Right from the beginning of this rebuild process we were constantly asked two questions; ‘are you keeping the flared wings’ (yes!) and ‘are you changing the colour?’ (no!)
Contact with Caterhams archivist saw us with the original build documents. Amongst other things this confirmed that our colour was Honda Pearlescent blue, and it is something we very much wanted to keep the same. The colour looks great with the flared wings, under street-lights, and always looks great, clean or dirty!! If we had changed either the wings or the colour, it just wouldn’t have been ‘our’ car.
There was only ever one option as to where to go for the re-spray of our freshly rebuilt chassis, and that was with Tony at TSK. Like Arch, Tony has been involved with Caterham for many years, and knows the car inside out. Currently new cars are delivered from Arch to Tony for painting, or are driven up the road from the Dartford factory, only a mile down the road from Tony’s workshops. No one was going to be able to do a better job than Tony, and we felt confident that he would be able to get an exact paint match to our original colour – after all, he painted it when the car was new back in 1995!
We had booked our slot with Tony a few months before when we originally arranged the rebuild with Bruce, so we were able to paint the car very quickly after Arch had finished with it. Bruce delivered the car to Tony, and I called in to see it before they started, meet Tony and take some pictures. I also dropped off our wings and nose cone which would also be re-sprayed. I left a digital camera with TSK so they could take some pictures of our car when they started work on it, and most of these great pictures printed here were taken by Tony or Michael as they worked, so many thanks to them!
Like Bruce, Tony is a cracking bloke with an enthusiasm and passion for the cars and what he does. He was happy to show me around his workshop and talk me through the process.
The first stage is to rub down all the parts that are to be sprayed. For the newly panelled chassis it meant rubbing down and keying, and for the original nose cone it meant rubbing down the old paint and filling in any stone chips or cracks.
Next the whole chassis is masked ready for spraying the undercoat. The masking is a big job on a Caterham, with an open chassis, lots of holes in the panels for wishbones, dampers etc. But it is important it is done properly, particularly with a powder coated engine bay – any over-spray would be very obvious.
The car then goes into the spray booth/oven for the undercoat. The size of the booth means that the job is split into two batches – chassis and bonnet in one, and the wings and nose cone in another.
|Once the undercoat has been baked, and maybe rubbed down if required, its time for the colour! This process will consist of (at least) 2 layers – the under colour, followed by a lacquer. The blue colour layer looks really nice before the lacquer – a sort of silvery satin colour. Once the lacquer goes on the familiar blue shine returns! Once again the paint is baked on in the over before returning to the workshop for the final processes.|
All the panels and chassis are now flattened and polished using a very fine paste. It is at this stage that you can really see the shine come through.
When I arrived to see the finished results the chassis was sitting outside in the sun, and looked stunning. The flat side panels of a Caterham will show up any slight imperfection in the paint – of course it all looked perfect. One interesting thing I noticed was how the fully powder coated chassis and internal panels made the blue look darker on the chassis panels. Initially I was worried that perhaps we had specified the wrong paint colour, or that it wasn’t quiet right. Of course, I was mistaken – when we assembled the car I had forgotten to pick up the new fuel cap insert (the coloured disc) so initially we used the old one, with the ‘original’ blue paint – the match was perfect!