphics, custom tire lettering, a narrowed rear bumper, and more. Most of it was homegrown, and inexpensive.