For as long as body shops and restorers have been painting automobiles, the challenge has been getting a good color match, both as a whole vehicle repaint and in repair work. You've seen them—the '65 GTO convertible at a car show; it's a concours restoration except for the paint color. The painter was aiming for Tiger Gold, but just didn't hit the mark. In fact, it's nearly impossible to pinpoint what it is wrong about his version of Tiger Gold, but your finely tuned senses communicate the error. It just isn't right. The same can be said for an engine color, or perhaps satin chassis black, which can be too shiny or too dull. Likely, you've also seen crash repair where the painter tried to fog in a repair and wasn't very successful.
We've all been there. Visit a local automotive paint-and-body supply store and give them your Pontiac's paint code. They look it up on a database on their computer, carefully mix it up, put a dab of color on the lid, and it dries. In the store, it looks pretty close to what you want. Under showroom fluorescent lighting, it looks about right.
Get it out in the sun and that's when it becomes troubling. The can says Carousel Red. The paint dab seemed like Carousel Red in the showroom. In the sun, it doesn't look quite right. At first, you think it's your imagination or eyesight, and maybe it is. Then you faithfully deliver paint and materials to your body shop with very specific information on how to mix it with the catalyst or reducer. A few weeks later, it's time for the rollout. You want to feel excited, but the color just isn't accurate. Now what? How do you live with it? Better yet, how do you not make this mistake in the first place?
Before you (or the shop you hire to paint your Pontiac) order paint and supplies for your restoration, consider TCP Global's Auto Color Library and Restoration Shop paint divisions, which are out to perfect the business of a perfect color match for vintage muscle cars, including Pontiacs. It doesn't matter what you have. Be it a '62 Catalina Super Duty in Seafoam Aqua or a '69 GTO Judge in Carousel Red, TCP Global prides itself on pinpoint accuracy when replicating your Pontiac's finish.
TCP Global is taking this paint-color match issue seriously because of classic-car buffs' legitimate concerns over accurate color matching. The company's general manager, Steve Ellis, says there was a day when you could count on a good color match from paint suppliers. However, when the automotive-finish industry computerized and streamlined in the '80s, paint-color mix formulas were revamped without verifying them against original samples, and exact matches suddenly became close matches, or in worse cases, not even in the ballpark. Over time, many of the country's paint-formula databases swore these revised formulas were factory-correct, when in fact they varied widely from the originals. "The major paint manufacturers just didn't spend the time and money to accurately reformulate all the colors for antique and classic cars, but we are," Ellis says.
Achieving Perfect Color
When TCP Global first noticed this issue years back, it stated its mission was going to be "no-compromise paint-color match without exception." To achieve this goal, it set out to learn as much as it could about original paint-color formulas and reproduce them exactly, without even a hint of variance, for restorers. By golly, you want '65 GTO Tiger Gold? TCP Global says you can have it, thanks to the company's raw commitment to color matching.
That leads us to Jim "Jimmy Chips" Wells. Jim, who runs TCP Global's Auto Color Library, has been in the paint business for most of his adult life, and has a keen eye for color. Native to Boise, Idaho, Jim, now in his 70s, has seen it all in more than a half century in the automotive-paint business. The man knows and understands paint better than anyone I've met in more than 30 years in the car business. He has a lifetime of experience as a color specialist and can dial in nearly any color imaginable, which makes him spot on when it comes to auto-paint color matching. His job is to replicate your Poncho's original color exactly.
For example, let's say you have a pristine factory-original low-mileage '69 GTO Judge that has minor damage or paint fade and you want it rectified. Jim can go to his archives and pull the original color chip. When that is done, he moves on to getting the perfect color match for your Judge.
Of course, Jim will tell you it takes more than a color chip to achieve a perfect match. He'll want a sample from your Pontiac if at all possible to achieve that perfect match, and will suggest you carefully remove a small, painted part—such as a hood scoop or end cap—from your vehicle, package it up, and ship it to TCP Global for a spot-on in-house color match. (They'll return the sample to you.) A color match will make allowances for paint fade and deterioration, which will enable you and your body guy to blend the repaint to where no one but you or a very trained eye will know it has been repainted.