Restoring a Fiat 500L Part 4: Its all down hill from here!

With the car already sandblasted, all rust removed, and new metal let in, the bulk of the time-consuming prep work had already been done.

A small amount of panel beating, filling, and rubbing down of the initial primer was done, before a good coat of epoxy primer was sprayed on. We used this as it’s a very versatile primer. Its compatible with most other coatings, and ideal for use over bare metal or existing coatings.

We started with the underside. All cavities were wax oiled, and the underside and wheel tubs were stone chipped.

On to the bodywork. After some blocking, and with all of the old dents, rust, and damage removed, we were ready to paint! We decided to use single layer paint, as the car would have had from factory. Single Stage paints still have UV resistance and can shine similar to a clear-coated vehicle if maintained properly. They also allow you to polish out scratches. All vehicles had a type of single stage paint up until the early 1980’s when the basecoat-clearcoat system was developed. We applied 3 coats of paint, to ensure the blue had a deep glossy shine. We chose Blu scuro. This is Fiat paint code 456 and was a paint code used by Fiat from 1957 (beginning of Fiat 500 production) until 1975. It’s one of the few paint colours that spanned all five generations of the 500.

 

 

Once the paint had dried in the oven, the team set about flatting and polishing. The job here was to get the paint as smooth and flat as possible by removing all the imperfections. A few runs and dust specks were removed using a nib file. The next stage was colour sanding, using a sanding block (flat form flat surfaces and curved for others), a bucket of soapy water, and progressively higher grit sandpaper to smooth out any minor imperfections in the paint including orange-peel. As we applied three good coats, we could start with a more aggressive sandpaper. At the end of this stage, the bodywork was pretty dull, but the panels felt flat and smooth to touch, with no imperfections. So, on to the final and most satisfying stage, cutting and polishing! The team used a multi-speed rotary machine polisher to gradually smooth out the finish and bring out the lustre in the paint. Similarly to the sanding, they worked their way up from an aggressive cutting compound and pad to a final foam pad and polishing compound. Finally, a coat of hard wax was added, and our little 500 was looking quite the part.

21st September 2017 Restoration Projects Author: Adam Smith
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