The Pantera Place
"Your de Tomaso Connection"

Using Auto Air Water Based Paint

By Ralph Granchelli

In this article we will Spray a Pantera with Auto Air water based paint. Auto air provides a very wide range of colors. They have base coat sealers, base coats, semi opaque, transparent, fluorescent, pearlized, metallic, iridescent, color shifting sparkle and candy colors. If you want to do special effects this paint provides endless options. You can spray a panel, force it to flash off with a hair dryer, re-tape it and re-spray it in less than five minutes. Auto air paint is shot without reduction and requires approximately 5 quarts to complete the Pantera. Additionally, one quart of transparent clear is required. The polyurethane clear top coat is reduced and catalyzed to the manufacturers specifications. See for more information on paint.

The paint is allegedly non toxic. You can spray with a dust mask or a respirator. I use a NIOSH approved cartridge respirator for this stuff. If your car requires paint only with no body work or other repairs it is possible to just mask off the car and paint over the existing paint after sealing it.

 The subject Pantera was a low mileage car with stock green paint in poor condition. It was the Fr. Bill Slikas car that was featured on Autoweek. There was rear flare damage and numerous areas requiring attention. There were numerous areas with bubbling under the paint. There was pre-existing minor body work which required removal to get to metal. We will paint this Pantera with Auto Air Color Flair blue / copper color shifting paint. As you walk around the car the color of the car changes depending upon the viewing angle. As this car requires a lot of work we will do a full disassembly & strip to bare metal.  

Disassembly: The first thing to do is to take out the battery. Remove the bumpers, mounts, all side lights, pull all the glass, headlight buckets, doors, hood and trunk lid, emblems, etc. This is a good time to strip down the doors, pull the trim strip, replace the cat whiskers and rebuild the door lift mechanisms.  

Granchelli Green be gone.jpg (24043 bytes)

Strip: Mask the car. Strip the body and all the metal extremities to be painted with aircraft stripper. It is real nasty stuff. You must have good ventilation or you could die. Wear eye protection and a respirator. You will need chemical resistant gloves. Keep paper towels and water near by. If you get it on you, get it off quickly or it will burn you. Pour the stripper on the metal and spread it with a brush. As it bubbles and lifts the paint, use a flexible scraper to take it off. Use care doing this as you do not want to scratch the metal. Repeat this process until you are down to bare metal. Re-mask the car. 

Granchelli Strip.jpg (41953 bytes)

Clean: Get lots of big spontex scrubby pads at the Home Depot. When you are down to metal, use windex or equiv. with the scrubby pads to clean the metal off. Wipe it down quickly as we do not want to encourage flash rust. When the metal is relatively clean, spray it with 90% alcohol. Hit it with the scrubby until when you wipe it down the paper towels are clean. Remask the car. 

Granchelli Metal prep.jpg (33347 bytes)

Power sand: all the metal to 400 grit with a da sander. Use some metal cleaner now such as prep-sol. Pre, acryli-clean etc. and clean the panels until the paper towels are clean when you wipe the panels off. At this stage of the game you can still use paper towels but later you will need to use lint free towels. Re-mask the car.  

Repairs: to get into all the repair techniques is beyond the scope of this article. This car required us to make a patch panel on an English wheel for the rear flair and tig  weld it in. We removed cracked lead in many areas and re-soldered it using no lead solder. There were numerous small dents which were PDR’d, as well as conventional panel smoothing using a hammer & dolly. For reference, Solder is non structural with a tensile strength of < 3kpsi. No lead body solder is over 9kpsi, fiberglass filler is approximately 10Kpsi, reinforced long strand glass is appx. 25kpsi. Where filler was required, Evercoat Fiber Tech was used. It is a reinforced fiberglass filler formulated with Kevlar and other high tech fibers. Evercoat metal glaze was used over all filled areas for blending. 

Granchelli Tigged in the patch.jpg (34019 bytes)

Prime: Evercoat slick sand was used to prime the entire car. It is a very high build catalyzed polyester primer that is applied without etching the metal. Four wet coats are applied using a high solids primer gun such as a Devilbiss FLG-3 with a 2.2 nozzle @ 40 PSI. 

Granchelli 1st body prime.jpg (28485 bytes)

Block sand: 3M Dry guide coat was used to coat the entire panel as it gives superior contrast. Adjustable flexible long board sanders from Eastwood were used to block out the car. First cut was made using 220 grit paper working to 600 grit using an X pattern. After block sanding, the car was blown off, cleaned and remasked, four more coats of Slick sand were applied and the car was block sanded again. Blow off, clean and remask the car. 

Granchelli Blocked out.jpg (29502 bytes)

Clean:  Blow off the car with high pressure. Blow everywhere. Then blow it off again. When you are done, blow it off again. Re-mask the car and blow it off again. Tack cloth the car.

Base coat: Spraying the Auto Air paint is not like spraying lacquer or enamel. It is sprayed on near dry/light wet and very quickly. Use a good gun like a Devilbiss GFG plus,(DP) with a 1.2 nozzle @ 40 psi. For a jam gun I used an Astro Star with a .8 nozzle, this gun is a Sata Mini Jet clone. Multiple coats are applied to get full coverage. Five coats of semi opaque black are applied as a base coat.

Granchelli 5 coats semi opaque black.jpg (36955 bytes)

Color coats: I sprayed on 5 color coats using the DP  gun with the 1.2 nozzle @ 40 psi. For the jam gun use as above with the .8 nozzle. I then sprayed three coats of auto air transparent clear over it to lock it down and make it more level. As this paint is very porous, the transparent clear helps to even it out. Re-mask the car, blow off and tack off. 

Granchelli 5 Color Coats.jpg (26793 bytes)

Clear Coat: This is the toxic and explosive part. Failure to heed the manufacturers directions here may result in death and destruction of property. I don the full space suit with forced air respirator with the explosion proof exhauster @ full blast. For clear coating I used the House of Kolor UC35 catalyzed polyurethane clear with a touch of fish eye eliminator just in case. Use the DP gun with a 1.3 nozzle  @ ~ 42PSI at the gun. The key to success in clear coating is to first lay on two dust coats allowing 10 minutes between coats to provide a tack base for the clear. If you do not do this it will probably run. I sprayed on four wet coats which is one more than the spec calls for. The next day I power DA sand with 2000 grit, vacuum, blow off, re-mask, blow off tack off and re-spray three more wet coats. 

Granchelli Urethance clear 1.jpg (24723 bytes) Granchelli Urethane Clear 2.jpg (32706 bytes)

Spray strategy: When spraying make sure you have a spray strategy and stick to it for every coat. For example: right roof, left roof, left rear, jambs, rocker, right rear, jambs, rocker, cowl, right fender, l fender, or whatever works for you.

Pressures: Try to follow the manufacturers suggestions. My numbers are adjusted for my temperature, humidity, phase of the moon etc. Your requirements may vary.

Reassemble: Install the glass, put the hood and rear lid on, put the doors on, put it all back together. 

Granchelli partial assemble.jpg (32414 bytes)

Buff: I did not buff this car out. The clear did pick up some lint. If you desire to buff, power da sand with 2000 or 3000 grit and buff it out.

The finished car is as seen in these images

Granchelli rear view.jpg (51865 bytes) Granchelli Side view.jpg (50035 bytes) Granchelli before.jpg (35477 bytes)