The Pantera Place
"Your de Tomaso Connection"
High Temperature Paint
By David Bell
The engine paint that I used on my Pantera engine is called 'Hi-Temp Exhaust and Manifold Paint' and is sold by Bill Hirsch www.hirschauto.com He carries a line of four super high temp paints; bright aluminum, black, cast iron gray, and stainless steel. I used the stainless steel color which is rated to 1600 degrees F (the other three colors are 1800 degree F paints). This family of paints is typical of other super high temp paints in that they surface dry quickly but don't completely cure until they are heated (> 250 F or so for a couple of hours). Once cured the Hirsch paints withstand salt, moisture, solvents (including standing gasoline), and very high temperatures extremely well.
I brushed two coats of the paint directly to the stripped, bare metal block and heads prior to final engine assembly. Primer is not recommended as the primer would probably not be able to withstand the same high temps and could then lift and take the overlying high temp paint with it - spraying is not recommended. The Hirsch paint is very thick in the can but goes on smoothly with a good bristle brush. Brush marks were virtually undetectable after drying though it does not have the high gloss look of powdercoating. A pint is fairly expensive (~ $20) but is enough for several coats on several engines (I still have 3/4 pint left).
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Though the official color of the paint that I used is 'stainless steel', it's really more of a pewter or silver gray. I think it nicely compliments the polished valve covers, braided stainless steel lines, aluminum intake manifold, and freshly painted ZF. I have accumulated around 1000 miles on the engine since it was installed in the car in January, 2001. In addition to the way the Hirsch paint looks, so far I've been extremely happy with its ability to withstand high temperatures. The paint on the exhaust ports, where the heads bolt to the headers, has not burned, flaked, or even discolored in the slightest (normal engine paints last about 5 minutes there). Equally nice is the fact that the paint also seems to be impervious to gasoline that puddles in the block depression at the distributor shaft hole (from removing the fuel line to the carb) or in the nooks and crannies around the intake manifold. I highly recommend it.