For the inner surfaces of the panels and jambs, Eastwood’s Malibu Sunset Metallic basecoat was sprayed directly over the smoothly sanded primer surfacer. These areas were prepped for paint by first blowing down with compressed air, then wiping with Eastwood’s Pre Painting Prep aerosol solvent, and finishing with a thorough wipe down with Eastwood’s Crystal tack cloths. Before painting, it is important that the surfaces are totally free of debris and contaminants. Eastwood’s HVLP Concours gun was refitted with a 1.4mm tip, and three medium coats were plenty to achieve even coverage. Once the base color coat was sufficiently flashed dry, Eastwood’s urethane clear followed. Right off the gun, the flow out and gloss were excellent.

Once the jamb areas were completely cured, attention turned once again to the exterior of the car. The previously painted areas were carefully masked, and the loose panels racked in the makeshift painting area of the garage-sized working area. As was the case with the previous jamb painting session, the surfaces were thoroughly cleaned. For the exterior body panels, Outlaw elected to start with a white epoxy sealer coat as the initial step in the paint regime. The sealer improves the quality of the surface for the basecoat color application, achieves better color holdout, and enhances the “pop” of the finished hue. Ron says: “This metallic base is pretty translucent, and you would see the effects of the gray below. The white base gives the metallic a chance to really stand out.” PCL 2K Epoxy Primer-N-Seal was applied in a double coat, followed by the five basecoat color coats once it flashed dry. The Nova paint project was now coming together.

Rather than follow immediately with the clear as would be the case in a high-volume shop, we elected to allow the base to cure, much like a DIY guy working in his own garage on the weekends. This was followed by a light wet sanding with 600-grit paper. This achieves a very smooth surface for the clearcoat application, substantially reducing the surface texture of the final off-the-gun finish. Ron discloses: “We sanded the basecoat color before we shot the clear to knock it down.” For the final money shot, the surfaces were once again cleaned, and then shot with four medium coats of Eastwood’s Urethane clear.

Cutting and Buffing

While the paint results as shot were more than satisfactory, for a true show car look the process of cutting and polishing the paint takes it to the next level. For the average paintjob, the work is done once the paint guns are put away in the booth and the masking tape is pulled off. In the world of custom or show-quality paint, there is still work to do if the goal is to approach perfection. No matter how clean the paint might be, and no matter how skillfully the paint is sprayed, there will be flaws and surface texture—especially in a poorly ventilated makeshift garage environment. If everything was done to top standards, the texture will be minimal, and the paint surface will have very little contamination, but a glass-smooth surface with a mirror finish demands a little bit more. Ron tells us: “The final cut and buff is do or die: It is very important. The sanding part is critical, since a mistake here can be a disaster if you cut through or cut too coarse. The final finish relies on a skilled job with the cut and polish.”

The technique is really not new; in fact, it is a form of burnishing and polishing, which has been around for centuries. What it consists of is fine-sanding the surface until it is perfectly smooth, and then using buffing techniques to polish the paint to a brilliant luster. In the world of automotive refinishing, special tools, techniques, and materials are designed just for this purpose. The sanding is normally a wet sanding process, using water to clean and lubricate. Wet sanding is done with very fine sandpaper, with the goal of flattening the surface while removing a minimum of material. Proper wet sanding requires skill, but most of all patience and a light touch.

Once the sanding process is complete, the clear is polished to bring the surface to a beautiful shine. Usually this is done in two steps, with a coarser “cutting” step to remove the sanding scratches, and quickly bring the surface to a shine, followed by a polishing step to take the surface to perfection. Outlaw Motorsports began by wet sanding the surface smooth with 1,000-grit, following with a wet-sanded 2,000-grit to reduce the depth of the sanding scratches and make the buffing more effective. The polishing began with a wool cutting pad using 3M Super Duty Rubbing Compound, followed by a foam pad and 3M Perfect It Ultrafine Machine Polish. The final result was nothing short of brilliant.