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Old 12-02-2010, 09:06 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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How Were Cars painted in the 1950's (On Assembly Lines)?

I ask because you could get many models of Fords, Chevys, painted with threee-color combinations. Take the 1957 Chevrolet Impala-you could get a car with the body painted one color, with the roof another color, and accent trim in a third color. Was this done by masking the original body color and re-spraying? Seems like a lot of work, and very difficult to do an an assembly line.
Anybody know how they did it?
Incidentally, in the days of Henry Ford's Model "T" (any color as long as it is black)-you could paint cars by dipping the whole body into a paint tank-how long was that technique used for?
It is really amazing to consider how many variations of options you could order on a 1950's car-I wonder what the dealers did with cars that were ordered in really crazy configurations (e.g. shit brown color, no radio, A/C, manual tranny..)-selling a heap like that would probably involve a big discount. nd all of this in the days before computers!
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:11 AM
Schnitte Schnitte is offline
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I am certainly not an expert on this, but I would guess the components were painted individually and then assembled after painting. That way, you wouldn't need to mask anything to prevent it from getting the wrong paint.
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Old 12-02-2010, 11:28 AM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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I seem to recall (sorry, no cite) that by the mid-1960s GM had added up the different models, trims, paint jobs and options and determined that a customer could order a Chevrolet in something like 3,000 different combinations. The bean counters were aghast and moved to increase "commonality." Different options wer combined into packages, the number of different interior and exterior trim packages was reduced, etc. Eventually this led to such marketing mistakes as putting Chevrolet engines into Oldsmobiles and the unfortunate Cadillac Cimarron -- aka the Chevrolet Citation with leather seats.
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Old 12-02-2010, 11:43 AM
Rocketeer Rocketeer is offline
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Yes, multi-color paint jobs in the Fifties were done by masking and then spraying the second (and third) colors. Labor-intensive, to be sure, but most of the masking didn't have to be too precise, because you had a strip of chrome covering the line between the colors.

Model Ts were, I believe, painted with a brush. Henry picked black because that particular black paint was very fast-drying.
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Old 12-02-2010, 12:06 PM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocketeer View Post
Yes, multi-color paint jobs in the Fifties were done by masking and then spraying the second (and third) colors. Labor-intensive, to be sure, but most of the masking didn't have to be too precise, because you had a strip of chrome covering the line between the colors.
That's right. When a person restores these cars getting the correct amount of over-spray in the right colors and locations is a major detail point. Holes in the body panels allowed over-spray into trunk and wheel well areas that were later hidden from view by installation of the interior. People who restore these cars even try to duplicate this factory sloppiness.
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Old 12-02-2010, 03:21 PM
LouisB LouisB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
I seem to recall (sorry, no cite) that by the mid-1960s GM had added up the different models, trims, paint jobs and options and determined that a customer could order a Chevrolet in something like 3,000 different combinations. The bean counters were aghast and moved to increase "commonality." Different options wer combined into packages, the number of different interior and exterior trim packages was reduced, etc. Eventually this led to such marketing mistakes as putting Chevrolet engines into Oldsmobiles and the unfortunate Cadillac Cimarron -- aka the Chevrolet Citation with leather seats.
No cite but I seem to recall something to the effect that everyone in the USA who bought a Chevy could theoretically specify one that was totally unique, even if the qualifying difference was minute or even not really noticeable----this was due to the availability of differing paint schemes, trim options, radios, upholstery, etc., etc.

The foregoing applied to a specific model year during the 1960s but I don't remember which year it was-----I don't remember a lot of things that happened during the 1960s. Probably because I moved to California from Texas and discovered what was possible.

Last edited by LouisB; 12-02-2010 at 03:24 PM.. Reason: Add last two sentences.
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